Green Homes: Consumers Follow the Money

Chris Kramer

Chris Kramer, Sustainability Consultant at SWA

By Chris Kramer, Sustainability Consultant

What Homebuyers are Looking For

A report published recently by Shelton Group has found that current and potential homeowners prioritize the value of energy efficient features over other luxurious amenities. In their annual Energy Pulse study, Shelton Group found that 85% of potential homebuyers would be willing to pay for an ENERGY STAR® Certified Home and that the ENERGY STAR appliances would be a more valuable addition to their home than a pool, state-of-the-art sound system, or home theater. These findings are illustrative of a growing trend in the homeowner demographic to seek new ways of cutting annual energy costs. With the average American household currently spending $2,150 on energy bills, upgrading old appliances and light fixtures to new ones that use less energy can go a long way in reducing this annual expenditure.
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The Adventures of Mo and Her No Mow Lawn

I always thought the phrase ‘about as interesting as watching grass grow’ conjured a vision of ultimate boredom. That was before I attempted to grow my own no mow lawn. It turns out that watching grass grow can be a roller-coaster of emotions: the angst of wondering whether my inability to precisely follow directions would matter… the excitement of seeing the first blades of green poking up… the anguish over bare spots… and the pride over healthy, lush sections.

No Mow Lawn 1

April 2015 – The lower tier is seeded; the upper tier wall-building is still in progress

For years I advised clients to consider no mow lawns in their green homes, but I had never seen the end product through a full cycle of seasons. Friends of friends who own a turf farm expressed their interest-slash-skepticism at my undertaking, which more or less echoed the sentiments of a whole stream of landscape architects before. “Sure, you could try no mow if you really WANTED to… ” A search of local nurseries turned up nothing available. I couldn’t figure out why something that sounded so ingenious wasn’t more popular! An internet search for “no mow grass” turns up Prairie Nursery in Westfield, WI as a major supplier. A colleague used their product, and they were extremely helpful on the phone, so I ordered the No Mow Lawn Seed Mix online.
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Celebrate Earth Day 2016 – SWAstainable Lifestyles

2016 is the 46th year of the Earth Day movement! At Steven Winter Associates, it’s a year-round celebration of our planet. Take a look into the SWAstainable lifestyles of our employees, and tell us about your commitment to ‘living green’ in the comment section. #EarthDay

Does your business qualify as “Zero Waste Certified”?

Author: Celeste McMickle, Senior Sustainability Consultant

Waste reduction is an important topic these days in New York, as the city is currently targeting sending “zero waste to landfills” by the year 2030 as part of the One NYC program. What zero waste means from a practical standpoint is a reduction of more than 90% of waste to landfills, as this ZeroWaste_onenyc-logo_credit_1.nyc.govaccounts for non-recyclable toxins, and so forth.

Much like the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the US Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) has developed a rating system that allows business to track and achieve different performance tiers of waste reduction in their operational practices. Read more

Gamifying Sustainability: Play to Save, Save to Win

gamification_sustainability

Using gamification to incentivize consumer-level sustainable behavior is a relatively new strategy. It applies classic principals of game playing to encourage green living, offering a challenge, a platform for social competition, and a reporting system that quantifies performance. In an increasingly networked society fascinated with social media and gaming, tracking lifestyle behavior in a way that’s sharable and interactive transforms the mundane into the meaningful. Read more