Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Feature: An Inside View from the Solar Homestead at the National Mall

What can ASU students teach the entire nation 
about how to reduce residential energy use?
Maybe how to design & build a solar-powered house that blends energy-efficiency, cost, and appearance that can perform in real world situations?
This is exactly what has been happening this week on the National Mall in Washington D.C. where 19 collegiate teams from 5 countries are competing in The Solar Decathlon. The competition is sponsored by the United States Department of Energy to promote student innovation for green building and renewable energy technologies.
Appalachian State University’s entry, The Solar Homestead, is the result of over 2 years of hard work by students, faculty, volunteers, and support from the entire high country and North Carolina community. ASU is currently in 8th place overall and Number 1 in the People’s Choice Award. The NCEEA talked to David Lee, Communications Manager for the Homestead, to get an insider’s view from the National Mall and find out what has been happening this week.

                The excitement began with Senator Kay Hagan as the first official tour of the Solar Homestead. The team was exhausted after an all-nighter to get the home done but very proud to be representing North Carolina. Response from the tours has been that it is an amazingly practical and beautiful home and that has been acknowledged by the People’s Choice Award.
                The Homestead has been performing great as a whole, even fighting the DC humidity. This week has been relentlessly cloudy and the team has had to make tough decisions about which points and contests to go after, focusing on efficiency. Dave stresses that in the competition setting it takes a lot of effort, across many different appliances and features, to become completely net-zero energy in a week. But over a longer time period, balancing energy use and production doesn’t relate to any loss of comfort or convenience for homeowners.
                 In the Home Entertainment Contest that includes hosting a dinner party & movie for their neighbors, the team had Illinois and Florida International University over for dinner. They cooked bruschetta with goat cheese, PLT’s, autumn squash soup shooters, Carolina dry rubbed pork, apple blueberry bars, and served Cheerwine bringing the Carolina pioneer spirit to DC.  For these delicious recipes, to follow the results, and to see who wins the 2011 Solar Decathlon visit the website at
 Photo courtesy of The Solar Homestead

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Feature: The State Employees' Credit Union offers Green Mortgages

This Friday we are featuring the State Employees' Credit Union (SECU) and their Green Mortgage and Green Second Mortgage lending programs that they offer to members. The NCEEA interviewed Spencer Scarboro, the Senior Vice President of Loan Originations at SECU.

 The SECU offers "green" mortgage financing on new homes that receive an ENERGY STAR rating as well as for construction financing of homes which will be built to ENERGY STAR rating standards. This financing differs from standard mortgage financing through lower origination fees and less stringent qualifying guidelines. "Green" second mortgage loans allow interest rates up to 2.5% lower when the proceeds are used to finance energy efficient home improvements.

The top benefit that these green lending programs offer to members is cost. The origination fee for "green" mortgage loans is capped at $350, for example on a $200,000 loan this can result in a savings of as much as $1,650!
"I feel that the demand for more energy efficient
housing will increase."
Another benefit is that the increased energy efficiency of these homes results in lower housing costs, the borrowers have more residual income and are less likely to default on the mortgage. The mortgage lending industry market should recognize the benefit of this type of collateral as compared to other homes in the market that may be less energy efficient. 

Spencer added that members are increasingly asking about "green" lending programs, but they would like to see the demand increase further. To find out more about the Green Mortgage and Green Second Mortgage programs, visit the SECU website at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Five Reasons Why You Should Finance “Energy-Efficiency” Into Your Next Mortgage

When considering your next mortgage, either for a new ENERGY STAR house, refinancing an existing home, or a home equity loan keep these tips in mind, improve the energy efficiency of your home, and save some money.

  1. An Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) qualifies for discounts on loan fees and interest rates.
  2. An energy efficient home reduces your monthly utility bill up to 30% saving you money every month.
  3. Living in an energy efficient home increases the comfort, air quality and health in your environment.
  4. Owning an energy efficient home has a positive impact on the environment and decreases the homeowners' carbon footprint.
  5. Owning an energy efficient home adds security to your investment. Energy efficiency adds value to homes, they have a higher resale value, and sell faster than standard homes.
The NCEEA strives to educate the public on the benefits of owning an energy efficient home to stimulate demand for ENERGY STAR homes. For lenders, offering EEM’s and energy financing programs is a great marketing opportunity. Homeowners are interested in these mortgages and buyers drive the market.  

Join the Alliance to learn more about finding enhanced lending opportunities for energy efficient homes and to be listed on our website as a member Lending Institution.

As part of a new ongoing series each week on the NCEEA blog and Facebook page we will be focusing on different professionals of the energy efficiency housing market, including: builders, realtors, appraisers, homebuyers, home energy raters and more. We will also cover important topic areas such as: the NC Energy Code, ENERGY STAR, and HVAC issues.

This Friday we will start a new feature on our Facebook page called
“Person, Project, or Place of the Week” where we will highlight:
  • professional and personal accomplishments 
  • showcase completed projects
  • feature new and established businesses
Join the NCEEA Facebook page to join in on the conversation, nominate a “Person, Project or Place”, and let us know how we can help you.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Consumer Awareness Campaign

The NCEEA has recently kicked off an education and outreach campaign targeted at new home buyers. The first banner and landing page connects visitors to valuable new consumer awareness materials. The new materials will drive demand for builders who choose to build ENERGY STAR! We have been working with qualified, experienced professionals to ensure that the outreach campaign is reaching the target audience: CONSUMERS!
  Outlets chosen for the campaign include billboards placed strategically statewide, information provided on the web via social media, and in print distributed at conferences throughout the state. You and your future consumer will see these materials starting in the next couple of weeks.