This is it. The 2009-2010 winter it's the snowiest on record. Would the snowiest weather have something to do with climate change? Then I saw the op-ed piece below slated for Sunday Baltimore Sun, by Mike Tidwell with Chesapeake Climate Action Network on my inbox. (Mike: I was thinking along the same line the other day. Yeah, right..)
Here's the op-ed in its entirety.
Are Ya Kiddin' Me? Weird Snow TOTALLY Fits Global Warming Pattern
By Mike Tidwell
You can't even find your car on the street, the kids have been out of school for days, and "blizzard conditions" is now standard weatherman talk in the D.C.-Baltimore region. So if global warming is happening, why in the world are we literally buried in snow?
It's a good question, and thankfully, the answer is pretty straightforward. In fact, the growing pattern of extreme snowfall in our region has the fingerprints of climate change all over it -- even as temperatures steadily rise across America and the world.
Let's agree on one thing: Our weather has been totally unrecognizable this winter. Of the ten heaviest snow storms ever recorded in Baltimore since 1870, three have occurred in the last seven weeks. Before this winter, the city had never gotten even two storms of 19-plus inches in a single season, much less a trio. And we've shattered the old record for snowiest cumulative winter ever here, 62.5 inches, set in 1995-96. Philadelphia and D.C. have posted very similar snow statistics.
No wonder people say it everywhere you go: "I never saw that before." Collapsed roofs throughout the region. Kids in danger of going to school till July. Even snow plows shut down at one point because of wind and snow too fierce for safety.
How could global warming be driving a pattern like this? One word: moisture. A warmer atmosphere holds more water. Plus, warmer surface temperatures are triggering more evaporation of ocean water worldwide. That water goes up, up, up into that atmosphere. And what goes up must sooner or later come down.
This is precisely what scientific studies are now documenting. Water vapor in the global atmosphere jumped by about 5 percent in the 20th century, reported P.Y. Groisman and his colleagues in 2004. This while there has been an observed, significant uptick in heavy winter precipitation events in the Northeastern U.S., according to a 2006 study. And all the while, global temperatures have risen sharply, including an average warming of 4 degrees F in the Northeastern U.S.
Consider further: We've had "Snowmaggedon" I, II and III this winter not because of record cold weather. The temperatures in our region have been only moderately colder than normal for the Mid-Atlantic winter. No, it's because of record amounts of moisture here, pushed into our region by repeated Nor'easters. This historic wetness from the south has met cold-enough temperatures here to produce snow levels that neither science nor old-timers can recall.
Just last fall, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, established by Congress in 1990, predicted more violent storms in the Northeast due to climate change. "Strong cold season storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent, with greater wind speeds and more extreme wave heights," the agency said. So, yes, we are getting record winter precipitation events here even as overall temperatures are rising.
And, yes, there is the usual caveat: No single storm episode can be blamed definitively on global warming. But the overall trend - the shear freakiness of this winter weather - fits the pattern scientists say will only intensify with more warming.
But, you say, what about El Nino? The radio guy said an El Nino is the cause of the wacky snow. Well, yes, the planet is currently under a so-called El Nino cycle. This tends to bring above-average moisture to parts of North America. But this otherwise normal and ancient planetary weather phenomenon is itself changing. There's good evidence that El Ninos are becoming more frequent and lasting longer as the planet warms, thus conforming to the overall pattern of increasingly extreme weather. So what can we do about the climate threat? The Dec. 19 storm alone, after all, cost D.C.-area retailers more than $2 billion in lost sales.
Leading climate scientists say we must address the core problem: our overwhelming reliance on oil, coal and natural gas. These carbon fuels, when burned, produce carbon dioxide, which traps heat in the atmosphere.
Thankfully, the U.S. Senate may act soon. The smart and bipartisan "CLEAR Act" was introduced last December, just a week before the first big storm. It would limit and auction carbon pollution permits, invest part of the money in green technology, and rebate a full 75 percent of the permit money back to all Americans. It's the best global warming bill ever introduced in Congress, and one we desperately need as we eye yet another winter storm heading our way this week.
Only a sane energy policy will, ultimately, address this truly insane weather pattern that is already battering our lives.
If Energy Star new homes is for new homes that follows the guidelines for energy efficiency. The WaterSense labeled homes is EPA's answer to reducing water consumption. Homes build according to EPA's specs use less water. And with installing Energy Star appliances, these homes get to consume twenty percent less water than a typical homes. According to EPA, the WaterSense homes save about 10,000 gallons of water every year. Translate that to the money you would save annually (not counting the use of less water, thus save the environment).
WaterSense labeled new homes are designed to reduce residential water use indoors, as well as outdoors, compared to typical new homes—allowing you and your family to enjoy all the comforts of home while using less water and energy, and spending less money on utility bills.
WaterSense labeled new homes help families save an average of 10,000 gallons of water and at least $100 on utility costs each year by including WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures, an efficient hot water delivery system, water-efficient landscape design, and other water- and energy-efficient features.
We may have to wait (awhile) before we see new WaterSense labeled homes build for this area. Mind you...there's been 'only' one built in Northern Virginia, so far. However, for those who are interested in going forward. Go for it. It pays to save water. The incentive is there.
Posted at 08:36 AM in Alexandria Real Estate, Arlington Real Estate, Condominium, DC Real Estate, Energy conservation, Fairfax Real Estate, Green Living, Home buying & selling, Loudoun County Real Estate, Prince William Real Estate, Real Estate, Real Estate Trends | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: building, business, green, homes, housing, living, new, real estate, residential
About a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend two Eco Aquarium sessions at EcoBuild, a 3 day conference in DC for the built professionals. Eco Aquarium is about presentations from people/ professionals, who have been there. It's kinda learning from the experts. The sessions provide very interesting insights to problems, challenges, and things learn into various 'green' projects.
The two sessions were about Smart Home Program, a project from Duke University and the Nats stadium being the first green ballpark in the U.S. that happens to be in our backyard. The Smart Home Program is a live-in lab at Duke, where students participate in an opportunity for bring innovative technology for residential industry. It took a couple of years to build the smart home, which is a 6,000 square feet research lab. Jim Gaston, who is the leader for this project, says that they had groundbreaking in 2005, but then realized that they had no money to financed the project. So, the students spent a year in 2006 to do fundraising. Construction then begins in 2007 and completed in the same year. The SH project earns a LEED Platinum.
image: via SHP (more pics, here)
Some of the features you can find in the smart home. Via Smart Home Program.
They have some pretty fascinating products/ projects in the works. Currently, the SH Program have few students working on a few projects. For example, there is a student working on the future of home wireless technology, where one day you can put your gadgets like laptop, cell phone, etc. on the table and re-charge your gadgets. You can read more about the program, here.
Building the stadium for the Nats, created different challenges. Anika Landrenau, Architect with HOK, talks about the challenges they faced and things they learn in the process. Though the Nats is the first green stadium, LEED Silver, in the U.S., because they deal with different parties with different interests - the stadium owner and DC government - HOK didn't tell contractors that they're building towards LEED certification. The idea was to create a sustainable site where it's a Transit Oriented Development, involved in a voluntary cleanup project in a brownfield site with an intricate 30 acres separate sewer and storm. It provides alternative transportation where there are no public parking. People would take metro the the site. Now, they have to pay people to park.
Some of the things discussed were the challenges faced in storm water management, water efficiency strategies to reach annual water savings of 30% over EPACT, where the baseline of water use according to EPACT requirement is 9.6 million gallon per year. Materials use for the projects include 20% building from recycle content, 35% building materials from around the region.
Oh one more thing, DC government is pretty strict about storm water management..
Tags: business, Construction, Duke University, green, home depot, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, real estate, residential, smart home project, Transit Oriented Development, trends, washington nationals
President Obama supports home energy rebates for homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient. The existing home market is much bigger than new homes. So, there's lots of opportunities to be created here. Via White House.
...I'm calling on Congress to consider a new program to provide incentives for consumers who retrofit their homes to become more energy-efficient, which we know creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment. And I'm proposing that we expand select Recovery Act initiatives to promote energy efficiency and clean energy jobs which have been proven to be particularly popular and effective.
The additional values of energy retrofit (besides all the good stuff mentioned above) is the potential for higher homes valuation. Improvements should be documented, sort like comparing the before and after, for potential buyers to see the 'values' in it.
The conference exhibit Ecobuild opens today. This is a 3 day conference, exhibition at the Washington Convention Center, sponsored by NIBS (National Institute of Building Sciences). It's jam packed with sessions on green, sustainable, and high performance. Monday is when members meetup. Tomorrow is when keynotes and all events started. Exhibition starts on Wednesday.
Here's some of the keynotes line up:
Robert A. Peck, Commissioner, Public Buildings Service for the U.S. General Services Administration. Dennis R. Shelden, Associate Professor of the Practice in Design and computation in the Department of Architecture at MIT, and founder and Chief Technology Officer ofGehry Technologies. Tarek N. Bahgat, Vice President, Managing Director Middle East & Africa,Gehry Technologies.
Then there is this, happening at the tradeshow floor.
AEC Interoperability Center
Plug-and-play kiosks will be clustered in an island booth on the Ecobuild America exhibit floor, to create The AEC Interoperability Center. This Center will visually demonstrate how Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) systems are revolutionizing collaboration, project planning and facility management throughout the project lifecycle.
BIMStorm Live Booth #511
Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind interactive presentation. Anyone can participate from a smart phone or laptop to communicate about the built environment with web-based 3D design in real time. This year’s event is part of the “Build Hospital Live” series which began in Oslo Norway and will conclude at Ecobuild in Washington.
For full schedule of Ecobuild, go here for conference program, and here for list of exhibitors. Looking for jobs? Here's your chance. Go out there and talk to some of the exhibitors, you never know. They might be hiring. You can attend keynote and tradeshow for free. Yup- you read that right. What you do is, when you register here, check 'exhibit' option and enter promo code "AMBF09" at the checkout. That should do it..
I'll pick up my Press cred tomorrow, so I can walk the floor talking to some of the exhibitors and attending some of the sessions. Will be back here tomorrow for more. Check out this blog for updates or follow me on Twitter.
Posted at 03:18 PM in Alexandria Real Estate, Arlington Real Estate, DC Real Estate, Energy conservation, Fairfax Real Estate, Green Living, Home buying & selling, Living Style, Maryland Real Estate, Prince William Real Estate, Real Estate, Real Estate Investments, Real Estate Trends | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: business, conservation, energy, green living, home, real estate
Image by pdxjmorris via Flickr
So, where you put your programmable thermostat, apparently is key to cut down your utility bills. Thermostat is the low hanging fruit in energy efficiency. However, where you put thermostat, is important in helping you meeting the goals of keeping your energy bills down, via New York Times.
“If you have the right thermostat in place but the temperature sensor is in the wrong place, that can have a huge impact on energy performance,” said Jeffrey Perlman, the president of Bright Power, an energy consulting group.
Thermostat is so efficient that it gives you the fastest payback to savings energy and the environment, in comparison to other gadgets, when in comes to green tune-up your home. It's 'right' on the money. For a small investment of around $115, you can get money back for the return on investment (ROI) in the neighborhood of 0.6 year or 7.2 months, at an annual savings of approximately $180 in energy costs. According to GreenandSave, your payback or ROI would be 1.5 times (156.5%) of cost.
The height on the wall (optimal between chest and eye level) and the location in a room near exterior doors or windows can impact the readings. As well, proximity to supply and return ducts can impact the reading and cause inefficient cycling. (emphasis mine)
Consult your HVAC contractor and ask to give you a couple zone locations around the house, so you can get the most bang for your buck.
For the purpose of full disclosure: I am a Realtor Outreach for GreenandSave, a company that has 20 year legacy in the 'Green' energy saving market. The National Association of Realtors (NAR), uses the GreenandSave data for their green education curriculum. Click here and enter promo "Realtor2," and GreenandSave will donate $10 of proceed to a local realtor association.
Posted at 10:58 AM in Alexandria Real Estate, Arlington Real Estate, DC Real Estate, Fairfax Real Estate, Falls Church, Fairfax Real Estate, Green Building, Green Living, Living Style, Loudoun County Real Estate, Maryland Real Estate, Prince William Real Estate, Real Estate, Real Estate Trends, Remodeling | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: business, efficiency, energy conservation, environment, green, remodeling, thermostat
About a month ago, I attended a forum hosted by the Switzerland Embassy on "Green Building Policy and Design: Best Practices from Switzerland," in DC. This forum was geared towards promoting Made in Switzerland green building certification, which takes a different approach than the widely recognized LEED certification over here. Their approach is a bit simpler than LEED. LEED has a more complicated scoring tools before coming up to the platinum, gold, and standard certification systems.
The point that I want to make is this: why is it residential Realtors, being in the forefront of green revolution, not jumping the bandwagon in droves? I don't get it. Whatever you call it, be it green, sustainable, eco-friendly, trends - is real. It's here for us to seize the opportunities. Yeah, foreclosure and short-sale, may be the 'subject of interest' for the moment. The trend won't last forever. Foreclosures and short-sale supplies will disappear before you know it. On the other hand, green home, is here to stay.
There are many shades of green. This is a topic, which deserves a post on its own. For now, let's just talk about the trend in the new homes market from NAHB (National Association of Home Builders). Okay, NAHB may be in new homes, they're different, you say. However, we should see their efforts on pushing green as the 'best indicator' of what's coming in the pipeline for residential market.
Here's the latest survey from NAHB and MetLife Mature Market Institute done in September of 2009:
What's more, Kevin Morrow, NAHB Sr. Program
Manager for Green Building Standard, said the bright spot of this
recession is "builders building green homes are doing okay.." Hmm, wonder why not too many builders jumped the bandwagon sooner?
For us, Realtor magazine has an online exclusive talking about consumers interest on being green and the eco-friendly speak, published sometime in 2007. So, where are we today? Sadly, we're not there yet. We're kinda late in the game. Seriously.
The thing is, resale homes, is a huge and "untapped" market! For all purposes, i.e. remodeling, retrofitting, and more, which sometime in the future the same homes after 'green remodeling' will be bought and sold with green home label. Consider this:Energy Star plans to enter the resale market. Now, if we look at the alternative energy companies (selling solar, solar water heater, geothermal systems, etc.), they have targeted the residential market - long before any other clean, green industries enter the market! - because they see the 'upside' potential.
So, where do you see want to see yourself fit in this green revolution?
For the purpose of Full Disclosure: I am currently in transition from being an agent to be a Realtor Outreach for GreenandSave.com, because I want to make a difference. GreenandSave, has a 20 year legacy in the 'Green' Energy saving market. NAR uses G&S data for their education curriculum. GreenandSave provides information on green home trends, tools, and marketing program for Realtors. Visit GreenandSave for more details. Enter promo code "REALTOR2, " and we will donate $10 to your local real estate association.
Posted at 02:08 PM in Alexandria Real Estate, Arlington Real Estate, Business, Fairfax Real Estate, Foreclosure, Green Building, Green Living, Home buying & selling, Living Style, Loudoun County Real Estate, Luxury Homes, Maryland Real Estate, Prince William Real Estate, Real Estate, Real Estate Trends, Remodeling, Urban Living | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: agents, business, green, homes, nahb, NAR, professionals, real estate