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Crib Notes
By Joe Nabbefeld

September 18, 2014

Crib Notes: Even NAR gets it — Go green at home

  • Companies like Morgan Stanley and Honda are making big bets on the green revolution, and the National Association of Realtors is talking about Earth Overshoot Day.
    Special to the Journal

    Of course you're going to do it. Even those of you among the most incorrigible. It's just a matter of when.

    Drive an electric car? You will. Work in a “living building”? Yep. Live in a net-zero home? Indeed, or at least one with a lot more sustainable features.

    After all, it's simply a matter of life and death. For you. For the planet. For your kids. Some people will stubbornly insist on waiting until it's not even called “green” before they could possibly go there. Plenty of silliness all around. It goes away.

    Even the National Association of Realtors ALREADY went there (at least to the early, denial-is-ending, greenwash step. It's an early step but there's no turning back).

    Even NAR gets concerned about silly little things like Earth Overshoot Day.

    NAR is, in fact, WHERE Crib Notes learned about Earth Overshoot Day. An online continuing education clock-hours class for Realtors provided by NAR is called: “Going Green: The Environmental Movement in Real Estate.” Really.

    Class material describes Earth Overshoot Day as the date each year when humanity's annual global demand for energy and resources exceeds what the earth can regenerate for that year.

    The Global Footprint Network, an international think tank set up to “advance the science of sustainability,” started Overshoot Day. The Network likens the day to managing your budget: When you have spent more for the year than you make in a year, you're in overshoot too.

    “It's driving down the Earth's principal instead of living on its interest.” We all know where that leads.

    Earth Overshoot Day this year was... Aug. 19. We're in overspend (again).

    You guessed it: Overshoot Day hasn't been inching closer to Christmas; it's moving closer to Valentines Day. Call it the new Day of the Dead.

    We crossed into overshoot soon after 1961. That year, the Network says, the earth ran at about 75 percent of its capacity. Now we're running at “about 1.5 earths,” as in we need another half-earth's worth of regeneration to return to break even.

    What fun!

    One can split hairs on this, like on anything. One can challenge the roughly 6,000 data points that the Network says its scientists use for the equation that generates the overshoot date. Quibble away. The Network estimates right now they are within 15 percent accuracy and gaining more accuracy, but you get the picture. Even NAR does.

    Residential and commercial real estate plays a huge role in determining whether we live more sustainably. Both on a big-picture scale and right on down to our home choices.

    In our homes, going greener means a range of things including but not limited to:

    • Improving energy efficiency, like more and better insulation, and efficient heating equipment

    • Using recycled and locally produced products

    • Recycling

    • Using things longer

    • Living close to where we work and play

    • Using less electricity and producing solar electricity

    • Getting rid of lawns and using rainwater on gardens

    • Using paint, flooring, insulation, furniture and cleaning agents without harmful chemicals

    You don't have to build a new home to go green. Using, maintaining and greening up the beauties we already have will work.

    Whole industry segments are now geared up for green homes. There's a national and local “Green Building Council” that helps set standards and get information out. There's also LEED for Homes. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, produced by the US Green Building Council (USGBC.org).

    You can buy sustainable building materials at the Environmental Home Center or Green Depot, both in Sodo.

    One of the greener builders in Seattle — Green Canopy Homes (which does both green remodels and new construction) — is now seeking permits for building two “net-zero” home projects.

    What's net-zero? That means homes and buildings use only as much energy as they produce. See http://greencanopyhomes.com/2014/08/homes-as-printers.

    Green Canopy's projects are a net-zero single-family home on 11th in Ballard and a 5-unit rowhouse at 5267 12th Ave. N.E. in the north part of the U District, near Ravenna.

    Green Canopy's blog links to Green Home Builder magazine's website and cites two articles: “Why Morgan Stanley is Betting that Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company” and “Carmaker Honda will Build and Fuel 40% of All New Homes by 2060.”

    “These are BIG companies placing big bets with real cash,” the blog states.

    Joe Nabbefeld is a Realtor with Windermere Capitol Hill. You can reach him at www.RealSolutions.biz. He was the DJC's commercial real estate editor back in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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