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At what price, green?

Posted by Rona Fischman July 23, 2012 02:05 PM

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I get a lot of press releases that are advertisements for products or services. I pay attention to only some of them. Most of them, I ignore. I saved this one because it was a great example of the sales pitch for efficient building. I don’t know anything about these condos beyond this release and a glance at the MLS sheets.

(West Roxbury, MA) June 22, 2011- The Mayo Group, developer of energy efficient Gordon's Woods, located in West Roxbury, MA has gained Energy STAR certification after extensive testing by the United State Environmental Protection Agency. Kerri Bonarrigo Residential Sales Director for The Mayo Group, Developer of Gordon's Woods, says, "Gaining Energy STAR certification has been extremely important to this project. The air quality and overall indoor environment within our buildings is much healthier compared to non-certified residences. In addition, our residents will save significantly on monthly utility bills and HOA fees while the building itself will retain greater value over the long-term." Energy STAR certification means that Gordon's Woods conforms to strict rules for energy efficiency that make the condominiums at least 15 percent more efficient compared to homes built according to the 2004 International Residential Code. Energy STAR certified homes include additional features that conserve 20 to 30 percent more energy than the average home. With 42 unique units...

The trend toward energy efficiency is here. Over the next ten years or so, I expect that we will see more and more properties advertised as energy efficient or fully insulated, or otherwise touting their smaller energy footprint. But how well is it really selling? Although my clients care about efficiency, they aren’t willing to pay extra for ultra-efficient new construction. Unless the place is great in other respects, the place gets rejected on price.

They also know that they can retrofit old properties to be more efficient. Ever since I began in real estate about twenty years ago, my buyers have asked about wall insulation. Now, we are starting to get more than the rare “yes.” But will they pay more for that house? Probably not. Wall insulation is not that expensive and buyers are willing to put it on the “to-do” list. When I began in real estate, double-paned windows were rare, and they were a selling feature that added value to a house. Now they are pretty common. Houses don’t sell because of the windows, but now some are rejected based on old, single-paned windows or double-paned windows in poor condition. It has become to norm to expect double-pane windows in the market I work in. Windows are expensive. Well-installed quality windows are even more expensive.

Other efficiency measures don’t come as cheaply, either. There is a large range of products out there vying for your improvement dollars. Are any of them coming down in price enough to be within reach? Solar? Co-generating boilers? Efficient boilers in general? Efficient windows? Green roof projects? Recycled kitchen materials?
When will we get off the bleeding edge and into a time when it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to reduce the carbon footprint of a single family house? I expect I will get a flood of press releases with their answer… What have you found as a good way to reduce your footprint without emptying your wallet?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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