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WCR Rhode Island

Presentation by Ralph Plumb on Green building & why it matters in real estate.

Ralph Plumb

on 10 May 2010

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Transcript of WCR Rhode Island

Women's Council of Realtors - Rhode Island Chapter
March 1st, 2010


Atlantic Building & Remodeling, LLC
Ralph Plumb, President

Primary Topics:

What is GREEN and WHY it is important in your home.
How to EASILY diagnose energy efficiency problems.
Cost vs. Benefit analysis of GREEN and energy efficient improvements.
10 steps to improving a home's energy efficiency. What is GREEN?

Start with what GREEN is not:

Green Washing is the deliberate misuse of information to portray products and policies as environmentally friendly. For instance: adding a forest scene to your bottle or reshading your logo in green & yello does not make you environmentally conscious. (link to our blog post on the subject).

GREEN certifications within Residential Real Estate:

New Construction & Remodeling:
LEEDfor Homes (USGBC)
Green Certification (NAHB)
Energy Star (EPA, DOH)
Green Advantage (Independent)

In our (Newport County) marketplace with an old housing stock, many of these programs will be a small portion of our business.
In our business much of our analysis is done on a comparable basis (is home A more energy efficient than home B)
As a REALTOR it is important to educate clients on how the house will perform over time. Why is GREEN important to your business?

Your clients care about it.
You live a personally sustainable life and wish to carry those values over into your business life.
It's the HOTTEST thing in real estate.
The GREEN movement is only going to gain strength and momentum.
Differenciate Yourself

The GREEN segment of our economy is predicted to be
one of the fastest growing segments in the coming years.

How to easily diagnose energy efficiency problems?

What is energy efficiency?

Technically - Energy conversion
efficiency is the ratio between the useful outpu of an energy
conversion machine and the input, in energy terms.

Simply - How much energy is put in to achieve a desired return?

The easiest way to diagnose an energy efficiency problem in an existing home is the most obvious - energy consumption.

How much energy is the home using over a given period of time.

Diagnosing effiency problems

Heating systems - at or past their useful life. Working harder to produce the same level of energy output. If it looks old, it probably is and should be replaced.


Outside of X-Ray vision how can we determine the level of insulation? Here are a few basics:

First floor walls - older homes that are ballon framed go into basement and at the outside walls you can see the wall cavity (ballon framing is an old building technique and many of these homes will not be insulated unles their has been a major renovation or blown-in insulation).
Attic - much like the human body, most of the homes heat energy is lost at the top; roof and attic insulation is vital.
At the rafter bays (vented roof vs. non-vented roof)
Spray foam vs. fiberglass batt
At the collar ties (top of the ceiling) - when insulated at the ceiling, roof should always be vented
Fiberglass batt vs. blown-in cellulose


- Double pane windows vs. single pane. Why are double pane windows more energy efficient than single pane windows? (hint:the glass itself has no measurable impact)

Answer: Thermal Break. A thermal break is an element of low thermal conductivity placed in an assembly to reduce or prevent the flow of thermal energy between conductivity materials. Simply - seperate the hot from the cold.

Air infiltration:

Having a high level of insulation is inconsequential if there is a high level of air transfer between conditioned and unconditioned space.
- Doors
- Windows
- Attic access
- Gaps in framing
- Gaps in insulation
- Etc.

Blower Door Test - determines the level of air inflitration in a house, the rate at which air changes in the space.

Energy Efficiency - Real World Ex.

Rank these three ways to heat a home in terms of energy efficiency:

A. 95% efficiency gas boiler with hot water baseboard radiators.
B. 90% efficiency gas furnace with forced warm air.
C. Electric baseboard heat.
D. Not enough information given.
How can electric baseboard heat be more efficient?

Energy efficiency is the result of a number of factors:

Let's first look at design:

- In this example lets assume we are analyzing a 2,500 square foot house with a relatively closed floor plan, something we see quite a bit of here in Newport.
- Lets also assume the homeowners, or potential buyers, are empty nesters and don’t use all 5 bedrooms consistently.
- Knowing the design and use, now can someone explain how electric baseboard can be more efficient than a new single zone 95% efficiency gas boiler?

How can electric baseboard heat be more efficient?


- One of the primary benefits of electric baseboard is control, the ability to zone or segment heating demand element by element, room by room.
- In our example, your empty-nester clients can leave the unused bedrooms at 45 degrees and the living spaces at a comfortable 65-70 degrees and achieve a greater level of efficiency than heating the entire house to 65-70 degrees with a high efficiency gas boiler

Cost Benefit/Analysis

Air infiltration
Caulk leaky windows
$2/per tube of caulk, as we discussed air infiltration greatly reduces the benefits of insulation
Replace single pane windows
$500-$1,200 per window (depending on the window)
Blown-In insulation
$2,500-$6,000 depending on size and design
Attic insulation
Cost Benefit/Analysis

Heating system
$3,500-$10,000 (depending on the number of zones and fuel source)
Solar panels
Cost >$25,000 (residential systems start at around $25K)
Relative benefits of each improvement?...

Cost Benefit/Analysis

Every improvements benefit is directly related to the performance of the other components…
Building Science
For example, the return on insulating wall cavities is negligible if there is significant air infiltration in a home
10 Steps to Improve a Homes Energy Efficiency

Window/Door Caulking
Use Reduction**
High Efficiency Heating System

Solar Panels
Geothermal Heating System
Elemental Control (multi-zone heating systems)
Efficient appliances
Low flow fixtures

Important Links

Federal & RI Energy Related Tax Credits

http://www.wcrri.com/ www.AtlanticQuality.com
Full transcript