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Austin to Require Zero Energy Homes by 2015

Austin

The City of Austin, after a year of serious research by the Zero Energy Capable Homes Task Force,  announced a huge initiative towards requiring all new single-family homes to be zero-energy capably by 2015.  Here’s how it works.  Today, the city adopted the first in a series of code amendments and a  road map of code amendments that will be implemented through 2015.  Due to this first series of changes, roughly 6500 new homes built in Austin will be about 20% more efficient.  Through 2015, as the code changes ratchet up the efficiency baseline, homes will end up using about 65% less energy than those built today.  Then, owners will have the option of adding solar or some other clean tech to get the home to zero energy status. 

Speaking of the Zero Energy Homes Initiative, Mayor Will Wynn said, "We’re taking action today that will lower the cost of utility bills, make housing more affordable, help improve air quality and take critical steps in the fight against global warming."  He continued, "The savings here are staggering – over the next ten years these policies will save homeowners almost $125 million on utility bills and have the same greenhouse gas reduction effect as taking almost 200,000 cars off the road."  It should be said, however, that home prices will increase slightly due to the initiative, but all those green Dell employees should be able to handle it, right?!  Speak with your wallet. 

Good Links:
++Zero Energy Home Initiative Approved [Austin Biz Journal]
++Mayor Winn Announces Action on Zero Energy Homes [ACC]

Sidwell Friends School, Anatomy of a Green School

Sidwell Friends School

The Sidwell Friends School is the first LEED Platinum-rated K-12 school in the world, but what’s incredible is the story behind it.  First, it’s a renovation of a fifty year old facility.  Second, the renovation involved the students, so everyone was able to participate and learn about the benefits of a green building.  Matter of fact, about sixteen 5th – 8th graders studied the building, wrote about its benefits, and recorded an audio feature explaining each green feature.  Feel free to take the green building tour to learn about low-VOC materials, CO2 monitoring, natural light, native plants, the green roof and biology pond, photovoltaic panels, a heat recovery wheel, vertical solar fins, and the settling tank, etc.  This is quite the impressive interactive visual/audio tour.  Seriously, great work. 

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IceStone, Gorgeous Green Countertops

Icestone_denim_sky_closeup

This articles was written by one of Jetson Green’s newest writers, Sarah Roe, an artist, art educator, and passionate environmentalist.  As you can tell from the article below, she has considerable knowledge and experience with green materials.  Welcome!

Here is one of the best looking, green countertop products on the market.  And it is beautiful!!  IceStone is made of 70-75% recycled material (glass mostly); of that, the post-consumer percentage is quite low (1-20%) but it is still a great product for LEED certification applications.  IceStone is available in a wide variety of colors, some very bright and some neutral.  My favorites are the Alpine White and White Pearl for neutrals and the Pistachio Pearl (green) for a bright accent.  This product is just as beautiful in person as you would hope for it to be.  It feels similar to Corian, even more stone-like, but it looks much more beautiful because of the array of glass moving through it.  Some colors, usually on the more expensive side, even have white iridescent pieces of shell throughout, which is a gorgeous touch. 

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Solar Decathlon: Attactive Green Homes

Solar Decathlon

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a friend on the scene in Washington D.C., providing us these exclusive shots from the Solar Decathlon.  The Solar Decathlon joins 20 college and university teams in a competition to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house.  And, as you can see from these images, this place is flooded with visitors.  I bet many of them are asking themselves, “what would it take to live in a home like that?”  “Why can’t I get a home like that?”  We’re seeing the essence of Jetson Green on display — this is the ultimate confluence of modern + green.

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PBS e² Series Returns with Pitt, Morgan Freeman

e2 design

"How did progress take priority over human mankind? …"  I’m the proud owner of season one of e² design, a six-part series that aired on PBS last fall.  I can’t wait for the next season and it’s coming soon.  Go check out www.e2-series.com.  Brad Pitt’s back with “e² design."  This grouping of shows will feature Thom Mayne, architect of the San Francisco Federal Building; Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia; and Adriaan Geuze, lead architect of the Borneo Sporenburg development in Amsterdam.  PBS also brought on rookie, Morgan Freemen, for “e² energy."  This segment will feature Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank; Amory Lovins, founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute; and Dr. José Goldemberg, Brazil’s former secretary for the environment.  This is excellent video content.  Incredible content.  Unbeatable content. 

Windbelt Micro-wind, 10 Times Cheaper Wind Energy!!

Frayne

[Run time: 2:05 min]  I hope you enjoy this short video of Shawn Frayne, a young inventor that has created this device to generate, on the micro-scale, energy for LED lights and radios in developing countries.  This is the first approach that uses aeroelastic flutter to create super cheap electricity.  We’re talking about changing the way wind energy is harvested and captured.  Frayne won a 2007 Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics, and he deserves it.  This incredible technology is 10-30 times more efficient than the best micro-turbines.  So, Frayne hopes to fund third-world distribution of the Windbelt through sales in first-world applications.  So inspiring … 

UPDATE:  EcoGeek reports that Shawn Frayne has launched the website for Humdinger Wind Energy.  Soon, according to the website, developer kits are going to be available for schools, researchers, and independents.

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