Visit our website: www.thecatskillfarms.com

Don't miss our fun Video Series

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Green Building

Green, of course, has a lot legs these days. What magazine hasn't focused, highlighted, spotlighted, dissected and discussed green building, green products and a general green mentality?

What is denied though, over and over, and with a straight face, is the fact that green means green (dinero, that is). Implementing green technologies throughout a house will raise the cost of that house 10-20%+, which is a lot of money. For a $300k house, that's over $30k. Now, I don't what's in the wallet of my clients, but I can assure you many of them do not have an extra $30k+ just laying around waiting to be used for some global cause. That's a lot of cashola. Since having some fancy green technology in a home doesn't affect it's appraised value, this $30k is pure cash, no financing.

By accident, Catskill Farms is a leader in the green field, and all of our customers are beneficiaries. We build small and modest homes - even our big homes are only 1700 sq ft, 25% smaller than the size of the average american abode. Be as green as you want, if you build big the impact of the home's footprint begins the green race too far behind to ever catch up. There is nothing greener than limiting the size of a home - less devastation on the immediate building site, less fuels needed to heat and cool, less materials needed to build meaning many things among them less waste to the landfill, etc.... By being modest in our footprint and size requirements, our clients have made an conscious/unconscious choice to lead the green movement.

Truth be told, being green means a few required major efforts and then a lot optional fringe benefits.
1. Build small.
2. Insulate the heck out the house.
3. Seal up small penetrations that can be overlooked during the course of construction
4. Use an electronic heat thermostat set to lower heat when you are not home.
5. Use florescent bulbs.

They are simple items, and the only with a sizable price tag is #2, where foam spray-in insulation is without a doubt better than the traditional batt insulation, at about double the cost.

What I consistently found was my clients weren't focused on all the green hype, mostly because the cost was high and the payback was long. That whole equation has changed now that oil has doubled again. If higher cost insulation was paid back in savings over 6 years when oil was $40 a barrel, now the payback is 2 years, and the savings are from thereafter. Now, that is something people can understand. That's real money - even an investment.

Geothermal and solar panels are also avenues to explore, and although their expense can easily reach $40k, the payback is no longer 15 years, but can now reach as few as 5 years once the government tax incentives are factored in.

As with any super hyped product, it's easy to buy something that has no real value other than the feel-good aspect of the product - however, with energy costs skyrocketing past any expected benchmark, the ROI (return on investment) is rapidly increasing.