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Learn about Greener Living

by Preservation Properties

Newtonville Village Day

Saturday, September 29, 10am – 5pm & 6-10pm
Walnut Street, Newtonville

Please visit us at our booth on Saturday the 29th!  We will be giving out lots of information pertaining to sustainable building materials, local green companies and products that will help you live a more eco-friendly life.

 

Newton Earth Day Events

by Preservation Properties

Join your neighbors in being green! Come to the following events...

April 21 (Sat) New England Mobile Book Fair - 11 am- 4 pm 82-84 Needham St. Newton – Green Decade and our “Magic Energy Bike” will be featured by the New England Mobile Book Fair!  

April 22 (Sun) Whole Foods Markets 916 Walnut St & 647 Washington St - Reduce your carbon footprint and help support Green Decade Newton with a purchase of a vegan product. Both Whole Foods Markets in Newton will donate $1 for each vegan bakery item sold in their Bakery departments. From 2-4 pm at the Walnut St. Store there will also be a garden workshop!

 

This article comes from Green Decade Newton

Newton Losing Some Public Transportation?

by Preservation Properties

 

MBTA Proposing to Eliminate Several Newton Bus Routes.

The routes include bus 52 (Centre St.to Parker to Dedham); bus 170 (Waltham to W. Newton to Boston) and express buses 500, 554, and 555.  All Newton bus routes are under consideration for reduction or elimination.  These changes would put more cars on our roads, increasing traffic congestion, air pollution, and noise (road traffic is the most important single source of noise in urban environments).
 
Green Decade/Newton believes good public transit system is crucial to the livability of our villages and vital to the economic, social and environmental health of our region.  We urge the MBTA to look for other alternatives that will encourage and strengthen public transit.
 
You have until March 1 to tell the MBTA what you think by e-mail to fareproposal@mbta.com; by regular mail to MBTA attn:  Fare Proposal Com., 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116; by phone 617-222-3200/TTY 617-222-5146.

 

This article comes from Green Decade Newton

Water Legacy Greywater Recycling

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

google map to real pro systems

For most of us, setting up a grey water system— that is, setting up a system to recycle waste water that's only slightly contaminated to use for flushing a toilet or watering plants—is too complicated. Water Legacy aims to change that by bringing a mainstream grey-water recycling system into the home.

 

Water Legacy's residential graywater reclamation system conserves potable water by recycling spent water for safe usable purposes. Wastewater generated by homes is usually either black water, contaminated to levels that prohibit use, or graywater which can be treated and stored for non-potable reuse.


Water Legacy's system is a stand-alone system that collects used bathing greywater, filters and disinfects this water, and managgoogle map to real pro systemses the automatic supply to the toilet system. After it's installed, it requires no operator intervention.

Unlike the DIY solutions, Water Legacy uses a multi-barrier disinfection system to ensure that even the water in your toilet has been disinfected using hydrogen peroxide and UV. Unfortunately, this only supplies water to your toilet and is not designed to help you water your lawn or plants.

 

Save energy with landscaping

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

 

Landscaping Most homeowners carefully plan their landscaping for beauty, property value, comfort, and maybe water savings or neighborhood bragging rights. But smart landscaping also helps save on energy bills. On summer days, it feels cooler sitting under a tree or standing in the grass. Also, farmers have used lines of trees as windbreaks for centuries. There are easy ways for homeowners to use the same principles to save energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates trees in the right spots around a home can save energy consumption by up to 25 percent, easily providing a return on most landscaping projects within eight years.

Here are some basic ways to save energy with landscaping. You can cut summer cooling costs, winter heating bills or possibly affect both at the same time. For all of the following landscaping work, work around existing plants. For the most part, larger trees and shrubs are more effective at saving energy. Let them grow. Likewise, think about long-term energy savings and plant slow-growing species that will live longer and withstand harsher conditions.

Saving on Cooling Bills

The biggest factor in summer energy savings is blocking the sun’s heat blasting through windows and raising inside temperatures, boosting air conditioning demand. You can save energy by strategically landscaping your yard.

Hire a landscape designer to help plant trees at the ideal angle to block direct summer sunlight but still allow natural light into the home. Consider large, wide deciduous trees near windows on the south side of the house, and near an air conditioning unit. The trees will block plenty of summer sun, but lose their leaves in the winter and allow passive solar heat. Recommended trees for saving energy include maples, birch, and many oaks.

The west and northwest sides of the house should also be blocked at low angles to block late afternoon sun. Plant fuller trees with lower branches in these areas to save energy. Until the trees properly mature, consider vines on or near the house. They can help keep the summer sun from baking walls and heating the house. Deciduous vines will get out of the sun’s way in winter, but windy areas might call for evergreen vines to block chilly winter blasts.

A landscaper might also be able to help design a channel of plants that will funnel cooling summer breezes into the house to help you save energy.

Finally, at the most basic level, any landscaping helps cool the air in the immediate vicinity and will reduce the amount of surface and ground heat seeping into the home. Soil covered with plants and shaded by trees will remain cooler than asphalt and other heat-absorbing surfaces.

Saving on Heating Bills

The key in winter is blocking cold wind while allowing the sun to provide passive solar energy. Harnessing passive solar energy helps you to save fossil fuel energy. The latter is simple. Just get the trees out of the way of south-facing windows (possibly by using deciduous trees, as mentioned above).

Rows of dense, low evergreen trees and shrubs can help block wind. Ideal shrubs will grow to between 6 and 10 feet, such as camellia, hollies, oleander, and Viburnum.

Heating and cooling bills can be significantly reduced with well-designed landscaping, including trees that cool the air and block summer sun, and shrubs that control winter wind.

Hybrid bulbs combine CFL and halogen bulb features

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

Another complaint against compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) will have to go by the wayside with the introduction of a new hybrid bulb from GE that is able to come to immediate full brightness as soon as it is switched on. As with cars, where hybrids combine the best properties of two transport technologies, hybrids are now an option for light bulbs, combining immediate brightness of halogen with the energy savings of a compact fluorescent.

GE LightbulbThe bulb itself is in a conventional incandescent-shape. Inside that is a now-familiar coil of compact fluorescent tubing. But, at the center of that is a small halogen capsule. When the light is turned on, both the halogen and the CFL come on, so that the bulb has full brightness immediately available. Once the CFL has reached its full brightness, the halogen portion automatically turns off, so that the life of the bulb is conserved.

The hybrid bulbs have an expected lifetime of 8,000 hours, about 8x as long as incandescent bulbs, and close to the expected life of regular CFLs. Additionally, these hybrid bulbs have a lower level of mercury than most currently available CFLs. The hybrid bulbs contain just 1 mg of mercury, while most current CFLs have 1.5 to 3.5 mg of mercury.

The hybrid bulbs are available for 60- and 75-watt replacement and should now be starting to appear in retail stores, with an expected price range of $5.99 to $9.99.

This article comes from Yahoo Green

Make your yard a Certified Wildlife Habitat

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

When writing recently on native and drought-tolerant plants for California landscaping, I came across this little tidbit: The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has a program, “that helps members turn their backyards into wildlife havens.” How spectacular!Bird

Being a national organization, this program applies all over the country, not just to California. And you can certify your garden to be one of 140,000 Certified Wildlife Habitats across the U.S.!

The cost is minimal ($20 dollars and is what you’d pay for a good plant, so consider it part of the landscaping budget), and you get certified. You also become a member of the NWF with a year subscription to its award-winning National Wildlife magazine, plus a subscription to the quarterly tip-filled newsletter which will help you run and maintain your habitat, and your name will be listed in the NWF national registry of certified habitats.

The best part is that it’s not as difficult as it might sound to get your yard up to snuff. You need some basic amenities for the critters that most yards probably already have to one degree or another, stated as per NFW’s site:

  • Food sources like native plants
  • Water sources like birdbaths or fountains
  • Places to take cover like birdhouses or thickets
  • Places to raise young like dense vegetation or shrubs or nesting boxes
  • Sustainable gardening like chemical-free fertilizers and compost

This program can be instigated just about anywhere: on your college campus, at your child’s school, or in any other community garden area. Check out The National Wildlife Federation’s website for details and more information on how easy it is to turn your outdoor space into a wildlife habitat!

--Jocelyn Broyles

Headline image by Howard Cheek from TheNationalWildlifeFederation.org

All information from National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.'


This article comes from Yahoo Green

Swap Disposables For Reusable Goods

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

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Paper towels, plastic bags, to-go coffee cups…

Winning our hearts with their convenience, these disposable products have become all-too-familiar in our culture. Yet as many of us know, tossing them out after just one use, when practiced on a massive scale, does not create a pretty picture for the planet.

If you’re looking for some help transitioning away from dependence on these disposables, you may find the following list helpful.  Reuseit.com, a place where you can learn about the problems of disposables and buy products for a waste-less lifestyle, developed this list of their top products.

Here are Reuseit.com’s top picks:

  1. Biodegradable, 100-percent recycled-content garbage bags – They're infused with a natural additive that allows the plastic to biodegrade completely into natural elements.
  2. Spray bottle for DIY cleaners – Made in the USA with 40-percent post-consumer recycled content, this bottle even has recipes and instructions for making nontoxic cleaners at home printed right on the side.
  3. The original EarthTote – The best-selling replacement to paper shopping bags, it stands on its own for easy packing.
  4. Thank You and Have a Nice Day tote bags – Printed with PVC-free ink, these best-selling, dual-handled tote bags are made of hemp.
  5. Bluesign-certified Workhorse - This handy replacement for plastic bags folds into its own ultra-compact pouch attached inside the bag.
  6. Snack and sandwich bags - They're durable, easy-to-clean, and made in the USA.
  7. I’m Not a Paper Towel” and More “I’m Not a…” products – Clever replacements for paper lunch bags and paper towels. Replacements for plastic water bottles, plastic bags, facial tissue, and more coming soon!
  8. Recycled PET mesh ultra-compact tote – A smart, stylish, 55-percent recycled-content bag that folds into its own compact pouch.
  9. Recycled PET mesh produce bags, set of four + stuff sack – This is a lightweight, long-lasting replacement for plastic produce bags.
  10. Everything Cloth – Cut back on use-and-toss items like disposable napkins, tissues, wet wipes, and paper towels. These resuable versions are made with hemp and organic cotton.

 

A Budget Friendly Guide TO Greener Living

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

What is a Green Mortgage

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

Energy-efficient mortgages (EEM), also known colloquially as green mortgages, are still relatively unknown among homeowners. Perhaps it’s due to a lack of information, or perhaps even due to mismanaged marketing, but green mortgages, started by the Federal Housing Administration in 1995, are a great way to improve one’s home, finances, and health.

Few homeowners know that energy-efficiency upgrades can get them tax credits. Fewer know that with an energy-efficient home, they lessen their carbon footprint and contribute more to making their communities sustainable. An EEM makes both of these possible.

The New York Times reports that less than one percent of all mortgage loans are green mortgages, quoting industry stakeholders. Over the past few years, more and more people are getting concerned about the energy performance of their homes. Environmentalists and industry stakeholders alike hope that green mortgages increase to prop up the already weak mortgage market.

What’s Covered by an EEM?

An energy-efficient mortgage is a loan homeowners take out to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Proceeds from these loans can be used to purchase upgrades such as double-paned windows, geothermal water heaters, modern HVAC systems, radiant heat barriers, and improved insulation. Even the installation of solar roof panels can be financed with a green mortgage.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website states that an EEM “means comfort and savings.” An energy-efficient home benefits from lower maintenance costs and additional savings on energy costs, giving the homeowner additional cash derived from lower utility bills. This extra cash can be used for housing expenses. The HUD argues that if homeowners have more cash, then they have more purchasing power to acquire a better, newer, and more comfortable home.

On the Rise

In its Environmental Certification Report released February 2010, Greenworks Realty reports that the uptake of environmentally certified new homes in Seattle were increasing, selling faster and getting more share of the realty market. Greenworks Realty, founded in 2002 as the first full-service real estate brokerage based in the U.S. to focus on the green real estate market, based their data on the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWLS).

Melissa Tracey, writing for REALTOR Magazine, cites the Greenworks Realty report along with a report by the Earth Advantage Institute. The institute’s report culls data from the Regional Multiple Listing Service of Portland, where the same thing happened: The uptake of environmentally certified homes — new and existing — increased.

The U.S. government is very aggressive in promoting energy efficiency among homeowners. The website of the US Department of Energy is a rich trove of information for saving money and energy at home. The site posts information about rebates for Energy Star-certified appliances and even instructions for conducting one’s own energy assessment.

The site also offers a downloadable PDF containing energy-saving tips. In it, you’ll find relevant and vital information about energy efficiency, as well as data showing how much an average American household spends on heating and cooling alone.

The HERS Report

Filing for an EEM is a positive option, considering the rising costs of fuel and maintenance. But how does one get an EEM?

One of the requirements of an EEM is a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) report, written by a licensed Energy Rater.

Akin to the mileage rating of a car, the HERS report evaluates an individual home’s energy efficiency. A licensed Energy Rater, either hired by the buyer, seller, lender, or the real estate agent, inspects the home and factors in insulation, appliances, window types, local climate, and utility rates to create a report covering the following:

  • Overall Rating Index (ORI) of the house
  • Recommended energy-efficiency upgrades
  • Cost estimates, projected annual savings, and life expectancy of upgrades
  • Improved Rating Index (IRI) after the upgrades
  • An estimate of the annual total energy cost of the home before and after the upgrades

The HERS report also includes how much money can be spent in upgrading the energy efficiency of a property.

Advantages of Green Mortgages

Homeowners who have green mortgages get to qualify for larger loans for better properties. With regular mortgages, homeowners can only qualify for a maximum allowable monthly payment of 29% of their total monthly income. Compare this to the maximum allowable monthly payment for a green mortgage: up to 33% of their total monthly income.

The savings incurred from lower utility expenses begins on Day One, as the installed features — such as geothermal water heaters and improved insulation — use less energy. Other energy-efficiency measures, such as radiant heat barriers and double-paned windows, increase the occupants’ comfort.

The resale value of the home itself increases once it is environmentally certified, as it has both improved comfort and energy-saving features. Owners of existing homes obviously benefit from an EEM, since they are increasing the resale value of their existing property and, at the same time, saving money instead of using it for maintenance and improvements.

An EEM is not a loan made separately; it goes in combination either with your existing mortgage or in applying for a new mortgage loan. If an individual homeowner qualifies for a regular mortgage, then automatically he/she qualifies for a green mortgage. The payment for the green mortgage and the regular (or refinanced) mortgage is combined, so a borrower needs to only make a single mortgage payment every month.

Pick the EEM Just for You

There are three types of green mortgages. So far, all green mortgages have been designed for individual homeowners; no commercial version of an EEM exists for small and large businesses. Lenders offer the following types:

  • Conventional EEMs are guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Borrowers who are applying for conventional EEMs can get as much as 15% of their home’s appraised value.
  • FHA EEMs are not as flexible as conventional EEMs, but FHA EEM borrowers benefit from FHA financing. Home owners can borrow up to 5% of a home’s appraised value, but not more than $8,000.
  • VA EEMs are for current and former military personnel. These EEMs allow borrowers to get up to $6,000 for upgrades when buying an existing home. A VA EEM does not factor in the appraised value of the prospective property.

Sustainability as an Issue

Sustainability has definitely become one of the factors in the increasing interest in green homes. The past years have seen spikes in fuel prices and rising costs of energy. The current economic downturn has also affected interest in new homes, with an increased number of mortgages going underwater.

Energy efficiency does more than lessen utility bills; an environmentally certified home is also a healthy home. Improved insulation and modern HVAC systems lessen exposure to pollen, dust, and other air contaminants. The longevity of a house is extended by improved insulation and radiant heat barriers, protecting wooden structures from moisture and termites.

All these improvements lessen a household’s impact on the environment, and thus directly contribute to creating a sustainable community.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy considers energy efficiency and renewable energy as twin pillars of sustainable energy. In this respect, an energy-efficient home is definitely a model of sustainable energy, as it uses less energy to maintain and may even use renewable energy through solar and wind power.

Tax Incentives for Green Homes

Owners of environmentally certified homes can benefit from tax breaks for Energy Star-certified appliances and energy-efficiency upgrades. According to the Energy Star website, there are federal tax credits for some Energy Star-certified products.

Homeowners can enjoy tax credits for their energy-efficiency upgrades and appliances. For example, by installing an advanced, main air-circulating fan, homeowners may qualify for a 30-percent tax credit. Installing bulk insulation, such as batts, rolls, blow-in fibers, rigid boards, expanding spray, and pour-in-place polyurethane foam will get homeowners additional tax credits, if they install the insulation themselves. Solar water heaters and solar panels also qualify for tax credits.

Kim Vatis, writing for NBC Chicago, says homeowners with energy-efficient properties can get as much as $500 tax credits.

With the current financial crisis and the increasing awareness on sustainability, green mortgages will continue to flourish, leading to more energy-efficient homes and communities.

 

(This article is brought to you by Blue Planet, Green Living)

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 41

Contact Information

Preservation Properties
439 Newtonville Avenue
Newtonville MA 02460
Office: 617.527.3700
Fax: 617.527.2050