Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
Windation Energy Systems has developed an urban-wind rooftop turbine designed for commercial and industrial buildings. Billed as “permit-ready” and “bird safe,” Windation’s 5 kW turbine resembles a commercial AC unit and leverages a proprietary vacuum system to purportedly amplify wind speed and boost energy output. The company’s first installation is expected this quarter in Palo Alto, CA.
CleanTechies aimed four questions at CEO and founder Mark Sheikhrezai.
Friday, January 22nd, 2010
Installing wind turbines or solar panels on homes that are not well-insulated or energy-efficient amounts to little more than “eco-bling” that makes owners feel good but does little to reduce carbon emissions, according to a study by the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering.
To meet the U.K.’s goal of making all new homes and buildings carbon neutral by 2020 and slashing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, the report said, the government should focus on making new buildings highly energy-efficient, retrofitting older buildings to improve their energy efficiency, and investing in large-scale wind and solar projects.
Monday, January 18th, 2010
Investing in energy efficiency is a critical piece of the climate change puzzle. Given that the built environment accounts for 39 percent of total energy use in the US, real estate investment represents one of the most effective ways to implement energy efficiency strategies. A recent report from Ceres and Mercer, reviewed in Environmental Leader, outlines the business case that investing in energy efficiency enhances value in real estate portfolios. The report draws on key industry and academic research on building efficiency’s economic impacts and outlines steps and best practices for leveraging efficiency in real estate investments, including pertinent case studies about TIAA-CREF and CalPERS.
Monday, January 18th, 2010
Many areas of the US have high background radon level in the ground. When radon gets into a home it can increase the resident’s cancer risk. How does radon get into a home?
The most common way is through cracks in basement floors, walls, and sump pump sumps. In the winter, if a furnace or boiler is in the basement, the chimney can act as a depressurization device since combustion air is vented to the outdoors. If the basement is tight, and there is no source of combustion air, the heating system (and water heater too) can depressurize the basement. If there is radon in the soil gas below the house, this depressurization will increase radon infiltration through cracks and sumps.
Another infiltration route is through groundwater. In areas with elevated radon in rock formations, and in homes using on-site wells for water, the water carries radon into the shower where it vaporizes to gaseous radon.
Sunday, January 17th, 2010
DaVinci Quest, a Colorado-based, for-profit company that seeks to address the world’s top ten problems, has announced an international competition designed to find a practical, affordable approach to greening lower-priced homes. The contest will focus on innovative technologies that can make a house smarter, safer, and greener on a budget.
The Smarter, Safer, Greener House Contest is being hosted in the city of Longmont, Colorado. The criterion for winning the contest requires a team to renovate an existing house in Longmont by designing an integrated system using available technology. A total of 50 teams is being sought to compete for a minimum cash prize of $500,000 up to $5 million. (more…)
Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
There are plenty of companies and individuals that are cashing in on the green building market proliferation, but how is a designer, contractor, or home buyer supposed to decipher the information and separate greenwashing from legitimacy? Unquestionably, there is no shortage of information on the subject – right or wrong. Unfortunately, there are very few adequate resources that have mainstream appeal and effectively represent the sustainability movement from the various perspectives of all of the individuals that need to be involved.
I came up with this long list of rhetorical questions. My intention is to illustrate the disconnect that seems to be prevalent among industry professionals, design clients, the media, and the general public regarding sustainable building.
Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Outdone by an tower extending over 800 meters in Dubai, the world’s former tallest building, Taipei 101, wants to become the highest green structure by completing a checklist of clean energy standards, a spokesman said on Monday.
Taipei 101 will spend T$60 million ($1.9 million) over the next year to meet 100 criteria for an environmental certificate that it would hold over Dubai, spokesman Michael Liu said.
The office-commercial tower that reigned for five years as the world’s highest building at 509 meters (1,670 feet) expects the U.S-based Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design to give it the certificate in 2011.
Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Matt Macko who helped develop the new LEED exam and is a principal at Environmental Building Strategies about his role in the creation of the new exam.
As part of his daily work, Mr. Macko consults with clients who are interested in obtaining LEED certification for their building or who desire to use green building techniques and/or build as sustainably as possible.
Mr. Macko was selected to help develop the new LEED exam for a number of reasons, including his desire to advance the industry and his work in helping his clients understand the most important concepts and options for their projects. His commitment to the industry is obvious; he is a LEED Accredited Professional, RESNET Energy Rater, Certified Energy Plans Examiner, Certified Green Building Professional, Certified Sustainable Building Advisor and Chair of the Bay Area LEED Users Group (BAyLUG).
Monday, December 21st, 2009
Authors Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, renowned city planners who brought the issue of suburban sprawl to the forefront of the national debate, have come together again with The Smart Growth Manual, which details the path to creating better, greener and environmentally-friendly communities.
CleanTechies caught up with Speck for three questions on better living through planning.
CleanTechies: When you hear the term smart growth, what does it mean to you?
Jeff Speck: It’s the opposite of sprawl. And sprawl is identified as growth that spreads out at low density, separates uses and relies on automotive transportation and has a concomitant disinvestment in city centers. So smart growth is the attempt to reverse those trends, or to continue the momentum that’s already been begun toward reversing those trends.
I have a specific message for CleanTechies: Sustainability is about systems. Unless we approach our footprint systematically, we’re just kind of nibbling around the edges. And I think almost all of the gizmo green solutions to climate change and post-peak oil challenges are nibbling around the edges without getting to the meat of the problem.
Friday, December 18th, 2009
How do you force a company that earns money by selling power to reduce its sales? This conflict of interests is what the state of California faced in the 1970s and the result was the formation of the California Public Utilities Corporation (CPUC) an agency that oversees the publicly owned utilities in the state and regulates the amount those utilities can charge. A major goal for the CPUC? Disincentivize the utilities from increasing sales.
Energy use across the United States has grown steadily both on a per capita basis and in total for the last 30 years. California is one of the few states that has been able to control its per-capita energy use over the last few decades. In fact, the per capita utility use curve in California has been almost completely flat since the late ‘70s which many find amazing considering the overwhelming increase in technology in our lives. The way California has done so is as startling as it is strange: beauracratic wisdom.