Talking Small Wind with AWEA; House + Senate Mull Small-Wind Tax Credit Legislation


I love blogging, I really do.  Blogging enables me to connect with and learn from some really smart people.  For example, last week I posted that I’d be in Washington, D.C., and I received a flood of suggestions and ideas for enjoying the greener side of the city.  My friends at Edelman (Tristan + Kate) lined up a meeting with small-wind expert, Ron Stimmel, at the American Wind Energy Association’s Headquarters.  It was awesome.  I was able to sit down with Ron and talk about a pretty big development in the small-wind industry right now. 

Recently, Senators Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) introduced legislation ("Rural Wind Energy Development Act" (S. 673)) that would allow purchasers of a small wind system to receive a credit on their taxes for a portion of the turbine’s total cost, or $1,500 per 1/2 kW of capacity.  The five year credit would apply to all wind systems with capacities of under 100 kW used to power homes, farms or small businesses.  The same day I was in town, a similar version of this legislation was also introduced in the House, H.R. 1772, by Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.).  According to current estimates, small wind is suitable for about 15M homes and 1M businesses in America.  If you want to get involved, Stimmel recommends calling your representative and asking them to co-sponsor the legislation.  Get it moving. 

According to Stimmel, "This would be the first federal incentive in 20 years to help individuals – homeowners, farmers, and small business owners – buy a small wind turbine."  I asked him about some of the hurdles the industry is going through and he was positive about the direction small wind is going.  Small wind needs reputable companies manufacturing the turbines and installers need to be well-trained to make sure the turbines get the best wind.  Maybe in the near future, there could be some type of certification system for installing small wind, which could be a significant boost to the technology.  At least for the moment, having these tax credits puts small wind within reach for many homeowners, farmers, and small business owners that could desperately use the technology.

By |April 5th, 2007|Gadgets, News, Wind|0 Comments

More Than Another Prefab: Muji Prefab


My values and beliefs were partially created through my experience living in Japan.  I like minimalist.  I like clean, sharp lines.  I like modern.  I like small, but functional.  I appreciate that a grain of rice means something, especially when times are tough.  And this is why I’m excited to hear the news of Muji coming to America.  Technically Mujirushi Ryohin, roughly translated as no-name quality goods, is the full name.  Muji is coming to the US to influence consumers that dig the no-brand, minimalist style sans in-your-face product identifiers.  I wear shirts inside out just so the brand doesn’t show sometimes, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to offer.   

Muji has 387 outlets in 15 countries, including 34 stores in Europe.  America is next on their expansion plans with a store starting in Manhattan, and the possibility of stores to follow in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco.  Muji sells all sorts of stuff, such as socks, a front-loading washer/dryer combo, cardboard speakers, aluminum business card holders, and even a line of prefab homes (starting at $115,000).  Not all their products are green, but they are of the modern aesthetic.  Choose wisely, I say.  Also, we’ll have to wait and see, but I’ve heard rumors that their stuff isn’t cheap.  Some people compare them to IKEA, but with a Japanese flavor.  Let’s see how the Manhattan opening goes.  See BusinessWeek + Muji (Japanese). 


By |April 4th, 2007|Modern architecture, Modern design, News, Prefab|0 Comments

Jetson Green in D.C. this Weekend, Ideas?

100x100_question_2I’m going to be in Washington D.C. with a team of MBAs for a real estate case competition this weekend.  I have some free time both Friday and Sunday and would like to delve into the greener side of D.C.  Any ideas?  I’m up for anything. 

By |March 28th, 2007|News|0 Comments

Green Building = Buzz, but Localization = Key

Cameron_armstrong_metal_home_2 Green building articles abound, but it’s important to note the subtle differences in perspective, which may change depending on the writer’s geography.  An article may give green building advice that doesn’t make sense in your geography.  Take this Houston article for instance.  It’s a good read.  In Houston, the climate requires an innovative balance of green building techniques.  Houston is hot and humid.  I won’t say it’s the armpit of America, but it’s hard to keep dry in that place.  Here are a couple examples of localization in green building. 

  1. Passive Design – Houston architects suggest putting most of your windows in a north/south orientation because the east/west orientation draws too much heat into the home and doesn’t allow exposure to the cool breezes that blow from the southeast in the summer. 
  2. Materials – Houston architects will building with metal, as opposed to brick or stucco.  Metal reflects the sun, while brick holds in heat and stucco is prone to mold.  Unfortunately, metal doesn’t work for all applications, so you have to balance and make trade-offs. 

Rule:  Consult a knowledgeable professional to pick the optimal green building strategy that effectively considers the ramifications of the local geography and materials on your site.  It’ll pay dividends later when you actually start to occupy the building and use it.  Pictures via Cameron Armstrong Architects, a Houston architectural firm with several metal homes in their portfolio. 

By |March 26th, 2007|Gadgets, Modern architecture, News|0 Comments

Zero-Energy Issaquah Town Homes, GreenSource + ENR Get Neals, + Bahrain Wind Turbine Towers (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Ten "Zero-Energy" Town Home Community Planned in Issaquah, Washington [Seattle Times]
  2. McGraw-Hill Construction’s GreenSource Magazine and Win Neal Awards [PRNewswire]
  3. Bahrain Twin Skyscraper Complex Becomes World’s First Commercial Development to Include Large-Scale Wind Turbines in its Structure [GE Eco-Business]
By |March 23rd, 2007|News, Week in Review, Wind|0 Comments

Quotable: RK Stewart, FAIA

Rk_stewart_faia_2 "Climate change, carbon emissions, greenhouse gases, green design–call it what you will.  The need to change how we inhabit the planet to avoid catastrophic consequences is now widely accepted…in the year ahead I plan to work with the AIA board’s Sustainability Discussion Group to aggressively advance sustainable design and the key role the AIA can and our members must play to engage the great challenge confronting our generation–the future of our planet."  – RK Stewart, FAIA, Principal at Gensler, AIA President

Via Eco-structure

By |March 23rd, 2007|News|0 Comments