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The Most Polluting Industries In The World

pollutionScientists have been sounding the alarms about climate change for decades, but unfortunately we are still completely dependent on digging stuff up and burning it for our main sources of energy. The United States gets 39% of its energy from coal, which is ok from a national security standpoint until the acid rain makes our water undrinkable. Natural Gas pollutes 30% less than coal and the U.S. gets 27% of its energy from that source, but there are still significant pollution issues. And, of course, there is a threat of a meltdown, but mainly the radioactive waste is dangerous for 240,000 years.

People have been looking for alternative energy sources for decades, but progress in getting them installed means less than 15% of the energy produced in the United States comes from renewable or clean sources. Hydropower is the largest sector of green energy in the U.S., responsible for almost 7% of the power production. It is, however, not without its own issues- dams can endanger ecosystems, so hydroelectric power has to be done properly. Wind is an emerging energy sector at almost 4.5% of America’s power grid. Just one percent of power produced in the U.S. comes from solar or geothermal sources, though that number is always increasing with improvements in technology.

Transportation is one sector where small improvements in efficiency can have a huge impact. Increases in mandatory fuel efficiency have decreased air pollution since the 1970s. Continuing to increase efficiency will continue to improve the environment. Biofuels have also shown promise in decreasing pollution. Now many people are even driving hybrid electric and full electric cars. When powered with solar power they produce zero emissions, and even when they get their power from traditional sources they still pollute less than traditional internal combustion engines.

Learn more about the arsenal of green tech being employed to reduce pollution from this infographic!

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By |September 11th, 2016|Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Green Tech|0 Comments

The Basics of Window Energy Ratings

Window Energy Ratings1

Things feeling a little drafty in your neck of the woods? If you notice yourself shivering every time you walk through your home, it may be time to think about buying a new set of windows. But a lot has changed for windows in the past decade or so. Specifically, the products on the market now have gotten a lot more efficient, thanks to material and design improvements that help reduce drafts and keeping heating and cooling inside your home, where it belongs.

However, unlike a washer and dryer, where the end game for efficiency is pretty much the same across households, buying the right energy-efficient window depends a lot on the climate in your area. For instance, if you live in the North, you might want your windows to allow in more passive solar heat than you would if your home was in a warmer part of the country. And getting the recipe just right for your region can seriously affect your home’s energy consumption.

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NFRC Ratings and ENERGY STAR Certifications

To help homeowners make sense of how different windows behave in various climate conditions, the National Fenestration Ratings Council created a system for gauging their performance. The NFRC runs a voluntary program which tests different products for both their heat loss and gain, as well as the amount of visible sunlight windows allow into your home. After a product has been tested, a label displaying the ratings can be applied to the window’s packaging and product brochures.

These ratings are used to determine whether or not a window can be labeled as ENERGY STAR certified, meaning that it meets the EPA’s minimum criteria for energy efficiency. This certification is a sure sign that a window will be more efficient than one that doesn’t bear the ENERGY STAR label—however, if you want the maximum energy efficiency, you may need to dig a little bit deeper. A minimum requirement is just that—the minimum. So you may find that slightly higher or lower ratings are needed to keep your home comfortable and to truly save money on your energy bills. To help you pick out the best window for your area, let’s take a look at each individual rating and what it means.

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U-factor Ratings and Climate

A window’s U-factor indicates how much heat escapes through a window once it’s installed. Most windows rate somewhere between 0.15 and 1.20 for U-factor, although the lower the U-factor, the better the window is at preventing heat loss. That doesn’t necessarily mean the lowest U-factor you can find is the best, however. In hotter climates, a slightly higher rating may actually be ideal, since it will keep your home from overheating throughout the winter. For instance, the minimum U-factor requirement needed to achieve ENERGY STAR certification is 0.27 or lower in the country’s northernmost reaches, whereas it’s only 0.40 or less in the south. To view the minimum U-factor requirements for each region, check out the EPA’s program requirements.

When shopping for windows, make sure the U-factor has been determined by the NFRC, however, since the ratings council tests the whole window—including the frame and insulation—for overall performance, rather than basing its rating on just how the glass performs. A window’s frame is one of its weak points, so a product that hasn’t been tested for leaks in this area may not perform as well.

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Solar Heat Gain Coefficients and Extreme Temperatures

On the other side of the equation, there’s a window’s solar heat gain coefficient, or SHGC. This measure indicates how well a window’s glazing shades a home’s interior, preventing heat gain from solar radiation. You’ll want to pay particularly close attention to your window’s SHGC if you live in a warmer climate, since reducing excess heat in your home can make your AC work more effectively. A rating below 0.25 will serve you well in these areas—the lower the SHGC, the better the window is at shading your home.

However, northern homeowners who find themselves saddled with high heating expenses may also find their window’s SHGC a useful measurement. Higher heat gain coefficients can be used as a passive heating technique to lower HVAC energy consumption in the winter. To do so, it’s important to balance the SHGC with the appropriate U-factor rating to achieve a beneficial equivalent energy performance. These comparisons can also be found in the North Climate Zone table in the ENERGY STAR program requirements.

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Air Leakage Also Plays a Role in Energy Efficiency

While a window’s U-factor rating gives an indication of how much heated or cooled air escapes through the window, there’s also a separate measurement for how much outside air a product allows into a home. This is the Air Leakage, or AL, rating. The lower a window’s AL rating, the less air it allows inside. In order to be labeled as an ENERGY STAR window, it should measure no higher than 0.30 cubic feet per minute.

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Visual Transmittance Helps with Lighting Expenses

The previous measurements express how a window affects your home’s heating and cooling efficiency. But that’s not the only benefit energy-efficient windows can provide. Windows with a high Visual Transmittance (VT) rating also allow more visible daylight to filter into your home, which can be used in the daytime to offset lighting costs. Lighting a home typically makes up about 10 percent of a home’s total energy expenses, so a little relief there is helpful. To help homeowners understand the relationship between a window’s VT and SHGC ratings, the NFRC also created the Light-to-Solar-Gain rating, or LSG, which indicates how effectively a window allows daylight into your home while still shading the interior from solar heat gain. If you’re hoping to use VT to reduce your lighting expenses, it’s a good idea to look for products that display an LSG rating as well—the higher the number, the more light you’ll get without excess heat.

If you’re smart about your energy ratings, you can effectively use your windows to reduce energy costs in your home. When you see the rate of return on your energy bills, the time you invested reading and understanding window measurements will seem well worth it.

Author Bio
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for
Modernize.com, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.

By |September 10th, 2016|Energy Efficiency, Green Building|0 Comments

Smarter and Greener: The Future of Building

Print The face of construction is changing fast as innovative technologies introduce smarter and greener building methods and materials to help the industry’s future meet consumer demands to save energy and the environment.

 


Inspiration from the way termites build their mounds has engineers at Harvard researching swarm robotics, which are thought to be the way forward. This pioneering technology uses robots which can multi-task rather than just being programmed to carry out one duty. This means should a robot malfunction another can immediately take its place to get the building completed on time.

3D printed houses are another area where designers are looking to change the face of construction. This type of housing is already in existence in China and have been tested by the WinSun company, while DUS architects in the Netherlands are also experimenting using 3D printed buildings. Coupled with swarm robots, 3D printed houses could potentially be built virtually anywhere, including other planets or the moon.

Construction materials are also under constant research and development. Some of the latest innovations include Aerogel Insulation, an ultra-strong, lightweight, see-through aluminium that has super-insulating properties and Microalgae which has the ability to produce renewable energy and provide shade.

The infographic offers an insight into these new building materials and construction methodologies. It also takes a look at some buildings that are leading in the way in smarter and greener construction, including the Crystal in London and The Edge Building in Amsterdam.

With smart buildings breaking the mould from design and conception, the materials being used to the way they are built, they are showing us how to be more eco-friendly and potentially increase productivity without having detrimental effects on the world around us.

Using renewable energy sources, having their own recycling abilities and using data collection to make working spaces more efficient, smart buildings are becoming a reality on a global level.

Infographic courtesy of RubberBond.co.uk.

Cleaner and Smater Green Technology

By |September 8th, 2016|Green Building|0 Comments

Green Technology Used to Combat Climate Change – Infographic

sustainability

Image Source – greenbuilding.org.au


Scientists have been sounding the alarms about climate change for decades, but unfortunately we are still completely dependent on digging stuff up and burning it for our main sources of energy. The United States gets 39% of its energy from coal, which is ok from a national security standpoint until the acid rain makes our water undrinkable. Natural Gas pollutes 30% less than coal and the U.S. gets 27% of its energy from that source, but there are still significant pollution issues. And, of course, there is a threat of a meltdown, but mainly the radioactive waste is dangerous for 240,000 years.

People have been looking for alternative energy sources for decades, but progress in getting them installed means less than 15% of the energy produced in the United States comes from renewable or clean sources. Hydropower is the largest sector of green energy in the U.S., responsible for almost 7% of the power production. It is, however, not without its own issues- dams can endanger ecosystems, so hydroelectric power has to be done properly. Wind is an emerging energy sector at almost 4.5% of America’s power grid. Just one percent of power produced in the U.S. comes from solar or geothermal sources, though that number is always increasing with improvements in technology.

Transportation is one sector where small improvements in efficiency can have a huge impact. Increases in mandatory fuel efficiency have decreased air pollution since the 1970s. Continuing to increase efficiency will continue to improve the environment. Biofuels have also shown promise in decreasing pollution. Now many people are even driving hybrid electric and full electric cars. When powered with solar power they produce zero emissions, and even when they get their power from traditional sources they still pollute less than traditional internal combustion engines.

Learn more about the arsenal of green tech being employed to reduce pollution from this infographic.

techarsenalinfographic

By |September 7th, 2016|Energy Efficiency, Green Tech|0 Comments

Sofa Beds for Tight Spaces

Sofa beds aren’t what they used to be. Now there’s really good quality sofa beds to choose from, ranging from wide variety of styles, comfort and budget.

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If space is an issue, sofa beds are a great addition to your household, offering adaptability and flexibility. You can use them in any room and today’s sofa beds are far more comfortable than the ones you slept as a youngster. However, as with anything in life, there are a few things you need to know before taking the plunge. Here are six vital points to consider when buying a sofa bed.

The Mattress is Critical

Sofa beds come in all shapes and sizes, but the most important feature is the mattress. A good mattress can add a little extra to the retail price of the sofa bed, of course. But they will also last for years and keep your guests comfy whether they are sitting or sleeping. If the foam mattresses that are available these days are a little out of your price range, consider buying a topper. They will add that little extra layer of comfort and are a lot more affordable. There are also some huge health benefits from using the right mattress.

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Decide on Your Frame

Hardwood frames are thought to be one of the best materials for sofa beds – particularly kiln-dried hardwood. It makes for a durable, more comfortable sofa that will last for many years.

Measure It!

Don’t make the mistake of buying a sofa bed without taking measurements first. Don’t forget that the bed will extend when you use it – you might be surprised at the amount of people who make this mistake! You will need to keep your sofa bed in a reasonably clear area. You don’t want to be moving hundreds of objects out of the way every time a friend stays over.

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They are Perfect for Saving Space

Your sofa bed can also save you a lot of space, so make sure you are taking advantage. It’s especially the case if you live in a small home or are furnishing a tiny room. Not all of us are blessed with enormous homes, and many people don’t have space for a guest room. But with a small, compact sofa bed you still have options when it comes to having guests over. However, be aware that the bigger hardwood beds can sometimes take up as much space as a standard sofa or single bed!

Always Check the Mechanisms

You have to be comfortable with using the folding mechanisms of your sofa bed. Some can be tricky to operate; others can have sharp edges that cause issues with your sheets when you are making your bed. Make sure that you try out your bed to get to know it, and find out if it is suitable for you. The best beds are easy to operate, and anyone can put them up in a few seconds. You should look for a very smooth mechanism if you don’t want to suffer frustrations in the future.

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Make Sure You are Comfortable With the Weight

High-quality sofa beds can be heavy, due to mattress thickness and the use of sturdy materials to make them. It can cause problems with people that aren’t strong enough to operate them. It also might be an issue when it comes to getting your sofa bed up a flight of stairs. Make sure you are strong enough to operate your bed before making your purchase – or you’ll never get to enjoy using it!

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Author Bio
Kevin sleeps and breathes interior design. He first got into interior design when he moved into a tiny city flat and needed to research creative ways of living in a functional area whilst space was a premium. Interior design and space saving is now a passion.

By |September 6th, 2016|Furniture, Products|1 Comment

Deltec Homes Introduces DIY Collection

CAMDEN B-Very Low Res CROP

Deltec Homes, high-performance prefabricated homes, introduced their line of homes specifically targeted to do-it-yourselfers. Using the same material and prefabrication method as their custom homes, the DIY Collection consists of predesigned, standardized home packages ready to go straight to production, eliminating design fees and reducing lead time.

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By |September 17th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments