One Of The 5 Hot New Trends In Real Estate Development – A Greener Maine?

Green building and design. Increased pressure on communities and businesses to promote environmentally sound designs has led developers to incorporate green elements into their projects. A plan to develop a parcel of land for retail might include green roofs, rain gardens, or gutter water retention and irrigation systems. LEED-certified environmental experts soon will become “must-have” team members as demand for energy efficient, healthy spaces grows stronger.

Giffels-Webster Engineers, a civil engineering firm in suburban Detroit, identifies five top trends in real estate and development.

The four other trends include:

  • Assisted living centers. Assisted living developments are on the rise due to higher life expectancies and the influx of aging baby boomers. By helping seniors lead independent lives in noninstitutionalized environments, these projects are designed to incorporate nature trails, community dining, exercise facilities, music rooms, libraries, salons, and game rooms. Opportunities exist to work with both private developers and public government-funded projects.
  • Hospital expansions, education campus additions. The hospital and education expansion trend is fueled by institutional projects being funded privately though corporate gifts and individual endowments. These “recession-proof” resources mean even during economic downturns, the market segment moves forward with plentiful building and capital improvement projects.
  • Mixed-use developments. Mixed-use developments are growing popular today because they reduce risk. Retail and residential can adjoin each other, and it’s common to see large, national retailers combined with smaller, boutique-type stores, as well as housing varying by size, budget, and amenities. With this approach, the developer’s investment is spread across the spectrum so it remains viable even if one segment does not perform as expected.
  • Urban revitalization. To attract and keep people in their communities, municipalities and townships are working to make their downtowns, retail hubs, and central business districts more inviting and accessible. Streetscape improvements, including attractive landscaping, decorative streetlights, brick sidewalk pavers, and strategically planned parking areas, are examples of how municipalities are proactively transforming their space to appeal to potential and current residents.

Source REALTOR® Magazine Online

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Is Wind Power The Future For A Greener Maine?

Former guv banks on wind
Angus King is entering the wind power business.
Last month, Independence Wind LLC, a company the former Independent Maine governor created last winter with Rob Gardiner, who once headed Maine Public Broadcasting Corp., erected two test towers on Flathead Mountain and Record Hill in northern Oxford County, according to the Sun Journal in Lewiston. The towers will collect wind data for six months to test the feasibility of building a 25-tower wind farm on the location.

The wind farm is still in the concept phase, but is slated to cost between $60 million and $80 million and expected to generate enough electricity to power all the homes in Oxford County for a year, Gardiner told the paper.

Source: Mainebiz Daily

Western Maine’s Fractionation Woes – A Step Backwards For A GREENER Maine

Is it coincidence his enthusiasm for fractionation, the science of turning forest products into biofuel, evaporated when state lawmakers refused to foot the bill? Attempts by Sen. Bruce Bryant, D-Dixfield, to first secure a $50 million bond, and then $350,000 in annual biorefinery funding, were stymied this past session, told the SunJournal of Lewiston Maine. Read it here at http://www.sunjournal.com/index.php?t=12&blogid=60436&bloggerid=7

On July 11th, MaineBiz asked readers of The Daily, a Mainebiz.biz ezine,  if the Fractionation Development Center’s troubles are symptomatic of challenges in Maine of adopting alternative energy sources. The answer was a resounding yes.

70.9%of respondents said the FDC’s troubles are symptomatic of greater challenges

29.1%of respondents said the FDC’s troubles were not symptomatic of greater challenges

A sampling of reader comments:
“The FDC was a house of cards and their exit from the stage came far later than it should have.”

“If a 45-million-dollar venture hinged on one man (and he wasn’t the guy with the 45 Million) then it wasn’t very viable in the first place.”

“There is a big scramble in the business world to create biofuel sources and markets due to current tax credits and other incentives. It is taking on a dot-com like boom and bust outlook.”

“Maine: The way life should be, back in 1700. We want cheap energy, but no dams, no power plants, no windmills, no nuclear energy, no LNG sites. Just send us your cheap power from another state.”

“I attended an event where the FDC were presenters. Organizationally they were among the least convincing groups, bordering on amateur. I think the concept is probably valid but not with that group/organization as lead. I think the FDC’s trouble is symptomatic of FDC’s trouble.”

“FDC’s troubles may be symptomatic of the challenges in ME of adopting alternative energy sources. However, the ‘real’ problem is the lack of leadership in our state legislature.”

“Innovative technologies can require enormous investment before any payback is realized. I would guess that Maine has a very shallow pool of investors comfortable with basing their future returns on this state’s infrastructure.”

“I think FDC’s troubles are reflective of the lack of a clear and effective energy policy at the federal level. FDC’s biofuels really means ethanol from wood, just as we are now subsidizing ethanol from corn. Frankly, both approaches are short sighted and inefficient. However, when Oilmen run the country, do we really expect them to promote rational policies, which might endanger the record profits of the fossil-fuel corporations?”

“It boggles my mind how rural Maine seems to shun development. With the prospects of wind-power and biomass production, which can lead to an energy independent state, Maine has a golden opportunity here. Wake up people, time is of the essence!”

“The problems with the Fractionation Center is specifically related to that particular technology and how ‘near to mark’ it is. Private investors are not ready for the magnitude of investment envisioned. Each energy technology needs to be considered separately and this should not be a sign regarding other possibilities being explored and even commercialized in Maine.”

“It is more symptomatic of people looking for a silver bullet rather than looking for less challenging but more doable projects. Just think if we invested $45 million in subsidizing solar, wind or even sugar beets (now that’s an old one but refining it would be easier and you have proven technology and thousands of acres of farmland that could be developed).”

“Lack of consistent policy and follow-through appear to characterize all state technology initiatives.”

Will your views of the Maine green scene change the way you think and act in your community. at home or at work? What will our planet be like for our children’s children?

Anybody Seen Kermit In Maine?

More GREEN news! 

Daily Real Estate News  |  June 12, 2007

Sustainability in Practice: Top 25 Greenest U.S. Cities
As Kermit the frog says, “It’s not easy being green.”

Country Home magazine, with help from Sperling’s Best Places, examined all 379 major metropolitan areas in the country, ranking them according to how green they were.

Qualifications for top ranking included air and watershed quality, miles of mass transit, power usage, farmers’ markets, organic producers, and the number of green-certified buildings.

Editor-in-Chief Carol Sheehan says, “We wanted to find out who in America is actually taking action, where they are, and what they are doing.”

Here are the magazine’s picks for the 25 greenest cities in America:

1. Burlington-South Burlington, Vt.
2. Ithaca, N.Y.
3. Corvallis, Ore.
4. Springfield, Mass.
5. Wenatchee, Wash.
6. Charlottesville, Va.
7. Boulder, Colo.
8. Madison, Wis.
9. Binghamton, N.Y.
10. Champaign-Urbana, Ill.
11. Ann Arbor, Mich.
12. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif.
13. La Crosse, Wis.
14. Pittsfield, Mass.
15. Eau Claire, Wis.
16. Durham, N.C.
17. Norwich-New London, Conn.
18. Eugene-Springfield, Ore.
19. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif.
20. Chico, Calif.
21. Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.
22. Barnstable Town, Mass.
23. Utica-Rome, N.Y.
24. Missoula, Mont.
25. Asheville, N.C.

Source: Country Home (April 2007)