Archive for February 2012

If you’ll remember from my early Green Builders Journal Blogs, Green is a very broad term that has as many definitions as there are people trying to define it.  In trying to bring together the common components of anyone’s definition and make it one that would be hard for anyone to dispute, I defined Green as any program, idea, or concept that attempts to conserve natural resources.  If I attempt to build a house using less lumber thereby saving trees, that’s being Green.  If I build a house with solar power so that some of the energy that powers the home comes from the sun and therefore conserves coal, or petroleum, that’s being Green.

If I put low flow plumbing fixtures in my house thereby using less water, that’s being Green. When we formed City Ventures we made it a mandate of the Company to push the envelope of building Green.  As we feel it’s clearly evident that Green Building is the future, we wanted to evolve our building process to include Green concepts as early as possible and stay ahead of the Green Building game.  We chose LEED as the program that would measure how Green we were building.  While LEED is a great way of measuring Green, we found after two years of using it that it’s cost to certify aren’t worth the bureaucracy and paperwork we need to go through to obtain Certification.  It costs over $1,000 just to get the LEED certification.  More importantly we felt we could provide our homeowners with a much more practical and money saving definition of what it means to buy and live in a Green home.

And that’s what our Greenkey homes are.

It’s OUR definition of Green.  We know enough about building Green now that we can better pick and choose among the unlimited number of individual Green ideas that result in a Green Home and do it in a way that we feel is best for our homeowners or potential buyers.  LEED and several of the other “Green measuring” programs all have their own definitions of Green.  Some are good ideas, all are definitely Green, and all of them cost money.  As the Builder, we’re basically spending that money for the future homeowners while we construct the home.  Therefore we’re choosing what Green will mean for those homeowners.

We’ve decided to choose differently than all those other “Green measuring” programs.

And that’s what are Greenkey homes are.

They’re Green homes where City Ventures chose the components that make them Green.  Since almost all Green components cost money, we chose components that not only save natural resources from a Global perspective, but save the homeowner actual money from a monthly cost of living perspective.  It’s the best of both worlds because we’re helping save Mother Nature, and our homeowners save money while saving Mother Nature.  And I don’t mean save money from some nebulous “save money over time” concept.  I mean truly save money from their checking account every month.

So how does that happen??

Let’s talk about that next time.

Until then


Well the Green Builders Journal is going to take a radical turn.

I started this series of blogs by defining what “Green” means. That led to how one can “measure” being Green. I used the LEED certification process as one way of measuring how Green a project is, and then wrote several Blogs explaining in depth the LEED process and how they define Green. City Ventures is currently building 6 projects to a LEED Gold certification. In that evolution of green building we’re discovering and adopting a new way to be Green.

And it doesn’t involve LEED.

What we’ve discovered as we learn how to produce Green homes is that LEED, while an excellent program on some levels, falls way short on other levels. Being Green for the sake of being Green is one strategy and one that is best suited for using the LEED program. However there are excellent Green strategies available that fall outside the LEED program. As a builder if we choose a Green strategy that LEED does not recognize, than that strategy doesn’t receive any points. As virtually all Green strategies available today cost more money, we’ve found ourselves having to decide between strategies that are green and get LEED points and strategies that are Green that save the homeowner on costs of living but do not earn LEED points.

Which is why we’re taking this radical turn.

City Ventures is devising it’s own Green strategy. It’s called Greenkey. Our goal with Greenkey is to adopt Green strategies that actually save the homeowner money by producing actual cost of living savings. The “list” of what makes a Greenkey home will constantly grow and evolve as we discover new and innovative Green ways of saving homeowners money by building more efficient homes and neighborhoods. The ultimate goal will be when the first Greenkey home is net zero energy. Net zero energy is when the amount of energy consumed by the home is equal to the amount of energy the homes produces.

We believe everyone wants to be Green. If you polled people walking out of the supermarket and asked them if they’d pay more for a Green home, they’d all probably say yes. When the reality of actually having to pay more for something simply because it’s Green actually shows up, most people make a different choice. Mother Earth needs to be saved but not if I have to actually write a check. If the choice is between a $350,000 townhome that isn’t Green next door to a $360,000 townhome that is Green, the real world is that Mother Earth takes a backseat to most people writing that $10,000 check.

That’s why we’ve decided to move past LEED, which is a purely Green program, and towards one that is Green AND reduces the cost of living for each homeowner that chooses to buy. Next Blog I’ll go back to the beginning and bring everyone up to date on our Greenkey strategy and what our first group of projects looks like from a Green standpoint and then where were looking to go in the future.


Until then




The Green Builder’s Journal is written by Herb Gardner, President of City Ventures Home Building Group. Herb has 30 years experience managing the building of residential and apartment communities in over 60 municipalities in 3 different states.

A big proponent of in-fill communities and the urban lifestyle Mr. Gardner has extensive experience in all aspects of residential home building, ranging from land acquisition to warranty management, he specializes in managing teams of people in delivering communities on time, on budget and to the quality standards the marketplace demands.

For Questions, Feedback or observations you can Click here to Email Herb