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Nowadays everyone is jumping on the green bandwagon. A recent TIME Magazine poll showed that 40% of people purchased products in 2009 because they liked the social or political values of the company that produced it. As a result, companies have been rapidly expanding their enterprises to incorporate “green” into their product lines. “Greenwashing,” when companies use deceptive marketing and PR to promote a product as “green,” can be an unfortunate consequence of this practice. To avoid purchasing greenwashed products, look for a certification logo such as Energy Star, GreenSeal, UL Environment or US Green Building Council.
Although everyone wants to do green things, the almighty dollar makes the ultimate decision.Fortunately there are actions you can take that will have a positive, long-term impact on the environment and save you money. The changes can range from extensive improvements to quick fixes. Most of us consider that large scale home improvements, such as the installation of solar panels or a geothermal system that provides heating and cooling, require us to fork out an expensive investment up front and wait patiently for the returns over many years. However, federal and state rebates and incentives can provide you with immediate savings and reduce the payback period. On the federal level this includes programs such as energy-efficient mortgages and tax credits, while New Jersey provides property tax exemptions and loans toward the installation of photovoltaic (solar electric) systems. The advantageous NJ Clean Energy Program offers rebates ranging from 10-50% of the cost for installing Energy Star certified systems, not to mention monthly savings off your energy bill.
Of course not all of us have the time or resources right now to undergo a complete overhaul of ourspaces and systems. However, there are small changes you can make that will not weigh heavily on your pockets. These include: plugging gaps, holes and other leaks; retrofitting or replacing current toilets with dual-flush models; installing a re-circulating pipe under the sink or shower that recycles and reheats waste water; insulating hot water pipes; or creating a rain garden.
Regardless of scale, opportunities exist to make home improvements that promote energy efficiency,will save you money and benefit the environment. If you decide to make any of these improvements, work with a design professional. Our firm, JZA+D, believes that good design is sustainable design and strives to incorporate sustainable practices into all of our projects. As Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “… follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain.” Taking a cue from Wright, we embrace the true essence of sustainability in our spaces, energy and finishes, through a fundamental design approach that transcends the chic nature of the word and, ultimately, delivers a complete environment.
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