In the mid-1980s, Amory Lovins, co-founder, chairman, and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, built an efficient, 4,000 square foot home in Colorado for living and working. By today’s thinking, the home is a little larger than most greenies would prefer, but it was built to be 90% more efficient than a traditional home of its size. That’s pretty impressive, especially at a time when the panels on the roof of the White House were being taken down for “repair.”
About two days after hearing that Coolerado had won the Western Cooling Challenge for the hybrid commercial version of this technology, I saw this on a newly built home. This is what appears to be the M50 Coolerado. Coolerado says they have the most efficient air conditioning system made — it uses up to 90% less electricity than a traditional air conditioner, depending on the humidity and elevation above sea level. High and dry works best; see how:
We've all heard the numbers before, but here's a nice little chart with a helpful breakdown of information. Buildings account for roughly 40% of all U.S. energy use. Or stated with more particularity, residential buildings account for 22% of all U.S. energy use and commercial buildings account for 18% of all U.S. energy use. When you parse the numbers out, here's where that energy is used:
The energy management space is really crowded, and the pace of innovation is hard to keep up with. While researching the various options on the market, I saw an opportunity to learn what one company's doing. Vantage, a long-time provider of home automation solutions for luxury homeowners, is located down the road in Orem, Utah, and the company just released a new Energy Management Solution. It's designed to save homeowners upwards of $600 – $1,500 per year, and the Vantage was kind enough to give me a tour of their offices to see how the solution works.
Unless you live in a cave, you’ve probably heard about McKinsey & Company’s new report called Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy. Starting in 2008, a research team from McKinsey began working with companies, experts, agencies, and NGOs to (1) understand the net present value (NPV) positive potential of energy efficiency gains, (2) identify barriers to realizing these gains, and (3) outline practical solutions to unlock the potential energy efficiency gains. This comprehensive report documents that effort.
There's been a lot of talk about various green building provisions in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (HR 2454 or "ACES"), but there's one specific section of ACES that deserves more attention. Section 204 needs to be included in the green building discussion, because this is where the Building Energy Performance Labeling Program is. With this program, as we predicted with our Seven Green Trends, the federal government could lay the foundation for true and legitimate building environmental impact labels. Let's talk about this unprecedented policy, with a little background discussion.