Berkeley's many green initiatives

With the progressive University of California, Berkeley and a forward-thinking citizenry, it shouldn't be surprising to learn that Berkeley, California, is one of the leading cities in terms of environmental initiatives. Many of the public buildings - including those on UC Berkeley's campus - feature solar panels, energy-efficient cooling systems and other green technologies. However, it is not only public buildings that are getting in on the green act - many owners of residential real estate in Berkeley are doing their part for the environment by outfitting their homes with energy-efficient appliances and features, which may have as much to do with dollars and cents as it does with environmental stewardship.

Going green to save green
According to a recent University of California study, green-certified homes help the environment and curb residential utility expenses and also earn a significant premium when they are put on the market. In fact, they sell for about 10 percent more than similar, less green-friendly homes, the source reports.

To come to this conclusion, the study compared 1.6 million conventional homes sold in California between 2007 and 2012 to green-certified homes sold during the same period. The study revealed that a $10,000 investment in green certification fetched a sales price that was an average of $34,800 higher.

"These are kind of ballpark numbers," study co-author Nils Kok told the Orange County Register. "[But] not matter how you twist and turn it, benefits [of green investments] outweigh costs."

With this in mind, it isn't too surprising to learn that many Berkeley residents are engaged in residential green initiatives. The city is known for its progressive citizenry and energy-conscious local officials. Many residents of the city are taking this initiative into their homes by undertaking home-greening projects.

Net-zero energy house
One Berkeley resident who has been garnering attention recently for her devotion to residential green initiatives is Karen Chapple. According to Jetson Green, this UC Berkeley professor built a 420-square-foot home to promote a more environmentally responsible lifestyle. The home's key to energy savings is insulation - it has an insulated concrete slab, recycled denim insulation, insulated hot water pipes and extra thick windows, according to the source.

Although it may be a more extreme version than most, Chapple's home is indicative of the green efforts made by many of Berkeley's forward-thinking residents.

Elected officials
However, individual residents are not the only ones who are helping Berkeley become one of the leading green cities in the country. The local government has taken many steps in the last several years to ensure that the city is moving in the right direction in terms of energy-efficiency.

According to Cool California, Berkeley is currently engaged in a dramatic initiative to reduce the metro's year-2000-level greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The first stages of this program are already underway - retrofitting most city-owned buildings to be more energy efficient, creating a more decentralized energy-generation system and updating the city's public transit system.

These plans - and the many more that are currently in planning stages - show that Berkeley officials are serious about making the city a model for energy efficiency. Like the residents who outfit their homes with the most modern green initiatives, the city's plans to modernize its energy use and output will help the environment and save the area money through more efficient and creative energy use.

Commercial sector
Unsurprisingly, Berkeley's commercial sector is also involved in going green. Knowing that the city's residents are set on reducing emissions, many stores in the area have tailored their services and merchandise to the cause. EcoHome Improvement, for example, is a business that specializes in green-centered home products and has been helping locals transform their homes for many years.