Karen Petersen Feng ShuiDo you know what ‘green’ means?
VAIL, Colorado – “Green” is a big buzz word in the Vail Valley and beyond, yet many people don’t really know what it means. Many companies are using the “green lingo” to market their products, but there is a lot of “green washing” going on out there in the marketplace, which is calling something “green” when it is not.Nearly 7 billion people inhabit the planet Earth. The United States represents about 3 percent of that total population, but we consume 25 percent of Earth’s resources. “Going green” means changing how we live in our society to reduce our consumption of these precious resources. It is about choosing homes and products that are sustainable. Sustainability is defined as “the ability to satisfy the basic needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their needs.” The core principles of green include practicing resource efficiency and conservation as well as social responsibility. Out of 149 countries rated in the 2008 Environmental Performance Index, The United States ranked 39th. For additional information, visit http://epi.yale.edu.The excess waste from consumerism over the holidays spills over into how we are impacting our carbon footprint. According to the Green Air Council, an additional 5 million tons of waste is generated in the US during this period. You can check your personal carbon footprint at http://www.earthlab.com.Here are some ways to reduce your carbon footprint over the holidays:• Eliminate disposables: That includes paper plates, plastic cutlery, tin pie pans and throw-away roasting pans. You can also opt for e-greetings and e-invitations versus sending out Christmas cards and party invitations that are paper. (Besides, you’ll save the postage.)• Travel green: Carpool to parties and other holiday gatherings. (Also, assign a designated driver, or use local taxi services) And support hotels, resorts and airlines that have embraced sustainability. Just Google, “green travel.”• Green gifts: If you are participating in gift-giving this year, opt for green gifts. Google “green gifts” and you will find an onslaught of green gift guides. Try to support local retailers to keep the local community healthy and consider buying one-of-a-kind handmade gifts to sustain the arts.• Recycle: That includes Christmas trees. And if you’re receiving or giving new electronics, such as phones, computers, TVs – don’t throw away those old gadgets. Find a recycle center for e-waste nearby. Meanwhile, if you need some motivation after the holidays to do some winterizing projects, the IRS has recently sweetened the deal. The American Recovery and Investment Act expanded two home energy credits: the non-business energy property credit and the residential energy efficient property credit. This means you can perform energy-saving home improvements and reduce your 2010 tax liability. The credit allows for a 30 percent credit of eligible energy saving improvements up to a maximum credit of $1,500 for the combined 2009 & 2010 tax years. Items such as energy efficient windows, doors, insulation, high efficiency heating systems, air conditioning and water heaters are just a few of the major improvements that would qualify. Before making any investments, be sure to check with your accountant to make sure your improvements qualify for the credit. Considering buying or building a new home? For many consumers the “greenness” of a home or building is determined by whether or not it has a nationally recognized certification or rating. The most widely recognized certification and rating programs in the U.S. are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Energy Star and HERS (Home Energy Rating System). For more information go to http://www.seekingsanctuaries.comKaren Petersen is the owner of Black Diamond Realty and is a GREEN designated Realtor, certified by the National Association of Realtors. You can contact her at 970-476-4414 or by e-mail @ email@example.com.
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