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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Spending green, saving green

green cityThe New York Times Real Estate section ran a cover story today on"The Cost of Saving Energy". It acknowledges that an "energy smart building" is an accolade that can be used in promoting properties to prospective buyers, and something which some developers are seeing as a way of adding a layer of distinction to their projects. Is a real consumer preference for energy efficiency beginning to take shape? I thought that I'd put a poll out to ask readers how they felt about this emerging aspect of buying real estate. If you take a moment to answer the question, you'll receive the instant gratification of seeing the latest results live.

I've yet to have customers ask to only see LEED certified or green buildings, in the same way that they might only consider Tribeca, or something close to Central Park. My impression is that as a practical matter for buyers, it would be too limiting to their possible choices at the moment; but goes into the plus column if all other things are equal. As the perception that green environments are healthier dwellings grows, that may change to a more of a demand than a passive benefit. For aging co-ops and condo buildings it may be a way of increasing or maintaining shareholder and property value.

The Times piece largely considered energy efficiency in light of recouping the cost of the capital improvements. One fascinating comparison that author Alex Tarquino highlighted was that, "In a 60,000-square-foot building with 40 apartments, hiring an electrician to install motion sensors might cost $11,000, according to estimates produced by Optimal Energy Inc....The building could save that much in lower electricity bills over two years, assuming that it was already using fluorescent bulbs, and the sensors alone would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by about 40 metric tons per year, the company said....That would be the equivalent of driving a car that gets 25 miles per gallon for 110,250 miles, according to Dr. Stuart Gaffin, an associate research scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University."

One of the authority’s most popular incentives is its low-cost loans to finance major capital improvements. The state will pick up most of the interest costs: for example, on an 8 percent loan, the state will pay 6.5 percentage points and the building 1.5 percentage points.

Of particular interest in the Times piece for NYC co-op & condo boards and landlords, is a sidebar titled "Sometimes, New York State Will Help Pay the Bill". Which highlights incentive programs for energy efficiency through the New York State Energy Research Authority that are available to multifamily buildings with five or more units. These can include the full cost of an energy audit, training of building staff, and low cost loans to finance major capital improvements. Visit their site at getenergysmart.org for more info.

the results of my last green poll

The results so far of our Top ways to green your home poll posted here and on Barbara Corcoran's blog several weeks ago, indicate that our readers agree with today's New York Times Real Estate cover story. As of today, people chose programing their thermostats and installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, and purchasing Energy Star appliances as among the best and most direct ways of saving energy and reducing the carbon footprints of their homes. Each has received about 20% of the vote so far. Plugging air leaks, reducing water use and choosing green products were also cited by about half as many readers. They are all ways recommended by the US Green Building Council in this download of a 16 Ways to Green Your Home (pdf 116kb). The poll is still open too if you haven't cast your vote yet.

related posts:
What are the best ways to green your home? »
A green tale of urban renewal »

If you'd like to place these polls on your own site, just cut and paste this code into your web page.

For how important are 'energy smart' and 'green' design features to you

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For top ways to green your apartment

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updated July 16th, 2007