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How to Get a Home like the HGTV GREEN Home (and get paid for it too)!


More than 20 million people entered to win this year's HGTV Green Home. The lucky winners, Mike & Kari Coffey from Saginaw, MI, beat the odds June 28. But now the architectural team that designed the LEED Platinum Certified Green Home for HGTV, reveals some simple techniques that will allow everyone to have their very own green home. By following these eco-friendly suggestions homeowners and their families can have a healthier, more energy efficient, earth-friendly lifestyle and put some green back in their wallets.

An existing home can have all the sustainable features presented in the HGTV home and homeowner can take advantage of rebates, credits and other incentives that help make these green improvements more affordable than ever. Depending on what improvements are made and where the home is located, there are state and federal tax credits who improve their homes' energy efficiency. Local utility companies are also offering rebates and incentives for customers to add energy efficient updates to their homes such as Energy Star Appliances, super efficient heating and cooling systems, attic installation and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

"Many-to-most of the sustainable features we incorporated in the HGTV Green Home can be employed to improve any home's efficiency and building owners can begin to generate savings right away in most instances," according to HGTV Green Home Architect Michael Carlson, AIA, LEED AP of Carlson Studio Architecture.

Notable green features of the HGTV Green Home that homeowners can integrate in their homes include:

  • Rain Barrels used for plant irrigation. This helps reduce water consumption by recycling rainwater. They are easy DIY projects - find instructions online or check for classes through your local cooperative extension office.
  • High Solar Reflecting Metal Roof was used to give the house's cooling system some relief from the Florida sun. Federal tax credits are available for this home improvement.
  • A Roof Top Garden was another green element that improves air quality and saves money on the grocery bill by providing fresh veggies and fruits. Homeowners can add a simple garden to their homes in one weekend at a low cost.
  • Adding the proper amount of Attic Insulation allows a home to work smarter, not harder. This feature conserves energy consumption and seals possible leaks. Putting extra insulation into an attic is the most cost-effective strategy for improving the energy performance of a home and most local utility companies provide incentives and tax credits.
  • Insulated Doors and Windows were added to make the home more energy efficient and block off unwanted heat gain from the home's exterior. There are tax credits and incentives provided for these products. The designers also added exterior Bahama shutters on the outside windows to block out western rays to reduce heat and control cooling. This is also an easy DIY weekend project.
  • A High Efficiency Air Heating and Cooling System with an added energy recovery unit that provides climate control is a great sustainable feature that will generate savings for years to come.
  • A Solar Hot Water System works with the sun to heat the water instead of using electricity. Tax credits and rebates provide additional incentives for this money-saving feature.
  • A Solar Panel A/C System (Photo-Voltaic) creates electricity and offsets utility dependence in the Green HGTV Home - this green feature will actually repay the homeowner and there are numerous rebates and tax credits for installing this system in your home.
  • Install Low flow faucets and dual-flush toilets. These fixtures can significantly reduce water bills and also help reduce the overall water usage. Owners can check with their local water company or water management district to see what rebates are available to them.
  • Compact Fluorescent Bulbs and Clerestory Windows are two simple features that produce a big impact to a home's overall efficiency. By allowing more natural light into a home, clerestory windows reduce the need for electricity; while CFLs reduce energy consumption.

Michael Carlson, LEED AP interviewed by Eric Odum, Tampa Realestate Broker


Triple Net Lease Blog

Carlson Studio Architecture's own You Tube channel


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International World Wide Web Recognition

The HGTV 2009 green home has recently been featured in Architectures Design, a web site devoted to promoting cutting edge and modern architecture, both theoretical and built projects. Please visit their web site.

From the mind of the high school intern...


by Zac Hazelwood

Hi, I'm Zac. I joined the CSA team back in September of '08 to complete my Pine View Externship program. Yes, I did say "team," and I certainly meant to. I've worked with the coolest group of people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Each one of them reminds me of myself in some peculiar way: Becky, the art student; Jedd, really dedicated; Harry owns a motorcycle (I want one); Michael, easy-going but knows his stuff better than most; and Phil, that genius you didn't expect to be a genius. Oh, there's a dog, too; seemed odd, but I guess Einstein's the unspoken office mascot.

I worked 2 days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, for 3 hours each day. 6 hours a week doesn't seem like enough time to get to know a group of busy architects, but everyone is so personable and happy that becoming a part of the office took all of 20 minutes, day 1.

I joined the program for an oppurtunity to affirm my life-long committment to wanting to become an architect. Mission accomplished. Not only that, but I fell in love with SketchUp, which is also great.

I came here for experience; I didn't expect to get an experience. Whether the team believes me, or not, I actually learned quite a bit during my time at CSA. I picked up things, ideas, practices, and an attitude that college doesn't bother teaching. Sure, professors prefer students to come in with a blank slate and an open mind, but what's wrong with a little personal experience to fall back on? What I'm getting at is that I love everything about this place. The people, the atmosphere, the mints at the front desk; everything. I love it enough to come back to Sarasota after my 5-6 years at FIU are up and pop in the door, unexpectedly, and say "Hey! Look! Steve/Bob/Jack/Zac is back!" All of those people are me. I'm a man of many sweaters and Phil has a name for all of them.

But it's about time I stop writing. If I don't, then I'll keep going and I'll be here much later than 5 o'clock. Besides, I feel like another stress-ball war is going to start and I need to keep out of the crossfire. I would whole-heartedly like to thank each and every team member I've had the honor of working with. Certainly one of the best groups of people I've ever met.

Thanks, toodles
Zac Hazelwood

HGTV Watch Party at Carlson Studio


A balmy, spring evening in Sarasota gave us the perfect excuse to invite 60+ friends and colleagues to join us outdoors for a fresh air viewing of HGTV's Green Home premier Sunday night!



Designing the 2009 HGTV Green Home Part 1


Advantages of Certifying Your Green Building Project


by Becky Johnson, LEED AP

People everywhere are starting to embrace green buildings. People are no longer questioning why it's a good idea to build green. For example, energy and water savings translate into a monetary return in a fairly short amount of time. Green buildings are also healthier environments for their occupants. But once the project is complete, why bother going for the third-party certification? Certification is not going to change the energy and water savings. Certification is not going to improve the air quality any more. If you have a project built to certification standards, why pay the extra money to receive the certification?

The first reason is obvious. ‘Green' has become a buzz word as of late, and with it has come the phenomenon known as ‘green washing.' This happens when claims to being green are unfounded and many times untrue, and usually done strictly for profit. Certification provides third-party verification. Essentially, it's a way to prove that a green building is authentically green, and thus suppress any room for doubt. LEED certification is a nationally recognized benchmark for green buildings and therefore highly regarded. Once achieved, LEED certification designation can be used in many ways for marketing and promoting the project.

Other advantages of certification include mortgage and insurance companies who are beginning to recognize the green associated with being green. Fireman's Fund Insurance Company offers Green Building Coverage as well as discounted pricing for certified buildings. Energy Efficient Mortgages (or EEM's) can be used when financing a green project. Because green buildings can save so much money, the lenders realize that you have a higher income ratio, therefore easing qualification terms.

Several studies have been conducted regarding LEED certified buildings vs. non certified counterparts. A McGraw Hill 2006 Smart Market Report showed a 7.5% building value increase and 3.5% higher occupancy rates in LEED certified buildings. The Kennedy Associates Real Estate Counsel, LP reports seeing higher occupancy, rental rates, quicker lease-up and better tenant retention in LEED certified buildings. A Professor from the University of Berkeley along with two other professors from the Netherlands published a study called "Doing well by doing good? Green Office Buildings" that reported a 2% higher rent in certified (LEED and Energy Star) than non-certified commercial investment properties.

So obviously achieving certification isn't just a pat on the back and a plaque to hang on the wall. Certified projects are overall viewed as more valuable than their non-certified green counterparts. As consumers, we expect our products to back up their claims. If we demand a kitchen countertop be GreenGuard certified, why relax our requirements when it comes to a building over 10 times the size of that countertop? 

Links:  - Fireman's Fund Insurance  - "Doing well by doing good? Green office buildings."  - CoStar Certified Buildings Study - Energy Efficient Mortgages

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