You will not find my wife and I ever living in a Star Trek-themed abode, unless of course we are frozen until the 24th century. By then I'm sure everyone will be saying "Captain at the helm" when they sit down for breakfast at the kitchen island.
Still, I am eager to watch the DVD in my home theater. Nothing will beat the sound of an oncoming Klingon Bird of Prey zooming across 5.1 speakers.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to help identify and implement practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
To qualify as LEED certified, homes must earn a minimum of 45 points in eight categories including: Innovative Design Process (ID), Location and Linkages (LL), Sustainable Sites (SS), Water Efficiency (WE), Energy and Atmosphere (EA), Materials and Resources (MR), Indoor Environmental Quality (IQ), and Awareness and Education (AE).
LEED certified homes save more energy, conserve more water, create less waste and are healthier for homeowners than non-LEED certified homes. These green homes offer homeowners health benefits, significantly reduce their utility bills and lessen their impact and dependence on the environment. While not every home will be built or retrofit to LEED certification standards, a number of smaller steps can be taken by homeowners and builders with the LEED standards in mind.
Federal stimulus packages create additional incentives for homeowners to incorporate energy-efficient products into their homes including a 30 percent tax credit (up to $1,500) on windows and doors, insulation, roofs (metal and asphalt), HVAC, water heaters (non-solar) and biomass stoves for those products purchased for existing homes from now until 2010. Tax credits for existing homes and new construction are available at 30 percent of the cost on geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar water heaters, small wind energy systems and fuel cells through 2016. With more than 1,800 exhibitors -- many of which boast LEED credits for homes -- and 100 educational sessions on sustainable building including a keynote opening by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, GreenBuild 2009 demonstrated the growing interest, importance and need for eco friendly building and design. Touting the theme, “green building on every street” and through its first-ever Green Job Fair, the conference and expo proved that going green has never been more mainstream.
What does this mean for homeowners? Not only will your homes be healthier for your family and the environment, but as more and more companies offer green products and services, more options and competitive pricing will emerge for homeowners looking to go green. For homeowners interested in more information on LEED, green building or to view a list of builders dedicated to sustainable homes, visit the USGBC Web site.
GreenBuild is an international conference and expo on bringing green living to Main Street. It is being covered for renovateyourworld.com by the editors of EcoNewsNetwork.org, a blog that provides news, trends and commentary on ecological issues, challenges, products, processes, science and leisure.
Looking for a small way to give this holiday season? We have a great idea: Sears Hometown Stores has launched their Food Drive, which will run until the end of 2009. At each of the 950 stores located across the country, customers will have a chance to donate non-perishable canned and boxed foods and other needed items, like diapers, power towels and so on. Customers can drop donations off at donation boxes located at their nearby Sears Hometown Store.
Donations will be distributed to local shelters, food kitchens, after-programs, and similar organizations with an eye out for the needy.
This is the fourth year of the initiative; the past three years have seen over a half a million in food items collected and donated. It would be great to see folks step up and make contributions to their local Sears Hometown Store Food Drive and try to crack the million food item mark. In these recession years it's hard to question that need is as great as it has ever been.