Category Archives: Green Home

Thursday To-Do: U.S. Green Building Council Residential Green Discussion Group

Interested in building or renovating your home using green design and materials? Then, join this discussion group hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council – Arkansas Chapter, tomorrow, November 18 between noon and 1 p.m. at Arkansas Studies Institute (401 President Clinton Avenue) in downtown Little Rock.

Mark Brown with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service will discuss water conservation.

No reservation necessary for this free event. Bring your own lunch. For more information, contact Anncha Briggs at anncha1@aol.com.

LR Housing Authority Breaks Ground on Green Retirement Community


The Little Rock Housing Authority broke ground last week on a 40-unit energy-efficient apartment complex for senior citizens.

Called the Legacy Homes at Granite Mountain, the complex will be located on top of Granite Mountain near the intersection of Springer Boulevard and Gilliam Park Road, next to the Little Rock Audubon Center.

Housing officials said Legacy Homes will be the first green housing project for the elderly in the state. Plans call for solar panels on the roofs, the use of recycled metal and composite siding, rain cisterns, and drought-tolerant plants. The homes will have LED exterior lighting and energy-saving appliances, according to architect Tom Fennell.

The project, which is estimated at more than $6 million, will be paid in part by a $2.25 million federal stimulus grant and a $590,000 match from the housing authority. The agency expects to raise $3 million or more by selling tax credits.

Ozarks Unbound: Fayetteville Awarded $500,000 through Sustainable Cities Institute’s Pilot Program

In June, the City of Fayetteville was selected as one of four cities to undergo a site visit to determine which two cities will receive the $500,000 Sustainable Cities Institute Pilot Cities grant. Well, the verdict is in! Fayetteville is one of two recipients with the other city being Charleston, South Carolina.

The City of Fayetteville, in partnership with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), will use the money to fund an affordable housing project in Fayetteville, a trail spur from Frisco Trail behind the Mill District to Walker Park, and an engineering manual to assist with the implementation of the newly passed Low Impact Development ordinance.

Ozarks Unbound has the detailed story. Check it out!

Congratulations, City of Fayetteville and NCAT!

AR Energy Office Reopens Energy Star Appliance Rebate Program

Last week the Arkansas Energy Office (AEO) announced that it has reopened the Energy Star Appliance Rebate program.

Due to its success, the agency secured an additional $2.4 million to fund rebates for energy-efficient appliances.

The program began in March 2010 and closed in August 2010 after it exhausted its original $2.74 million and an additional $1.4 million that it received in July. The program funded more than 17,000 rebates for energy-efficient appliances and is expected to fund additional 10,000 rebates.

The program offers a $275.00 rebate on ENERGY STAR rated refrigerators, $225.00 on ENERGY STAR clothes washers and $300.00 on certain ENERGY STAR water heaters. Eligible ENERGY STAR hot water heaters include gas storage systems that meet the 2010 ENERGY STAR criteria, gas tankless and heat pump systems. Rebates will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until the funds are depleted.

Qualifications for the rebate include (1) applicant must be an Arkansas resident, (2) must purchase a qualifying appliance from a participating vendor, (3) must replace an existing appliance, (4) must install the new appliance at their primary residential address, (5) must obtain documentation that the old appliance was either removed or taken to a recycling center, and (6) within 30 days of purchase, submit (a) a rebate form, (b) proof-of-purchase, and (c) documentation that the replaced appliance was either hauled away by a participating vendor or recycled.

People who purchased qualifying appliances when the program was closed, August 9 through September 23, have until October 29, 2010, to submit rebate forms for those purchases.

The program is part of a $300 million nationwide effort to encourage energy efficiency. The program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

For more information on the Arkansas ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate Program and to find rebate forms and participating retailers or vendors, visit the Arkansas Energy Office website at www.arkansasenergy.org or the Arkansas Rebates site at www.AR.State-Rebate.com. Interested customers can also call (877) 883-8510 with any questions.

Saturday To-Do: National Solar Home in Little Rock

WHAT: National Solar Home in Little Rock

WHEN: Saturday, October 2 – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

WHERE: At the following solar homes in Little Rock.

  • 21 Overlook Drive – Home of Bill and Marcie Ball
  • 29 Overlook Drive – Home of Jeannine Phelps
  • 16 Woodglen Park – Home of Mike and Francine Johnson

Conducted by the Arkansas Renewable Energy Association (AREA) and the American Solar Energy Society (ASES).

Free, Open House – No Reservations. Each location will have a Tour Guide.

For more information, visit: http://www.facebook.com/?sk=events#!/event.php?eid=111137912274129.

Thursday To-Do: U.S. Green Building Council Residential Green Discussion Group

Interested in building or renovating your home using green design and materials? Then, join this discussion group hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council – Arkansas Chapter, tomorrow, September 23 between noon and 1 p.m. at Arkansas Studies Institute (401 President Clinton Avenue) in downtown Little Rock.

Scott Reed, President of Greenmoore Homes and Managing Director with Reed Realty Advisors, LLC, will discuss the Mid-Town Housing Project, Reed’s project with a focus on building affordable energy star homes in the Midtown area of Little Rock.

No reservation necessary for this free event. Bring your own lunch. For more information, contact Anncha Briggs at anncha1@aol.com.

Love Trees, but…

Our shady house surrounded by tall trees in downtown Little Rock. Trees save us hundreds of dollars on our utility bills, but....

After Eddy and I visited Scharmel’s house, we immediately contacted Bill Ball with Stellar Sun to assess our home for solar water heater and photovoltaic (PV) system.

Eddy and I live in downtown Little Rock. Our house is surrounded by tall trees, mostly pecan and hackberry. I’ve been growing food on our property for three years, and it has been a battle against shade. I’ve given up on growing eggplant because my yard does not get enough sunlight.

We knew that solar panels may not work for our house because of too much shade. We still held out hope for a solar water heater. A residential solar water heater uses solar energy to heat water for domestic consumption. Many solar water heater systems exist, but most require much fewer solar panels than a PV system. Even if your house does not get enough sun to produce electricity, you may still be able to heat water using solar energy.

Right now, Eddy and I have an energy-efficient gas water heater that we bought in 2006. We use very little amount of hot water. We always wash our clothes in cold water. We replaced showerheads and aerators with low flow ones. When our dishwasher broke, we replaced it with a water-wise model. During summer, our gas bills hover around $10-15 out of which $9 is a basic customer charge.

Since we use a very little amount of hot water, it doesn’t make sense for us financially to replace our water heater with a solar one. We were more interested in a solar water heater for the sake of reducing out has consumption and using clean energy. Federal tax credits and state rebates for solar water heaters also boosted our interest.

Surely our shady lot gets enough sunlight for us to have a solar water heater. If I can grow tomatoes, I can heat water with solar power, right?

Wrong. Bill assessed our house and determined that it has very little potential for either a PV system or solar water heater. I was crushed. I knew that a PV system would be difficult for our house, but not even a solar water heater??? I felt like if someone had told me that I can’t grow plants in my garden. It’s one thing to conserve energy. It’s another matter to create energy.

These days, more people are talking about living closer to where you work and play. You hear words like urban revitalization, retrofitting old homes, and downtown redevelopment. Old homes tend to have old trees. Downtowns tend to have tall buildings. Urban areas tend to have houses that are closely spaced. Can owners of old homes in urban centers incorporate solar energy? I’m sure some of them can but not all.

I’ve loved trees all my life, but at that moment, I wasn’t too fond of them. Sensing my feelings, Bill told me that he never recommends homeowners to cut tall trees to install solar panels. Trees provide shade during summer, saving Eddy and me hundreds of dollars on our utility bills. During winter, they lose leaves, letting sunlight into our home. Trees cost us nothing. Solar panels would have cost us something.

As saddened as I was that we won’t be able to power our home with solar energy, I have yet to meet a setback that I can’t overcome. Eddy and I have a plan to further reduce our energy use. If we can’t create energy, we’ll use as little as possible.

I also learned a lot from the experience. Now, Eddy and I can focus our attention and money on other projects that will help reduce our environmental footprint.

If you are considering solar energy for your home, my advice would be:

  1. Weatherize as much as you can before installing solar panels.
  2. Ask a reliable solar installer to assess your property.
  3. Don’t give up! Middle class families CAN afford solar energy. If you can’t have solar because of your location, keep your chin up and continue to weatherize!