What is a Passive House?

We all hear words and phrases every day like: environmentally friendly homes, green homes or homes that make less of an impact.  Have you considered what these ideas really mean with regard to your home?

The Passive House” has been the subject of conversation for quite a while now. It has been described as “Green Without Gizmos”. The seeds of the Passive House standard originated in the U.S. and Canada in the mid  1970’s and were codified in a central Europe standard for the first time in the late 1980’s. The “Passive House” has two basic goals, minimize energy losses and utilize passive energy gains.  Houses built to this standard result in buildings that use precious little energy. More details on the history of the Passive House standard here.

By the way, minimizing energy losses is a good first step for reducing the environmental impact for much of the existing housing stock in the U.S. If you own one that is serviced by Baltimore Gas and Electric, they will help you minimize your energy losses with rebates of 50% of the cost up to $2000. See my post about the BGE Energy Audit Program. 

Click Here for a brochure on “The Passive House from International Passive House.

Is That House a Good Candidate for Solar Technology?

How the sun moves through the skyAre you shopping for a new home or do you already own one, and would  like to determine if it is a good site for implementing Solar technology?

Well, grab a compass or download a compass app to your smart phone and now use that compass to check the orientation of the house in question. The ideal property is oriented so the long dimension of the house runs east and west, and ideally (in our northern hemisphere) the back of the house faces south. The solar technology goes on the side facing south so it would not be visible on the front of the house and therefore not impact the curb appeal.

Another concern is whether or not there are trees or other objects that might shade the south side of the property. Keep in mind that the sun is lower in the sky in the winter months. Look out for evergreen trees on the south side, but deciduous trees that might cast shade in the winter aren’t as much of a concern (unless they shade the home in the summer months) because they lose there leaves in the winter.

Alternatively, you can quickly check properties with Google Earth and coming soon Google’s new tool “Project Sunroof “(www.google.com/sunroof) Sounds as if it will make this determination easier and provide more information.

Do you know the benefits of a BGE Energy Audit?

house2If you are interested in lessening the environmental impact from your housing (and saving some money) there are many options, but the first step is to seal and insulate your home. Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) will help you pay for it.

BGE will subsidize the cost of of a comprehensive energy audit, so your cost for the audit, in most cases, is only $100. Normally, such an audit would cost about $400. The audit will identify opportunities for improved energy efficiency. Usually the low hanging fruit will include plugging leaks in your home’s building envelope, sealing your duct work, and adding insulation in the attic. BGE will reimburse you 50% of the cost of these improvements up to $2000.

They also offer rebates on replacing old inefficient HVAC systems and other improvements that could total $4300.

Find all the details on this audit for your home at this link:


How Much Could You Save on Hot Water?

earthHeating water for our homes requires an extraordinary amount of energy. It is one of the ways we as consumers can really help our environment is by saving on our hot water usage. This will help to save energy, power, and keep our earth more ‘green’. We are all aware that the next generation, our children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, will inherit this earth from us. The expectation is that we will leave the environment in a better position for them.

Discover in this article how much hot water are you wasting? If you gather the data on how much you use in hot water for your home, you may find as they indicate in this article that you could buy Starbucks! Read more on “How Much Hot Water You are Wasting” by Clicking Here

Let us all work together!

What is Green Residential Real Estate

Net Zero homeGreen Residential Real Estate is housing that lessens its environmental impact. The Journal of Industrial Ecology states that four areas dominate and account for 70-80 percent of the environmental impact of individual households:transportation, diet, housing construction, and energy-using products.

So how can we lessen the environmental impact and live in a more sustainable way? Lets look at housing construction which is impacted by the manufacturing, transporting, and assembling of building materials, and the first place to start here is with the size. It should be obvious that the bigger the building, the more resources consumed, the greater the environmental impact. Big is not green, small is green.

Even if we build a net zero energy house, a big one will require more materials to build and more renewable energy to power energy using products such as appliances, lighting fixtures, and heating and cooling units, etc. Photovoltaics and other clean energy alternatives require manufacturing, transporting, and assembling just like any other material used to build. A bigger house needs more. Big is not green, small is.

To be sure there are many other ways to lessen the environmental impact of housing. However, I think size should be the first consideration. We have to stop building more than we need. Statistics from the U.S. Green Building Council show that buildings in the U.S. accounts for:

  • 72% of electricity consumption
  • 38% of all carbon dioxide emissions
  • 40% of raw material use

small-house-ideasThe first step to shrinking these numbers is to build smaller houses.