Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mayor Annise Parker Announces the Start of the $205 million Bayou Greenways 2020 Initiative

$205 Million Bayou Greenways 2020 Project To Create 150-Mile System Within Houston's City Limits Funding Made Possible Through Unique Public-Private Partnership

Mayor Annise Parker, the Houston Parks Board and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) announced the start of the $205 million Bayou Greenways 2020 initiative designed to create a 150-mile greenway system within the city limits.  The project is a result of the 2012 proposition B bond election passed this past November with overwhelming voter support (68% voting margin).

"Thank you Houston!  Because of your support the Bayou Greenways 2020 project will create a 150-mile system of parks and trails within the city limits on the banks of our bayous," said Mayor Annise Parker. "This project is truly a partnership project with city, county, nonprofits, businesses and many more interested parties joining together to connect trails and parks.  Bayou Greenways 2020 demonstrates our combined commitment to parkland and greenspace that has been shown repeatedly to enhance our quality of life and competitiveness here in Houston. This project truly showcases Houston's can-do attitude."

The $205 million Bayou Greenways initiative is funded by $100 million from public commitment funding (Proposition B passed in November 2012) and $105 million in private funding.  The construction of trails and related facilities will be funded using public commitment funding.  Land acquisition and trail design (prior to construction) will be funded by private sector funding.

"It's a great day in Houston!" said Joe Turner, Director Houston Parks and Recreation Department. "Bayou Greenways 2020 will propel our city's park system to new heights.  It takes the best ideas put forth by early developers of Houston's parks and moves them forward in ways they never dreamed.  The parks system of the future is born today and will improve the way Houstonians use their recreation time and greenspace forever."   

In the agreement passed today, the Houston Parks Board re-commits to matching the public funding - dollar for dollar - by providing $105 million in private funding to match the bond funding.  Thus far, the Houston Parks Board has raised a total of $20,000,000 as part of this private commitment, opening the way for over $20 million worth of work within the next year.  

"This is the largest urban park project in the nation; but, the beauty of it relies on its simplicity," said Roksan Okan-Vick, Executive Director of the Houston Parks Board.  "Our mission is to secure the equitable distribution of parkland for our entire region, and these bayous have no boundaries, connecting neighbor to neighbor, and homes to businesses throughout our area.  We are so grateful to be a part of this historic effort by this administration."

The completion of Bayou Greenways 2020 fulfills a 100-year-old vision presented by urban planner Arthur Comey in 1912.  His vision to unite the city with grand greenspaces along the bayous will come into being by creating 150 miles of continuous and accessible parks and trails along the major bayous within the city.  Those bayous reflect Houston diversity and crisscross the entire region.  They include: Brays Bayou, Buffalo Bayou, Greens Bayou, Halls Bayou, Hunting Bayou and White Oak Bayou.  In addition, Clear Creek and the San Jacinto River are included in this project. Bayou Greenways 2020 will be completed in multiple phases over seven years (expected to be completed in 2020) and will positively impact every council district.

Today's agreement also provides for transparency and accountability. All construction plans, trail alignments and design of trails and/or trail related facilities are subject to HPARD approval.  All construction contracts are subject to approval by City of Houston Legal and General Services Departments.  A reliable long-term maintenance agreement between the City of Houston and the Houston Parks Board is also envisioned, and will establish reliable long term funding sources for ongoing maintenance of the Bayou Greenways 2020 trail system.  This agreement will be negotiated between the City of Houston and the Houston Parks Board and presented to City Council for approval no later than December 31, 2013, with implementation set by July 1, 2014.  Contractors will comply with MWSBE requirements according to Chapter 15 of City Code.

This document has more details and maps of the project locations.

About Bayou Greenways 2020
Bayou Greenways 2020 is part of the larger Bayou Greenways initiative being funded through a unique public-private partnership. In the November 2012 election, Houston voters approved a major bond referendum providing $166 million in parks funding, $100 million of which is dedicated to Bayou Greenways 2020. Overwhelmingly, the bond passed with 68% of the votes – the most positive referendum in the city’s history.  For more information on Bayou Greenways 2020 visit  For more information on Bayou Greenways initiative visit

About the Houston Parks Board
The Houston Parks Board, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, was created in 1976 in response to a request by Houston’s major foundations and civic leaders who wanted to contribute to the city’s park system through an organization that would represent their needs and desires. Since its inception, the Houston Parks Board has raised and leveraged millions of dollars and touched at least 75% of the City’s parkland either through acquisitions and/or capital improvements. For more information on the Houston Parks Board

About the Houston Parks and Recreation Department
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) stewards and manages over 37,832 acres of parkland and greenspace for the City of Houston and develops and implements recreational programming for citizens of all abilities. For more information about HPARD, call (832) 395-7022 or visit

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Incredible Renovations Shares Home Design & Building Techniques - Going the Extra Mile

Incredible Renovations shares Advanced and Efficient Framing Techniques for New Homes (or Additions) From the EPA

One of the best debris reduction techniques for minimizing the amount of material used in construction is advanced framing (also known as Optimum Value Engineering) (PDF).
Advanced framing refers to lumber layout and usage techniques that minimize the amount of lumber used to construct a house without compromising its structural integrity. It can improve a home's energy efficiency and durability, and reduce construction costs. Also, by optimizing the amount of lumber used to frame homes, more space is created for insulation in exterior walls. This helps to eliminate cold spots, which are susceptible to condensation, and mold growth.
For more information on advanced framing techniques, go to:
Another green option is to buy a prefabricated or manufactured home. Many of these homes are built using advanced framing techniques and are designed to use smaller cuts of lumber that would be considered waste in designing a typical stick-built home. Modern prefabricated homes are often well-bulit and more energy efficient than homes constructed on-site.
Design New Homes for Deconstruction/Renovation
Architects and builders typically do not design homes with easy renovation or deconstruction in mind. The average U.S. family moves every 10 years. Homes often undergo many renovations over their lifetimes, or complete building removal is carried out to make room for a newer home.
When building a new home, consider long-range goals and work with your architect to create a design that is adaptable for future needs. Designing a home for deconstruction or renovation proactively addresses changes in a home's structure by: 
  • Designing for durability and adaptability.
  • Using fewer materials to realize a design.
  • Design for salvaging materials
  • Using fewer adhesives and sealants, making it easier for construction professionals to salvage useful items and valuable building materials including lumber, fixtures, hardware, and appliances.
By designing homes to facilitate future renovations, and eventual dismantlement through deconstruction, a home's systems, components, and materials will be easier to rearrange, recover, and reuse. Thus, designing for deconstruction maximizes the value of a building's materials, while reducing environmental impacts. It also creates adaptable homes that can be more readily reshaped to meet the changing needs of owners.
For more information on designing for deconstruction or renovation, go to:
Source EPA
For more information about remodeling or renovating, please contact Incredible Renovations at 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

U.S. Federal Government Cuts U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Seven furlough days to be paired with holidays & weekends to ease impact

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is notifying the public today that it will close its offices nationwide on Friday, June 14 as a result of government-wide automatic spending cuts that took effect on March 1, 2013.   

HUD will resume normal operation on Monday, June 17.  We encourage those with business in HUD offices to plan accordingly.

HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.  HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. 

More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Incredible Renovations Says to Try These Home Design and Renovation Strategies

Home Design and Renovation Strategies

An estimated 170 million tons of building construction, renovation, and demolition-derived wastes ( commonly referred to as construction and demolition (C&D) materials) were generated in 2003.
Whether you are renovating your home, building a new home, and/or planning to conduct a full-scale demolition, you have several opportunities to reduce waste. This can be done in a variety of ways including, new home design and building techniques, better management of construction and demolition, and selection of salvaged and recycled content materials.

Better Management of Construction, Renovation, and Demolition Materials

Many of the waste materials generated from housing construction can be reused, refurbished, or recycled into usable products. 
  • Salvage useful materials - Instead of creating a pile of mixed materials when renovating or building your home, consider separating and salvaging useful materials, including lumber, fixtures, hardware, and appliances. One way to do this for an existing home is through deconstruction, the systematic and careful removal of materials from structures for reuse or recycling. Outlets are available in many areas to collect or purchase used and salvaged building materials, and some nonprofit organizations also accept used building materials.

    You can find local building materials reuse stores on the web.
  • Recycle - Many home components can be recycled where markets exist:

    - Wood can be recycled into reclaimed or composite wood products such as furniture and plastic/wood-composite decks, as well as mulch and other products. (Note: wood from decks, roofing or other outdoor applications was likely treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA), a hazardous substance, and should be disposed, NOT reused, recycled or burned.)

    - Asphalt, concrete, and rubble - These materials can be recycled into aggregate or new asphalt and concrete products.

    - Metals, including steel, copper, and brass, are valuable commodities to recycle.
You can find C&D debris recyclers at EPA Disclaimer
Reducing and recycling construction and demolition materials can reduce overall construction and disposal costs as well. Discuss salvage or recycling with your architect or contractor.
For more information on ways to better manage construction and demolition materials, go to:

Source: EPA

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Quick Tips To Reduce Waste in Your Home

The best place to start making a difference is right in your own home. Learn how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle materials to decrease household waste! Tips below will help you get started.
Quick Tips To Reduce Waste in Your Home:
  • Reduce food waste by using up the food you already bought and have in the house instead of buying more. You already paid for it - so use it!
  • Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can be donated to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters.
  • Reuse items around the house such as rags and wipes, empty jars and mugs, party decorations, and gift wrap.
  • Buy products in concentrate, bulk, and in refillable containers. They reduce packaging waste and can save you money!
  • Return used car tires to retailers or wholesalers that recycle or retread them. Tires are banned from most landfills, and illegally dumped tires become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests.
  • When buying products, check the labels to determine an item's recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials. Buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products available.

Monday, June 3, 2013

NAHB Says the time is Right to Buy a Home

During National Homeownership Month in June, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is telling young people that the time is right to buy a home, and the nation’s builders are building the homes they want.
“As the economy recovers and young people who had to live at home with their parents move forward with their lives and achieve their dreams of homeownership, home builders are delivering homes that cater to the floor plans, features and affordability that this generation desires,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder and developer from Charlotte, N.C.

More than 80 percent of Generation Y home buyers—people born in 1977 or later—said in NAHB’s 2012 consumer preference survey they prefer a highly energy efficient home that results in lower utility bills during the home’s lifetime over a lower-priced home without energy efficient features. Today’s new homes feature ENERGY STAR-rated appliances; windows, doors and insulation that better control the home’s interior climate; and other modern components such as tankless water heaters and HVAC systems that save costs on utility bills.

And cost-conscious young buyers will be happy to hear that a new home actually costs less to maintain than an older home. An NAHB study found that homes built before 1960 have average maintenance costs of $564 a year, while a home built after 2008 averages $241. Plus, mortgage rates are still very low, bolstering affordability for home buyers.
Generation Y buyers favor media and game rooms more than any other specialty rooms for their next home. New homes today not only contain these spaces, they are outfitted with the state-of-the-art electronic and wiring components that can accommodate high-definition televisions, full-house sound systems, hard-wired fire and security alarms and more.  

Young buyers can check out many of the outstanding designs and features being included in homes built by NAHB members at our social media communities and They can also access home buying and home building information and resources on NAHB’s website at

“The time has never been better for young people to become home owners, whether it be a new home or existing,” said Judson. “There are outstanding opportunities in the current market, with near record low interest rates, competitive prices and new homes being built that include open layouts, energy efficient components and other features that cater to young buyers.”

Source NAHB

Continuing Education Opportunities Available for Home Builders

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) have forged an agreement that makes it easier for individuals who hold builder and remodeler professional designations to take advantage of continuing education opportunities from both groups.

Industry professionals who successfully complete courses required for either NAHB or NKBA designations can earn continuing education hours from either syllabus. The number of credit hours granted is equal to the length of the class.

Holders of the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), Certified Graduate Builder (CGB), Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR), Certified Green Professional™ (CGP) and other NAHB designations can take courses for NKBA’s Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD), Certified Bath Designer (CBD) and other NKBA designations – and vice versa – to fulfill their respective continuing education requirements. 

“Expanding these opportunities will encourage even more home builders, professional remodelers and kitchen designers to take advantage of the excellent training and education offered by both associations,” said NAHB Education Committee Chairman Erik Anderson, CAPS, CGR, GMB, of Anderson-Moore Builders Inc. in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“The agreement provides building and design professionals a broader range of education options when trying to find courses to maintain their designations – and may spur NAHB and NKBA designees to earn designations from both associations,” said NKBA director of learning Nancy Barnes.

NAHB courses cover diverse topics such as aging-in-place remodeling, business management, green building and project management, while NKBA offers a similarly wide range of classes for kitchen and bath professionals.
This news comes on the heels of January’s announcement that the NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS) and the NKBA Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) will co-locate in February 2014 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“With this agreement, NAHB and NKBA members attending these shows can take advantage of both associations’ extensive education offerings – and now, they can do so at less-expensive member rates, no matter which association they belong to,” Anderson said.

“This agreement is a win-win for NAHB and NKBA professional designation holders and, ultimately, for the consumers they serve because members of both associations will have access to even more high-quality education opportunities,” he added.

Source: NAHB