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What does “going green” mean to you, your neighbors and your children? What do you envision when you think of “going green”?  Can one person make an impact?

Many still believe going green is a difficult  task and too great a learning curve to implement into their daily lives.  However, widespread availability and affordability of sustainable options has facilitated implementing  green choices, making it easier than ever to go green.

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Small adjustments can result in huge impacts on one’s environment and health.

Homeowners often don’t realize small adjustments can result in huge impacts on one’s environment and health. Simply put, green living is a lifestyle that encompasses a broad spectrum of actions-- from recycling plastics, cans, paper products and using non-toxic products in the home, to designing an entire home with a myriad of eco-friendly choices that are affordable and cost efficient to maintain. Living green is about choices that utilize and conserve our natural resources in the most sustainable way.   

There are many options available in Hawai'i and every part of the country to help one live a greener lifestyle: rooftop photovoltaic systems, community gardens, electric cars, windmills, energy efficient appliances and the constant recycling of goods to reduce landfills.  But what more can be done?  And how does one learn how to help our homes become as green as possible?  

Image by Bill Mead
When greening up your existing home...where do you start?

Going green is not limited to new construction.  Consider existing homes account for about 90% of US housing inventory. How can we improve their energy efficiency?  While styles and options may vary, most energy-efficient homes have a few basic elements in common: energy-efficient doors, windows, and appliances; controlled ventilation; a well-constructed and tightly sealed thermal building envelope; and properly sized heating and cooling systems. Simple remedies such as exchanging traditional lightbulbs for energy efficient LED lighting, adding caulking around doors and windows, or purchasing energy efficient appliances can mean lower energy usage and utility bills.  


When greening up your existing home, where do you start?  How do you decide how to prioritize updates?  Are your desired projects within your budget?  Which improvements will have the most positive impact on your health and finances, while increasing the value of your home?

In striving to help our clients understand these issues, Net Positive Realty offers our clients a free energy audit.

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Net Positive Realty offers its clients a free energy audit.

Using the State of Hawai'i, let’s consider how we consume and utilize natural resources to better understand how small changes can result in large benefits. Hawai'i’s electricity prices are more than double the average of the United States with heating and cooling costs accounting for 17% of household expenses.  Wouldn’t it be nice to recoup those savings, in the form of lower monthly utility bills, while knowing you’re helping to conserve energy? Sustainable natural resources such as solar, wind, and hydropower lower Hawai’i’s dependence on external energy sources.  The sun shines more in Hawai’i than in other states, creating a significant opportunity for cost-effective solar energy installations.   As a result, Hawai’i has seen a sharp increase in the number of photovoltaic systems over the past decade. Not ready for a photovoltaic system?  Try other cost savings green techniques such as maintaining proper seals on windows and doors to prevent air leakage.  When purchasing new appliances look for those with high ENERGY STAR ratings, which guarantee energy savings throughout the year for about the same price as less efficient models. To earn the ENERGY STAR an appliance must meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the US Environmental Protection Agency or the US Department of Energy.  

Year-round outdoor entertainment and gatherings is another environmental benefit of living in Hawai’i.  A healthy lawn, bright flowers and lush greenery nourish us from the inside, providing oxygen as well as reducing stress and improving our quality of life.  What types of plants are in your outdoor living spaces?  Are they native to Hawai'i?  Do they require fertilization or irrigation?  There are more than 1000  native plant species found in the Hawaiian Islands, which have evolved uniquely over millions of years due to local environmental factors.  Which of these plants are most suited for your outdoor location?  Could you reap savings by selecting those that thrive in your specific location and reduce monthly water usage? Collection of rainwater for indoor plants is also an efficient way  to conserve water, and another simple means to green your home. 

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