Too Much Water?

By Mark Sandeen, Chair, Sustainable Lexington  |

Q:   Is it my imagination, or has Lexington been having many more large rainstorms in recent years?

A:   It’s not your imagination. When it rains, it pours. A new report on extreme precipitation by Environment America looked at precipitation data for the last 60 years and found that the frequency of extreme storms has increased by 81% in Massachusetts.  This is much faster than the national trend, which saw an average increase of 30%.  Extreme storms are also increasing in size as well as frequency – the amount of precipitation produced by the biggest storm each year increased by 25% in Massachusetts over this period.

Lexington DPW Rain Garden

Given this trend, it makes sense to design our storm water infrastructure to be more resilient.  The rain garden at the Lexington DPW building is one example of using natural systems to handle this increased rainfall while reducing the chance of flooding.  The Sustainable Lexington Committee is working with the Town to implement similar solutions for other areas that have experienced flooding during our recent extreme storm events.

You can read the full report here:

Q:   I’ve just completed an energy efficiency upgrade project for my home. Will my energy efficiency investment improve my home’s resale value?

A:   Yes, a study conducted by ICF Consulting and published in the Appraisal Journal found that for every dollar in annual fuel savings, the resale value of a home typically increases by $10 – $25. Another University of California study that tracked all the homes sold in California from 2007 to 2012 found a 9% increase in resale value for Green certified homes. The study controlled for key variables that influence home prices including location, size, vintage, and the presence of major amenities such as swimming pools, views and air conditioning. Both studies confirm that energy efficiency substantially increases the market value of owner-occupied homes.

The most important conclusion from this research is that homeowners can profit by investing in energy efficiency, even if they don’t know how long they will be staying in the home. If your energy savings exceeds the interest paid to finance your energy efficiency investment, then you will enjoy positive cash flow for as long as you live in your home and you can also expect to recover your investment in energy efficiency upgrades when you sell your home. On top of that, you can get a 7-year, interest-free loan for up to $25,000 of energy efficiency work from Mass SAVE. Check out their HEAT Loan information at

Make sure your appraiser and your real estate agent know you’ve made energy efficiency improvements and let them know about this important research.

Send your sustainability questions to We look forward to hearing from you.

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