Green is good

by Jamie Walker
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lumina News file photo

The Lower Cape Fear Hospice and LifeCare Center’s administration building has received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) 


Although not yet considered the norm, green building principles and applications are on the fast track to the mainstream in the Cape Fear Region.  

In the low-lying coastal paradise that Wilmington area residents call home, awareness of overly-stressed environmental conditions due to human consumption have made green building less the exception and more the rule.  

Elise Rocks, commercial real estate appraiser, co-founder of the Cape Fear Green Building Alliance, and winner of the YWCA Environmental Award for Women in Achievement, said that federal incentives as well as a hyper public awareness of construction and development waste have brought green building into the limelight.    

Rocks said that while, residentially speaking, green building is still a bit of a luxury, it is becoming a necessity in commercial venues. Federal incentives and mandates for green certification are increasing at a rate that can’t be ignored. 

Cape Fear Hospice and LifeCare Center, Snipes Academy of Arts and Design, and the Monteith Construction company have heeded the call in recent years, all three receiving the LEED Gold certification in building design. Other notable LEED certified buildings include the Wilmington Convention Center, the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Seahawk Crossing housing project, and the Federal Savings and Loan building.

Rocks said that while a greener residence can be a financial burden incipiently, that it inevitably pays off in the long run. A home with an Energy Star rating not only renders savings on energy bills, but also allows for major discounts from power companies as incentives. A study conducted by the Earth Advantage Institute, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified new construction homes, likewise, an initial financial weight, will, upon sale, yield 8 percent more than average home sales, while homeowners that convert their home to meet LEED standards can expect a whopping 30 percent increase.  The study also asserts that LEED homes are quicker to sell in this challenged market.   

Wilmington’s green housing market most famously includes two recently developed eco-conscious communities — Midori on 29th and Tonbo Meadow,  Fasse Construction and B + O Design’s shining “green” stars.  

Midori homes, stated Fasse Construction’s website, will boast “operating energy and maintenance costs 70 percent lower than comparable homes due to a variety of cutting-edge techniques,” while Tonbo Meadow will feature LEED certified homes designed by B + O co-owner and architect Scott Ogden. The first home in the Midori community sold for $230,000 in 2010.  As yet unbuilt homes in Tonbo, off Greenville Loop Road, are priced to sell for $230,000 to $300,000.

Gordon Singletary, special products sales associate for S & W Ready Mix Concrete and co-organizer of the Cape Fear Green Building Alliance, said, the pervious concrete used to protect Tonbo Meadows surrounding wetlands is becoming quite popular both residentially and commercially throughout the Cape Fear Region. Several side streets, including Chadbourn Street in Wrightsville Beach, have been paved with pervious concrete, allowing for water preservation and water distribution to surrounding vegetation. 

The parking lots at Trader Joe’s, Bojangles and Live Oak Bank are all paved with pervious concrete, which is partially derived from recycled materials including fly ash. For residential pervious pavement there is a more eye-pleasing tan version that is becoming popular.  

Other materials used for local green building projects come from Sapona Green Building Center on 17th Street.  From locally harvested and milled Cape Fear river wood flooring to Poly Whey naturally derived wood sealant, Sapona offers green building supplies and connections for area residents. 

What Rocks, Fasse Construction, B + O Design and Singletary have in common is a desire to blend economic and housing development with sustainable practices in order to ease the pressure on our unduly stressed natural environment. All are working to reduce construction consumption.  

Singletary said that while greener material choices matter, the most important green choice is size reduction.  

“Smaller size reduces everything,” he said.    

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