Wednesday, January 27, 2010

LEEDing the way in Bloomfield

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices. LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED for Homes is a rating system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. Green homes use less energy, water and natural resources, create less waste, and are more durable and comfortable for occupants.

One enterprising Bloomfielder we know has spent the last year turning his recently acquired home into the first LEED Platinum home in NJ. We recently photographed the Innards before the drywall was installed. The home includes a geothermal heating and cooling system, energy efficient lighting and plumbing, closed cell foam insulation, zero-VOC paints, sustainable materials, and much more. Tomorrow we tour the nearly completed home. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fannie Mae -- Not?

Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Barney Frank said Friday "I believe this committee will be recommending abolishing both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their current form and coming up with a whole new system of housing finance." The Treasury has poured more than $100 billion into these two quasi-government institutions, providing a government backstop to Fannie and Freddie in their role as guarantors of more than $5 trillion in home mortgages.

According to one perceptive blogger: "Fannie and Freddie stood ready to make a market in these toxic assets, to provide the liquidity so that the profit-seekers could lay off the risk on another entity. Without Fannie and Freddie the whole rotten mess couldn't have happened. They didn't point the gun and they didn't pull the trigger; but they sold the bullets. They were enablers that allowed the greedy bankers to successfully realize their aims."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Greenopolis focuses on changing the world through recycling, waste-to-energy and conservation. Greenopolis rewards visitors for their sustainable behaviors on their website, through their GreenOps Tracking Stations as well as with with curbside recycling programs.

Each time you recycle using the GreenOps Tracking Station, you receive a receipt indicating the number of items recycled and a deposit statement with a prize code redeemable for points at Applications are also in development for scanning at home, school and from your mobile phone.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New FHA Rules to Speed Foreclosure Sales

The Real Estate Industry has been buzzing with news out of Washington that should have a major effect on investors interested in the foreclosure market. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a temporary policy yesterday that will expand access to FHA mortgage insurance and allow for the quick resale of foreclosed properties. The announcement is part of the Obama administration commitment to addressing foreclosure.

FHA currently prohibits insuring a mortgage on a home owned by the seller for less than 90 days. This temporary waiver will give FHA borrowers access to a broader array of recently foreclosed properties. "This change in policy is temporary and will have very strict conditions and guidelines to assure that predatory practices are not allowed," Donovan said.

"FHA borrowers, because of the restrictions we are now lifting, have often been shut out from buying affordable properties," said FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. "This action will enable our borrowers, especially first-time buyers, to take advantage of this opportunity." The waiver will take effect on February 1, 2010 and is effective for one year,

The new FHA rule will open doors that have been closed before, not only because of the new FHA buyers, but also because it removes much of the stigma over property flipping by helping to preserve property values.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Helping the Homeless in Haiti

During my early photojournalistic years, I spent an unforgettable Thanksgiving weekend in Haiti during the reign of Papa Doc. I'll never forget the beauty, dignity, and graciousness of the people I encountered in spite of their intolerable living conditions. Hunger, brutality, and shantytowns co-exicted with a flourishing tourist industry. Upon hearing about yesterday's catastrophic earthquake,
I was especially concerned, because a journalist friend, of many decades, Tequilla Minsky, had been sending Facebook updates of her latest trip there. For many years, she had been reporting on Haiti's culture and it's emigre community in NYC. Tequilla's silence was finally broken with this post on Facebook: "7. 0 or so...many building have collapsed but not the Oloffson(hotel), which is my home...all is fine here (i arrive about 2 hours before this happened)." She was then able to upload her stunning photographs to to the NY Times before anyone else.
There are many ways you can help:
UNICEF requests donations for relief for children in Haiti. You can also call 1-800-4UNICEF.On the Internet:
You can easily donate through Wyclef Jean's foundation, Yele Haiti. Text "Yele" to 501501 and $5 will be charged to your phone bill and given to relief projects through the organization.
Locally, Farm 2 Bistro suggests dropping off relief supplies at 177 Franklin Ave. in Nutley from 11 am -10pm. Free gift in return for every donation.
Baristanet and Huffington have many other opportunities for support.
•Operation USA is appealing for donations of funds from the public and corporate donations in bulk of health care materials, water purification supplies and food supplements which it will ship to the region from its base in the Port of Los Angeles. Donate online at, by phone at1-800-678-7255
CARE Telephone: 800-521-CARE (800-521-2273) On the Internet:
Updated property damage reports can be found here:
News of the NJ connection to Haiti can be found at North

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lay an Egg Over Easy for a Spare Room

You wouldn't need a very big yard for this super-cool modern addition.
According to, it was designed by the Belgian firm, dmvA and constructed of polyester. Since it can pass for art and can be dropped anywhere via crane, it could apparently skirt local building codes -- perhaps even here in Bloomfield.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Way We Were -- Last Week

We've carved out a unique niche in the NJ blogosphere that somehow keeps us hopping around this top ten list. Expect to find us somewhere over or under the rainbow next week.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Look to the Rainbow

We were looking for an optimistic perspective on such issues as foreclosures and tax sales, not to mention land developers. Throw in a few more controversial issues like immigration, racism, the national debt, and political corruption and you have key elements to Finian's Rainbow. We were lucky enough to catch the rarely revived Broadway musical satire this week and found it as topical as it must have seemed when it opened in 1947. The musical's economic themes — the perils of easy credit are among them — seem even more relevant today. It's also a lot of fun with unforgettable musical numbers. In spite of rave reviews, it's closing on January 17th.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Time to Reflect






Happy, Healthy, Joyous and Prosperous
New Year from our house…
To yours!
Love and Peace….

Geoff and Rebecca