Green building gaining traction in the Cape Fear


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When you think green you might think money, you might think the environment but saving money and the environment could be going hand-in-hand in the Cape Fear region.

One example of how people are looking to reduce their carbon footprint is having solar shingles installed on their roofs. Solar shingles are small panels shaped like regular roof shingles that capture sunlight and store the energy.

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Maureen Rea had them installed on her roof looking to save some money and help the environment.

“It’s the thing of the future, why not be part of that,” said Rea. “Have a roof that’s going to last more than 40 years, instead of taking off shingles and adding them to the landfill and getting money back from Duke energy, it’s sort of a two-way street.”

Jake Albert is from DOW Solar the company that makes solar shingles. He said an average solar system can cost around $40,000. He said that might seem like a lot upfront but with incentives it could be manageable.

“You’re probably going to see 65 percent of that back in tax incentives from the state of North Carolina because it’s a roofing product it is very much considered part of the solar tax incentive,” said Albert.

The federal solar tax incentive is 30% and the North Carolina tax incentive is 35%.

Albert said often times people get enough out of their solar system to see a return on their investment.

“The return on an investment could be anywhere from 10 to 15 percent, we’ve even seen 17 or 18 percent return on investment,” said Albert.

But green building goes further than just adding solar shingles to a home.

Stephen Thomas, chairman of the U.S. Green Builders Council’s Cape Fear branch, said a lot goes into building sustainable structures.

“All the decisions we make when we design buildings, how they affect us economically, how they affect the people that live and work and play in those buildings and how it affects the environment,” said Thomas.

Thomas adds that they want to make using natural resources and environmentally friendly building methods a standard in construction.

New Hanover County is in on the green building trend as well. The county building is set to reopen after renovations with some new features including a garden on the roof.

Joey Lawton, superintendent with Monteith Construction, was the general contractor on the building’s renovations. He said the garden roof has many benefits.

“It captures about 25 percent of storm water runoff, it also increase the life span of the roof by 200 percent,” said Lawton.

Lawton said the plants protect the roof from the ultra violet rays and keeps the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter. County officials said this could save the county a projected $16,000 a year in utility costs.

Jared Taylor, New Hanover County Energy Program Specialist, said they hope others will follow their lead when it comes to sustainable building techniques.

“Others seeing the success that we have, they’ll inquire how we did this, how things are working, and they’ll incorporate those things in their practices as well,” said Taylor.

According to LEED, the organization that sets standards on green building, sustainable construction projects are projected to contribute close to $40 billion to the state economy from 2015 to 2018 as well produce 461,000 jobs.