Historic California Hotel to Get GreenPoint Rated

One of Oakland, CA’s most historic hotels has just celebrated a grand reopening — and will soon boast an impressive GreenPoint Rated certification. On May 15, 2014, the GreenPoint Rated team joined the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, StopWaste staff and many others gathered to celebrate this achievement.

Built in 1929, the California Hotel is a treasured part of Oakland’s rich cultural history. Acquired by EBALDC in 2011, the building has undergone extensive renovation, including many green and energy efficiency upgrades. Today, it provides 137 homes that are affordable and modern. And as the GreenPoint Rated label affirms — safe, healthy, and green as well. The hotel is in the final stages of achieving its certification, which will be awarded soon. Congratulations to EBALDC!

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Financing Makes It Easy to Green Your Next Home

It’s easy to fall in love with a fixer-upper, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer on a budget.  You see the character, charm, and potential of a home, but worry about the costs to modernize and upgrade it, right?

You’ve got more options than you think. The best time to undertake green home improvements — to transform a fixer into a comfortable home with lower utility bills – is during your new home purchase process. A new generation of innovative programs allows you to finance the cost of your renovations through your mortgage. That means one mortgage, one closing, and no additional money down. Talk to your lender about the following options:

FHA Energy Efficient Mortgage
Finance the cost of improvements through a current or new FHA mortgage for 1-4 unit existing single family homes and condos, with no additional income qualification or cash down. Can be used for a range of upgrades, from HVAC modifications to insulation and windows.

FHA 203k Loan
Finance a broad range of repairs and renovations—including energy efficiency upgrades—up to $35,000 for the 203 streamline or $150,000 for the 203K full. Improvements must be completed within 120 days of closing.

Escrow Holdback
This conventional financing option can fund up to 10% of the improved value of the home, or $25,000. Upgrades must be completed within 30 days of closing.

Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage
This conventional home loan provides a convenient way for borrowers to make renovations, repairs, or improvements totaling up to 50 percent of the as-completed value of the property.

Fannie Mae HomePath Renovation Mortgage (REO or Real Estate Owned properties)
This conventional home loan provides an additional 20 percent of the purchase price or $30,000, whichever is less, to pay for a wide range of repairs to HomePath-branded homes owned by Fannie Mae.

Jumbo Renovation
Finance up to $250,000 in major renovations through your mortgage, from green upgrades to kitchen and bathroom remodels. Can be used only for primary, owner-occupied residences

 

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KB Home: The Leading GreenPoint Rated Home Builder in 2013

In December 2013, the nonprofit Build It Green honored KB Home with a GreenPoint Rated Award for its leadership and dedication to residential green building. By committing to build all of its Northern California homes to the high standards of GreenPoint Rated — the most trusted home rating system in California — KB Home is helping to change the way homes are designed, built, and remodeled.

Steven Bull of KB Home accepts the GreenPoint Rated Award.

Among production builders, KB Home boasts the highest volume of GreenPoint Rated projects, with more than 1,000 in the pipeline, 600 of which are slated for 2014. KB Home has worked hard to educate potential homebuyers on the benefits and qualities of green homes. The bottom line: KB Home is proving that a beautiful, high-quality, and comfortable home is also a green, efficient, and money-saving home!

Browse KB Home Communities >>

 

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Congrats to Our GreenPoint Rated Award Winners for 2013

Congratulations to the City of Palo Alto for winning a GreenPoint Rated Award in the Public Sector category.

Seven organizations win GreenPoint Rated Awards in recognition of their dedication to residential green building and reducing the impacts of climate change

Dec. 12, 2013

The nonprofit Build It Green has announced seven GreenPoint Rated Award winners for 2013, each selected for their leadership in residential green building in California. These winners are changing the way homes are designed, built, and remodeled—all to the high standards of GreenPoint Rated, the most trusted independent home rating system in California.

Congratulations to the 2013 Winners:

  • Community Builder of the Year: KB Home of Northern California
  • Affordable Builder of the Year: Eden Housing
  • Visionary Builder of the Year: Southern California Edison/ ABC Green Home Builders
  • Custom Builder of the Year: Joe LoConte – Olivewood Builder /Green Building Specialists
  • Green Building Leader in the Public Sector: City of Palo Alto
  • Home Performance Contractor of the Year: Mark Hensley – Building Doctors, Inc.
  • GreenPoint Rater of the Year: Dave Hegarty – DuctTesters, Inc.

“We’re proud to recognize these innovative and forward-thinking organizations for playing a key role to mainstream green building practices,” said Catherine Merschel, Build It Green Executive Director. “These professionals are showing that greener buildings aren’t just good for the environment—they provide a strong economic opportunity.”

The winners were announced Wednesday evening at the BIG Bash, Build It Green’s annual holiday party. Each year, the GreenPoint Rated Awards recognize the leading building professionals and organizations whose on-the-ground efforts are helping to transform the market for green homes—by building and remodeling homes to GreenPoint Rated standards for energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor air quality, resource conservation, and community features.

Building by building, these professionals are moving the state of California closer to its aggressive climate and energy goals, which include reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and building all new homes to net zero energy standards by 2020.

Building certified green homes is a key strategy to meet these goals. GreenPoint Rated is the most trusted independent green home certification program in California, providing proof that a home is healthy, comfortable, durable, and resource efficient. More than 21,000 homes have been rated through the program, which is administered by Build It Green. These homes have collectively saved more than 58 million kilowatt hours of electricity, 259 million gallons of water, and 103,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.

Winners of the GreenPoint Rated Awards were selected by Build It Green’s technical staff, which has worked closely with hundreds of builders, raters, contractors, and local governments. Selection criteria include the volume of GreenPoint Rated projects, GreenPoint Rated home scores, improvements in scores over time, and ability to market and message the benefits of green building.

“The GreenPoint Rated Awards honor the key actors in our industry,” said Amy Dryden, GreenPoint Rated Technical Manager. “The success of green building requires commitment from builders, progressive policies from local governments, contractors with the technical expertise to perform the work, and raters to verify that the work was performed correctly for maximum benefits and resource savings.”

About the GreenPoint Rated Award Winners

Community Builder of the Year: KB Home of Northern California

KB Home of Northern California has made a strong commitment to building green, high-quality homes—all of which are GreenPoint Rated. Among production builders, KB Home boasts the highest volume of GreenPoint Rated projects, with more than 1,000 in the pipeline, 600 of which are slated for 2014. KB Home has invested in marketing and communications efforts to educate potential homebuyers on the benefits of green homes—a key tactic necessary to transform the marketplace. This effort includes sales training for their staff and a co-branded online advertising campaign with Build It Green that delivered 6.4 million impressions. http://www.kbhome.com

Affordable Builder of the Year: Eden Housing
Eden Housing continues to build and rehabilitate green, high-efficiency multifamily buildings, and over time its GreenPoint Rated scores have improved to consistently achieve more than 100 points, with a recent high score of 180 points. That means its buildings have more green features, deeper energy and resource savings—and they’re healthier for their tenants. Eden has participate in pilot projects and is a great supporter of Greenpoint Rated. It remains a strong advocate for creating a diversity of homes in its local communities. http://www.edenhousing.org/

Visionary Builder of the Year: Southern California Edison/ABC Green Home Builders
The ABC Green Home is a visionary demonstration project to create an “Affordable, Buildable, Certified” (ABC) home, and by all accounts it has succeeded. Southern California Edison and ABC Green Home Builders built a remarkable, inspiring and affordable all-electric net zero energy demonstration home, which sets the goal for what all new homes should strive to be. The ABC Green Home pushes the envelope with smart design and innovative systems that contributed to a final GreenPoint Rated score of 231 points—one of the top five highest scores ever.

To spread the word about the home’s design and achievements, a large outreach and marketing effort culminated in the home being featured as a main attraction at the Solar Decathlon this fall. The best part of the story? The ABC Green Home will be donated to a wounded veteran. There are two more ABC homes in the works, so we look forward to future inspiration. http://www.abcgreenhome.com/

Custom Builder of the Year: Joe LoConte – Olivewood Builder/Green Building Specialists
Joe LoConte first connected with Build It Green in 2007 by becoming a GreenPoint Rater, demonstrating the green building commitment of his custom builder company and bringing that expertise to the construction side. His company originally built and remodeled high-quality custom green homes, and now also performs energy upgrades and green building ratings—with excellent quality of service.

LoConte has been a longtime supporter of green building practices and GreenPoint Rated, and has mentored and educated many individuals including building professionals, building inspectors and homeowners. Over the years LoConte was an outstanding communicator to his clients on the benefits of green homes, and is dedicated to improving the industry, especially in bringing green practices to existing home remodels. Earlier this year LoConte passed away, leaving a legacy of green building achievements that will be continued by his daughter, Collette. http://www.olivewoodbuilders.com/

Green Building Leader in the Public Sector: City of Palo Alto
The City of Palo Alto is one of California’s leading green cities and sustainability innovators. To help meet its climate and energy goals, it has been a longtime advocate of GreenPoint Rated certification, which is required for new homes and certain existing home remodels. In 2013, 163 units were GreenPoint Rated certified in Palo Alto, which puts it in the top 5 jurisdictions in California. Through Greenpoint Rated, homeowners get the benefit of verified practices and Palo Alto benefits from verified results. The City is committed to achieving green building goals, and engages raters, developers, and Build It Green staff to discuss the implementation of GreenPoint Rated and make it beneficial for everyone. http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/services/sustainability/

Home Performance Contractor of the Year: Mark Hensley – Building Doctors, Inc.
Building Doctors, a home performance company, provides custom energy retrofits and upgrades to Southern California homeowners. A support of GreenPoint Rated since 2010, they have successfully integrated the rating system into their business model to deliver certified homes to their clients. In 2013 Building Doctors submitted 78 projects for certification, an impressive volume. Building Doctors also goes above and beyond to support their clients after these upgrades are completed: They provide comprehensive homeowner manuals that include education on operations and maintenance. http://buildingdoctors.com

GreenPoint Rater of the Year: Dave Hegarty – DuctTesters, Inc.
A key supporter and advocate since the launch of GreenPoint Rated in 2006, DuctTesters continues to be a leader in certifying green homes across the state. Dave Hegarty, owner of DuctTesters, has continued to expand the number of Raters employed by DuctTesters, and to educate his staff on green building practices and the GreenPoint Rated processes. With more than 400 units submitted in 2013, their volume reflects this commitment. Additionally, they are working with builders to earn additional incentives though the California Advanced Homes Program for GreenPoint Rated. DuctTesters continues to work closely with GreenPoint Rated staff to ensure excellent submissions, support to their clients and achieve excellent QA results. http://ducttesters.com/

About Build It Green and GreenPoint Rated
Build It Green is a member-supported non-profit organization working to expand the market for green homes in California. Our mission is to promote healthy, energy- and resource-efficient building practices in California through outreach and education. Learn more at http://www.builditgreen.org.

GreenPoint Rated is the most trusted independent home rating system in California, for proof that a home is healthy, comfortable, durable, and energy efficient. More than 20,000 homes have been rated through the program, administered by Build It Green. Learn more at http://www.greenpointrated.com.

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A Forever Home

Iris Harrell completed her Forever Home more than 14 years after the initial purchase of the home in 1992.  Originally built in 1986, the previous owner/developer had sectioned off the home in a number of places to create offices for his business as well as several tenant leased offices for several local architects.  The result was a 4000 square-foot home with no kitchen and only one and a half bathrooms.  Iris and her partner Ann Benson insisted on purchasing it as is, and immediately made the minimal adjustments to make it livable.  Over a decade later, and equal years of experience behind her as a local contractor, Iris finally her gained expertise to work on her own home.  The finished product includes a sustainable remodel of the entire home including touches that have made the house universally accessible, making it one-of-a-kind Forever Home for herself and her family.  The GreenPoint Rated team caught-up with Iris to have her elaborate on the importance of creating a home that is not only sustainable but universally accessible.

Q: Why did you wait so long to remodel the home in its entirety?

A: We originally stretched our budget to move into the area.  We did do a lot of structural work when we first moved in, and only finished the upstairs.  We did very little to the downstairs until we remodeled the entire home.  The finishes that had been done upstairs was little more than paint over pieces of plywood and we reused and moved cabinets that were a part of the original home.

In 2007 and 2008 we decided to remodel the entire home one more time for all time.  I hand 14 more years of design experience and had also become a green advisor and certified green builder through Build It Green, so I had more on my mind in terms of what we wanted to do in the home to make it universally accessible.

Q: Why did you get your home GreenPoint Rated?

A: I wanted to get the home GreenPoint Rated because I knew that the house would be healthier, safer, more energy efficient, and more cost effective.  I knew I was going to be opening-up the walls of the home during this remodel, and I would be able to do things now that I would not be able to do later (once the walls were finished).

I would make the same recommendation to others undertaking a major remodel.  If anything they should do it for the health, energy efficiency, and longevity of the home with the added value of low maintenance.

Q: What is one of your favorite aspects of your home?

A: I really enjoy the energy star rated gas fire places we installed in the home.  The home already had fireplaces, but those were huge energy sinks year round.  I am also very sensitive to smell and I could smell the soot and the burning wood (all the time), it was not good for the air, and it was not good for the people in the home.  They were a mess.

The neat thing about energy star gas appliances is that you can get zone heating.  You can heat a specific area very quickly, very easily, and you only need to run it for a few minutes before you turn it off.  We actually got a rebate from PG&E a year after we completed the remodel, because we used less gas even though we had put in multiple gas appliances.  We have 3 fireplaces downstairs and 2 upstairs.

Knowing how we use the home now, I wouldn’t have put one in the master bedroom.  Sometimes you really don’t know how you use the home until you really live in it.  Going through the design process you just theorize.

I realize that some people are off the chart green, but we thought it was more cost efficient to bring our existing gas furnace up to 93% efficiency rather than buy new.  It was a 1986 model.  We redid all the ducts in the house and tested them to get the before and after results, and couldn’t be happier.

During the remodel, we also installed an elevator so getting upstairs and downstairs is not an issue, and it made the home universal accessible.

Q: Universal Accessibility?  How important was that to the overall plan?

It absolutely cannot be a Forever Home unless you think accessibility; period.  The minute you cannot get in the shower, cook in the kitchen, or go up and down stairs, you have to move into a new house.   Universal accessibility and the safety it provides is equally as valuable to the little ones in the house as it is to elders.

I had a client that was pregnant and asked me what I should do to make a more home safe for her child. In addition, she wanted a safe place for her aging parents to stay.  It occurred to me at that moment that a two year old as well as an aging person would be equally as safe in an ADA accessible home.

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Have You Browsed the New Green Product Directory?

Today we launched a great new resource for homeowners on the GreenPoint Rated website: the Green Product Directory. Check it out now.

The Green Product Directory provides an independent source of trusted green home improvement product recommendations and educational tips for homeowners. The nonprofit membership organization, Build It Green, developed it to make it easier for homeowners to identify the types of products that can save them money and make any home healthier and more beautiful and comfortable.

“Whether you’re planning a top-to-bottom remodel or just replacing a showerhead, our Directory provides the unbiased guidance and product listings to help you make the best choice,” said Catherine Merschel, Build It Green Executive Director. “Our staff of green building experts researched hundreds of products and wrote ‘GreenPointers’—consumer-friendly articles with practical, helpful advise on how to make green choices for everything from appliances and countertops to water heating and windows.”

The Directory features nearly 100 best-in-class products, focusing on ones that meet rigorous criteria for energy and water savings, recycled content, and indoor air quality and other environmental and health attributes. Many featured products are certified by independent third parties such as Energy Star, WaterSense, Green Seal, and Forest Stewardship Council. Product listings are based solely on merit—the Directory does not charge for placement.

A helpful set of icons makes it easy to understand the core benefits of greener choices for each product category, from saving water and energy to improving home health and earning points toward a home’s GreenPoint Rated certification—the most trusted independent home rating system in California. “Once you browse the Directory it becomes clear that ‘green’ is synonymous with high-quality, comfort, and savings,” added Merschel. “These green products are beautiful, durable, and reduce long-term maintenance costs.”

Alameda County’s StopWaste, a public agency that promotes the use of resource-efficient products and practices, provided the funding for the Directory update.

“StopWaste is proud to support this important resource for homeowners in Alameda County and beyond,” said Karen Kho, a Senior Program Manager at the agency. “We’re committed to helping homeowners improve their homes by choosing products with recycled and renewable materials.”

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“Ask an Expert” with Kris Knutson

Simple things to help improve your indoor air quality: Part 2

Indoor air quality is an important topic all year long – not just during winter when we’re spending more time indoors. Today we continue our series on simple things you can do to improve your indoor air quality, which we started back in March.

Read part 1 of this post.

In part 1, we told you that indoor air quality should be approached with four principles in mind: Elimination, reduction, ventilation and filtration. Part 1 focused on elimination and reduction. Today we are going to address ventilation, and more specifically, spot ventilation.
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The Curiel Residence: Straw Bale Offers Affordability, Comfort and Beauty

Kim and Fred Curiel made the construction of their new home a community affair, bringing friends and neighbors together one weekend to cut and stack the straw bales that would eventually be the exterior walls of their new home.  Years after completion, the Curiels are still inviting the community into their home to share the importance of a healthy indoor environment and how straw bale walls keep their interior comfortable year round.  GreenPoint Rated recently sat down with Kim to talk about her family’s original motivation to use straw bales as a building material and learn about her favorite outcome from the home after living in it for almost a decade.

The exterior of the Curiels' straw bale home. The deep porch overhang adds further insulation from weather.

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“Ask an Expert” with Kris Knutson

Winter weather has finally arrived and we are spending more time indoors.  What can we do to improve indoor air quality?

Good indoor air quality (IAQ) is important regardless of the time of year.  The EPA estimates that  “on average, Americans spend about 90  percent or more of their time indoors” and that “indoor levels of pollutants may be two to  five times higher, and occasionally more than 100 times higher, than outdoor levels.”  Poor IAQ has been connected to attention deficit disorder and asthma in children. Although IAQ is a complex subject, these four simple, core principles can help guide your thinking: elimination, reduction, ventilation and filtration.

I will address the four core principles in a 3 part series. In this first part, I’ll talk about elimination and reduction.

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Villa Terra: A New Home Built with Earth Walls and Salvaged Materials

© Frank Paul Perez, Red Lily Studios

Villa Terra‘s beauty has just as much to do with what you cannot see, as it does with what you can. Within the 18-inch thick walls of the 3,200 square-foot house is enough dirt to moderate the sun’s heat throughout the year. That means the interior stays cool during the summer months and warm during the winter months. Although considered a brand new home at the time of its completion in 2005, its historical character is drawn from the many salvaged materials integrated both underfoot and overhead. Read on to get an insider’s perspective on Villa Terra from its homeowner and architect, Noel Cross of Noel Cross Architects.

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