If you’ve decided the time is right to get serious about going green, you’re in good company: Converging forces in the three years since superstorm Sandy have prompted many Long Islanders to reach the same conclusion.
First, the devastating effects of that storm and others have spurred local concerns about global climate change. In fact, 69 percent of registered voters in New York State say they believe recent severe storms demonstrate global climate change rather than isolated weather events, according to a study by Siena College.
Second, going green has become more affordable in recent years. Tax incentives and financing options have helped homeowners offset some of the upfront costs of green home improvements in addition to saving on their utility costs. And prices for clean energy technology have been declining; for instance, the cost to install photovoltaic solar systems fell by 12 to 15 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Add to that the results of a recent study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that shows that homes with a photovoltaic system sell for a premium — about $4 more per watt of solar power, or about $15,000 for a typical-sized residential system — and you’ve got a pretty compelling case for choosing to go green.
“The fundamentals of water efficiency, energy efficiency and indoor air quality make a lot of sense and can be justified on an economic basis,” says Kim Erle of Southampton, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-accredited professional who retrofits buildings to improve their energy efficiency.
These types of changes are being adopted across Long Island, not only by individual homeowners, but at the community level as well, says Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, a nonprofit environmental group. “Many communities that are affected by climate change, and certainly people on islands like Long Island, are now starting to think about how they can not only adapt to rising sea levels and other effects, but how to lead by example in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Raacke says.
In this installment of Newsday’s Best Places to Live series, we highlight a sampling of great Long Island homes and communities for living the green lifestyle.
If you’re looking for green transportation
Try Stony Brook
Living in the hamlet of Stony Brook means you can reap the benefits of a number of sustainability initiatives at the Stony Brook University campus aimed at reducing the congestion and pollution caused by automobile traffic.
For instance, if you drive an electric car, you can charge it for a fee of $1 per hour at one of several electric vehicle charging stations located on the campus. The university also offers two sharing programs: Students, staff and visitors are invited to use the on-campus Wolf Ride Bike Share system for zero-emissions transportation. And members of the car-sharing service Zipcar will find designated parking spots in two locations on the campus for the cars, which are available on demand 24 hours a day. Memberships start at $7 per month.
Home prices in Stony Brook range from $210,000 for a one-bedroom condo to $1.399 million for a six-bedroom Colonial on a six-acre estate, according to mlsli.com.
Also try Floral Park
It’s easy to go carless in Floral Park. The pedestrian-friendly 1.4-square-mile village is convenient to several Long Island Rail Road stations as well as numerous bus lines, allowing residents to travel within Nassau, Suffolk, Queens and midtown Manhattan without a car. Home prices in Floral Park range from $324,900 for a three-bedroom home to $1.399 for a five-bedroom Colonial, according to MLSLI.com.
$895,000 in Floral Park
This three-bedroom, 3½-bathroom Colonial features an EcoStar roof, a three-zone automatic sprinkler system with rain detector and high-efficiency gas heating. It’s listed with Marie Grant of The Donnelly Group (516-524-2781).
If you’re looking for locally grown products
When considering how green a community is, one question Gordian Raacke of Renewable Energy Long Island asks is, “Can I buy local food, local produce, and are there farmers markets or farm stands?” In Mattituck, the answer is a resounding yes.
Vineyards, farms and farm stands abound in this rural North Fork hamlet. Locavores can visit Browder’s Birds for organic and pastured poultry and Harbes Family Farm for farm-fresh produce and find local wines at Macari Vineyards, Lieb Cellars or Shinn Estate Vineyards. Many opt to join a community supported agriculture (CSA) program such as MarGene Farms. Seafood, produce, beers and wines often make a very short trip from nearby farms and waterways to the eateries of Mattituck’s quaint downtown, such as Love Lane Kitchen and Goodfood.
Home prices in Mattituck range from $319,500 for a three-bedroom cottage to $8.8 million for an eight-bedroom Mediterranean-style home, according to mlsli.com.
Also try Amagansett
The Amagansett Food Institute advocates for local growers and local producers, and it operates the Amagansett Farmers Market, which offers produce and other products from East End and other New York State farmers. The hamlet is in the Town of East Hampton, which has adopted a resolution for the very aggressive goals of achieving 100 percent renewable energy for communitywide electricity needs by 2020 and for all communitywide energy needs by 2030. Home prices in Amagansett range from $450,000 for a one-bedroom co-op to $10.6 million for a four-bedroom waterfront Contemporary, according to mlsli.com.
$2.1 million in Amagansett
Every room is its own separate zone with radiant heat throughout this four-bedroom, 3½-bathroom Postmodern. It’s listed with Barbara Morris of Maxwell Jacobs Inc. (631-259-8600).
If you’re looking for green homes
The village code in Southampton echoes that of the Town of Southampton in setting a very high bar for sustainable building practices for all newly constructed homes and substantial renovations. The code also provides for a refund on a portion of the building permit fee, to take some of the financial sting out of those costly mandates.
Homes up to 3,500 square feet must achieve a score of 84 on the state home energy rating system (HERS) — the minimum score required for a home to earn the Energy Star label. And the larger the home, the stricter the requirements: Homes 6,500 square feet and up must achieve a score of 93 — meaning they use a full 65 percent less energy than the reference home defined by HERS as having a score of 80. “If you want to build a giant McMansion, you have a very high hurdle of green to get past,” says Kim Erle, a LEED-accredited professional.
Prices for homes now on the market in the Village of Southampton range from $355,999 for a two-bedroom ranch to $10.95 million for a seven-bedroom traditional, according to MLSLI.com.
Also try Babylon
Babylon had the most homes for sale with green features out of all the hamlets and villages in the Town of Babylon in a recent search of the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. The town is the birthplace of the Long Island Green Homes initiative. The program, which has now been adopted by additional Long Island towns, helps residents save an average $1,000 per year on their energy bills through home improvements such as new boilers, air and duct sealing, caulking, weather stripping and insulation. Prices for homes now on the market in Babylon range from $174,900 for a two-bedroom co-op to $2.25 million for a four-bedroom Colonial, according to mlsli.com.
$719,000-$749,000 in Babylon
Green features in this five-bedroom, two-bathroom Colonial include solar panels, a new gas heating system and all new Energy Star appliances. There is blown foam insulation underneath the house to eliminate energy loss to the crawl space. It’s listed with Joanne Schloen of Coach Realtors. (631-587-1700).
If you’re looking for great public works
Try Point Lookout
Point Lookout is home to a renewable energy park showcasing some outstanding demonstrations of clean energy possibilities. The park, which is operated by the Town of Hempstead Department of Waterways and Conservation, features a self-reliant solar house designed by architecture, engineering and interior design students at New York Institute of Technology for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in 2007.
The park also features a hydrogen fueling station and is home to one of Point Lookout’s four solar charging stations for electric vehicles. A wind- and solar-powered shellfish aquaculture facility is designed to improve the ecosystem in Hempstead Bay and protect the business of local fisheries by using alternative energy to increase shellfish production.
Prices for homes now on the market in Point Lookout range from $489,000 for a four-bedroom home to $2.23 million for a five-bedroom home, according to mlsli.com.
Also try Holtsville
Holtsville is home to the Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center. The center, built on a reclaimed landfill, features an animal preserve, nature trails, greenhouses, exhibits and tours, and offers free compost and wood chips to residents. Residents can reserve a 10-by-10-foot garden parcel from the ecology center for growing flowers or vegetables. Prices for home now on the market in Holtsville range from $82,000 for a one-bedroom co-op to $619,999 for a four-bedroom Colonial, according to mlsli.com.
$519,999 in Holtsville
This four-bedroom, 2½-bathroom Colonial features a solar system and energy-efficient appliances. It’s listed with Kelly Choulis Auffret of Coach Real Estate Associates Inc. (631-360-1900).
If you’re looking for preservation of green space
The largest nature preserve in Nassau County is situated mostly within the 6.1-square-mile village of Muttontown, with a small portion in neighboring East Norwich. The Muttontown Preserve comprises almost 570 acres that were donated and sold to the county by three separate estates. The wooded preserve features miles of nature trails where hikers can spot wildlife as well as local wildflowers in season.
Green preservation doesn’t stop at the village level. Muttontown is in the Town of Oyster Bay, which, for its part, established a tree preservation bureau. Any resident wishing to remove a tree anywhere in the unincorporated town is required to apply for a permit and have their proposal approved by a town inspector. Oyster Bay was also the first Long Island town to adopt an annual clean energy action plan, and the first to sign the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.
Prices for homes now on the market in Muttontown range from $985,000 for a four-bedroom Colonial to $6.3 million for a six-bedroom Colonial, according to mlsli.com.
Also try Montauk
Close to two-thirds of this 17.4-square-mile hamlet is preserved land, including several state parks, county parks and areas protected by The Nature Conservancy, which takes a special interest in Montauk because the peninsula’s diverse habitats support a number of rare ecosystems and species. Prices for homes now on the market in Montauk range from $518,000 for a two-bedroom condo to $4.25 million for a five-bedroom traditional, according to mlsli.com.
$1.1 million in Montauk
This four-bedroom, two-bathroom beach house features Internet-connected thermostats, an energy-efficient boiler and hot water heater, new efficient appliances and low-energy LED recessed lighting. The home is listed with Liz Lycke and Joan Hegner of the Corcoran Group Real Estate (631-899-0425).
Best places to live
What is your favorite green community?
Cast your vote at newsday.com/bestplaces
As of press time, readers chose the following as the top three communities:
Across the Island
There were 789 single-family homes with green features for sale in Nassau and Suffolk counties as of press time, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island website. Some 269 of the homes were in Nassau; the rest, 502, were in Suffolk.
The highest asking price was $38 million for a LEED-certified home in Sands Point with features such as solar panels, roof gardens and a geothermal heating and cooling system. The lowest asking price was $99,900 for a Mastic Beach home with an Energy Star stove, tankless water heater, double pane and insulated windows and blown insulation. -- Valerie Kellogg