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USGBC: Talking Green, Rainwater Harvesting, Pliny Fisk III

08 March 2009   Jerry Germansen

Join a discussion about rainwater harvesting, hear Pliny Fisk III and read about the advantages of building green.

greenbuildingThe Greater Yavapai Provisional Branch of the US Green Build Council (USGBC), Arizona Chapter, met on February 12th for a presentation and discussion of Green Building by EcoBroker, Rob Israel.  The event, held at Yavapai Community College, was attended by many USGBC members including building industry and mortgage professionals. Rob demonstrated the effects of green building over time in energy savings and reduction in carbon footprint. Also discussing relevant issues were Theresa Baca, a seasoned Loan Officer with Mountain  Mortgage,  and Joe Medosh of Environmental Energy Consulting.

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There are five criteria to consider when designing a home with green build elements including the construction materials, site orientation, water usage, energy, and waste. All of these elements interact to create a living environment that is cost effective, provides a hedge against future utility cost inflation and adds comfort to our living space while protecting our planet.

Although there are many levels of “green”, there is a way for us to establish a baseline for considering our homes environmentally sustainable. Begin with incorporating the green build elements in our design and add products rated for their energy savings under the Energy Star label. Energy Star products save 20-30% of the energy needed to operate them. The Energy Star seal can be found on appliances, heating and cooling equipment, and even electronics and computers. It is the easiest way for the public to exercise good judgment making purchases.

Some interesting statistics proving the affordability of green building were presented. McGraw Hill states that 56% of buyers who purchased “green” homes last year earn less than $76,000 and 26% earn less than $50,000. These lower income buyers value the savings over time in their energy efficient homes.

The myth that green costs more is not true when you look at the real facts. Wise buyers consider not only the monthly cost of the mortgage payment but also the cost to operate the home. Just setting a house in the proper direction with windows facing generally south can have a huge impact on heating and cooling costs. I owned a home in the Midwest that was built considering the sun and winds. My heating costs were about $120 per month in the dead of winter while my neighbor averaged $350 for the same size home. His was not placed properly for passive solar design. There was no added cost to my construction.  Over the life of the 30-year mortgage the savings would total $82,800 not including utility cost hikes.

When we purchase homes in most subdivisions today, we are buying a home that makes no consideration for the home placement. The heating and cooling systems are designed for the worst-case scenario. We wind up paying more for the equipment initially and a lot more for utilities. We waste energy when simply calculating the system requirements and choosing the right house design for the lot before building could save us tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the home. These simple decisions should always come first. In reality we do not give up curb appeal with a home that is right for its surroundings.

The Greater Yavapai Provisional Branch of USGBC invites you to our next meeting for an open discussion of Rainwater Harvesting on March 10th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Yavapai College Library Building. See our website at

Jerry Germansen
EXIT Realty Cool Mountain, Broker/Owner