Last night at MNCBIA‘s annual Environmental Awards, judges praised EYA’s Chancellor’s Row townhome community with the firm’s fourth Green Building award.
EYA’s commitment to green building practices has been recognized year after year in industry award competitions.
A panel of industry experts weighed criteria such as sustainable design, construction which minimizes environmental impact, homes with reduced energy and water consumption, and the protection of the health of occupants.
In 2009, EYA committed to design all future neighborhoods to LEED for Homes standards, and the company has received over 500 certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Chancellor’s Row, which was also named 2011 Community of the Year, is a 10-acre urban infill townhouse community, built to LEED-ND and LEED for Homes standards and includes onsite Capital Bikeshare and Zipcar. The community is over 90% sold out and a limited number of homes remain for quick move-in.
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Bethesda, MD – Washington-area homebuilder and real estate developer EYA has long focused on close-in, walkable new home developments throughout the region. Fittingly, the company places a strong emphasis on sustainable design, green building and smart growth. While EYA has heard anecdotally that its neighborhoods and construction techniques have improved their homeowner’s lives, the company recently commissioned a third-party study to measure the true lifestyle benefits of living in an EYA neighborhood.
EYA selected third-party research firm, Robert Charles Lesser & Company (RCLCO), to conduct a survey of homeowners among its recently built communities in Washington, DC and Alexandria, VA. Owners were asked to report their actual energy & water usage, commuting and lifestyle habits. RCLCO also collected comparison energy & water usage data for older homes and newer homes built by other homebuilders.
The findings are:
60% of EYA homeowners have an “alternative” commute, as compared to only 32% of Washingtonians.
73% of EYA homeowners have a commute less than 30 minutes, which is 10% shorter than the DC-average.
The average EYA homeowner walks 32 minutes per day, compared to the national average of only 13 minutes.
71% of EYA homeowners walk to Metro at least once a week, compared to only 15% of Washington-area residents.
The average EYA household has only 1.43 cars, compared to a regional & national average of 1.9 cars per household.
The average EYA household drives only 21 miles per day, as compared to a regional average of 26.3 miles per person.
By moving into an EYA community, owners report driving 25 miles less per week, which saves them $734.50 per year.
EYA homeowners report saving $258 per year on utility bills (or 9%) versus older homes or other new construction.
88% of EYA homeowners report that moving into an EYA neighborhood positively impacted their lives by bringing amenities within walking distance.
In a typical EYA new home development, the company recycles 85% of construction debris, diverting over 2,000 tons of waste from landfills.
The study is timely for EYA, as it recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, 4,000th settlement and completed its 500th LEED certification. The results are a testament to the merits of the green building techniques the company has implemented in pursuing LEED certification, along with the lifestyle benefits of living in a walkable neighborhood.
Living in a Statistically Smarter Neighborhood, an EYA Infographic
EYA is a smart growth developer, specializing in walkable new home communities and mixed-use developments. Since its founding in 1992, the company has built over 30 neighborhoods in the Washington Metropolitan area. Learn more at http://www.EYA.com.
Robert Charles Lesser & Company (RCLCO) is the largest independent real estate advisory firm in the nation. The company provides strategic and tactical advice regarding property investment, planning, and development. RCLCO has offices in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, CA, Austin, TX and Orlando, FL. Learn more at http://www.RCLCO.com.
 Commuting in the United States, 2009. Data for households earning $75K+ per year. U.S. Census Bureau. September 2011.
 Commute Times in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area. George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis. June 2001.
 Vital Signs: Walking Among Adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 2012.
 Commuting in the United States, 2009. U.S. Census Bureau. September 2011.
 Consumer Expenditures for the Washington, DC Area: 2010-2011. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 Mega Commuting in the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. November 2012.
Today’s garbage disposals are designed to devour all types of food waste and, according to a recent study, they offer an environmentally friendly alternative to throwing food in the garbage can. Yet many of us are reluctant to use them.
We recommend you read up on your particular model before sending food down the drain, but know that waste like chicken bones, coffee grounds and fruit rinds are fair game for most new disposals. Here’s an interesting list of other waste that we had no idea would be disposer-friendly.
InSinkErator’s tips for using your disposal include:
Don’t pour oils or grease down the drain! They can clog and damage the sewer system. Instead collect fats in a container, then throw the container in the trash.
Don’t try to grind large amounts of food waste at one time.
Do use cold water when using a disposer. Using hot water wastes energy.
Do run water down the drain for several seconds after grinding is complete to flush waste and keep debris from settling in the plumbing system.
Do save and grind used lemons and other citrus fruit peels to freshen up your disposer, naturally.
Interested in being green? Using your disposal is also likely to help the environment.
According to a recent study, commissioned by the manufacturer of InSinkErator food disposal systems and performed by independent research group PE International, disposing of food down the garbage disposal is always preferable — from an environmental perspective — to throwing these items in the trash. The EPA reports that in 2010 33 million tons of food waste was thrown away, making food the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching landfills and incinerators.
So what?, you ask. Food quickly rots in landfills and becomes a significant source of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. (Some landfills are now harvesting methane in states like California, but this is not the norm.)
The chart below from Environmental Building News identifies the study results with regard to each waste disposal method’s impact on global warming. Composting is most often going to be the “best” method of food disposal, but if your choice is simply between the garbage can or garbage disposal, your disposal will win every time. (Again, just make sure the waste is approved for your particular model.)
Global Warming Potential of Food Waste Scenarios per 100 kg waste (annual household average). (Source: PE International)
Don’t be fooled by the unseasonably warm weather this week! With Thanksgiving behind us, cold temps and the looming threat of snowstorms, ice and high winds are just around the corner. If you haven’t already, now is the time to winterize your home. Here are 8 easy steps to take this week.
Photo by diego3336 via Flickr Creative Commons
Winterize your hose bibs. If you leave water in lines that service your hoses, you risk a busted pipe and costly water damage that may not be covered by warranties and insurance. Begin by turning off the water to your house bibs via the shut-off valve(s) in your garage or utility closet. Next, open and drain all exterior bibs (leaving the valve open all winter). If your shut-off valve includes a bleeder, your last step is to remove the cap on the bleeder and let the remaining water drain out into a bucket. Replace the cap on the bleeder once the draining is complete.
Clear your gutters and downspouts. Damming and ice buildup in your gutters can cause your gutters to pull away from your house and/or water to build up under the shingles and eventually into the house. You can decrease the likelihood of these fates by clearing your gutters of leaves and other obstructions.
Check your window seals and exterior door thresholds. Air drafts from your windows and doors will cause you to lose heat and require your system to work harder to keep your home warm. First, make sure all windows are latched for proper seal between upper and lower sashes. Second, check thresholds on all exterior doors and adjust them by simply turning the screws. Typically, in winter months, due to contraction, you may need to raise the threshold to prevent cold air drafts from under the doors. You’ll want to check and adjust them again when the weather warms up next year.
Clean or replace your furnace filters. Failure to keep your filters clean can create uneven airflow and put an unnecessary strain on the system, which may void your warranty. Maintenance providers recommend changing your filters up to once per month during the winter season, but consult your owner’s manual for manufacturer’s recommendations. Changing your filters will also help to keep your evaporator coils clean (See #5).
Clean your HVAC’s condensate lines and evaporator coils. Dirty evaporator coils in your furnace can cause condensate lines to clog and then back up causing water damage to your home. We recommend that you have a licensed professional HVAC service technician check and clean your system on an annual basis.
Balance your system’s airflow by adjusting the supply registers. Begin with the coldest room first by adjusting the supply registers to the full open position. Set the thermostat to maintain the desired temperature in the coldest room, then adjust all the other supply registers accordingly in the warmer rooms until you have balanced the entire system. If you have a single heating unit, make sure that your volume dampers (located in your mechanical room) are set appropriately for the winter season.
Keep the outdoor unit clear. With all the leaves that have fallen off trees in recent weeks, now is a good time to check our outdoor heat pump unit. The accumulation of anything (including snow or ice) on or around the unit can cause inefficiency or damage to the unit, so you will want to check it regularly throughout winter. In an EYA townhouse, your heat pump is the taller of the two outdoor units and has a model number that starts with the letters HP.
Warm up your gas fireplace. Don’t wait until five minutes before your holiday party to turn on your fireplace for the first time! The initial use of your gas fireplace requires eight to 10 hours of constant burn on high to remove any chemical odors. We recommend that you open your windows to allow constant fresh air in the room during this period. This may also help prevent your smoke detector from activating.
And here are five bonus tips that don’t need to be taken asap, but you should consider as fall rolls into winter:
If you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time, turn off the main water supply (but not the supply to the sprinkler system) and keep all interior doors open to allow warm air to circulate.
When it snows, be sure to clear drains and downspouts to avoid water seepage into your home. Do not allow snow to build up or around doors and windows.
On extremely cold days, you may find it more comfortable to switch your thermostat setting from auto to on, which keeps air continuously circulating through the system rather than frequently cycling it off and on. Close the doors to any unused rooms.
Open window treatments during the day where windows face the sun to allow for passive heat to enter through the glass; Close the treatments at night to retain the heat in your home. Furniture and area rugs will also help to retain heat. (Yes, we just gave you an excuse to go shopping!)
Seal your garage slab to prevent damage from melting road salts, or periodically clean your concrete slab if it is untreated. Also be cautious not to use any chemicals or salts that will damage brick sidewalks.
No other homebuilder in the Washington Metropolitan area has built as many LEED for Homes certified residences than EYA and the company has just earned additional certifications at its DC townhome community, Chancellor’s Row.
Upgraded insulation techniques and third party inspections ensure homes stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
The 237-unit neighborhood is built to LEED-ND standards and is within walking distance to Metro, shopping and neighborhood services. An onsite Zipcar and soon-to-come Capital Bikeshare station improve mobility for residents. Rear-load parking garages, tree-lined streets and wide sidewalks improve pedestrian friendliness. And native landscaping, onsite construction recycling, bioswales and rain gardens also contribute to LEED-ND standards.
Panelized framing is an efficient technique for limiting jobsite waste and providing more exact measurements.
The LEED for Homes designation was awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council for green building techniques such as:
ENERGY STAR appliances, windows and fixtures
Airtight and watertight building envelope with slab insulation
Low VOC paints and finishes
Low flow faucets for water conservation
Energy saving CFL bulbs throughout
Solar hot water rough-in and available solar electric rough-in
Third party green building inspections during the construction process
Homeowners enjoy a better quality of life, more comfortable indoor living environments, lower utility bills and peace of mind that their homes are built with the latest green building materials.
Available dual flush toilets and low flow faucets are two easy water saving features any homeowner can add.
EYA builds all of its homes to LEED for Homes standards, or higher. To learn more about the company’s green bulding practices, visit the Smart City Living interactive tool here.
Energy Star clothes washer in EYA LEED certified home.
Upgrading to an Energy Star, high-efficient washing machine is a great step towards making your home energy-efficient and green, but is their more that you could be doing with your laundry to reduce your carbon footprint? Energy Star washing machines, which are included in all new EYA homes, use 37% less energy and 50% less water than regular washers, saving you an average of $135 a year in utility bill costs. You could be saving even more, though, if you use some of these tips:
Limit dryer use. On average, dryers are one of the most energy-consuming appliances in your home (second to only the refrigerator). Even if you only cut your dryer use part-time, it will save you energy and money. When you do use your dryer, clean your lint filter regularly to ensure that your clothes dry as fast as possible. Also, some sources recommend ditching dryer sheets all together because they have harmful chemicals for the environment and for you.
Buy Front Loading Washing Machines. These Energy Star machines, sometimes referred to as “horizontal axis” washers, use between 18 to 25 gallons of water per load. In traditional top loading washers, the machine uses about twice that amount of water.
Use HE and Concentrated Detergents. Many detergents on the market now display the high efficiency symbol, which designates that they are compatible with HE machines. See this HE detergent chart here to see some popular options, or use ConsumerSearch to find out which brand might fit in best with your lifestyle. In addition, try to buy very concentrated detergents – they come in smaller containers that use less packaging resources and fuel when shipped, yet last you just as long as a less concentrated equivalent.
Fill ‘er Up! Whenever possible, wait to do your laundry until you have enough clothes to fill an entire load. In traditional machines, the same amount of energy and water will be used regardless of the amount of clothes, resulting in the wasted energy and water. If you need to do a smaller load, some newer washing machines have a “load size selector option” that uses less water for smaller amounts of laundry.
Cold, cold, cold. Wash your clothes in cold water. As soon as you tell your machine to wash in hot, or even warm, water, your energy bill rises significantly. 90% of the energy used by a washing machine is caused by heating the water. To help encourage the use of cold water to wash your close, there are now detergents on the market made specifically for cold water washing, such as Tide Coldwater Detergent.
A few weeks ago, we wrote about using our Belkin Energy-Use Monitor to test the difference in energy savings between CFL bulbs and incandescent bulbs and we were able to see firsthand how much better CFL bulbs were for your energy bill. The current product of our energy-use interest? Laptops. Many of us plug our laptops in to charge and leave them plugged in for hours after their battery is full. We’re curious to find out what the energy-use implications of this behavior is and whether we should pay more attention to unplugging our computer chargers when they are not actively in use.
We first plugged the energy-use monitor in with a basic Mac computer charger attached to the wall that was not attached to a laptop. While many say that it is important to unplug all chargers when not in use because they use up unnecessary “phantom energy,” we found that little to no energy was being utilized from the Mac laptop charger when it was plugged in and not in use. It is possible, however, given the nature of this watt mater, that the phantom energy cannot be read by this device. As a precaution, it is probably smart to unplug the unused charger regardless if you choose to reduce your energy-use.
When the Mac charger was not plugged into a computer, it used little to no power according to Belking Energy-Use Monitor. Many sources, however, advise that it is wise to unplug your unused chargers regardless because of their use of unnecessary "phantom energy."
Next, we wanted to see how much energy was used while the computer was actively charging. When we attached the charger to the laptop with a depleted battery, it yielded the following results:
Computer in the process of charging would, hypothetically, cost $77.96 if it were to charge for an entire year.
Then, we were curious to see if it was costly to keep a computer plugged in even if it is charged. It turns out that even if the computer fully charged but still plugged in, it still would cost about $34 a year to run. While it uses less energy than when it is charging, it is still environmentally friendly and cost effective to unplug it when not in use.
If your fully-charged computer is plugged in, it will continue to use a significant amount of energy.
To determine which incandescent bulb to compare to our 23-watt ENERGY STAR CFL bulb, we consulted the CFL purchasing guide and determined that a 100-watt incandescent bulb would be the equivalent regular bulb wattage to test. We then attached a standard table lamp to the Belkin device and tested each light bulb individually. Assuming that the lamp was run continuously for a year and the cost of electricity was $0.11/kWh, the results were as follows:
The Belkin Conserve Insight Energy-Use Monitor tests how much energy any given appliance uses in your home.
In our efforts to learn more about green living and energy-efficient households, EYA recently purchased the Belkin Conserve Insight Energy-Use Monitor, a simple device that measures the impact of individual household appliances on utility costs. We wanted to purchase the device to learn about which items in our homes are using up unnecessary energy so we can change our habits in the future to be more green and cost effective.
We’ve been testing the device on various electronics and have been pleased with the results thus far! This product is very easy to use and understand with its simple set up and display features. Simply plug the Conserve Insight into a wall socket and then plug the device you are trying to learn more about into the Conserve Insight. The plug piece is connected to the display screen via a five foot cord, which helps make reading the device easy. The device measures pounds of CO2 emissions per year (or month), utility cost in dollars per year (or month), and watts. While the device is set at default to measure cost at an average of 0.116 cents per kilowatt-hour, this can easily be adjusted to match the cost that your energy company actually charges (which can often be found on your utility bill).
There are some short-comings to this device, namely that it is hard to calculate the energy cost of items that you turn on and off frequently, or items that use varying amounts of energy depending on settings, such as in various washing machine cycles. Regardless, it gives you a rough estimate of how much any specific device is costing you, and also makes it easy to gauge which of your electronics is costing you the most. You can buy your own energy monitor directly from Belkin, or through amazon.com.
We’re really looking forward to testing out this device some more and learning about which devices we should limit our use on and unplug often. Stay tuned!