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Steve Chiotakis: This financial fallout continues to hammer the housing market. Sales are down, prices are tanking and builders can’t get bank loans to build new homes. But there’s one part of the housing construction market that’s doing well: “green” home remodeling. From Oregon Public Broadcasting, Rob Manning reports.
Eric Strid: Good morning.
Rob Manning: Eric Strid welcomes me at the door to show off improvements to his 20-year-old suburban home. He’s got an ambitious goal: to make the place energy independent. That means insulating walls, replacing windows, changing out appliances, and ultimately generating a little energy on-site, so the house uses no electricity from the grid.
Jonathan Cohen:: It’s a guaranteed win. Energy prices are guaranteed to rise on the long-term.
Jonathan Cohen is an engineer with Imagine Energy, one of Strid’s contractors. He says this “net-zero” project is extreme, but he says more and more people are investing in efficiency. Cohen feels the bad economy is bringing him customers.
Cohen: They’re saying, hey, I can’t put my money in the stock market confidently and get any kind of return. I’m not gonna sell my house or try and flip it, so I’m more concerned about putting that money long-term into my property.
To get an idea of energy efficiency perfection, you have to go places you’d usually ignore. Like the crawlspace.
Stephen Aiguier runs Green Hammer, the general contractor that insulated the empty pockets of the home.
Stephen Aiguier: I mean, if they were to do nothing else to help their energy efficiency, probably spraying this crawlspace was . . . and the duct work system down here was probably the best bang for the buck in the entire process.
Both of Strid’s contractors say more people are interested in green remodels. But projects have smaller budgets than a year ago. Often they move more slowly.
And that’s even the case for determined folks like Eric Strid. He shows me on the southern side of the house mounts on the wood siding, where solar panels will go — eventually.
Strid: Oh, it’s economic reality partly here, but we’ll get through it.
Strid is committed to the solar panels. They would generate extra enough juice to power his next big investment: an all-electric car.
In Portland, I’m Rob Manning for Marketplace.