Articles

Sullivan Brothers Builders certifies 9 homes in Evia Community on Galveston Island

The LEED-Homes program is picking up momentum as a few builders in town have committed to building 100% LEED Certified homes.  One of them, Sullivan Brothers Builders, has recently received certification of 9 of their homes at the Certified level.  That's just a start, however.  They have 57 more homes registered, with many of them slated to receive Gold level certification.
 
We spoke with Sullivan Brothers Builders to find out more about why they feel that LEED brings value to their customers.  Their representative, Karen Travelstead, explains that Sullivan Brothers has always been committed to building "green" homes, but needed a way to communicate what that meant to their clients.  LEED brought an industry-recognized, coherent program that homeowners could easily get their heads around.  Ms. Travelstead says that they were already using a lot of green building techniques, such as reclaimed hardwood flooring, foam insulation, PEX manifolds and drought-tolerant, indigenous landscaping.  Documenting the rest of their process to meet LEED standards wasn't a huge leap.  After the first few projects, LEED just became part of their standard procedures.
 
Additional education of the homeowner has proven to be one of the biggest impacts of choosing to build LEED homes.  Some clients come to them because of their commitment to LEED, but others have never heard of LEED or think that LEED applies just to commercial buildings.  Taking time to explain to the homeowner why things are a little different in their homes than others takes additional effort, but it's well worth it. 
 
The building industry has a great responsibility to build healthy, energy- and water-efficient homes.  The USGBC's mission is to have everyone living in a green home within a generation.  It's heartening to see that LEED-Homes is picking up momentum and there are such committed builders in Houston!  Great job, Sullivan Brothers!
 
For more information about the communities being developed by Sullivan Brothers Builders, visithttp://www.sbbtexas.com/.
By, Caroline Kostak

USGBC Advocacy - 2015 Texas Legislature

The following is a short synopsis of the Legislation that USGBC in Texas advocated for/against in the 2015 Texas State Legislature.

House Bill 1736 – Building Energy Performance Standards

Bill was originally presented under the premise that stricter energy codes increased the cost of housing and made housing too expensive for some in the market. Working with the bill’s sponsor we were able to demonstrate that utility savings from the stricter energy codes more than offset the mortgage cost increase. The bill will adopt (September 2016) the 2015 Residential Code as the base for Texas. Municipalities will be able to adopt stricter standards if they desire.

Senate Bill 1679 – Residential Building Code

Bill was presented to add knowledgeable building industry oversight to the Texas Code Adoption Procedure. This would be accomplished by creating a new review board of six individuals, to be appointed by the governor, to review/alter the recommendations of the existing technical review board prior to being submitted to the legislature. Worked with the bill’s sponsor to demonstrate the potential shortcomings of this legislation. This bill did not come to a vote.

House Bill 2392 – Wheel (Residential Energy Efficiency Loan Program)

Bill was to amend the Health and Safety Code to direct the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to establish and administer a self-sustaining program to issue loans for improvements to increase the energy efficiency of existing residences. The bill had enough votes for passage but the sponsor could not get recognized on the floor by the Lt. Governor and so the bill never came to vote. Will work on this before the next legislative session with SECO to craft a similar program that will pass.

House Bill 3363 – Residential Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Districts

Bill would allow local governments to adopt residential PACE districts to provide low interest loans for energy and water upgrades to homes that are paid back on an assessment that is attached to the property. This bill stalled in the House Committee. Will work on this bill again for the next session.

House Bill 1184 – Utility Cost Savings & Alternative Fuel Programs

Bill would allow the authorization for certain alternative energy and fuel programs for local government energy savings performance contracts. This bill was added to an existing law to increase the eligibility potential for these contracts. The bill passed and was forwarded to the governor for signature.

House Bill 1192 – Permissible Additional Domestic Use of Graywater

Bill was to expand the use of graywater for interior use in the flushing of toilets and urinals.   The bill was referred to the Natural Resources Committee where it stalled. We will work on this in the next legislature.

House Bill 1902 - Regulation and Use of Graywater

Bill was to address regulations allowing for additional safe uses of domestic graywater.   These will include expanded use of AC condensate, swimming pool backwash, storm water and reverse osmosis. Worked with the sponsor to inform others of the benefits and move the bill forward. Was passed and forwarded for the Governor’s signature.

Webinar: ENERGY STARĀ® & the Houston Green Office Challenge: saving energy through benchmarking

Webinar: ENERGY STAR® & the Houston Green Office Challenge: saving energy through benchmarking

Date: Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Time: 11:00 AM

Please join us on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 11AM for an interactive, free webinar that will showcase how building owners and managers can to use the EPA's ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager tool to benchmark, track and improve property and facility performance. Attendees will also learn about the value of benchmarking, what to do with the results, and how Portfolio Manager integrates with the Houston Green Office Challenge to help you advance sustainability at your facility and earn recognition for your efforts.
Register now >>>

 

Presenters

  • Leslie Cook, Public Sector Program Manager, ENERGY STAR, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Zachary Shelin, Senior Analyst, The Cadmus Group, Inc.
  • Todd Feist, Sustainability Program Manager, IREM
  • Nathalie Osborn, IREM Sustainability Program Manager, Green Per Square Foot
  • Lisa Lin, Sustainability Manager, City of Houston

 

Learning objectives

Attendees will gain an understanding of:

- the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool and how to rate the energy and water performance of commercial properties and facilities using ESPM.

- how benchmarking can cut energy costs and improve portfolio management.

-  what to do with the results.

-  other tools and resources available to support good energy management.

- how ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager integrates with the Houston Green Office Challenge to help you initiate or accelerate sustainability programs.

Register now >>>

USGBC Best of Green Schools 2014

 

The Center for Green Schools

Each year the Center for Green Schools at USGBC recognizes the “Best of Green Schools” recipients.

This recognition features individuals, institutions, projects and events that are taking risks, setting an example, innovating and diligently pursuing a world in which every student attends a green school within this generation

This year’s 10 recipients represent the best environmental efforts in schools across the country this year, and the list highlights the national leaders and innovators in school sustainability for the year.

Get to know the 2014 Best of Green Schools recipients below:

Tweet #BestofGreenSchools to join the conversation on Twitter.