Earth Day Fort Collins, April 20th

Sustainable Living Association (SLA) hosts Earth Day Fort Collins on April 20th fom 11:00 AM-5:00 PM at the Gardens on Spring Creek, 2145 Centre Avenue, Fort Collins (www.SustainableLivingAssociation.org). Earth Day Fort Collins is a combination of activities and events for the entire family, featuring informational booths and displays, arts & crafts, live music, speakers, local food and a beer garden.  This family focused event is free to the public and attendees are asked to bring nonperishable food items for the Food Bank.During Earth Day, Drive Electric Northern Colorado (DENC) will be hosting a “Ride and Drive” which will give people attending Earth Day the opportunity to get behind the wheel of many of the plug-in electric cars on the market today.

Drive Electric Northern Colorado is a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at achieving widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) by businesses and consumers of all walks of life. The initiative (www.DriveElectricNoCo.org), a partnership between the Electrification Coalition, the cities of Loveland and Fort Collins, and Colorado State University, will facilitate the necessary coordination, educational outreach, local business involvement, and infrastructure needed to transform Northern Colorado into a model PEV deployment community.

Categories: Green Gigs

ZEDFest 2: Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy and FREE Beer!

September 30, 2011 1 comment

Friday, October 7th, 2011.

Our friends at FortZed asked if we could pass along the following information about the great event they have planned…

Part of the FortZED Community Energy Challenge, ZEDFest 2 is a community-wide celebration of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable living. During the evening of October 7th, homes all over Fort Collins will be hosting fun parties to celebrate conservation and efficiency. You may have taken the FortZED Challenge pledge to reduce energy use; you may want to learn more; you may not be familiar with FortZED. No matter where you stand, we want you!

The FortZED Challenge staff are currently finalizing details for ZEDFest 2, including confirming hosts, gathering volunteers, and coordinating party materials and giveaways. Materials include a party-in-a-box with energy-saving resources, energy-related activities for guests to participate in, and free beer from Odell Brewing Company! A map of host locations is available on the ZEDFest page of their website .

Giveaways at each party will include:

  • CFL’s
  • Free home energy audits provided by the City of Fort Collins Utilities
  • A pair of tickets to the FoCo Eco Cruise (scheduled for the following day on Saturday, October 8th!)

If you are interested in volunteering or hosting, please email Ariana TODAY at  AFriedlander@AtmosphereConservancy.org to sign up!

Categories: Uncategorized

Come out to the FoCo Eco Cruise!

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Hello everyone! On Saturday, October 8th, The Northern Colorado Renewable Energy Society (NCRES) is hosting the first ever FoCo Eco Cruise from 9 am-5 pm. Previously known as the Solar Homes Tour, this year’s event has morphed into a tour of sustainable sites throughout northern Fort Collins.

The self-guided and bike-friendly tour starts at the Fort Collins Bike Library LaPorte Station at 9 am and ends at the Rocky Mountain Innosphere at 3 pm. Participants who would like to ride should plan on bringing their own bikes or can check one out from the Bike Library on the morning of the event. An estimated 250 attendees have expressed interest, so this could be quite the biking event of early Fall!

Show up Saturday, October 8th between 9 am – 11 am at the Bike Library LaPorte Station (222 LaPorte Ave, between Mason & Howes) to get your Cruiser Bag, meet our friendly partner groups, and take off on the Cruise!

There will be a mix of eight residential and two non-residential sites on the cruise: each of which demonstrate a sincere commitment to integrating green building techniques, renewable energy technologies and eco-landscaping principles with a magic x-factor…their interest in sharing it with YOU, the Eco Cruiser!

Tickets will be available on the day of the event. Tickets prices are listed below:

Individuals: $10

Couples: $15

Family: $20 (two adults, two children age 12 and up. Children under 12 ride free!)

Group: $50 (up to six people)

All proceeds go to support NCRES events and operations. You can also win free tickets by attending a FortZED Community Energy Challenge ZEDFest house party the day before on Friday, October 7th (a couple of tickets will be given away at each house party as a door prize!). Click here for a list and map of ZEDFest house parties.

The FoCo EcoCruise is looking to show off sustainable sites across northern Fort Collins – for more information on the event, go to the FoCo Eco Cruise website today!

Thanks, and see you out there!

Categories: Uncategorized

Fort Collins Solar Rebate Program

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

As a follow-on from my recent post about Rebates and Credits for energy efficiency projects, it looks like the City of Fort Collins has funds available for Solar PV (among other things).  I am a little late in posting about them. It sort of slipped in under the radar, in that  City residents could begin submitting applications  January 31 of this year. But in my experience, if I didn’t know about it until now, chances are most of the public didn’t either!

It looks like the City will provide $1.25 per watt, up to 3 kW, so I think you could receive $3,750 for a 3 kW project. (That is probably the minimum a family would install for a Solar PV project.) They require that the system must be tied to the electrical grid, among a host of other rules. At the same time, it looks like you could get a comparable rebate from ReCharge Colorado (see my earlier post) and you would qualify for the Federal Rebate as well. So a project might get $7k or $8k covered by credits and rebates, it appears.  Not bad!

So if you had been thinking about doing a Solar Photovoltaic system this year, you need to know that the deadline for applying for this City rebate program is Feb 28, 2011. It looks like if applications exceed the available funds ($110K) they will have a drawing, so it’s definitely not too late to apply.

However, it’s going to require that you have a meeting with professionals and have your system mapped out and have an energy audit completed in order to submit your application for funds. And you need to be pretty serious and ready to roll, as the system would need to be installed within 6 months of being promised City funds.  To find out more, I suggest you go to the City of Fort Collins website and review their information and instructions.

If  Solar PV isn’t in the cards for your current home, but you’d really like it in your next place, make sure you contact The Green Team Real Estate when you start looking for homes. We are the one real estate company qualified to help you find the right place that will work for Solar.  And we can connect you to the professionals to assess your new location and do your project.

Categories: Uncategorized

Don’t Forget to Look for the Energy Rebates and Credits!

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Things have been busy of lately here and we have been away from blogging for a while. But during that time, some cool things have been happening with the ongoing effort to refresh our home and make it more energy efficient.

We actually saved the best for last, so to speak, when we replaced the old, inefficient and leaky furnace with a new 95.5% ultra efficient unit, and bumped up the insulation in our attic to R50. The difference in comfort is obvious with these two projects and so is the difference on our monthly gas bill. In fact, the first month after we did the work, November 2010, we had about a 50% reduction in gas use over the same month of the previous year. And we even had the heat set a bit higher than the year before because our garden level does tend to be chilly in the winter.

Aside from the obvious energy efficiency improvement, the great thing about this project was how much money we saved when we did the work due to rebates from the local utility and a State of Colorado program called ReCharge Colorado, and due to the Federal tax credit in place for 2009 and 2010.

Check this out…our ultra-high efficiency furnace cost about $3700. But, I was able to get an immediate rebate from Xcel Energy, our natural gas provider, of about $100, or maybe it was $120. Then, I filed with the State of Colorado and using ReCharge Colorado, a program to  incentivize energy efficiency improvements, I could claim $500. That check came to me in about one month. Whoo-wee, we like that!

But that isn’t all. I am in the process of preparing all my information as I write this in order to claim a hefty tax credit on my Federal return. It is going to work out that this new furnace will get me about $1200 back on my income tax for 2010.  So, by my calculations, that $3700 furnace ended up costing me about $1900!

It was a really similar story with the ubur-insulation job. By tapping into the same three programs, I was able to get the price down from $500 to about $50! (Note: I am still waiting for the check from ReCharge Colorado. They claim that the funds haven’t been released yet, but I can expect a $200 check in the next month or two.)

So, if you did any energy efficiency improvements last year, it may not be too late to take advantage of rebates and tax credits. Make sure you collect all of your receipts and documentation and start looking for what was available for you in 2010. The best place I have found to gather this information is a clearinghouse called  “DSIRE” (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency) at http://dsireusa.org . Just select your state from the interactive map and you’re off and running.

If you plan to do any work in 2011, make sure you do your homework in advance to see what you might qualify for. State and local rebates are constantly changing and to qualify, sometimes you need to apply in advance of the work, or I have even seen a local program that requires a simple energy audit by an approved provider before you apply to participate.  If really pays to do your research in advance to make sure you follow all of a particular program’s steps to qualify.

A note on the Federal residential energy tax credit. This program allows people to claim 30% of the costs of energy improvements up to $5000, so basically up to a $1500 tax credit over the two year period of  2009 or 2010. Since I claimed about $200 for some energy efficient doors I installed in 2009, I could claim about $1300 in 2010. To claim this you will need to  file IRS form 5695.

It look likes the Federal residential energy tax credit was renewed for 2011, but at significantly lower levels.  In general it appears that a person can claim up to $500, but windows are maxed out at $200, furnaces at $150, air conditioners and water heaters at $300.  And those who claimed the tax credit in previous years are not eligible in 2011.

If you are thinking about selling your house this year, projects like the ones mentioned above are especially inexpensive right now with these credits and rebates and can add significant value to your home, or help to overcome an objection if your home is currently inefficient. If you live in Northern Colorado, give The Green Team Real Estate a call. We can help you decide what projects  makes sense to do before you put your home on the market and we’ll help you sell it for the best price.

Of Wilco Posters and Sustainable Picture Frames…

Wilco Poster 2

One of the most enjoyable things you can do in life is stop and pay attention to how this connects to that, especially when like-mindedness is involved. 

 

 

In January 0f 2009, our very good friends Steve and Jana needed some help with cork and marmoleum floors.  We were seeking good content for our very young blog.  So I took a little trip to their home in Madison, WI and we banged out a couple of sustainable floors in a weekend, with the Flip Cam rolling of course.  The resulting blog post about DIY Cork and Marmoleum Floors is still our most popular post.  Thank you Steve and Jana!

What does this have to do with Wilco Posters?  Well, please bear with me for a few sentences and I’ll tie it together.  

In April of 2009 Mingyan Bao, who we met via Green Drinks and Redirect Guide networking events, was kind enough to guest blog about Sustainable Picture Frames for Your Art & Photographs.  This has since become the second most popular post on our blog.  Thank you Ming!

Back to Steve and Jana, and on to Wilco.  Last October, I met up with them in Chicago for a Wilco show at the UIC Pavillion.  And a fabulous show it was…30 songs total with a 10 song encore!  Here’s the set list  for you hardcore Wilco fans who may be reading this. 

Later, Steve informed me that the unique poster from the show was available for purchase at the store on Wilco’s website.  POW!  I knew we had to buy it and visit Ming’s shop in Loveland, CO to have her team work it into a sustainable picture frame.

It took us awhile to execute and blog about it, but we finally got the poster purchased and framed in a sustainable Framerica® product as you can see in the image above.  Between Ming’s magic on frame and border selection and dumb luck that the colors in the poster totally match our wall colors, we couldn’t be happier with the result.

So fast-forward to February 19, 2010 and we’re at another Wilco show in Duluth, MN with Steve and Jana and other great longtime friends.  Now it looks like we’ve got another cool poster we need to buy from that show

It is important here to point out Wilco’s many causes.  Their posters, benefit shows, downloads for donation and so on support a long list of sustainability, community and global initiatives .  Thank you Wilco!  For making incredible music and making the world a better place in other ways as well.

OK, this post wouldn’t be complete without tying in Ariana and Evan, our great friends here in Ft. Collins who we also met via the Redirect Guide.  They were the ones who took me and Lara to our first Wilco show at Red Rocks last summer.  Thank you Ariana and Evan! 

It is worth noting that they are about to remodel their place and their project includes installing new cork floors, for which I have been recruited.  Funny how this connects to that!!

 

Sustainable Home Remodeling – Cork Floors and Zero VOC Paint

October 10, 2009 2 comments

Railing After Sustainable Remodeling ProjectIt is amazing what new flooring and paint can do to update your home.  And if you are concerned about the health of your family and that of the planet, it is nice to know that these days you can easily source eco-friendly paint and flooring materials.

In our first post for this Sustainable Home Remodeling Series, we pondered aloud whether a sustainable remodeling project could bring a 1970 split level home from decidedly dated to hip and comfortable.  Check out the before and after pictures below and let us know what you think.  If you like what you see, we’ve got more specifics on the cork and paint at the end of this post.  You may also find our post on DIY floating floor installation to be useful.

Living Room Before:
Living Room Before Sustainable Remodeling Project

Living Room After:
Living Room After Sustainable Remodeling Project

Family Room Before:
Family Room After Sustainable Remodeling Project

Family Room After:
Family Room After Sustainable Remodeling Project

Materials List

Living Room:

Family Room:

  • Westhollow “Baffin” floating cork floor – $2.49/s.f. on sale when we bought it from e-tailer iFloor
  • Benjamin Moore Natura Zero VOC paint, Grasshopper and Agave Walls and Fireplace Accent - $49/gallon
  • More of the leftover Benjamin Moore Eco Spec Low VOC paint, Super White Trim and Fireplace

Railing:

We don’t have a good before shot of the railing pictured at the top of the post, but we included it because it gives a good visual impression of the power of Benjamin Moore’s Affinity color deck.

The Affinity deck, available at Benjamin Moore retailers, is a work of genius in that any color you pick from the 144-color deck will work with any other color in the deck.  For color-challenged folks like me and Lara, it takes a lot of the stress out of paint color selection.  I refer to it as Grr-Animals for paint.  We used the Kasbah (plum) and Rattan (khaki) colors in Natura on the railing blocks for some color pops, and also threw in the orange color that was left over from a friend’s recent painting project.

Alright, that’s it on the updates to our 1970 home for now.  We’re working on finishing up the kitchen and bathrooms.  When we do, we’ll be posting about bamboo cabinets and vanities and the nicest concrete countertops you’ve ever seen being custom-made by the guys at Concrete Visions.

In the mean time, if you’ve got some painting to do, think about paint that will keep your family from breathing volatile organic compounds.  And if you’ve got flooring to replace, consider rapidly renewing, warm and naturally antimicrobial cork.

And if you are thinking of buying a home in the near future, this should give you hope that without a lot of investment, it’s possible to refresh an average, older home without much more than paint, and perhaps updated flooring like we have shown here. The Green Team Real Estate is especially experienced with helping clients find homes such as these that they can get into affordably and make their own. Get in touch with us if you need to find an agent for your Northern Colorado home purchase.  We are ready to help!

Green Home Under Construction – Advanced Framing Techniques

September 24, 2009 2 comments

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJzubBfK9FU&hl=en&fs=1&]Today I’m posting about the advanced framing techniques being used by Sovick Design/Builders to construct a new green home available for purchase at 404 Park Street in Old Town Fort Collins.  These green building methods will minimize the use of dimensional lumber during construction, maximize insulation in exterior walls and reduce thermal bridging as compared to conventional framing techniques.  The benefits for the future owner are improved energy efficiency and comfort year round, and knowledge that their home was built in a manner more mindful of the natural environment.

If you haven’t done so already, check out the rest of the series documenting the construction of this green home and learn from the very experienced builder doing the work.  Now, let’s take a virtual tour with that builder, Dennis Sovick, via the YouTube video above to learn about a number of advanced framing techniques.   Or check out the stills and descriptions below.  Or both!

2 x 6 Studs
This image shows 2×6 studs spaced every 24 inches. The standard is 2×4 studs spaced every 16 inches.  The larger studs allow for a greater depth of insulation (R-20 or more compared to R-13) and wider spacing means fewer studs and less thermal bridging to the exterior.

Insulated Header
Many engineers and/or framers spec/use two 2×12′s for headers to be sure they are “covered” no matter what the load.  Sovick Design/Builders size their headers for the specific sized openings as shown in the above picture and incorporate rigid insulation into the header to break the thermal bridge created by the header.

Insulation Corner
This photo shows a special exterior wall construction detail that allows the corner itself to be insulated.

No Cripples
Standard practice is to add single studs under each end of the window sill.  These are known as “cripples”. They serve no purpose. In the image above, they are eliminated and only the studs on planned spacing are included. By eliminating the cripples, insulation space is increased and thermal bridging is reduced.

Interior and Exterior Wall Connections
With advanced framing, interior walls are attached to exterior walls with a ladder frame constructed from scrap lumber. Framers typically use three full studs for this purpose. Another benefit is that insulation can be positioned between the ladder framing and exterior surface of the wall, breaking a very large thermal bridge.

Engineered I-Joist
All floor joists are engineered I-joists made from waste wood materials. In addition to being a greener material, these joists are stronger and straighter than dimensional lumber.

By now, you should be getting a sense that this unique green home will have very solid “bones” and an energy-efficient “shell”.  If you are interested in owning a home such as this in the future  get in touch with The Green Team Real Estate. We are the Northern Colorado go-to company for more sustainable homes and we are best prepared to get you connected with  a builder, or help you find an existing home that will meet your needs.

Green Home Under Construction – Insulating Concrete Forms Foundation

September 20, 2009 1 comment

Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) FoundationI recently had an opportunity to shadow the Sovick Design/Builders team as they constructed the foundation for the home at 404 Park Street using Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF’s).  This picture shows the ICF’s ready for concrete to be poured. 

For contractors, ICF’s can be a cost-effective alternative to typical cast-in-place concrete foundation walls or walls constructed of concrete masonry block.  The foam-walled forms that ultimately define the concrete’s shape stay in place after construction, providing insulation and eliminating a significant investment in reusable wood and metal forms.  They are easy to build.  Their insulating value allows concrete to be poured in colder weather without the use of special insulating blankets and the like.  And most are ready for interior finishing.  All of these contractor benefits help keep the cost differential between ICF and conventional foundations to a minimum, particularly when a finished basement that will be partially above grade is desired, as is the case at 404 Park Street.

And here’s the important part from the perspective of the future homeowner - an ICF foundation basement is quiet, solid and more energy efficient than a conventionally constructed basement.

So check out the video below to see the concrete foundation being poured and learn a little bit more about the forms themselves from Dennis Sovick.  And if you want even more information about ICF’s, go to the Insulating Concrete Forms Assocation website.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p44eLwvWh9U]

Up next…a site visit to learn from Dennis about Advanced Framing Techniques.

Green Home Under Construction – Intro

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment

sherwood houseWelcome to an opportunity to observe the construction of a unique and highly energy efficient, eco-friendly home at 404 Park Street in Old Town Fort Collins.  Grab our feed or subscribe by email to follow along in the weeks ahead as we post on what goes into creating a green home like this and what sets it apart from standard new homes. 

The Green Team Real Estate is pleased to be listing this home for local green building specialists Sovick Design/Builders.  Dennis Sovick started designing and building green homes in the 1980′s – long before doing so became a trend.  His wealth of knowledge on the topic of green building allows him to create properties that take advantage of active and passive solar, conserve energy and water, minimize resource consumption, and create healthier homes.  We’ll be delving into all of these topics as construction progresses.

This infill project got underway in early September 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in February 2010.  Dennis and his team are using a tested plan, one they recently built several blocks away.  That home is pictured above.  You can take the video tour below to hear Dennis talk about the site and plans for the home, and follow us on a bike ride through the nearby neighborhood.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJaibgk15L4]

 

Click here to see the floorplan and other details of the Park Street home.  Finishes and colors will be up to the future owner.  So follow along to get ideas for your future dream green home, and contact us if you think this one might be it!