Energy-efficient renovations in existing homes
Green Canopy Homes is a Seattle-based company that buys homes in walkable neighborhoods and renovates them with high-performance, energy-efficient upgrades.
Every home has an Energy Performance Score and Built Green certification and then, depending on the home, all sorts of interesting features can be added such as real-time energy monitoring, solar power and a digital owner's manual.
In Seattle, the vast majority of homes sold are existing construction. With new construction, 35 percent of the 800 new homes built last year were certified Built Green. But the remaining 4,700 homes sold last year were pre-constructed and only two of those, both renovated by Green Canopy Homes, were Built Green certified, said Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy Homes.
"If you're not tackling existing houses in a meaningful way, you're missing a big opportunity nationally to affect our energy efficiency," Fairchild said. "We're not naive enough to think that retrofitting one home here and there will make a big difference, so that's why we really engagethe community so when we do one home we're really impacting the neighborhood. We message and flyer the community and send postcards to the community to tell them what's going on."
Another way Green Canopy Homes engages the community is by inviting them to vote on the paint color for the home's exterior. Anyone can go online and vote on a home's color, and the company paints it the winning shade. This process came about after one of the first homes the company renovated was painted a combo of red and green that the neighbors hated and were making fun of on Facebook. So they invited everyone to vote on a new color, and the home was repainted, Fairchild said.
One home recently renovated by Green Canopy Homes is called the Sentinel, and it's for sale for $499,950 in West Seattle. The three-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, 1,822-square-foot home includes a TED 5000 wireless energy monitor that streams directly to an included iPad2. As part of the renovations, the home received air and duct sealing, foam and rigid insulation, new energy-efficient windows, a ductless mini-split heat pump system, low-flow faucets and showerheads, and new fluorescent lights.
The total cost of energy upgrades was $12,000, but it will result in savings of $861 a year on energy bills.
"You don't have to sacrifice the quality of your life to be green. It doesn't cost more to build green. It just depends on the decisions you make," Fairchild said.
Click here to see a slideshow of photos of Green Canopy Homes remodeled homes.
Teena Hammond Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.