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NE Carbon Challenge - Reduce Your Energy Consumption By 300%

Take Up The Carbon Challenge!

Take Up The Carbon Challenge!

We are pleased to introduce our new Community Outreach Coordinator, Garry Lee. Garry will serve as the primary point of contact for Carbon Challenge communities and organizations in New Hampshire seeking to reduce their residential energy consumption as well as their carbon footprint. Garry brings a deep and varied background in environmental journalism, program development, marketing and community outreach to the Carbon Challenge and we are excited to have him on board. Welcome, Garry!Green

WOULD YOU LIKE TO REDUCE YOUR HOUSEHOLD’S ENERGY CONSUMPTION AND SAVE MONEY IN THE PROCESS? WE CAN HELP.

Picture of green treesWe offer lots of ideas to reduce your energy consumption and challenge yourself to reduce your environmental impact. And now, through a generous grant from the NH Public Utilities Commission, we are moving forward and constructing a sophisticated suite of new web tools – in partnership with NH Sustainable Energy Association and UNH Cooperative Extension – designed to help you reduce YOUR energy bills. Want to learn more?

THE NE CARBON CHALLENGE: reduce your household’s carbon dioxide emissions by 10,000 pounds per year. It won’t require huge lifestyle changes…we’ll show you how.

Join the thousands of households throughout New England who have already taken the Challenge and start reducing your energy costs NOW. Take the Challenge.

September 25, 20120 commentsRead More
Environment-friendly Home Designs: A Tip From NECARBONCHALLENGE.ORG

Environment-friendly Home Designs: A Tip From NECARBONCHALLENGE.ORG

FIRST OF ALL, AN ANNOUNCEMENT. If you’d like to join our annual Carbon Challenge event (to be held in Pasadena, January 14th, 2014) then please email join_Pasadena@necarbonchallenge.org or Kathy.goss@Hotmail.com

Thank you! :)

Today,  I am going to talk about environment-friendly home staging designs – particularly for our Malaysian friends. While it’s no rocket science to figure out the importance of design and home staging in the Malaysian home selling process, it does take some genius of sorts to get the whole thing done. And not just ‘done’ ‘done’ for the sake of completing the job. The goal is always to present the house good enough to make any buyer want to strap their name onto the house for a mortgage loan that will take up a chunk of their income for most of their lives.

Home buyers love to choose from wide selections of designs. Weird house? It’s environmentally friendly!

The thing about staging a home is that, the moment you decide to sell your house, you have lost all control to the Malaysian house. You have lost the house completely when you make that decision. Everything you do or make to and for the house, at this crucial juncture, is all for and about the potential buyers. IT’S ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT IF YOU WANT TO BE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY (REMEMBER THE CARBON CHALLENGE!)

You have to recreate the house no longer according to you and your personal tastes, but this time according to what would look pleasing to most buyers. After all, more offers would mean more chances of selling at a much, much better price.

GREEN Ideas That Buyers Will Surely LOVE!

So while we cannot all be master interior designers and architects, we can always have a little piece of knowledge that experts in the real estate field have known for years; here are some 5 design ideas that buyers love:

  1. A neutral palette. Earth tones of beige, white, brown, cream and other hues in the same palette would always make a good design decision if you’re trying to sell a home. These are the colors that give a sense of openness and welcome, the sense that the Malaysian house does not have traces of its previous owners. Neutral colors also give a sense of a blank slate – something to create things on. Try to choose three neutral colors to become the central theme of your house color before opening it up to potential buyers. Popular choice for Malaysians!
  2. Open area. Your busy foyer and hallway can finally get some rest. When staging a home, it is very important that you strip your house of bulky and unnecessary furniture and appliances? An open, spacious-looking home is always highly recommended, design-wise. It will make potential buyers think that they are getting a good deal with a big home with small price.
  3. Outdoor spaces. More and more people these days are beginning to realize the beauty of enjoying the outdoors; that is why homes that come with outdoor spaces are very impressive to many home buyers. So if you have room enough for simple garden furniture, or if you have an unused area for a patio, by all means invest on it. The good thing about investing in these outdoor spaces is that they don’t need to be grand; the more natural and simpler they are, the more attractive they are. Run to your nearest thrift store for some well-loved rattan seats or a little hammock, add some rustic garden lights and win an outdoor-loving buyer.
  4. Natural light. Natural light creates an illusion of additional space. So when you are selling an upmarket condo like The Coast in Singapore or the infamous Vipod Suite in KLCC and you’re expecting tons of buyers, go for sheer curtains and open windows if the weather permits. This will definitely sit well with your white accents in the house. Avoid putting too much drapery on your windows because it makes it look stuffy and clamped.
  5. Smart storage additions. If you’re going to invest on your house renov for the house you’re selling, might as well invest in smart storage. Transform your small pantry into a multi-level, multi-faceted rotating pantry, or if space allows, create a walk in closet.

You may also want to read my previous guide to green development for context. Alternatively, see this page for more inspiration!

GO GREEN!

November 4, 20130 commentsRead More
REDUCE Energy Consumption NOW: A CLARION CALL FOR ACTION

REDUCE Energy Consumption NOW: A CLARION CALL FOR ACTION

Let us know the reasons why we need to reduce the use of energy now, article from epa.gov

“When we conserve energy resources, our nation can enjoy cleaner air and a healthier environment, and we can help protect the climate by reducing green house gases. In 2008, Americans saved more than $19 billion and avoided greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 29 million cars through choices they made with energy-saving measures and energy-efficient homes.

Homeowners can save energy while improving their home’s comfort level by adopting energy-efficient building practices. Substantial savings are possible whether building a new home, renovating an existing one, or simply updating some features to improve your home’s efficiency.”

Main Source: http://www.epa.gov/greenhomes/ReduceEnergy.htm

It’s not just about doing some good thing to mother earth but also do something good for yourself, you children and so on. So start conserving now!

Also, you may want to read this article that I personally wrote a few months ago for further analysis and context. And oh, here’s another post. Thank you guys!

Love,
M

October 31, 20130 commentsRead More
Investing Elsewhere…

Investing Elsewhere…

Hi! Michelle here. Completely off-topic.. last night I was asked by a friend if it was wise to invest on a property in a much different location– in her case, somewhere outside the United States. She was thinking of buying and selling or renting out old condominiums for profit. Her question caught me offguard, probably because we were in the middle of discussing the latest episode of Mad Men, and her question lacked a proper segue.

She considered my “expertise” on the subject, and without hesitation I told her, “yes”. Why not? It’s the best time for real estate right now– especially in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and even Hong Kong. Given the fact that I’ve lived in all those locations gave her enough confidence that what I’m saying is indeed– credible.

The world is in your hands! The world is in your hands!

We checked online for properties that can be deemed investment-worthy.. the current trend in Asia is the fast rise of condominiums in cities, especially in Kuala Lumpur and Adelaide. There’s this one nice condo in Bangsar– a happening community, apparently in Kuala Lumpur– that particularly caught my eye. She had her sights on The Troika, another highrise posh condominium in Malaysia. After a few glasses of wine we ended up sleeping on the couch, and woke up holding calculators– probably there was a bit of a drunk-computation activity that happened the previous night.

I’d get back to you and let you know if my friend will eventually hop on the first plane to Asia. :)

Take care!

-M.

 

May 17, 20130 commentsRead More
Restoring the GREEN in Old Condominiums: A Practical Guide!

Restoring the GREEN in Old Condominiums: A Practical Guide!

Email from a previous attendee of the New England Go Green campaign (back in 2008) -

Hey M!

I have been buying up old real estate (here in Malaysia) to restore before flipping them in the secondary market. And of course, being a green devotee, I would like to take up the CARBON CHALLENGE and turn them into little green monsters! What’s your advice?

Cindy Forbes

Well Cindy!

A lot of homeowners today in Malaysia are looking into buying old condominiums and investing on repairing it. They save up a lot on the down payment and the total cost of the house thereby getting shorter terms on mortgage loans and in some cases, lower monthly fees.

While that sounds very promising, repairing an old condo can be as expensive as building a new one. If you don’t have a lot of money for repairs, you might still end up with a huge construction loan. But if you are creative and innovative enough, you may just be in for some good bargain. I know, because I tried restoring an old Nadi  condo in Bangsar and it really broke my budget trying to go green!

Just as with everything else, there are pros and cons to it so read on if you’re planning to do exactly this for your condo project:

Pros:

  • You can save up on the down payment. While the closing costs are practically the same, these old condos are usually sold much, much cheaply than newer and expensive condos, such as the Park Seven condo in KLCC. These houses have outdated electric and water systems most likely so they would really be very, very inexpensive. Ditto goes for Iskandar region condos.
  • You can save up on mortgage. Your total mortgage loan won’t be as big as when you’re buying a new home. And for obvious reasons. The cheaper the house, the smaller the fees and total costs.
  • They are usually in very good locations. Bangsar, Petaling Jaya, and New Klang all have potential condominiums that are always in demand to the public. Other condo buyers are just not into the hassle of having to work on a condo. They want condos that are ready to live in. There are old condos in good areas that are a turn off for home buyers because they are a lot of work to do. If you invest in them, you get both the condo and the good location.

Cons:

  • They may cost you more than a new condo. Everything in that old condo could be outdated. Most condo buyers are looking for effective green solutions for both houses and condos, and this might be a problem. You’ll have to install new everything – ducts, electricity, water, heating, etc. If your purchase is bad, you might be having problems on sloping, ceiling, pests, and what-nots. You might end up having to tear the whole condo done!
  • You may need a different loan for the repairs. You wouldn’t want double loans right? If you do not have enough savings to cover all the repairs, you may end up having to take a loan on top of your mortgage on the unit.
  • Takes time. It’s practically just like getting a new condo built. You can’t live in it until you have finished all the work in it.
  • Unit restoration is something for the pros and those who are patient enough. Green real estate that are increasing in numbers in certain areas like Mont Kiara and KLCC boasts of facilities that promise little restoration to the owner. This is challenging when looking to buy an old condo unit to restore. Make sure the foundations are still good, and it is not sloping. Also make sure to run a whole pest management thing going – years of it not being lived in made it an ideal place for rodents, termites and all the nasty things in its most hidden nooks and crannies.
  • Before making that final purchase on the old condo, make sure you know what it entails.

Speak soon,

M :D

May 11, 20130 commentsRead More
Green DIY – It Will Do Your Soul A Lot Of Good!

Green DIY – It Will Do Your Soul A Lot Of Good!

Today’s article features parts from our partners at PropertyReviews.my – which is NECarbonChallenge’s representative in Malaysia.

Everyone has a dream house. I, as a kid growing up in the streets of Selangor, Malaysia, want a lanai that goes straight out of my dining hall, and floor-to-ceiling windows and a huge library and reading nook behind my walk-in closet. The problem is, this house only exists in my imagination and not in the houses that are up for sale anywhere. An apartment which would be ideal for me would be one at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), but that would be a little out of my league in terms of affordability. :(

This is the reason why some people consider building their own home over buying a pre-built one. But would it be a better choice? Which will make a more practical move, economically, especially in Malaysia?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of building your own home:

Pros:

The biggest advantage to building your own home, and quite frankly the foremost reason why homeowners decide to take this challenging step is getting a home that is fully, truly yours – built how you want it.

You would not have to complain about your kitchen bar being too off-center or having too much space used on your kitchen, or the windows being too small for your taste. Oh, you would not have neighbors living in the exact same looking home too. :)

Building your own home also gives you the freedom and the privilege to choose the exact materials that you want to see in your house. Houses in the Petaling Jaya district, for one, have spacious homes and lots that you can definitely utilize. You would not have to worry over having to change anything to match your preferences. Now things will be different if you are in a rather cramped property development such as Mont Kiara or Ampang, for example.

And then of course there’s that sense of personal gratification over seeing your home built from scratch. It’s your dream home and you’ve seen how it came to be, that much of a satisfaction is priceless – and something you can never achieve with a pre-built home. This point is driven home in one of Trulia’s blog post which can be found here.

There are, on the other hand, some Malaysian developers (particularly those in the greater Kuala Lumpur area) which give a lot of customization options to buyers (reputable developers such as Glomac and Mah Sing come to mind), and so there is a middle ground. Condominiums such as Troika (in KLCC) are flexible to some extent when it comes to customization options.

Also, having your own design means that it’s easier to take our Carbon Challenge!

Cons:

However, the biggest disadvantage to building a house is that it is generally more expensive as opposed to buying a home. Mortgage lenders in Malaysia typically do not easily grant construction loan so it may take a bit of time to get the financing on it started. That is, unless of course, if you are not going to pay with cash.

Also, building your own home takes a lot of time. Whilst you only have to drive up to your pre-built home on moving day, construction of a new house may take months and sometimes even years to finish. Plus you would have to work as much as the weather permits you. Weather disturbances can disrupt your construction progress way more than you can imagine. This is especially true in the context of the unpredictable Malaysian weather. :)

During this downtime, you will have to settle down somewhere else if you do no longer have your old home. Renting a place during the construction will cost you both the rent and the ongoing construction costs. Property hunting in Malaysia can be daunting, but at the advent of online property research tools (such as PropertyReviews.my) things are indeed easier now than, say, three years ago.

Choosing the right materials to go in your home could also be time consuming. Unless you leave it all to your builder – which practically defeats the purpose of building the house according to your preferences – you will have to go through the process with your engineer/contractor. It is only fun in the beginning, trust me. I speak from experience! :)

Then again, having your own home according to how you dreamed your home to be is a satisfaction that is beyond compare and beyond measure. You just have to decide whether or not all the hassle is worth it. Not many Malaysians build their own homes, but those who do will reap the rewards.

Finally, we do have some workshops lined up in 2013 for those who are interested in building their own homes. Click here for more information.

Resources mentioned in this article -

PropertyReviews.MY

  • Address: H-08, Setiawalk, Pusat Bandar Puchong, 47100 Selangor, Malaysia.
  • Telephone: 013-3540586
  • Email: contact@propertyreviews.my
May 2, 20130 commentsRead More
Green Real Estate – Good Investment?

Green Real Estate – Good Investment?

Times are indeed changing, as we have made countless efforts in trying to preserve our environment and the world that we live in. In the housing and real estate industry, many steps are taken to ensure that every home, building, or commercial complex will do its part in making our planet a safer place for everyone. Thus, the emergence of “green” real estate has played an important role to date in making residences and office spaces more eco-friendly.

What Exactly is Green Real Estate?

Many factors are taken into consideration before property can be considered as “green” or eco-friendly. A lot of buyers and sellers have taken the path towards green living, and this is relatively shown by the amount of eco-friendly properties and houses being built on a daily basis.

In Asia, specifically in Malaysia– there have been countless of residences that are going green. Marc Residence, for example, is conceptualising on ways to promote green living. Another good example is Singapore’s Mon Jervos – it’s the country’s flag bearer of green development!

Green Houses

A lot of components come into play—insulation, for one, is a key determiner of green buildings and houses. Since heating and cooling contribute to high energy consumption and higher bills, a proper insulation that adheres to green standards will make it environmental-friendly. A building with proper insulation will result into a safer environment.

Technology also plays a part in making property green. The invention of solar panels that allow natural sunlight to enter a house or building is a big step for real estate to go to the green side. It has a lot of benefits, too—cleaner and cooler spaces, a relaxed and calming atmosphere, and most especially—lower bills to pay.

Careful construction within an area is also taken into consideration before a property can be considered to be eco-friendly. Who wants to live in a home that is a result of 100 trees being cut down? No one. Studies have shown that more and more people are becoming aware of the Earth’s growing problems every day, and would probably consider knowing all the details first before buying any house. This is one reason why green real estate has been getting a lot of attention recently, and is slowly having a higher market value compared to properties that haven’t gone green yet.

Benefits of Going Green

The number one reason why people nowadays are choosing green homes is because of the low costs that green houses and properties accumulate in the long run. Lower costs, lower bills to pay, and lower energy consumption have made it easy for people to change gears and head towards the green direction. Here is a quick guide on how to save consumption and therefore save on bills. Aside from all the savings you are able to get, you can be sure that you’re doing the environment a great favour. With the growing popularity of green housing and green real estate nowadays, you’d be sure that you will have a lot of options. It’s time for you to do your part now.

Wise words from: M!

April 3, 20130 commentsRead More
Calculator

Calculator

We’ve designed this tool to help you identify actions you can take in your home to reduce your energy consumption, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions. As you select actions to reduce your energy usage, we’ll give you estimates (tailored to your household) of what you might expect to save. Using this tool you can “Take the Challenge” and join the many residents throughout New England who are reducing their energy costs and environmental impact.

VEHICLE EMISSIONS:

Every gallon of gasoline produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, and therefore vehicles are a significant source of greenhouse gases. There are several ways to reduce automobile emissions.

ELECTRICITY EMISSIONS:

Power plants use many fuel types (coal, oil, natural gas, biomass, hydro, nuclear) to produce electricity, and several of these fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) are rich in carbon creating a lot of carbon dioxide when they are burned to produce electricity. Reducing our electricity consumption lowers these emissions.

HEATING AND HOT WATER EMISSIONS:

How we heat our homes and hot water are frequently the largest sources of household carbon emissions. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce these numbers. There are some properties around the world which have been developed with this principle in mind. Real estate sector in Malaysia, for example, is famous for the common practice of reducing carbon emissions in their housing projects and new property developments. For this reason, real estate brokers and agents have the incentive to buy or sell properties which satisfies the requirement for reduced heating and hot water emissions. For more information on how the properties for sale in Malaysia incorporate lower heating emissions as part of their real estate development projects, read this article. This practice in Malaysia should be encouraged all over the world indeed. For more details and listings about property for sale in Malaysia, do a Google search!

RECYCLING AND WASTE REDUCTION EMISSIONS:

Recycling cans, plastic, paper, and glass, reduces greenhouse gas emissions since a lot of energy is used to create new materials and containers. Some types of recycling have a bigger impact on the environment than others, though all recycling is advantageous.

I pledge to join the growing number of residents throughout New England who are making simple lifestyle changes in order to reduce the risk of climate change and to increase our nation’s energy security. I will do my part by taking the actions I have indicated above.

September 26, 20120 commentsRead More
Communities

Communities

Reaching 234 towns and cities in New Hampshire and into New England is only possible through the partnerships we’ve developed with communities…schools, towns, local energy committees, faith-based organizations, civic groups, and regional entities. As partners, we each have a vital part to play:

We develop the tools and resources to help households and communities reduce their residential energy consumption and the communities implement the Carbon Challenge.

It’s a partnership that works. The table below lists several of the creative approaches communities are using to implement the Carbon Challenge; strategies that have been successful in encouraging residents to reduce their energy consumption. Are you using a different approach and don’t see it listed? Tell us about it; we’d love to share your ideas with others.

If you’re eager to have your organization take action on climate change and reduce its environmental impact, we can help. We have tools and resources to estimate your current emissions, map out a plan to reduce these emissions, and chart your progress in achieving your goal(s). We can also link individual households in your organization to each other, to document your collective progress. And we also offer several incentives for taking the Challenge!

Want to learn more? For a nominal fee we can help your organization reduce your energy costs and environmental impacts through our web-based tools and Implementation Guides.

RESOURCES TO GETTING STARTED:

  •     NH Carbon Challenge Overview
  •     10 Strategies for Launching Your Challenge
  •     Framework for a Community-Wide Challenge
  •     Community Challenge Implementation Guide Provided With Yearly Fee
  • For Schools:
  •     Guide to Having a School Challenge
  •     School Challenge Implementation Guide Provided With Yearly Fee
  • For Municipalities:
  •     Implementing a Municipal Employee Challenge

 

Events

Events

We are now in the process of organizing some events to promote a couple of projects in promoting “green” thinking in accordance with our Carbon Challenge projects. What is happening is that we have just recruited our program coordinator for Malaysia, Mr John Sykes (email him: js@necarbonchallenge.org, or call him +603.56002991), and he will be based out of Kuala Lumpur for the next six months to get first-hand feedback from the public when it comes to promoting green initiatives.

In this part of the world green development is still not in vogue, and there is a pressing need to promote this to the general public. Sustainability is almost never a concern when it comes to real estate development, and much work is needed to be done in order to increase the visibility of this initiatives in the eyes of the general public.

It is amazing to note that the Malaysian government has been actively promoting green initiatives, and the local property market has responded well to this. We have also been promoting the use of our calculators and also issuing a call-to-action to the local property investors community to take up the carbon challenge – something that we have successfully implemented here in NE for the past seven months or so.

Our maiden project in Malaysia is the KLCC (or better known as the Kuala Lumpur City Centre) area where the prime pieces of real estate is located. The Petronas Twin Towers, an icon of green development, is at the center of it all. It is surrounded by commercial developments, as well as notable condominiums such as Stonor Park, The Binjai, St Mary Residences and Troika. The KLCC vicinity is ripe with property investors from both Malaysia and abroad, although prices have since tanked from the oversupply of luxury condominiums and apartments in the city and elsewhere.

We have since linked up with local Malaysian property agencies who are into green development. Watch this space for more updates on events, and if you want to know more about our Carbon Challenge initiatives then click here.

Workshops! Workshops! Workshops!

Workshops! Workshops! Workshops!

NECarbon Challenge are proud to announce the official launch of Button Up NH, a highly successful home weatherization workshop pioneered in Vermont and now available in New Hampshire . Button Up NH presenters will conduct nine free home weatherization workshops in regional hubs across the state this winter, including New London, Lebanon , Grafton, Plymouth, Sanbornton-Tilton, Concord, Rye, Atkinson and Dover.

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE:

  •     New London:

Tracey Memorial Library; Thursday December 10 @ 7 p.m.

  •     Concord:

City Council Chambers; Tuesday January 12 @ 6:45 p.m.

  •     Dover:

City Hall; Thursday January 14 @ 6:30 p.m.

  •     Sanbornton-Tilton:

Winnisquam Regional HS; Tuesday January 19 @ 6:45 p.m.

  •     Lebanon:

Lebanon Public Library; Saturday January 23 @ 10 a.m.

  •     Rye:

Rye Public Library; Saturday January 23 @ 10 a.m.

  •     Grafton:

City Hall; Tuesday January 26, 2010 @ 6:45 p.m.

  •     Plymouth:

Pease Public Library; Thursday January 28 @ 6:45 p.m.

  •     Atkinson:

Kimball Public Library; Saturday February 6 @ 10 a.m.

WHAT THE WORKSHOP COVERS:

Evening workshops are conducted by qualified home energy experts who will introduce homeowner-participants to the basics of home energy budgets and the value of home weatherization. Each workshop will include information on how simple household adjustments and modest investments can lead to significant energy savings over the long haul. Workshop topics will include: residential heat use and loss, the short term benefits of simple do-it-yourself weatherization, the value of a professional home energy audit, the long term benefits of extensive professional energy retrofits, and the technical and financial resources available to make it happen.

As a bonus to all attendees, we will also be distributing free meditation music CDs utilizing the latest brainwave entrainment technology. Coming to workshops can be troublesome, and we would like to incentivize all attendees by introducing them to free meditation and yoga classes. Brainwave entrainment music (especially those composed using binaural beats and also isochronic tones) are proven to be beneficial to the mind, and in many ways it also enhances the meditation experience. We have also had joint projects with some producers of brainwave synchronization programs (notably those folks who produce NeuroActivator – more information at http://www.neuroactivator.com), and we are happy to announce that we will be rolling out those programs in batches in conjunction with our meditation workshops. For more information, contact your local coordinator and indicate your interest. Email us with the subject line “I am interested in meditation and brainwave entrainment programs“. Thank you!

Button Up NH workshops are free and open to the public. We hope you will use this information to help spread the word whenever and however you can.

September 25, 20120 commentsRead More