News + Updates

Earch Advantage ®, Inc. and Build It Green announce a partnership to deliver green and energy efficient home data through the Green Building Registry® (GBR).
Historically, important information on a home such a energy ratings, third-party building certifications or solar electricity generation have not made it into for sale listings.

I know that resolutions, as the name suggests, are often meant to be challenging. Otherwise they wouldn't be resolutions, right? But as we begin a new year and a new decade, I thought it would be nice to try and put together a list of green home resolutions that many of you can easily do! Here are my top five.

                           
electric car plugged into charging station         

 Chris' Green Home Wish List

Dec. 17, 2019

 

With the holiday season here and many of us getting into the giving spirit, I thought I would share my list of gifts I wish every home could receive this year.

Plant-Based Materials for a Carbon-Neutral Home

My green wish list includes using more plant-based materials in home renovations. Think FSC-certified wood or straw for structural and finish materials, cork flooring, and cellulose, wool, straw and hemp fiber insulation. Plant-based materials help make a home carbon neutral because they are generally lower in embodied carbon than materials like aluminum, steel, concrete and plastic. (Embodied carbon is the sum of the greenhouse gas emissions generated during the manufacturing, transporting and installing of a material or product.) In the scheme of things, embodied carbon is a big deal—it accounts for 28% of the global building sector’s GHG emissions, according to Architecture 2020.

All-Electric Systems and Appliances for Deep GHG Reductions

To achieve deep reductions of 75 percent or more in building-related greenhouse gas emissions, Rocky Mountain Institute and many other experts are urging us to switch space heating and cooling and water heating from natural gas, oil and propane to electricity. My wish list of cost-effective changes for home electrification includes a heat pump for heating and cooling and a heat pump water heater. Also on my list is an induction stove and electric clothes dryer. And don’t forget solar. Here in California, adding photovoltaic panels can lower the net present cost of electrification. Also, as this report by NREL makes clear, insulation, air sealing, and smart thermostats all make sense as part of the move towards home electrification.

An Electric Car in the Garage

Cars and SUVs account for a whopping 28 percent of California’s GHG emissions, according to Next 10’s 2019 report. Compared to driving, of course, telecommuting, walking, biking, and taking public transit are all lower impact means of getting around. But realistically, we’re a car-based society right now and cars need to be part of the climate crisis solution. To round out my wish list, I’d like to see every gas-fueled car or SUV replaced with an electric vehicle. According to the DOE’s eGallon tool, the fuel savings alone would be $500 to $1,000 per year. And without an internal combustion engine, EVs have very low routine maintenance costs.

What gifts would make your home more sustainable? Share your ideas by emailing me or posting them on social media and tagging us.

Happy holidays from everyone at Build It Green!

Chris Becker
Interim Executive Director
Build It Green

                           
people in a training seminar         

Home Performance Training Opportunities

Dec. 17, 2019

 

The home performance landscape is continuing to evolve as practitioners and researchers discover new ways to design, build and measure sustainable and healthy buildings. To keep up, check out these free or low-cost continuing education opportunities.

PG&E Energy Education Center:

Topics include residential ventilation, energy modeling, Title 24 review, and home audit diagnostic testing. Classes are free and available in San Francisco, Stockton and on-demand online. The Energy Education Centers also have tool libraries where you can borrow blower doors, duct testers, and other energy efficiency and combustion appliance testing equipment.

Click here to learn more


BayREN Residential Homeowner Energy Efficiency Workshops:

Free Bay Area workshops that cover the benefits of energy upgrades, how to qualify for energy upgrade rebates, and finance options.

Click here to learn more


Building Performance Institute:

Online courses that help home performance contractors run a more successful and efficient business.

Click here to learn more


UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education:

One-day classes offering insight into disaster response and sustainability. Also, certificate programs in land use planning and environmental resource management.

Click here to learn more.


SoCal Edison:

Free and online classes in Irwindale and Tulare.

Topics include building codes and standards, construction and software, energy management controls, HVAC, renewables, and sustainability. A tool library is also available to borrow diagnostic equipment.

Click here to learn more


SoCal REN:

Offers workforce education and training prepares small contractors with the knowledge to compete for energy efficiency projects and increase their capacity.

Click here to learn more


Local Community Colleges or Universities:

Check your local college or university for sustainability or green design courses or certificate programs.


 

Know of a class or training program we didn’t mention? Send us a link: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

                           
julia D's home         

Three Generations Living Under One New, and Improved Roof!

By Tess Orlev
Aug. 7, 2019

 

 

Download article as a PDF

healthy home connect

Health and Home Problems Arise

Belle Haven resident Julia Douglas, 73, is now enjoying her home improvements that have drastically changed her and her family’s life—and health—for the better.

Douglas was approached by El-Concilio of San Mateo County when the Healthy Home Connect (HHC) program learned there were three generations living under one roof, a roof that was severely damaged and leaking rainwater into the home. “The rain was dripping into the house. It was terrible, but now I’m holding on. The HHC program has been a godsend to my family,” said Douglas. 

Douglas has lived in her Belle Haven home for the last 40 years and worked in her career for about 30 years until a coronary artery bypass surgery forced her to go into medical retirement.

Douglas had been suffering from sinus issues, asthma, colds, in addition to dealing with hypertension and sciatic nerve issues after the surgery. “I had never had asthma before,” said Douglas, who lives with her granddaughter, 12, and daughter, 47.

“My daughter and granddaughter both have been suffering from sinus and asthma, it has even caused my granddaughter to miss school. We’ve had to pick her up from school due to the asthma attacks,” said Douglas.

The family was not sure what was causing their health issues, and although Douglas realized her home needed improvements she was unable to provide the updates on her fixed income. “I couldn’t get a lot done on my own. Finding the Healthy Home Connect program gave me encouragement in life, and it gave me a big lift in my life! I really am so grateful for the program,” said Douglas. 

The home was inspected and assessed using Hayward Score pre-intervention. The home scored 13 out of 100 (very poor) on the Hayward Score scale, the lowest of the 18 homes helped in the HHC program so far.

Hayward Score uses information about climate, attributes, conditions, and behaviors to assess the “health” of the home. This web-based tool provides users not only with a score for their home, but also a personalized set of actions they can take to start improving the health of their home immediately. Hayward Score’s detailed survey questions and proprietary algorithms can achieve the same level of accuracy as expensive in-home assessments.

Gloria Flores-Garcia with El-Concilio of San Mateo County helped BIG with the outreach to the participants of HHC. She is very pleased to see the changes the program has made in people’s lives.  “To be involved in HHC and to hear Ms. Douglas say that it lifted her spirits, it’s just so wonderful. The health and social services they’re getting is what I love to do,” said Garcia.

Benefits to the Family

When asked what she looks forward to now Douglas said she is excited to have a healthier future. “Now I am just looking forward to the rest of my days, I want to see my granddaughter who’s in the 7th grade, graduate from high school and go to college and I want us all to have a healthy, happy home,” said Douglas. 

After all the home improvements, new flooring, weather stripping, the new roof installed and other energy improvements Douglas and her family are reporting better health and saving money on their energy bills.

The home was rescored 6 months post-intervention again using Hayward Score. The result was a 63, a significant improvement over the previous score of 13.

Now the family is enjoying improved indoor air quality, more thermal comfort, with fewer asthma attacks, and fewer colds and flus.                                             

“I can breathe so much better. I appreciate my new roof, I would be swimming in a river, Lord knows what else! I don’t know where I would have turned,” said Douglas.

Douglas would recommend the HHC program to anyone who is looking for help. “There’s a lot of people like myself. I’m just so grateful to HHC and I’m sure there are many others that can benefit from a program like this too.” 

What is Healthy Home Connect 

Healthy Home Connect (HHC) is Build It Green’s (BIG) innovative new program leveraging multiple funding sources to deliver energy and healthy home upgrades simultaneously to benefit California’s most vulnerable populations. BIG has recently delivered health and energy upgrades to 18 homes and families faced with hardships in the Belle Haven community—homes that would otherwise not fully benefit from existing energy efficiency programs because they needed more basic repairs first. Learn more about HHC here.

 


What is Hayward Score

Hayward Score identifies unhealthy conditions in the home. This patent-pending, web-enabled tool, built by the best minds in the healthy homes industry provides a survey, home score, and a customized set of recommendations outlining steps to improve the health and safety of the home. Hayward Score’s targeted survey questions and refined algorithms typically achieve the same level of accuracy as expensive indoor air quality testing. Learn More about Hayward Score here.

 


What is El Concilio of San Mateo County

El Concilo of San Mateo County (ECSMC) mission is to empower diverse communities in California’s Central Valley. Their vision is to serve the whole community in order to help people realize their greatest potential by offering critically needed comprehensive and compassionate programs and services that provide outreach, education, counseling, as well as awareness of their personal strengths and abilities, and the knowledge of resources available to them. Learn More about El Concilio here.


 

What is Maverick Green Energy Solar 

Maverick is a consulting firm on a mission to educate and help communities go green. With rigorously vetting and only partnering with experienced yet honest local installers who are unwilling to cut corners, Maverick ensures you get the service and integrity you deserve while never losing that personal touch and accountability of a small, community-oriented business. Learn More about Maverick Green Energy Solar here

 

bedroom

San Diego Green Building Council

By Tess Orlev

Nov. 14, 2019

A bedroom in La Jolla Shores in which a strategy to minimize use of the HVAC system electric lighting has been implemented.

Green Home Tours are a great way to showcase homes that have incorporated features that are better for the environment and occupants.

Build It Green attended the 10th annual San Diego Green Building Council’s Green Home tour last month. The demand to showcase more homes has grown since they started. For the first time the tour has been expanded to take place over two-days. It was a self-guided driving tour and featured 14 homes – including a community center, luxury single family new construction houses and town homes, existing homes that have updated features to incorporate more sustainable features, and straw bale houses.

Green Homes Day

We were lucky to be onsite when the mayor of Imperial Beach, Robert Patton, pulled up on his bicycle to one of the homes on the tour. He formally proclaimed October 19th to be Green Homes Day in Imperial Beach to recognize the 10th anniversary of the San Diego Green Building Council’s Green Homes tour. It inspires all members of the community–including industry professionals and members of the general public–to make more environmentally responsible choices when it comes to building and design.

If interested in organizing a green homes tour in your neighborhood, please let us know! We’d love to help bring attention to your efforts. Contact: