Looks like I am *that* much closer to my electric MINI Cooper

I’ve already decided that the only thing that will pry my 2003 MINI Cooper from my driving fingers is a MINI E, an all electric plug-in version of the car that has been in development in England for some time. I entertained getting a Smart fortwo a year ago when the dealer opened in Tukwila but then the transmission went out in my MINI and I couldn’t get out from under that car without paying money – so I still have it (with a new engine at 65k miles and new tranny at 77k miles – why is another story).

ANYwho, there was a blip in Seattle Times today that the City of Seattle and Nissan say they will work together to promote the development of an electric-car charging network in Seattle.

Gee, a charging network in my home city. And a dedicated outlet in my garage. Sounds like I am THAT much closer to a new and more beloved MINI.

Read Seattle, Nissan team up for electric-car charging network

Questions about foreclosures?

Wow, the Seattle Times hosted a Q&A; session today about foreclosures and there are so many good questions and really great answers.

Here is the info from the Times and a link. Do yourself and your friends and family a favor – share this information widely, even with people who do not appear to be in financial trouble. You would be surprised at what is going on behind the scenes in today’s American households. Or maybe not…

Do you have questions about the foreclosure process, home-rescue scams and what to do if you are an owner or tenant in a house that the bank is going to auction? Experts will answer your questions live at noon on Tuesday, April 28.

Melissa Huelsman is a Seattle attorney who represents homeowners in predatory lending, mortgage servicing and foreclosure-rescue scam litigation. Linda Taylor, director of housing at the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle and the
agency’s certified foreclosure prevention counselors.

Read the transcript.

Sustainable Industries Breaking News

“While architects and engineers across the country have been working to design buildings to meet the Living Building Challenge, a green building rating system developed by Cascadia Green Building Council, most developers and lenders still need a little convincing that such buildings make financial sense.

A recently released financial study on Living Building provides new fodder for such decision makers…”

Read Living Buildings gain financial cred

Insurers Offer Rewards for Going Green

Wow, this is news to me!

Your insurance company may give you a break if you go green.

The $16 trillion insurance industry has begun to address climate change with mandatory risk disclosures and more products to help reduce energy use. Insurers have begun to offer lower premiums on car, homeowner and property insurance for people who drive less, own hybrid cars or build green homes.

Read Insurers Offer Rewards for Going Green
By Jilian Mincer and Shelly Banjo, The Wall Street Journal

Today it’s all about mortgages

Just passing this along from Realty Times

Washington Report: Mortgage System Changes

Congress got back to business last week after its holiday recess, and big changes to the U.S. home mortgage system were high on the agenda in the House.

Full Story

Who Owns My Mortgage?

Mortgages are often sliced and diced and repackaged into mortgage backed securities (MBS’s) that are sold and traded on Wall Street. Many investors subscribe to an automated system called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System) that keeps track of who owns the mortgage and note as it changes hands among investors, as well as who services it for that investor.

Full Story

Plan It Green Launches on Earth Day

This morning I received an email from a marketer who prefaced it with “I normally do not send unsolicited press releases to blogs and I hope I do not offend you but I thought you would find this interesting.” And I responded, “And normally I ignore them, but I love this idea. Thanks for sending it. You are one of my Earth Day posts!”

This new game, “Plan It Green” sounds fun and fascinating! If I manage to get ahold of a copy I will write more about it in a future post. You can watch a short video about the new sim game. You can purchase Plan It Green on Amazon.com and probably many other locations. For $10 a whole lot of people are going to learn a whole lot about green!!

Merscom and National Geographic Launch Plan It Green

Environmentally Themed Building Sim Launches on Earth Day

CHAPEL HILL, NC, April 22, 2009 Merscom and National Geographic Games announced today’s release of Plan It Green, a building sim that integrates green technology in a fast paced casual game.

As the Mayor of Greenville, players have the opportunity to create a green city in Plan It Green. As mayor of your hometown, you have vowed to bring about a new green future by changing the ways of the past. You are working with close supporters to restore Greenville to its former glory and beauty. Watch as Greenville transforms before your eyes as you build eco-homes, apply green upgrades and bring new clean jobs and industry to your hometown! Plan It Green is the first game that leverages the resources of National Geographic, an organization that was green when green wasn’ t cool

The first green casual game, Plan It Green features:

~ Transform Greenville from an eyesore, into a beautiful green city!

~ First casual game that leverages the knowledge and resources of National Geographic, an organization that was green when green wasnâ t cool.

~ Hours of gameplay in both campaign and free play mode!

~ Improve 8 neighborhoods across 45 levels!

~ Upgrade your hometown with parks, eco-homes and environmental upgrades

~ Build eco-friendly houses, stores and businesses

~ Pick the latest eco-upgrades

“This is the right product for the times. Not only is it a fantastic game, but it integrates a theme we all hear hundreds of times a week” said Kirk Owen, Merscom’s CEO. “By working with National Geographic, we were able to go beyond pop green ideas and make a game that truly conveys the possibilities of the future.”

About Merscom

Merscom is a global publisher of mass market computer and video games that distributes games through multiple channels, multiple platforms and multiple revenue models. Merscom’s channels include retail distribution in the US and Europe, online sale through major portals worldwide and games on Microsoft® Xbox Live® Arcade. Merscom publishes games from leading casual game developers, including GO! Games, Reflexive Entertainment, Absolutist and Overplay. Merscom produces entertaining products for gamers of all ages and guarantees all customers a great experience. For more information visit http://www.merscom.com/.


Happy Earth Day and 2nd Blogoversary to GSRE!

Two years ago on Earth Day I launched this green blog. In two years I have written 353 posts. Compare this to my “pink blog”, my personal blog launched in 2005 to travelogue our first trip to Italy, which has 519 posts since 11/05. Clearly I spend a lot more time talking green than pink!

I posed a question to some of the folks I work with – has Earth Day been greenwashed? Is it overcommercialized? We quickly agreed this was one “holiday” where it didn’t matter. The more people who recognize the need to pay attention to what is happening in the environment around us the better! Any positive action in this direction is good!

When I first started this blog I was working for a real estate broker who focused on right-of-way road improvement projects and relocation work for SeaTac Airport (3rd runway nose remediation). If an agent sold a home it was gravy since we also were paid based on our contract work. The focus of my blog was to just share what I knew and what I learned. I was a lone green voice, especially amongst the people I worked with.

Even moving to a Built Green Certified Community didn’t do the trick since many people living here just saw it as a new development inside the city limits and were only interested in the real estate aspect of the community and not the great variety of opportunities to build community – especially in alignment with “green” here. In the fall of 2007 I took the first ever offered Built Green training for real estate agents – I had been bugging them for months and they finally offered a course at NSCC. It was great to sit in a room full of eager learners and to absorb new information.

My move to GreenWorks Realty last November was like a salve to a worn-out runner. It is such a blessing to be surrounded by people who agree that the Earth needs our help – and education is the key to that. We all spend a lot of time educating ourselves and then passing that education along to others.

To honor Earth Day I gave two tours last Saturday – a green tour of my neighborhood, an international award winner when it comes to its management of runoff (High Point in West Seattle), and a tour to others in West Seattle interested in helping us build a canine off-leash play area for dogs. High Point is full of open space and the developer agreed to let one of the spaces go to the dogs instead of the kids (who have lots of open space and playgrounds to play in.) It was a great day to meet new people. And as always, I educated.

Today I will just learn more to share with others at a future time. And maybe do some greening around the office. I participated in a webinar last week sponsored by Sustainable Industries, “Greening Your Office Operations”, and need time to go through all of those links!

No doubt you will learn something new today – be sure to share it with someone you know!

Mass Events Coming Your Way

I just spent some time updating my company’s web site with info from emails I received in the last week and wanted to provide you with this snapshot of all of the good info there for the taking. And this is without my even looking for things to do that will educate you about green homes and lifestyles.

By the way, you missed a great green community tour on Saturday. The weather was perfect, we looked at three different kinds of homes and examined up close porous sidewalks, bioswales, and the other enviromental functions that make High Point special. In fact, both High Point and GreenWorks Realty are mentioned in the brand new book “The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget”, on page 112-113. It’s so cool to see my neighborhood and my company discussed in detail in a book! UPS delivered a bubble package today, this book is hot off the press.

I provide community tours as a public service about once a quarter, so if you missed it this time watch the Green Spaces meetup calendar for next time.


April 2009

Earth Day 2009
April 22nd – Find something to do.
Seattle and surrounding areas

“Air Sealing and Weatherization” + LEED Platinum Tour
Madrona and Eastlake (Seattle)
April 25th, 12:00pm-2:00pm

“The American Dream: Fundamentals of Homeownership”
An Introduction to The HomeSight Program
SSCC, Olympic Hall, Room 206, 6:00pm-7:30pm
April 29th

Strategies for Sustainability: Best Practices
NWETC-Headquarters, 9:00am-5:00pm
April 29th

Making Sustainability Stick: Tools for Change Agents
NWETC-Headquarters, 9:00am-5:00pm
April 30th

May 2009

Sustainable West Seattle Festival
Stop by the GreenWorks Realty booth and meet our agents!
SW Alaska & 44th Avenue SW
May 3rd, 10:00am-3:00pm
West Seattle

Permaculture Design Course with Toby Hemenway
SSCC Horticulture Center, 6000 16th Ave SW
Begins May 9th, 9:00

Naturescaping for Wildlife
Phinney Neighborhood Center, 7:00pm-9:00pm
May 11th, Tickets $10 at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/

EXPLORING ENERGY & DESIGN: Smart Solutions for the Built Environment
Town Hall Seattle (downstairs), 6:30pm-8:00pm, reception at 5:30pm, $10 advance, $15 door
May 13th

10 Years of Climate Solutions Annual Breakfast
Benaroya Hall, 7:30am-9:00am
May 20th

West Seattle Edible Garden Fair: Learn To Grow Your Own Groceries!
SSCC Landscape Horticulture Buildings, 9:30am-4:00pm
May 23rd
West Seattle

How much can a garden save you?

One of my favorite email subscriptions is the Market Watch Real Estate Weekly. It’s some hard core real estate and finance info, but they also include odds and ends that I can *really* appreciate. And I think you will to!

I have several pots of lettuce and snap pea, snow pea (and lovely scented sweet pea) on my front porch, where I get the most sun. My lemon tree and lime bush also look like they are FINALLY going to have an abundant crop.

Can we garden our way out of this hole? Just a few years ago, the road to riches was clear. We could all sit on our porches drinking mint juleps while our houses appreciated 30% a year. Now, our houses are falling in value by 30% a year. Forget about them. The real money maker, it turns out, was always our backyard.

By planting a vegetable garden, we can slash our food bill while eating healthier.

Read How much can a garden save you?
By Neal Templin, The Wall Street Journal

Locovore crash course

I finally got to meet Tom Watson “Mr. EcoConsumer” at Seattle Green Festival! He is with King County Recycling and Environmental Services.

His most recent column is a nice primer on increasing your “eat local” ability by calculating food miles. There also are some very good links you should bookmark if eating healthy, local and sustainably grown food is a topic that interests you.

I have a small King County poster from 2002 that I still have hanging with the message “Homeland Security: Eat Local”. It is a smart way to contribute to your local economies while limiting your exposure to toxic food by knowing your farmer and where your food comes from. It really does matter.

From the Seattle Times:

“Food miles” — how far food travels from the producer to your home — have become the latest preoccupation for folks concerned about their ecological footprint.
But food miles are a complex matter not easy to calculate. King County’s EcoConsumer Tom Watson has put together a guide to different options as you try to buy food produced closer to home — comparing farmers markets, natural food stores, home-delivery services, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
subscriptions, and full-service grocery stores.

Read Eating local means figuring out your “food miles”

Word of the day bonus:
Urban Dictionary definition of “locovore”
the practice of eating food that is grown locally.