In Real Estate, Green Is Becoming Gold
Businesses and Individuals Are Finding It Can Pay to Adopt Environmentally Friendly Building Methods
By GIGI STONE
ATLANTA, Aug. 13, 2006 — - With energy costs going sky-high and concern about the environment on the rise, the business of "green building" is booming.
People are "going green" because it's good for the environment and can be good for the bottom line.
That may be why some of the newest, most extravagant additions to New York City's already spectacular skyline are part of a growing trend of companies going green. The futuristic headquarters for the Hearst Corporation is lit nearly entirely by the sun. And the new Bank of America Tower will turn scraps from the cafeteria into methane to supply the building's electricity -- good for the environment, but also good for business.
Texas Instruments predicts its new Dallas facility will actually save up to $4 million a year by using energy-efficient engineering methods.
"If you can save money and do something good for the planet, then why wouldn't you do it?" said Paul Westbrook of Texas Instruments. "Big ducts, big pipes, straight runs, all contribute to lower pressure drop -- and that's an energy saving feature."
The green building ethos isn't confined to the corporate world. Consumer interest is growing, too. A poll by the American Institute of Architects showed 90 percent of respondents would be willing to pay more for a house that would use less energy.
Everyday Americans are moving into green construction projects like Glenwood Park in Atlanta, where everything is environmentally friendly. The complex even saves rainwater in a pond and uses it to recycle later.
The homes were designed to use 30 percent less energy, with features like insulation made of recycled newspaper.
Jamie Diacou said her house cost about $4,000 more, but she's making up for it in utility savings.
"When we get our electricity bill, it's so nice to know its not going to be outrageously expensive," she said.
For celebrities who have long made the environment a cause celebre, it's not about saving money.
"Ultimately, I'm investing in my quality of life," said Adrian Grenier, star of the HBO show "Entourage." "And the bonus is that I'm helping the environment."
Grenier uses all nontoxic materials in his Brooklyn home, including insulation made of recycled denim.
"You can put it in with your bare hands," he said. "It's just basically jeans and its great stuff."
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