Empowering Western NC and Upstate SC with Solar Since 1995

A recent article entitled “Green building booms in Asheville” caught my attention, and I thought I’d share some of the encouraging trends that we are seeing in green building in this region, in place of focusing on a single home this month.  According to Dale Neal, with the Asheville Citizen Times, “Green building accounts for about half of the new home construction underway inside the city limits — 25 certified green homes out of 59 new single family projects. West Asheville is even hotter for green building — eight of the last 13 home projects that sold and closed in the past six months were certified green.”  This is certainly noteworthy! (Green homes are certified in North Carolina through the WNC Green Building Council’s NC Green Built Program.)

“A focus on green building has given an edge to builders and real estate professionals as consumers started looking at smaller, quality-built homes that will save them money on power bills,” it states in the article. Jody Guokas of JAG & Associates Construction, a pioneering Green Builder on the Asheville front, affirmed the pick-up in his business, saying he’s got fourteen projects in progress, a doubling since last Spring.  For Jody, being a leader in green building means staying on the cutting edge. “The baseline is moving in the direction of efficiency and is getting better and better. It makes jobs interesting, and challenging,” he said.  Jody was one of the first builders in the region to incorporate solar hot water in his homes as a standard over five years ago, and with the Davenport Park project, pictured above, has helped solar become more mainstream. This West Asheville green-infill neighborhood (featured back in our April 2009 Newsletter) was completed last summer with fifteen homes. Five of the homes now sport solar electric systems, as the homeowners choose add pv.

When JAG’s customers choose to include solar, Jody has them pursue this directly, so that the tax incentives can be claimed by the homeowner.  Jarvis Hudson, who is building with JAG in Woodfin, is excited to be finally building a green home. Because it will be so efficient, he is able to include a solar electric, an opportunity he has been waiting a while.

While WNC has emerged as a hub of green building in the region, the trend is national, as “More Builders Going Green” confirms. According to that article, a variety of factors are aiding the move to green; builders and developers said that the three most important factors in their adoption of green building strategies were increasing energy costs, changes in codes and regulations, and wider availability and lower prices for green building products.

According to survey results, they report that the percentage of builders who said that less than 16% of their projects were green shrank from 63% in 2011 to 38% in the most recent study. That number is expected to fall to 16% by 2018.”These findings demonstrate that among home builders, and increasingly among single-family remodelers, green is becoming the standard way to build,” the report said. “This wider adoption of green may help push the single-family home market to become even greener in the future, with homes increasingly needing to be green to be competitive.”

As far as renewables go, the report  indicates that the number of builders incorporating clean energy systems into their projects also is growing steadily. In 2013, 8% of builders surveyed said they included renewables on all of the projects, which was expected to grow to 20% by 2016. The proportion of builders offering renewables as an option was 34% in 2013 but expected to increase to 40% by 2016.

The article did reference that one limitation on green features is that they haven’t always been recognized real estate appraisers in the past. However, this is changing rapidly, and the Appraisal Institute just published   “Residential Green Valuation Tools,” providing a comprehensive overview of the valuation of high-performance homes. Specifically for valuing solar energy systems, a PV Valuation Tool, developed by Sandia National Laboratories, determines the value of a new or existing photovoltaic (PV) system installed on residential and commercial properties. This is a significant step in ensuring that a solar investment is a solid one, with a quantifiable value-add realized immediately.

These are promising figures for moving our buildings towards increased efficiency, and healthier and more sustainable systems. It’s exciting to be in a community that has been leading the way.

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