The Green Report: ‘Passive’ Housing, Amenity Rooftops, & Eco-Friendly Moving Services

Welcome to the debut of The Green Report. We’ve got news about eco-friendly projects and concepts clear from Seattle to New York today. Let’s dive in!

Local contractor builds “Seattle’s first passive house” in Ranier Valley.

Just what, you might ask, is a passive house? Local contractor Hammer & Hand, who has just finished building Courtland Place in Seattle, explains: “The beauty of passive house is its simplicity. We’re able to eliminate big mechanical systems and gadgetry and instead use modern building science to design and construct super-efficient buildings.”

The result is a dwelling that achieves up to 80% gains in efficiency when compared to its more traditional counterparts. So is there a secret to building passively? According to Hammer & Hand, the magic words can be summed up thusly: insulation, insulation, insulation. Check out the full article in the Seattle PI.

Eco-friendly moving services: do they actually save renters money?

When it comes right down to it, there are probably few domestic enterprises that  utilize as many quickly disposed-of materials as moving. Traditionally, in order to move, one needs boxes, tape, and packing materials (styrofoam “peanuts” have, thank goodness, given way to crumpled paper)–and all of that often had to be purchased, all to be discarded once the move was over. But no longer.

The very best green enterprises are win-win, helping the environment and saving consumers money at the same time; and it turns out, eco-friendly moving solutions fit that mold. These days, green moving companies are cropping up all over the country, providing reusable packing containers and materials to their customers. The bonus? Sturdy plastic bins that companies provide protect keepsakes better than boxes, and pack more compactly into moving vans. Check out the Reuters story at MSNBC.com.

Looking for a single-family home to invest in? Green model homes are demonstrating how you can save yourself–and your renters–money.

Is green going mainstream in the single-family housing industry? It just may be–according to the National Association of Homebuilders, 17% of new and remodeled houses in 2011 were classified as green. That’s up 2% from 2005, signifying a slow-but-steady shift towards housing that saves energy–and plenty of money as well. Now KB Homes is showcasing new “net-zero” model homes.

Net Zero homes have Energy Star appliances, sure, but they go beyond that old standard to provide solar panels, water-smart irrigation, and charging stations for electric cars in every garage. What does this mean for landlords? So many of us pay for our tenants’ water service–and dramatic savings on their monthly energy bill means tenants have more money available for upgrades. Finally, there’s no denying the novelty of having a green house on the rental market. Check out the full story from the Seattle Times.

Apartment rooftop parks can seal the deal for families transitioning out of single-family housing.

The country-wide shift from buying to renting has been great for efficiency–multifamily housing is almost always more energy efficient than a single-family home–but there has been a casualty that some transitioning families find difficult: the loss of a backyard. While suburban multifamily buildings often have landscaped grounds, playgrounds and pools, urban buildings can sometimes pose a challenge when it comes to designing outdoor space with true appeal. Enter the reappearance of the rooftop garden, as heralded in the New York Times this week.

“Suburban rooftop parks; lounges; terraces with hot tubs and outdoor kitchens; and eco-friendly gardens are being planned for new multifamily developments from Great Neck to Sag Harbor,” the Times writes of the Manhattan resurgence of these green rooftop amenities. More exclusive than a public park–you’ll only run into your neighbors–and well planned for families, with features such as splash fountains for children, these rooftop gardens are marketed as major amenities, pleasing multifamily management, and ease the transition into multifamily housing for those who love their outdoor recreation. Check out the article in the NYTimes.com.

Ahhh.

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