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.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Americans Want Solar, Florida Green Builder, Google's Plug-in Investment + Green Design Litigation (WIR)
- Nearly 90% of Americans think that solar electricity should be offered on all new homes.
- Florida home builder decides that all its properties now and in the future will be green certified.
- Google Dot Org announced that it would invest about $10 M to accelerate development of battery technology, plug-in hybrids, and vehicles capable of returning stored energy to the grid.
- Need for green legal counsel becoming increasingly salient as green claims are brought against design professionals.
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.
The husband and wife team of Liz Miranda and Tim Rempel started Greenpads LLC in 2005, and 5th STREETpads is their first project. Matter of fact, this six-unit multifamily development received a slew of awards, including the 2006 Build It Green Award + 2006 Design Advocates Design Award for Multi-family Development. 5th STREETpads has six, 2-3 floor townhomes that vary in size from 1360-1640 sf. The development is a great example of comfortable, lower-impact living as a result of building up, not out. Here are some of the green features: Borrego solar system that provides up to 85% of each unit’s electricity; hydronic radiant floor heating with floor-to-floor thermostat control; blown-in wet cellulose and bonded logic thermal insulation; SIP panel roof system; low-VOC painting in all the units; FSC-certified Brazilian cherry flooring; large double-glazed, low-E windows and sliding doors for optimal natural lighting; skylights in all the units; green Italian laminate cabinetry; filtered water and Energy Star appliances throughout; and Toto low-flow toilets. These are incredible homes. And although some materials seem to have a heavy carbon impact due to shipping and transporting, we’re talking about a solid step in the right direction for the greening of multifamily real estate development.