Thursday, April 8th, 2010
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to visit Orlando to see first-hand some of the sustainability initiatives the city has underway through the Green Works Orlando program. Green Works Orlando is a citywide plan to promote environmental conservation and stewardship, energy efficiency in homes and businesses, and outdoor green spaces. Like Orlando, cities across the country are doing exciting and innovative things to make their communities greener and more sustainable.
My first stop was at one of Orlando’s six LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified fire stations. With a focus on energy efficiency and sustainability, the fire station has employed innovative techniques to save energy and conserve water. For example, the lighting and hot water are powered through rooftop solar panels, a cistern system collects rain water for use in the station’s toilets, and native plant species, which require less water, are planted around the fire station — including on the green roof.
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
The Shanghai Tower will be the tallest building in China by its completion in 2014, but that is not its biggest accomplishment. The term “vertical city” has been used to describe the cornucopia of spaces that it will offer including Class-A office space, a luxury hotel, high-end retail, and event space. This aspect still pales in comparison to the building’s biggest accomplishment, its innovation in green design.
With wind turbines, a complex rainwater collection system, two envelope layers that surround nine interior sky gardens, and an ingenious design that mitigates lateral loads from wind and reduces the necessary structural steel by over 20 percent, this building is setting the bar high for super-tall buildings. Remarkably, all of these sustainable strategies are being implemented in China.
To further explain the design process and to prove that sustainability in China is not that surprising, I asked Gensler’s Director of Architecture for the Northwest Region (who is speaking on behalf of the Shanghai based project team) a couple of questions regarding sustainable building in China and how the Shanghai Tower epitomized the emerging trend.
CleanTechies: I wanted to start off by asking you what the marketplace is like for sustainable building in China. Is it as popular or as big in China as it is in the United States? (more…)
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Los Angeles has the most energy efficient buildings of any U.S. metropolitan area, and nationwide there was a 40 percent increase last year in the number of buildings that received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star designation for efficiency, the agency said.
Ranked second on the latest EPA list is Washington, D.C., where an increasing number of federal buildings are going green.
Overall, nearly 3,900 commercial buildings in the United States earned the Energy Star, which recognizes buildings that perform in the top 25 percent among similar structures nationwide in energy efficiency.
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
For those unaware, Microsoft Hohm is an online service that allows consumers to see how much electrical power and gas they use in a given month, with suggestions on how to lower their consumption.
Microsoft recently updated this application with some new features including information pages covering every zip code in the United States and two dozen behavior recommendations for those who take the time to create a Hohm energy profile. Hohm also now features an energy breakdown dashboard that provides more detailed information about where your household is using the most energy.
Microsoft is not the only company getting in on home energy efficiency. (more…)
Monday, March 15th, 2010
A new 42-floor London skyscraper will be the world’s first building to incorporate wind turbines in the design, an innovation developers say will generate 8 percent of the building’s electricity needs.
The Strata Tower, a 408-unit apartment building scheduled to open in July, will be topped with three 19-kilowatt turbines — each with five 29.5-foot blades designed to suck wind from various angles and accelerate it through tubes, generating as much as 50 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.
It will also generate about £16,000 to £17,000 annually through the nation’s new feed-in tariff, the developers say. (more…)
Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
IBEW Local 569
Micah Mitrosky is an Environmental Organizer with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569 in San Diego. She is focused on the renewables sector and talked with CleanTechies about unionization plans for the green industry.
CleanTechies: What is the mission of IBEW Local 569?
Micah Mitrosky: Our mission is to make sure that as our economy shifts to a low-carbon, sustainable economy, that we’re creating middle-class jobs with health care benefits, skilled career opportunities. A lot of what you think of as the fossil fuel sector are middle-class, union jobs. We want to make sure that, as we’re bringing in these new greener technologies and new green ways of doing things, that we’re replacing those with better middle-class career opportunities.
CleanTechies: What’s your biggest challenge in doing that? (more…)
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
This article has been updated.
In her forthcoming book, Prefabulous + Sustainable, author Sheri Koones sets out to show how beautiful and green a prefabricated home can be.
The book is divided into three categories –- “green, greener, greenest” –- and the homes featured vary in style, design, type of construction and size. Koones walks the reader through each of the homes, explaining the materials, strategies and systems used to create a sustainable living environment. CleanTechies had a few questions about the methodology and the pre-fab industry.
CleanTechies: Tell me how you chose the houses you profiled.
Koones: I was looking for houses that were as sustainable as possible, but also attractive, in various locations of the country using different methods of pre-fab construction, and in city, residential and suburban settings.
CleanTechies: How did you find them and ascertain which ones you wanted to look at? (more…)
Monday, February 8th, 2010
The LEED green building rating system has seen unimpeded growth to this point. Will the impact of this growth, and the response of the U.S. Green Building Council, help or hurt the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program?
There have been 44,671 LEED projects registered and 6,908 certifications awarded – commercial and residential – according to a November publication by the United States Green Building Council. Interestingly, there are 133,489 LEED Accredited Professionals. Simply calculated, there are approximately three LEED APs for each currently registered project.
Saturday, February 6th, 2010
Hallowell International in Bangor, Maine, is the manufacturer of the Acadia, a combined heating and cooling system that can be combined with solar or wind installations to take users off the grid. The system can be installed in new buildings or can be retrofitted when consumers are considering green upgrades.
CleanTechies has three questions for president and founder Duane Hallowell.
CleanTechies: Acadia uses something called “boosted compression” technology. Tell us about that.
Duane Hallowell: Since the 1950s, heat pumps, which operate by exchanging air for heating and cooling, have been the most popular and environmentally-friendly heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) application. However, because they absorb heat from the outside air, they are inefficient in cold-weather climates, requiring additional, costly heating elements in order to work correctly.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Without question, energy-efficient and sustainable homes are legitimately gaining popularity. A very high percentage of new homes built this year – I have seen estimates as high as 40 to 50 percent – will be “green.” According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, almost 17 percent of all single family homes built in the United States in 2008 qualified for the Energy Star label.
Unfortunately, green home demand still does not approach the demand for conventionally-built homes; and without proper education and marketing, sustainable design and building may not emerge from the housing recession as solidly as some would hope. There are many obstacles that stand in the way of total acceptance and an increased market share.
How “green” is “green?”
There are many local, regional, and national green-building certification programs – private sector and government initiated – that provide systematic approaches for mandating, quantifying and verifying sustainable building practices, but all of the programs are not created equally.