Village Offers Incentives for 'Green' Homes
Bill Reaves built his first environmentally friendly home in 1980.
In the late 1980s and into the ’90s, interest in building smaller, energy efficient homes was replaced with a desire to go bigger. But Reaves says he never wavered, and now, building green is good.
“We’ve always been interested in good designs, good products and energy efficiency,” he said. “If anything, over the years, we have just gotten better at it.”
The village of Pinehurst hopes to encourage construction of more “green” homes and renovations through a new program that will offer incentives in the form of permit rebates to builders.
The Village Council approved the incentive program in July on the recommendation of the Alternative Energy Committee. The program went into effect Aug. 1.
The hope is that the program will spur owners/builders to “think green” when they consider new construction or renovations of existing homes.
As a member of the Alternative Energy Committee, Reaves helped craft the new green building incentive program for new single-family home construction and remodeling projects.
“We think it is a very positive step for the village,” he said. “We think the program has made provisions that if a builder or homeowner wants to have their home certified green, they now have an incentive to do that.”
Things that contribute to the green certification include resource efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and educating the homeowner on the features of the house and how to operate them.
Some of the more common features in “green homes” are recycled building materials or materials that are local or indigenous to the area (within 500 miles), solar panels and low-flow fixtures.
“We take a holistic approach to make sure each and every part of the home works together, so that the homeowner has a healthy home and an energy efficient home that gives back to the environment,” said Reaves, who is a certified green builder.
Reaves is in the final process of completing three environmentally friendly or “green” duplexes in Abingdon Square on Holly Pines Drive. The duplexes received silver certification under the National Association of Home Builders green program.
Molly Goodman, a senior planner with the village, said she hopes the incentives will sway those who might be considering utilizing green practices.
“The biggest thing is getting the word out to those citizens looking to build or considering a retrofit,” she said.
Green buildings consume 26 percent less energy, account for 33 percent fewer green gas emissions, require 13 percent lower maintenance costs and yield 27 percent higher occupant satisfaction, according to a joint study by the Sierra Club Cool Cities Program and the U.S. Green Building Council.
“If builders can make today’s homes so people living in them in 2030 can afford to pay their electric and water bills, then we’ve done a good thing,” Reaves said.
North Carolina law allow municipalities to charge reduced building permit fees or provide partial rebates on building permit fees for buildings that are constructed or renovated using design principles that are part of a nationally recognized verification or rating system.
Funding for the program is provided in the village’s budget. Projects will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis. The program will continue as funds are available.
Reaves said few communities in North Carolina have such an incentive program for residential construction. He called the initiative by the village of Pinehurst “huge.”
“It is saying we want to see environmentally healthy neighborhoods in Pinehurst, and the village of Pinehurst is going to step up to the plate and make that happen,” Goodman said.
The rebates are granted at the completion of the project. Rebate amounts are based on the level achieved for one program only.
The programs’ certifications are: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), HealthyBuilt Homes, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green standard and Green Globes. The rebates range from 10 percent to 25 percent, depending on the level achieved in meeting each certification. For example, a completed home that reaches the gold level of LEED certification is eligible for a 20 percent rebate.
To be eligible for the incentives, the owner/builder must apply for a building permit and pay the review fee. In addition, the owner/builder must also note on the application the intent to pursue the rebate. Upon request, the owner/builder must provide information to the village on the type of certification and professional qualifications.
Within 90 days of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the owner/builder must submit to the village planning and zoning department a green building incentive rebate application. Rebate checks will be issued after the application is approved and certification is documented.
Owner/builders also may be eligible for rebates for installing solar hot water heaters ($25), PV panels ($25) and a geothermal system ($100) as part of single applications or in addition to new home construction or remodeling plans.
To be eligible for those rebates, owner/builders must indicate an intent to pursue the rebate on the applications. Rebates will be issued after the project is inspected and verified by the village building inspector.
Anyone needing more information on the programs can contact the village planning and inspections department at (910) 295-2581.
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