Articles - Energy Efficiency RSS Feed

Smart Growth, Valuable Green Ideas, Energy Efficiency Investments + Affordable Green Developments (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Boston suburbs urged to adhere to smart growth principles or face the loss of open space and dwindling water resources. 
  2. There’s money to be made in green ideas; the business landscaped has changed from risk management to chasing revenue growth opportunities. 
  3. Businesses are investing in energy efficient measures for the main purpose of decreasing rising energy costs. 
  4. Enterprise Green Communities continues support for green buildings by handing out four grants of $70,000 to Los Angeles-based affordable housing developers. 

The Greenest Home in San Francisco – Clipper House by LORAX Development

The Greenest Home in San Francisco - The Clipper House

I read an excellent article about San Francisco’s Clipper House by LORAX Development in Solar Today magazine and wanted to share some info about it.  The Clipper House has become a showcase for residential sustainable features, basically showing off everything but the financial case for green building.  The 2,600 sf home was designed by John Maniscalco/Architecture, Inc., and was completed in the summer of 2006.  For a cool $1.9 M, you could probably purchase this incredible home–often referred to as the Greenest Home in San Francisco. 

If you do, here’s what you’re going to get:  1.7 kw DC photovoltaic array with BP Solar panels installed by SolarCity (total cost $16,700, net AR $11,543); 64 sf of solar thermal glazed collectors by Heliodyne ($6,750); warmboard radiant heating system using PEX tubing ($50,000); rainwater-catchment system by Wonderwater Inc. ($25,000); hemp carpets colored with vegetable dyes; low-VOC paints and caulks throughout; energy-efficient windows and doors; hardwood floors made from 100-yr-old TerraMai railroad ties from Southeast Asia; FSC-certified kitchen cabinets; Richlite kitchen counters made from recycled paper products; recycled blue jean insulation by Bonded Logic; 50-year warranty James Hardie fiber-cement siding made partially with fly ash; and recycled plastic and wood Trex composite decking.  The Clipper House certainly prioritizes energy-efficiency, properly sourced sustainable materials, and indoor air quality.  Real nice. 

Good Links:
++Pushing Boundaries, Advancing a Market [Solar Today]
++520 Clipper in Noe Valley: Smart, Green, Luxe [LORAX - PDF]
++Clipper Street Green Home Facts & Images [LORAX]

Armstrong's HQ Receives LEED-EB Platinum Award

Armstrong HQ

[Video: 4:25 min.Armstrong World Industries, Inc. (NYSE: AWI) is based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and operates in the business of designing and manufacturing floors, ceilings, and cabinets.  Their current headquarters was built in 1998 and is now part of an elite group of buildings to obtain the LEED Platinum certification for existing buildings.  Feel free to click the above link to see video of Armstrong’s HQ building.  The 3-story building is a glass and steel structure that has workspaces for about 235 employees.  Here are a few things they did to take the green plunge:

  • 60% of the building’s waste is recycled;
  • Building water use was reduced to 420,000 gallons (from 800,000 gallons);
  • Less than 1.5 watts/sf of energy is used, which is 1/2 the national average for comparable properties;
  • 75% of the building’s power is supplied by wind energy; and
  • Green Seal-certified cleaning products are used throughout the building. 

Now the question is:  if you own your headquarters, have you looked into LEED-EB certification through the USGBC?  We’ve seen Adobe & Owens Corning do it.  Now we have Armstrong.  Who’s next?

Good Links:
++Armstrong LEED-EB Facts & Information Page
++Armstrong Headquarters Receives LEED-EB Platinum Certification [PR]

Top 3 Ways to Green a Property's Energy Mix

Top 3

With all this discussion about the Senate Energy bill and renewable energy, I thought it was time to kick in and enunciate the ways property owners can elect to greenify, greenize, or make clean by going green, their property’s energy mix.  Generally speaking, there’s wind, solar, biomass, small hydro, and geothermal–all of which are considered ‘green.’  But there’s also nuclear, which is not green because of the radioactive waste; coal, which is not green because of the GHG issue; and natural gas, which burns cleaner than coal but also has GHG issues.  The American grid relies on all these sources of energy, some more than others, and governmental regulations will impact the way the game is played.  Nevertheless, here are three things that a building owner can do now to greenify the energy mix. 

  1. Purchase Grid Connected Green Power from Participating Suppliers – roughly 600 regulated utilities offer green power.  Here, it’s a matter of getting in touch with the right utility company that can service your property and setting up a purchase of green power.  It might be a little more expensive…
  2. Install On-site Green Power Generation – there’s been some talk of a federal "net-metering" standard, but until that point, we’re dealing with a piece-meal system of net-metering.  Check your locality.  Netmetering allows you to send excess electricity into the grid and run the meter backwards.  It feels good when the bills are low.  Every building is different, so one must be diligent to determine what green energy source would work for your location. 
  3. Purchase Renewable Energy Certifications (REC) – this discussion can get rather detailed, so I’m not going to get into this, but we’re talking about offsets here.  All I can say is be careful about who you choose to buy these things from.  If you’re careful, you can make sure the money actually goes to support investments in the right kind of green power.  I’d even suggest exhausting #1 and #2 before working with this alternative. 

Again, location to location, some green energy sources are better than others.  Be smart about it.  These three steps apply to all types of buildings (residential, commercial, etc.).  Also, remember the cardinal rule of energy usage:  conserve first, green second, offset third.  Also, check this incredible article in Buildings magazine called "Green Power’s Future is Now."  It’s an excellent article and what I used to frame this post.  Img.

The Science Barge by New York Sun Works

Energy1k

This is unusual, but incredible, in a weird way.  The Science Barge is a sustainable urban farm powered by solar, wind, and biofuels, and irrigated by rainwater and purified river water.  It’s a mobile illustration of growing food in the city with no pollution or carbon emissions.  Check the solar panels and small wind turbines.  I’m thinking this is another illustration of the savvy behind solar and wind power for residential use.  Via Archidose.

TheScienceBarge

Thoughts on The Clean Tech Revolution (Updated)

Thecleantechrevolution So I received from HarperCollins a copy of Ron Pernick + Clint Wilder’s latest book called The Clean Tech Revolution.  I’m a big enthusiast of renewable technology because it has the potential to change the world of real estate and green living.  Preliminarily, let me say that this book is an incredible read.  Seriously.  It’s smart and approachable.  To get an idea of the breadth of the book, here are the chapter subjects:  solar energy, wind power, biofuels and biomaterials, green buildings, personal transportation, smart grid, mobile technologies, water filtration, creating your own Silicon Valley, and clean-tech marketing.  And the book is geared towards individuals, investors, corporations, and governments alike. 

The authors are Clean Edge guys and they know what they’re talking about.  The research put into each topic is unbelievably thorough.  The Clean Tech Revolution is not some chump book by someone that just recently jumped on the green bandwagon (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  The authors talk about the tipping point of green brought about by six C’s–cost, capital, competition, China, consumers, and climate.  These six things have come together to make clean tech something of a revolution that will occur over the next 20, 30, 40 years plus.  It’s pretty exciting.  In each of the chapter categories mentioned above, the authors identify several companies to watch.  For instance, the authors say we should keep an eye on the following companies in the ‘green building’ chapter:  Aspen Aerogels, Clarum Homes, Cree, The Durst Organization, Interface Engineering, Ortech, PanaHome, Rinnai, Turner Construction, Wal-Mart Stores

Update:BusinessWeek published an extensive review over the weekend saying, in part: "But what sets Pernick and Wilder’s book apart is its focus on the business benefits of going green, from money saved by building eco-friendly corporate headquarters and lowering heating and cooling bills, to money earned by startups committed to creating clean technologies. Other books, magazines, and Web sites tend to include clean-tech and green business within a spectrum of other lifestyle, political, environmental, or design topics."

I’m not going to give away too much, but I’m really impressed with this book.  Actually, I’ve got two people in mind that I want to pass a copy to, and they’re not getting mine. 



Popular Topics on Jetson Green