Monday, October 5th, 2009
With the recent surge in money going towards renewable energy research and implementation, many people are forgetting a key factor in reducing our impact on the environment: energy efficiency.
Utilizing renewable energy in your home or commercial building is great, don’t get me wrong, but before this expensive option is employed, you should first look at the efficiency of your home or building’s energy systems.
If your building wastes energy, you should prioritize improving this aspect and use the money that you had set aside for a renewable project to accomplish the task.
Monday, September 28th, 2009
Next week one of the premier events in the world of green building, water, energy, clean tech, social innovation and what many call the “new economy” will occur in San Francisco at the Fort Mason Center.
Billed as the “world’s largest conference on green innovation” for buildings, West Coast Green runs from Oct 1-3. It’s packed with presentations such as “Greening Existing Buildings: The Biggest Piece of the Low Carbon Puzzle,” “The Smart Grid Meets Smart Buildings” and “The Water & Energy Nexus.”
The conference is expected to draw over 14,000 attendees and a veritable who’s who in the world of green and clean technologies. Authors, CEOs, government representatives, entrepreneurs and inventors will show off and discuss innovative new products that can help us create a more sustainable world.
Thursday, September 24th, 2009
Several interesting CleanTechies articles on LEED have covered the topic from different angles — this one will add a new perspective by giving a commercial example (and make a strong case for going green).
What is LEED?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The certification is given based on an exam facilitated by the Green Building Certification Institute on behalf of the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Multiple structures and projects are eligible for LEED certification and each is judged based on a set of criteria. LEED ratings are available for New Construction, Existing Buildings, Commercial Interiors, Core and Shell (total building minus interior), Homes, Neighborhood Development, Schools and Retail. Points are given in six categories including: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation & Design Process. Based on the score a structure receives, it will receive a label which allows an easy understanding for just how many of the LEED features the project incorporates.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
Abu Dhabi is going far beyond its borders to build a zero carbon footprint city in Masdar. Clean technology leaders from across the global are helping to build Masdar City, which is being designed to use only renewable power and convert its waste to energy.
The innovative city of 40,000 will have no cars and recycle all of its waste, and is scheduled for completion in 2016.
An Australian firm, LAVA architects, recently won the bid to design the city center of Masdar with a European-style plaza.
America’s General Electric has a prominent role in Masdar, partnering with the Mubadala Development Company on financing programs and clean energy research. GE is also establishing an “ecoimagination” research center in Masdar.
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
I don’t know if it is Obama or Al Gore but the US government is starting to understand the need for sustainability. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama in February to stimulate the sagging US economy. By injecting $690 billion to improve infrastructure the authors hoped to create millions of jobs pulling the US out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Interspersed within this $690 billion is $60 billion for green projects of which $45 billion is going specifically towards energy related programs. Within this $45 billion most will go directly towards the green building industry with some additional monies going towards large scale renewable energy production.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
Israeli solar energy companies such as Solel Solar, Aora, Ormat technologies, and a host of others are now world leaders in the development of sun power to produce electricity. But Israel, a small country of 7 million, with more than half its land area being desert, has been a solar energy pioneer virtually since its beginning in 1948.
What is now fondly known to many Israelis as a “dude shemesh” or sun boiler, was invented by a guy named Levi Yissar back in the early 1950’s, when electricity was very expensive due to a severe energy shortage.
Thursday, August 27th, 2009
umissgym: Is it just me, or is it hot in here?
The social media craze has hit building automation, as the campus at the University of Mississippi will soon be broadcasting its energy consumption via Twitter and Facebook updates.
In partnership with smart grid company SmartSynch, Ole Miss has created online feeds (also via RSS) detailing several of its main buildings’ energy use, ostensibly to “alter behavior to reduce electricity consumption and carbon emissions.” The UMiss project will study consumption from lighting, temperature controls, and appliances. The organizations have created an online application to monitor and report the energy draw so that building operators can learn where energy is being wasted and implement new conservation strategies.
Friday, August 14th, 2009
The Obama Administration in March announced $5 billion in funding to weatherize low income homes, but today little of that money has been spent. The logjam of Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) money that should be going to upgrade windows and insulation has been blamed on the Departments of Energy and Labor because of confusing rules over wage rules.
According to the DOE half of the money has been sent to the states. But many states have not distributed funds to the cities and local community organizations for fear of running afoul of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act. The rule was instituted to ensure fair wages on public works projects.
Federal weatherization programs have existed for 30 years, but this is the first time that Davis-Bacon rules were applied. Lacking a precedent of what are fair rates for weatherization laborers, many states have been waiting for the Department of Labor to set guidelines. The DOL is to issue rules for 15 states today, with the remaining state guidelines to be out by the end of August.
Thursday, August 13th, 2009
One year after opening, and about two years after construction began, the Poh Ern Shih Temple (or Temple of Thanksgiving in English) is looking great. I’m dropping by to visit the temple and check out progress on this green Buddhist sanctuary.
The place is bustling with activity, and thankfully the first phase of construction has now been completed. On the day of my visit, several different religious study groups are in session upstairs, catering to the younger members of the Buddhist congregation. I locate Boon, the temple president, just before lunch and we sit down for a chat.
“The building performance has been great,” he tells me. “We’ve generated 15 megawatts of power from our first phase PV systems so far in the first year, and we’re going to install another set in our second phase of construction.”
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
It is understandable why some utilities might be hesitant to embrace smart grid technology. It’s expensive (Repower America says implementation will cost upwards of $400 billion) and at the same time will reduce their ability to sell their core product (energy).
Getting the utilities and regulatory agencies on board requires ample amounts of carrots (financial incentives) and sticks (limiting carbon emissions), according to energy efficiency experts Portland Energy Conservation Inc (PECI).
PECI’s new report “Wiring the Smart Grid for Energy Efficiency goes into deeply depressing detail about the many formidable challenges to implementing the smart grid. Among the toughest to tackle are that buildings are ill-equipped to participate in demand response systems, and the near total lack of interoperability today between grid equipment and building energy management tools. There’s also a lack of university and professional training programs to fill the gaping hole in HVAC engineers who can maximize energy efficiency programs.