Archive for December, 2008

Passive Homes – Great German Engineering

Imagine a home with out a furnace. Yet its warm , there are no drafts, no cold tiles and no wearing hats and sweaters while inside.  What?!?  Leave it to those Germans to design a home that get all the heat and hot water they need from the amount of energy that would be needed to run a hair dryer.  They’re called “passive homes” (not to be confused with passive solar).

So how does this work? Using ultrathick insulation and complex doors and windows, the architect engineers a home encased in an airtight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means a passive house can be warmed not only by the sun, but also by the heat from appliances and even from occupants’ bodies.

First thing people think about is “stale air” and decades ago, attempts at creating sealed solar-heated homes failed, because of stagnant air and mold. But new passive houses use an ingenious central ventilation system. The warm air going out passes side by side with clean, cold air coming in, exchanging heat with 90 percent efficiency.

Read the full article about passive homes.


December 30, 2008 at 6:09 pm 2 comments

Jami and Libby Officially Go “GREEN”

sample-green-logo12The leaders in sustainable building have historically come from the industrial and commercial side of the spectrum.  Rather than waiting for residential real estate to catch up, Jami and I have been working to stay ahead of the curve, dragging our residential market along with us at times.  At long last, the National Association of Realtors has recognized the importance of educating realtors in sustainable real estate practices, recently holding the inaugural class for their new “GREEN” designation for realtors.   We’ve been waiting for you, NAR!  

We are proud to announce that we are among the first 200 realtors in the entire country to have earned NAR’s GREEN designation – and the first in all of southern Ohio.   In addition to this, Jami and I are founding members of the Green Resouce Council, an organization under the NAR umbrella that exists to support realtors such as ourselves whose businesses place a priority on the need for energy efficiency and sustainable practices in today’s real estate market.

In this day and age of sound bites, buzzwords and spin, we find ourselves frequently cautioning our clients about the dangers of “greenwashing.”  The Oxford Dictionary even has “greenwash” among its entries now:  “…Disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.”   In our efforts to continually expand our education and understanding of environmentally responsible building and design, Jami and I aim to serve as a valuable resource on sustainable living for our clients, colleagues and business affiliates.  Just as we would urge you to be responsible consumers, researching the companies you support, understanding the materials you are using and the labels, seals, and certifications that attest to a product’s environmental impact, we must also advocate for a higher standard in our professional practices.  In real estate, just as in any other profession, there are professional certifications, designations and other affiliations that consumers can research to understand the level of commitment that individual has to our environment.  

Our partnership’s mission states that we believe that as real estate professionals, environmental responsibility isn’t an option; it’s a standard of practice.  Keeping abreast of the latest in sustainable design, participating at the local and national levels to effect a lasting course of action in environmental housing and bringing our experience and resources back to the individuals we serve is at the core of our business.

December 11, 2008 at 9:28 pm 2 comments

See our Latest Article!

Some of you may have seen it last week in Soapbox. In case you missed it. Check us out!

December 9, 2008 at 8:52 pm Leave a comment

GeoThermal Tax Credit

With the recent onset of winter, most of us are feeling the chill and thinking about the efficiency of our furnaces.  Or at least I do…  I recently replaced my 40 year old Williamson furnace with a new 95% efficiency one.  It was by far one of the best green decisions I have made on my house.  I’m warmer and happy and Duke gave me a 200$ credit for purchasing this piece of high efficiency equipment.  Its a great little perk!  

However, had I gone GEOTHERMAL, I could have received a 2000$ tax credit.  Of course the system would have cost 4x what my gas furnace cost, but the long term savings and benefits most of the time justify the extra price.  You’re pay back on these types of systems are HUGE!  This tax credit is available from October 3, 2008 through December 31, 2016.

Here are the details:

A new tax credit is now available for home and commercial building owners who install geothermal heating and cooling systems through the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424). H.R. 1424 offers a one time tax credit of 30% of the total investment (maximum of $2,000 for a single residence) for all residential ground loop or ground water geothermal heat pump installations. A credit of 10% of the total investment is also available (no maximum) for a commercial system installation.

To qualify, the systems must meet or exceed EnergyStar requirements and be installed after December 31, 2007. Owners can file for the credit by completing the Renewable Energy Credits subsection on their tax return forms for 2008. For taxpayers that are subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax, they can claim the credit on their taxes for the following year. No proof of purchase will be required; however, in case of an audit, owners are encouraged to keep a detailed invoice of their purchase on file. The contractor who sold and installed the product should list the purchase as a “Geothermal Heat Pump” on the invoice and that it “Exceeds requirements of Energy Star program currently in effect”.

For more information, visit or contact your local tax professional.
Also be sure to check out all of the OHIO renewable tax credits and incentives!

Fortunately geothermal was never an option for me, I live on a hill and they can’t get the equipment up to the top of the hill.  So my conscious is clear and I will continue to love my new furnace.

December 2, 2008 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

City Farms in Cincinnati

Are you looking for some city land to grow some food on?  Well, here is your chance! Vice Mayor David Crowley wants the city administration to publish a list of all the city owned, otherwise unusable plots of land and offer them cheap to people willing to plant on them and keep them blight free.

City farms aren’t a new concept, but its great that our city is exploring this option.  My dad talked about growing up in Oakley with “victory gardens” as a kid during WWII.  Only today’s city garden is being used as a way for cities to go green and use up the land that is otherwise “undevelopable and useless.”  These small and odd shaped parcels usually go uncared for and turn blighted.  Not only does it reduce our cities over all carbon foot print, but it helps beautify it as well.

I think its great.  I wish I was a better gardener with more time.  I’d think about getting a plot of land myself.

December 2, 2008 at 3:45 am 4 comments

Who Are We?

Libby Hunter and Jami Stutzman are local Cincinnati Realtors and members of the U.S. Green Building Council who have a passion for sustainable living. Environmental responsibility lies at the core of our business practice - let us show you how we can help with ecologically-minded real estate needs. Please browse our blog, visit our local green vendors' websites and if you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let us show you how green features can make all the difference in your experience!

Contact Us

Jami Stutzman: 513-515-0689
Libby Hunter: 513-260-9632

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