The concept of social responsibility is an expression of concern for the well-being of our community and for future generations.  Increasingly, individuals, communities, and companies are holding themselves accountable for the social, environmental, and economic impact of their operations. My real estate business is no exception.

As a certified green real estate professional, my business now mirrors my passion as a global citizen.  I am committed to continued education in the areas of green building products, techniques, residential energy efficiencies, environmentally sound home products, sustainable materials, and green business practices.  This site is dedicated to providing resources for home owners and home buyers interested in actively affecting the future of our community and our planet through knowledge and commitment.

Greening your home 101

by CJ Brasiel

This is a great video that offers an over view of green choices when building or remodeling your home. This video was produced by a Natural Built Homes; a retail company in Minnesota who specializes in green building products.

A great chart of simple ideas that you and I can help our planet. 50 ways50 50

Global Choice we make one choice at a timeI ask this question in a non-threatening, non-combative way.  Today  I woke up with this idea of choices and how my choices affect the world.  I think it is overwhelming to consider the entire impact I have on the world.  I am one person.  But with all that I consume, all that I dispose of, all that I take from the World, it is a huge task to change the state of affairs within my own personal arena in a way that is better.  Or is it?

My thoughts on choices started with two books I am reading.  I consider reading a true luxury of time.  Therefore, I tend not to read romances but non-fiction.  I prefer books that help me learn more about anything.  The first book I dug out of my closet and began to read is, “Silence On The Mountain” by Daniel Wilkinson.  This is a history of Guatemala and is subtitled, “Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala”.  In the first few chapters the author recounts a German immigrant’s recollection of  his first few weeks in La Libertad, Guatemala around 1892.   He speaks of the different classes of people in the area and quickly points out how “lazy” the natives were.  He states that they simply “will not work any harder than they need to, to provide for their very basic of needs”.   He goes on to say even when money is advanced that they sooner “run away then face the repayment in labor”.  My thought on choice came immediately.  Could it be that the natives simply believe the choice of their native life was more important than money?  That the choice of acquiring more money than one needed to provide for “basic needs” was not a good choice?  I imagined for a moment what my life would be like if I only made enough money for my basic needs.  Not the college fund.  Not the IRA.  Not the shopping spree at Best Buy.  But money for absolute basic needs.

The second book is entitled, “Half the Sky”.  It is about turning the oppression of women around the world into opportunity for women and girls and is co-written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  The first chapter literally made my stomach hurt as I read about young girls simply searching for a way to make money to help feed their family set off with a hired travel assistant only to be sold to a brothel and forced into prostitution.  How one escaped, and through the help of the organization called Apne Aap began a new life.  The organization did not focus on her lack of money, food, or clothes, but focused on education.  They taught her to read and write.   She then set out to start her own business and created a new family and a new life.

So today, I brought to my consciousness – my choices. I began to think about how I could deconstruct the overwhelming need to do something into a moment by moment decision that could lead to a change.  Maybe a small change.  But  a conscious change in the way I live my life.  I wanted to go to the local market.  The choice was to ride my bike or drive a car.   I drove my car.  My car is a hybrid.  A choice I made.  I wanted to buy local foods but realized the sustainable butcher drove here from 200 miles away.  I chose some organic strawberries and declined the plastic bag and placed them in my reusable bag.  I bought a latte. Amazing after seeing the WWF on how much water it takes to make a latte. The choice also included purchasing it from a privately owned coffee shop, and I chose not to use a sleeve cover or a plastic lid.  I recognize there are many out their that make more significant choices than I did this morning.  I also recognize that many are not even aware of the choices they made this morning.

Each day, each moment we make choices on how we live our lives.  Some of these choices are huge.  Some of these choices are small.  Every single one makes an impact.   For each small choice I make, it helps me see the opportunity for an even better choice.  It raises the bar on how I contribute in a positive way to a world that gives me so very much.   I am grateful and humbled today.  My choices are my ability to live that gratitude.

Almost everywhere you go, you will see some mention of CFL (compact fluorescent lighting) and how it is the new energy saving way to go when it comes to lighting any space. No doubt CFLs are more energy efficient, last longer than incandescent bulbs, but also cost a bit more. In the last couple of years that price has come down significantly. According to Wikipedia “a CFL can save over 30 US dollars in electricity costs over the lamp’s life time compared to an incandescent lamp and save 2,000 times its own weight in greenhouse gases.”

See this great table below from the Energy Savers web site

CFL verses Incadescent lighting

Now, LED (light emitting diodes) are demonstrating that we can have good lighting, with even more energy efficiency without the harmful mercury hazard associated with CFLs. The mercury exposure is a huge concern and according to CFLs contain “approximately 4mg – 5 mg of mercury per bulb. Mercury can cause many problems when inhaled, and can affect our brains, spinal cords, kidneys and livers.”

If you would like to see a further comparison of cost, useful life, and energy efficiency when comparing LED, CFL, and incandescent lighting check out for great information and download their spreadsheet review.

I love the LED light systems for holiday lights because they give off such a clean, bright color and do not create as much heat as traditional lights. This seems like a safer way to go. There are also some great home LED products on Improvements web site.

If you want to learn more about LED, check out LED Magazine articles. Then go shopping!

I have this dream of having a couple of acres where my son can adopt as many animals as he would like and that we can live minimally. Last weekend while researching information on modular homes, I came across the MINI HOME. At first glance my mind registered “trailer”. But then as I scrolled the page, I recognized that this home could be expanded in a “modular” way and more importantly was not built like a toxic mobile home but as a green, low VOC, home! I was so excited about this option, I wanted to share it with you. This is a very economical solution for those of us who are weighing the cost of building green with other living alternatives. Check out the video and let me know what you think.

Looking for ways to green your yard? First step is to reduce the usage of water. Here are some great tips from the Garden Girl.

This is a great overview of some green ideas for your next kitchen remodel.

A great video that talks about different green building choices.

Falcon PlaceThere are several new housing developments in Willow Glen, but one in particular caught my eye while walking the neighborhood the other day.  The new development at Falcon Place is one of only a few green homes in the San Jose area and certainly one of a few LEED certified home developments. I toured the model homes and was very impressed with not only the green features of the homes  but also the quality, and the layout of the homes.  They are spacious and present very well.

First, let me explain what having LEED certification means.  There are several LEED certifications available for a building.  The levels are: Certified, Silver, Gold, and the ultimate, Platinum.  As of August 2008, there were only 140 homes certified LEED Platinum in the United States.  The LEED certification is based on how a home ranks regarding a variety of building categories.  Examples of the areas scored are design, sustainability, indoor environmental quality, and energy efficiency. Based on the credits earned in each category the home is awarded a specific designation.

Falcon Place is a development by Pinn Brothers.  The Pinn Brothers have been a developer in the San Francisco Bay area since 1974.  Falcon Place community has 19 homes within walking distance to downtown Willow Glen. The homes have four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths with 2300 square feet.

As a solar home, Falcon Place provides  integrated solar panels from BP Solar that blend into the roofline.  This system is then tapped into the electric meter and will actually spin backwards when the solar panels are generating electricity. With solar energy production, BP Solar projects this development is expected to offset 1.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, an amount equivalent to planting 4,830 trees.

According to the Falcon Place brochure, the homes are 15% above Energy Star standards.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the Energy Star standards.  The homes have double-paned, low-e windows; programmable set back thermostats, and a quick recovery 50-gallon water heater.  Other features of these homes include water saving showerheads, low-flow toilets, and weather stripping.

If you are interested in viewing green homes in the area, please let me know.  As a certified green REALTOR®, I am able to help you find homes that are LEED certified or are simply more eco-friendly.