Dedicated to Going Green? Follow These 10 Easy Steps
Here are just 10 ideas, along with some online resources, that you could try.
Green your office–Establish a green team with colleagues to address ways to reduce your office’s impact. A recycling program is obvious. Other strategies could entail ridding the kitchen of disposable goods, replacing equipment that hogs energy, improving lighting and HVAC systems, installing a bike rack, and replacing grass around the office with a vegetable garden or native plants. For more information, visit www.greenyour.com/office.
Shop locally–Swear off buying stuff from faraway places, even if it saves some pennies. Just consider the impact that packaging and shipping your goods has on the environment. Instead, shop locally. Walking to shops saves energy and you also help neighborhood businesses thrive.
Make mini moves–Build new habits that will have an ongoing impact. Those could include the basics, such as switching to CFL bulbs, fixing water leaks (www.epa.gov/WaterSense), or cutting the phantom power at home.
Do an energy audit–Invest in an energy audit to figure out exactly how your house wastes energy. Even if you’re on a tight budget, commit yourself to making some of the changes the auditor suggests, and start setting aside money for costlier upgrades. Find an auditor at RESNET, www.resnet.us/trade/find-raters-auditors.
Go car-free–Reorganize your schedule so you can take public transit or walk to work and errands at least a day a week.
Become a locavore–Rely on local providers for your weekly produce by shopping at a farmers’ market or joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. And when it’s time for gift giving, consider buying CSA memberships for friends and clients. www.localharvest.org
Share your knowledge–Offer to make a presentation to colleagues at a weekly sales meeting about green changes they can make. Or pass the torch to the next generation by organizing an environmental event at a school or with a Girl Scout troop.
Raise your profile–Whether it’s a community garden, a rails-to-trails group, or a transit improvement committee, get involved in your community. Your participation raises your profile and connects you with new prospective clients, and your efforts have a direct impact on improving your community.
Learn something new–Still fuzzy on the details of programs like LEED or Energy Star? Wondering about new rebates and incentives? Spend two hours each week getting up to speed on industry programs and trends. One resource for such education is the Green REsource Council’s Webinars, one of the many great benefits available to NAR Green Designees. All the Webinars are archived at http://greenresourcecouncil.org/webinars.cfm for deisngees, and they include sessions on Energy Star, EPA’s WaterSense, USGBC’s REGREEN , LEED for Homes, and NAHB’s Green Building Program.
HUD Selects Lenders to Participate in New Pilot Program to Help Homeowners Pay for Home Energy Improvements
RISMEDIA, April 26, 2011—Eighteen national, regional and local lenders will participate in a new two-year pilot program that will offer qualified borrowers living in certain parts of the country low-cost loans to make energy-saving improvements to their homes. Backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), these new PowerSaver loans will offer homeowners up to $25,000 to make energy-efficient improvements of their choice, including the installation of insulation, duct sealing, replacement doors and windows, HVAC systems, water heaters, solar panels, and geothermal systems.
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the participating lenders during a tour of a family-run company that offers home energy audits and upgrades in Long Island, New York.
“We believe the market is right for a low-cost financing option for families who want energy-saving technologies in their home,” says Secretary Donovan. “PowerSaver hits on all cylinders by helping credit-worthy homeowners finance these upgrades, cut their energy bills and boost the local job market in the process. While FHA and these lenders are jumpstarting this pilot, we hope its success will lead to a growing private sector interest in making these types of loans.”
Secretary Chu announces “we are breaking down barriers and making energy efficiency more accessible and more affordable. It’s the right thing to do for our environment, for our economy and for the pocketbooks of American families.”
The remodeling industry cites surveys that point to a growing demand among homeowners interested in making their homes energy efficient. Yet options are still limited for financing home energy improvements, especially for the many homeowners who are unable to take out a home equity loan or access an affordable consumer loan. Initially, the PowerSaver pilot program is estimated to assist approximately 30,000 homeowners to finance energy-efficient upgrades though higher market demand may increase this impact. According to HUD projections, more than 3,000 jobs will be created through this pilot program and the impact may be larger if market demand for the loan program increases over time.
Participating lenders are largely selected based on their commitment to work in partnership with established home energy retrofit programs provided by states, cities, utilities and home performance contractors. These markets include, but are not limited to, areas of the country participating in the Energy Department’s Better Building Program.
PowerSaver loans will be backed by the FHA but require these lenders to have significant “skin in the game.” FHA mortgage insurance will cover up to 90 percent of the loan amount in the event of default. Lenders will retain the remaining risk on each loan, incentivizing responsible underwriting and lending standards.
PowerSaver has been carefully designed to meet a need in the marketplace for borrowers who have the ability and motivation to take on modest additional debt to realize the savings over time from home energy improvements. PowerSaver loans are only available to borrowers with good credit, manageable debt and at least some equity in their home (maximum 100% combined loan-to-value).
HUD developed PowerSaver as part of the Recovery Through Retrofit initiative launched in May 2009 by Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force to develop federal actions that would expand green job opportunities in the United States and boost energy savings by improving home energy efficiency. The announcement is part of an interagency effort including 11 departments and agencies and six White House offices.
For more information about HUD and its programs, visit http://www.hud.gov