When Rick Vullo, owner of Lane Investment Properties, purchased 540 W. 17th Place in Tempe this summer he knew his property would have to stand out from the crowd if he was going to “Flip This House” in today’s market. Long gone were the days of buying a property, cleaning it up, painting and carpeting it and reselling for a quick profit. By October Rick had an idea to have 17th Place stand out from all the similar homes for sale in Tempe. He would make the home “Green.” He contracted with an eco-consultant, came up with a plan, and went about executing the plan.
The plan called for making the home more sustainable (aka more “green”) and having it certified as an “Emerald Level Green Home” by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Could Rick accomplish this project within a reasonable budget? The answer is yes. It cost an additional $7,000.00, yet the home will save a new homeowner 50% in operating costs (energy & water wise) than a similar home that has not undergone sustainable upgrades. In these challenging economic times, consumers prefer a home that will cost less to operate and maintain.
Rick needed a starting point, the eco-consultant scheduled an initial HERs test to be performed. The Home Energy Rating System (HERs) Report proves how efficient a home is. The HERs rating will tell a homeowner what to expect for costs of operating the heating and cooling system and the hot water use costs for the year.
17th Place’s initial HERs rating was 287. The Home Energy Rating Score covered 4 major areas (Heating, Cooling, Water, and Lights/Appliances). The report explained how 72% of the home’s energy cost was being used by the Cooling portion! The system used for the scoring is called REM/Rate-Residential Energy Analysis and Rating Software v12.85
In order to make the home more efficient Rick did the following:
1. Repaired the roof, and then added a steel roof (long lasting…very durable in Arizona’s intense climate).
2. Took out the grass in front and backyard and “Xeriscaped” it all (low to zero water required).
3. Used zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint with low VOC pigment for color. This makes for a healthier indoor air quality environment than using regular paint.
4. Installed air tight canned lights.
5. Had R-38 cellulose blown in, which by the way qualifies new homeowner for a Federal Tax Credit (saving 30% on the material).
6. Opened up living room to make a great room (increased ventilation by doing so).
7. The NAHB minimum standard for a kitchen vent is 100CFM, Rick installed vent with 400CFM rating.
8. Removed old duct system (donated it to scrap yard for recycling…which kept it out of a landfill), and installed new R-8 flex line, and had home properly air balanced and ensured all vents shot out cool air throughout the home’s hottest spots.
9. Installed new low E Argon Gas filled Federal Tax Credit eligible windows. Again, new homeowner qualifies for this tax credit. Check with your CPA to clarify if you have to purchase and close escrow before Dec. 31st, 2010, when currently the Federal Energy Tax Credits are set to expire.
10. Installed CFL bulbs throughout home (reduces lighting costs tremendously).
11. Installed dual flush toilets (saves on water use).
12. Upgraded to new 14.5 Sere Gas Pack (AC unit System)…also qualifies for $1500.00 Federal Tax Credit.
13. Installed Rain Water Capture System which can store 7500 gallons at a time.
14. Installed outdoor laundry line and bike rack.
15. Converted old electrical box to birdhouse.
16. Built garden in backyard, along with compost bin, and a chicken coup!
17. Used left over steel sheets from roof project to spruce up backyard fence.
After all the sustainable upgrades came the Post HERs test, the score was: 140. Rick’s sustainable upgrades reduced the operating costs by 49%!
The difference in efficiency from the initial test to the post test earned 540 W. 17th Place the “Emerald Level Green Home Rating” by the NAHB. Better yet, 17th Place will save the future homeowners a bundle in energy and water costs. Congratulations to Rick Vullo for his innovation and commitment to getting Tempe’s sustainable future underway.