The Central Ohio real estate market where I live is depressed like most other markets. So when I suggest to local homebuilders that we consider the future when building new homes, it's usually met with some resistance. This is understandable - it's hard to think about the future if you're fighting just to make payroll. I get that. But let's just take a few minutes and at least talk about what's possible even in a soft housing market if we make a collective decision to simply do the right thing.
The fact that RASTRA is building a new plant in this community is an opportunity that if fully leveraged will position Central Ohio as the leader of green building. Central Ohio has an opportunity like no other market in the U.S. to become the gold standard of sustainable construction. Best of all, everyone wins - homeowners, builders, the entire community including those not even building new homes - and it doesn't cost any more than today's construction methods.
Before we "consider the possibilities" let's review the assumptions I use to make my projections. Based on building permits through June, Central Ohio is on pace to build over 3,200 new homes in 2008. Let's just use 3,000 for this exercise. Because the permit total includes multi-family units I'm going to use a conservative average savings of only 2 tons of CO2 per year to account for the smaller sized units. The average savings is much closer to 3 tons. Other conservative assumptions are that we continue to build at this low pace of 3,000 new homes per year for the next 30 years and that energy prices don't increase at all over 30 years.
First, let's discuss how RASTRA would reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. If the exterior walls of 3,000 new homes were built exclusively with RASTRA in place of wood frame construction, 6,000 fewer tons of CO2 would be emitted into our atmosphere each year because it takes less energy to heat & cool the home. Over the life of the 30-year mortgage these same 3,000 homes would reduce total CO2 emissions by 180,000 tons. If we continue to build 3,000 homes per year, after 30 years 90,000 Central Ohio homes will be emitting 180,000 fewer tons of CO2 each and every year. To put this in perspective, this improvement would be equivalent to removing 32,579 cars from the road.
Over this 30 year graduated build up of homes, the collective reduction in CO2 emissions would exceed 2,790,000 tons! Homeowners would not have to change anything about their lifestyle to make this kind of improvement - it's completely passive and they save money doing it.
Now lets see what kind of impact we could make on our local economy if we use a very conservative energy savings of only $50 per month.
At the same rate of only 3,000 new homes per year, these 3,000 homeowners would save $1.8 million per year. Over 30 years these same 3,000 homeowners living in RASTRA built homes would save a total of $54 million. If 3,000 new homes are added each year over 30 years, the collective savings over this period represents $837 million that would be returned to the local economy.
It's worth repeating that these savings represent only $50 per month and assumes energy prices don't increase over 30-years which is wildly conservative. It's logical to believe that increases in energy costs over 30 years will inflate this total savings to over $1 billion in energy savings alone.
Savings in other areas such as reduced maintenance expense, lower insurance premiums and even lower interest rates could potentially eclipse the savings in energy costs. Homeowners would also enjoy other benefits of living in a RASTRA home including a stronger, safer, quieter and healthier home.
Builders stand to gain even more than homeowners by contributing to a healthier economy. And by building more energy-efficient homes, new homebuyers are less likely to downsize their homes to offset high energy costs helping keep the building industry strong. Lenders are more willing to approve potential buyers when they know that energy costs are being managed. This increases the pool of potential buyers.
This is within our reach. All it takes is the collective will to do the right thing. Central Ohio is in the unique position of having a RASTRA plant right here in Columbus. This allows builders to contribute to reducing our own waste stream, create new manufacturing jobs and enjoy access to a high performance building system without freight expense. A RASTRA wall system is suitable for any style architecture and any price point. The only barrier is the willingness to embrace change.
Thanks for visiting.