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!

techarsenalinfographic

 

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.

Window Energy Ratings2

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.

Window Energy Ratings3

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.

Window Energy Ratings5

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.

Window Energy Ratings6

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.

Window Energy Ratings7

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

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

Carbon Footprint of the Digital Age – Infographic

Footprint-recycle

This infographic looks at the impact the digital age is having on the environment. Taking proactive steps to lower your carbon footprint means more that switching of lights and reducing the amount of times you drive your car. Every time you switch on your computer or digital device CO2 is released into the atmosphere and polluting the planet.

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By |September 4th, 2016|Conservation, News|0 Comments

Passive Home That is Just Perfect

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The so-called Right-Sized Oak Park Home, designed by architect Tom Bassett-Dilley is a great example of how a passive and sustainable house does not need to be about giving up comfort and other modern conveniences. It boasts of a number of sustainable features and certifications, yet still fits right in with the other houses in Chicago’s Oak Park neighborhood, which is famous for its Frank Lloyd Wright house.

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By |August 7th, 2015|Passive House|2 Comments

Guinness Goes Green

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It’s always nice to see businesses taking steps to go green. Diageo, the company that manufactures the world famous Guinness beer, has recently opened a new brewhouse, which has been awarded the LEED Platinum certification. Brewhouse No. 4 as it is called, is located at St. James’s Gate in Ireland and it was also awarded the BREEAM Outstanding certification in 2014.

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By |April 27th, 2015|LEED|0 Comments