LIVE GREEN. FIND THE RIGHT FIT

Fitkova Realty Group recognizes that housing is a basic human necessity - and as a real estate company we understand our fiduciary responsibility towards you, the client, and the importance of making the connection between housing and Being Green.

Responsible environmental stewardship is not only an integral part of doing business; it is the core of who we are as a company. Fitkova embraces its role to be economically, socially and environmentally responsible and will not pursue quick, easy or unsustainable solutions to fulfill short term corporate needs. It is a silent commitment to ourselves, our future, our clients and our planet to work towards the creation of healthier living environments by sourcing out new ways to be Green. At Fitkova, being Green means so much more than recycling paper - it is about being determined to learn the right things to do and convert them into actions.

Whether you are a first time buyer or a seasoned home-buying veteran, it is worth remembering that buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you can make, and not just financially. The location, size and style of your house along with what you choose to do with it can have a huge impact on your ecological footprint. At Fitkova we encourage you to choose wisely, ask the right questions and remember that Being Green begins with Thinking Green.

We believe the following initiatives are fundamental to our success as a company and being respectful to the greater health of the planet.

Top Green Home Buying Tips
Get good help Not long ago, if you'd have told your realtor that you were looking for a green house, they'd have handed you a gallon or two of emerald-hued paint. Nowadays, with increased eco-awareness and energy prices going through the roof it is all the more important to consider things like indoor air quality and energy efficiency. At Fitkova Realty Group we are keenly aware of environmental issues and overall home energy performance that matter to you.

Conduct an energy audit Consider the heating and cooling systems carefully and make sure they are in good working order and sized appropriately. Windows should be checked to if they're single or double-paned, and at the doors, see if you feel a draft. Be aware of missing or inadequate insulation or signs of mold. Practice sound energy use for yourself and the health of the planet.

Remember: location, location, location New York has one of the lowest ecological footprints in the United States due to their close proximity to shops, entertainment, and places of work. They live close to subways or a bus lines that take them to these locations. The lesson here? Choose your location carefully. It's worth thinking about commute distances, proximity of local facilities and how you are going to get around. Visit Walk Score to locate restaurants, parks, grocers and other businesses and amenities within walking distance of your possible future home.
Buy small, live large It's the closest mantra we have to Being Green: small really is the new big, and less is more. The smaller your living space, the less energy is needed to heat and light it, and the less you have to spend on utilities too. With some thoughtful interior design you can create beautiful living environments out of some surprisingly small spaces.

Kick the tires Use a fresh coat of low-VOC paint as an easy, affordable way to spruce up your new home without contributing to poor air quality. Ripping up old, off-gassing, difficult-to-recycle wall-to-wall carpeting to refinish the hardwood underneath is tougher on you and on the planet. Likewise, replacing leaky, rusty, lead-leaching plumbing is a taller order yet, so be sure to "kick the tires" of the houses you're looking at so you can get an idea of the changes you'll want or need to make to create a greener, healthier living space.

Reuse, renovate, and recycle Consider looking for property that will benefit from a upgraded green kitchen or bathroom as these are the two rooms that typically get the best return for your renovating dollar. You can still renovate according to ecological principles and get a double bonus: a greener, more efficient home and a higher resale value.

Research your renewable-energy potential As the costs of alternative technologies like solar, wind, or geo-thermal power come down, they're becoming easier to find and easier to afford. If your home isn't already plugged in to off-grid technology you can see if it makes sense to generate some or all of your own power with DSIRE, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to see what rebates and deals are available in your state.

Certifiable! LEED-H, or Leed for Homes, released final guidelines for their residential green building certification in January, which means there isn't a ton out there right now, though about 400 builders representing 10,000 homes across the U.S. participated in the LEED for Homes pilot program. If you're looking in New England, Energy Star Homes certify that homes meet the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) performance guidelines for energy efficiency. They're two programs on the rise, so be on the lookout for more green homes from both programs' guidelines and principles.

Shade grown? Before you purchase a property it is worthwhile to note the foliage that comes with the land. Big deciduous (leafy) trees are great natural climate controllers; in the summer, their leafy branches block the sun and can help keep your home cooler (reducing cooling costs), and, in the winter, the bare branches let more natural light and heat through to your home (reducing heating costs). Big old trees also offer potential homes for our fine feathered friends who can be helpful in maintaining your organic garden. Your neighborhood's biodiversity will benefit, too.

Greater outdoors Ask yourself a couple more questions: Is there is big lawn that requires care (and lots of water) to maintain? (Remember, this isn't always up to you; some neighborhoods have homeowners' association rules that requires a certain level of lawn maintenance). Is there a good, sunny place for a garden or is there a good space for some good container gardening? It's definitely worth considering matching your potential home with the size of your green thumb.

Green Home Buying: By the Numbers $160 billion: The amount of money Americans spend each year to heat, cool, and light their homes. That energy represents about 21 percent of the national total energy consumption.

400,000: The number of families that could pay their fuel bills with the money saved if everyone in the U.K. topped up their loft insulation to 27cm (10.6 in).

$20,000: The increase in value to a home caused by installing a solar electric system, for every $1000 spent in annual operating costs.

85 million tons: The amount of CO2 saved annually (by 2030) if 60 percent of new homes in the U.S. were built according to dense, urban patterns, rather than typical suburban development.

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Office, Energy Savings Trust, Renewable Energy Access

At Fitkova Realty Group, we recognize the importance of water efficiency, energy efficiency, and waste management, use of resource efficient materials, healthy indoor environmental quality and smart land use when it comes to buying a property. Fitkova can guide you towards making the most ecologically sound decisions and matching the right property to you.

7 Tips to Lower Your Holiday Carbon Foodprint
Holidays are all about family, friends, fun, and what else - food! But before you nibble on your favorite treats, know the facts. Food production accounts for nearly 1/3rd of all global carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming. Whether you're throwing the next big party or just bringing a dish to share, make a statement this season by serving up yummy low-carbon holiday dishes for those you love.

Follow these 7 Tips:

Tip #1: Measure your carbon foodprint. It's ok to play with your food! Use this unique game to experiment with different menu options and ingredients, and compare the carbon emissions from your meals. To play, go to: http://www.eatlowcarbon.org.

Tip #2: Buy local & seasonal. The average food grown in the U.S. travels 1500 miles by truck, ship, and plane before it reaches your plate, which accounts for its large carbon foodprint. Save money, support your community, and help the planet by buying locally produced foods in season: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/.

Tip #3: Eat lower on the food chain. One of the most important personal statements you can make to reduce your environmental impact (while improving your health) is to reduce the amount of meat you eat. Try going meatless one day a week as an experiment, and build from there. Learn more here: http://www.meatlessmonday.com.

Tip #4: Go organic. Organic farming uses much less energy than traditional farming and avoids the use of harmful chemicals and fertilizers that can damage your body. Protect your health and the planet by choosing to buy organic food whenever you can.

Tip #5: Skip processed & packaged foods. Food processing and packaging is responsible for 23% of the energy used in the U.S. food system. Try buying more fresh produce and meat and buy grains, pasta, and spices in bulk to save money and landfill waste.

Tip #6: Recycle & compost. By recycling food packaging and composting leftover food scraps you can save thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year. Learn what recycling and composting services are available in your community: http://www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/recyclingandsanitation/.

Tip #7: Read up on low-carbon holiday recipes. Become a "green gourmet" while giving your diet a carbon makeover. Check out this new book full of delicious eco-friendly recipes: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0470404493/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=3941349287&ref=pd_sl_4524os2yb4_b.
Celebrate Summer with 7 Green Grilling Tips

Tip #1 Shop local and organic. Purchase your meats and produce from a farmer's market or food co-op, and get healthier, better tasting food, while helping out your local economy. For the best of all worlds, buy local and USDA certified organic and grass fed meats and veggies.

Tip #2: Time for a new grill? Protect your health and help the planet by replacing your charcoal grill with a more energy-efficient natural gas grill.

Tip #3: Clean your grill, naturally. While it's still hot, use natural products to clean your grill or keep it simple by using baking soda and a wire brush.

Tip #4: Buy in bulk. When you purchase your BBQ staples such as drinks and condiments in family sizes, you'll save money while cutting down on packaging waste.

Tip #5: Recycle everything. This includes bottles, cans, plastic, cardboard and tin-foil. To find out what else can be recycled in your community. Look here: http://www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/recycling/.

Tip #6: Use reusable plates, forks, and napkins. If you must use disposables, opt for biodegradable, sustainable, or recycled items from companies like: http://earthshell.com.

Tip #7: Eat more veggies. Try out a new veggie grilling recipe, and improve your health while reducing your carbon footprint. Check out this new book: http://www.amazon.com/New-Vegetarian-Grill-Revised-Flame-Kissed/dp/1558323627/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246891908&sr=1-.
CSA: Fresh, Local, Organic Food Delivered To You
Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) has exploded onto the green scene as an excellent way to support small New England farmers while living healthy and green.

When you become a CSA member, you are purchasing a share of the food a farm produces for one season. This food is typically delivered to you on a weekly or bi-weekly basis from May – Oct. By joining a CSA, you provide direct financial support to local farmers, while eating some of the best food the region has to offer.

While each CSA program differs, here's what you can look forward to:

  • A weekly supply of the freshest, most nutritional organic fruits, veggies, and herbs.
  • Eggs, meat, seafood, coffee and cheese from select farms.
  • The chance to try new foods and fun recipes.
  • The opportunity to enjoy a day picking your own food, or visiting the farm with your children.
What you need to know:

  • You normally pay up front for the entire season's worth of food.
  • Growing seasons and availability of food varies.
  • Some farms deliver right to your door, while others deliver to a local pick-up spot.
  • If it seems like too much food for your household, try splitting a share with a neighbor or friend your first year.
  • Some farms require their members to work a few days each season picking, packing, or delivering food each season.
  • Memberships can sell out fast – sometimes by January of each year.
To learn more about CSA farms that deliver to Boston, look here:
http://www.farmfresh.org/food/csa.php?zip=02215

Eco-Smart Quick Tips: 20 Ways to Go Green, and Save Money
Smart green living starts with making lifestyle choices that benefit you and the environment. Instead of spending more on going green, use these 25 tips to up your eco-smarts – and save lots of money at the same time.
  1. Drink tap water instead of bottled.
  2. Use cloth rags instead of paper towels.
  3. Contact your utility company for a free energy audit.
  4. Use your dryer's "moisture sensing" setting to save energy and wear on your clothes.
  5. Eat less red meat to improve health while saving money.
  6. Compost your food scraps and save on organic fertilizer.
  7. Adjust your thermostat up 2 degrees in the summer and down 2 degrees in the winter.
  8. Walk instead of drive errands that are less than a mile away.
  9. Check your tire pressure to increase gas mileage and extend the life of your tires.
  10. Try a "staycation" and learn more about your city while having fun with the family.
  11. Pay all of your bills online to save time, energy, and money.
  12. Bring your own bags to the grocery store.
  13. Buy in bulk to save money and packaging.
  14. Reduce extra weight in your car's trunk to increase fuel efficiency.
  15. Borrow instead of buy something that you use only a few times a year.
  16. Download music instead of buying CDs.
  17. Reduce the default margins on your printer and save paper.
  18. Shop online.
  19. Pack a waste-free lunch with reusable containers, utensils, and cloth napkins.
  20. Swap your home for a dream vacation by using a home exchange service.
Green Moving Tips
The most important thing you can do when moving green is to plan ahead. The sooner you start, the easier it will be for you to sell and recycle what you don't need, and to save money on boxes and other moving supplies. You'll also vastly reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill. Use these 3 tips to guide your next move:

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
As soon as you start thinking about moving, it's time to go Zen and simplify your home belongings. Make some extra money by selling the things that you don't need on eBay or Craigslist. Donate the things that you can't sell to a favorite local charity. Recycle everything else.

Say No To New Boxes
Decide before you move that you aren't going to buy any new boxes. Use Google to find free or inexpensive local boxes on eBay and Craigslist. If you're moving out of a multi-unit building, keep your eyes open for others moving in and ask to have their old boxes and packaging materials. As a last resort, if you can't find any used boxes, choose to rent boxes through a local company. Rental boxes are often made of a heavy plastic, and actually provide better protection for your property.

Think Small
Use the smallest truck possible that will fit your belongings. Ask if they have a truck that uses bio-fuel, as many of the larger companies are now offering this. Pack the truck as tightly as you can. This will create less movement, and your things will be more secure. The tighter the truck is packed, the fewer trips you'll need to take, which means you'll save time and money.
Green Tips for Pet Owners
We spend over $45 billion on our pets each year in America. We love them, and they deserve the best. If you're actively greening your lifestyle and home, why not your pets? Follow these simple green tips to keep your pets happy and healthy while helping the planet:

Tip #1:Buy natural and organic pet food. More and more pet owners are buying natural and organic pet food, and for good reason. Read the labels closely and you'll find that commercial pet food contains harmful artificial ingredients, fillers, sewage, antibiotics, and factory farm by-products. Fortunately for pet owners, there are many healthy pet food choices that can be found in your local pet or health food store. As a rule of thumb, look for natural pet food with 10 or fewer ingredients. If you can afford to, buy natural or certified organic food. Or you can always try making your own!

Tip #2: Buy biodegradable littler and clean-up bags. Keep kitty happy by purchasing chemical-free biodegradable kitty litter. Avoid commercial clay-based strip-mined litter, which is harmful to your cat's lungs and digestive track. Be ready - you may need to try out a few different types (pine, corn, newspaper, etc) until you find one that your cat will endorse. Also buy biodegradable doggie bags. Plastic bags with waste thrown in the garbage will take decades to break down (if at all) and can damage the environment. Be a real eco-champ and compost both your biodegradable cat litter and doggie bags into healthy fertilizer.

Tip #3: Use non-toxic cleaners and products. The products you use in your home end up in your pet. A 2008 Environmental Working Group study found that pets have higher levels of toxins in their bodies than humans. They found 48 different toxins in pets, including plastics from bowls and toys, fire retardants, pesticides, and residual cleaning products. Dogs and cats are now getting cancer and thyroid diseases at alarming rates. Make sure to clean your home only with eco-friendly cleaning products, or make your own out of baking soda and vinegar. Also buy sustainable, non-toxic plastic food and water bowls.

Tip #4: Give your pet eco-friendly toys. Pets love to play, and we love to play with them! But, make sure that the toys that spend time in your pet's mouth are healthy for them. For example, have you ever opened a new pack of tennis balls and noticed that strong chemical smell? Imagine those nasty toxic chemicals are entering your dog's body when he plays fetch. There are many organic, chemical-free and fair trade toys available at your local pet or health store that will keep you and your pet happy and healthy.
How Green Is Your Family? Calculate Your Carbon Footprint Today
We all know that climate change is an issue of global importance. For most of us, though, it's such an overwhelming concept that it takes a back seat to the many demands of our daily lives. While we don't have control over what everyone else on the planet does, we do have the power to make small, positive decisions that can benefit both us and the planet, while doing our part to reduce global warming.

Spend a few minutes using the following online calculator to estimate your family's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Explore actions that you can take together as a family to reduce your carbon footprint. If you choose to do so, you can also offset your remaining emissions and go 'carbon neutral' to become a climate hero.

Follow this link to get started: http://www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/calculator/

Remember: it's not about being perfect, it's about taking positive action. Every time you take even a small step in the right direction, you build a powerful momentum that will continue to carry you forward.
It's Easy to Clean Green at Home
One of the easiest and most effective ways to go green at home is to switch to a green cleaning routine. Most conventional cleaning products are petroleum-based and have negative effects on our health, not to mention their impact on the environment. Instead of using products that are designed to kill everything in their path, choose natural products that will keep your house fresh-smelling and clean without the toxic side effects.

Make sure to avoid products with unnecessary dyes, fragrances, and harsh chemicals. These skin and lung irritants cause increased rates of allergies, asthma, and rashes in your family and pets. Try any of these green brands for superior cleaning without the health risks:
Seventh Generation http://www.seventhgeneration.com
Mrs. Meyers http://www.mrsmeyers.com
Ecover http://www.ecover.com

If you use a cleaning service, ask them to switch to using natural, non-toxic green products in your home. If they won't, try one of these Boston area green cleaners:
http://www.healthyhomescleaning.com/
http://www.gogreenproclean.com/
Must See Green Living TV
Who said that TV is bad for us? Watch as these 4 green living shows expertly blend education with entertainment, and inspire you to save money, live healthy, and be green.

Emeril Green
This fun series stars Chef Emeril Lagasse as he unleashes his culinary creativity to help you transform healthy, natural foods into everyday masterpieces in your kitchen. http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/emeril-green/

The Lazy Environmentalist
Host Josh Dorfman entertains and enlightens everyday folks on how to get off their couch and save the planet. http://www.sundancechannel.com/lazy/

Living With Ed
Competition runs deep as eco-nerd Ed Begley Jr. and his skeptical wife Rachelle push and pull their way through marriage and the Hollywood green scene. http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/living-with-ed/

Big Ideas for a Small Planet
Get ready for weekly inspiration and innovation from the most forward-thinking green experts of our times, as well as meet local heroes and activists from across America. http://www.sundancechannel.com/big-ideas/
Six Simple Steps to Green Your Bathroom
Little changes can make a big difference – follow these six simple steps to makeover your bathroom today.

Step #1: Clean Green
Avoid traditional cleaning products with unnecessary dyes, fragrances, and harsh chemicals. These products contain skin and lung irritants that cause increased rates of allergies, asthma, and rashes in your family and pets. Instead, use natural, organic cleaning products that are healthier for you and the planet.

Step #2: Save Water
To reduce your bathroom's water consumption, retrofit your existing toilet with a dual-flush handle, install a low-flow shower head and faucet aerator, and reduce the length of your showers by a few minutes. With just a few tweaks, you'll save thousands of gallons of water each year without noticing a thing.

Step #3: Switch to Recycled Toilet Paper
By switching to recycle toilet paper, you will save old-growth trees from being cut down to make single-use disposable paper products. The newest recycled papers are soft, and the cost is comparable to traditional products.

Step #4: Replace Your Shower Curtain
New research shows that commonly used PVC shower curtains "off-gas" unhealthy chemicals that can damage your body. Instead, buy an environmentally friendly shower curtain made of organic cotton, hemp, linen, or coated nylon.

Step #5: Green Your Personal Care
Find eco-friendly alternatives for your hair and skin care. Buy organic products as much as possible, and use shea or cocoa butter as a moisturizer. Use recycled plastic toothbrushes and replaceable-head razors whenever possible.

Step #6: Reduce Energy
To reduce energy use in your bathroom, replace regular light bulbs with CFL bulbs - the newest bulbs have excellent light quality. Also, unplug all unused appliances (like hairdryers and curling irons) when you leave the bathroom.
Top 3 Summer Tips to Save Energy in Your Home
We all want to save energy and money in our homes, but do you know what changes will make the biggest impact? Read on to find out.

Tip #1: Be cool. Air conditioning uses more electricity than anything else in your home. Open windows and use ceiling fans to keep cool whenever possible. Program your thermostat to turn down the AC when you're out or sleeping. If you use a window A/C unit, make sure that it's properly sized to the area, and close off any unused rooms. Learn more here: http://www.aceee.org/consumerguide/cooling.htm.

Tip #2: Lighten up. Each time you replace a incandescent bulb in your home with a compact fluorescent bulb, you'll save an average of $9/yr in electricity costs. New CFL bulbs give off an inviting warm light, and you can find one to fit almost every fixture and lamp: http://www.aceee.org/consumerguide/lighting.htm.

Tip #3: Take a dip. Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees and install an insulating blanket around the tank. Better yet, use a tankless water heater and save up to 30% on your home water heating costs: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=gas_tankless.pr_gas_tankless.
Quick Winter Tips to Stay Warm and Green
Tip #1: Check to make sure your storm windows are in place to keep the cold from creeping in.

Tip #2: Install insulation in attics, walls, basements, and crawl spaces.

Tip #3: Double-check that your fireplace damper is closed when you're not using it.

Tip #4: Clear space around your heating vents and radiators, and make sure they are clean of dust and debris to work at optimal efficiency.

Tip #5: Keep your shades open during the day, and closed at night to retain heat.

Tip #6: Set up a yearly appointment to have your heating system serviced and make sure to replace furnace filters regularly.

Tip #7: Inspect your home for energy leaks, and when necessary install weather-stripping and caulk around doors and windows, and gaskets behind your outlet covers.

Tip #8: Use a programmable thermostat for automated heating and cooling.

Tip #9: Turn your heat down a few degrees at night, and try to keep it no higher than 68 degrees during the day.

Tip #10: Wrap your water heater in a heating blanket, and keep it between 110 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
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