Residential solar systems for electricity and heating water are most often installed separately, competing for limited roof space and the greatest amount of exposure to sunlight. Some newer hybrid models are overcoming this situation by combining photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal technologies in an integrated system that uses the same surface area to capture
Chuck Colgan, CA Center for Sustainable Energy
When people learn the facts about energy efficiency and are aware of critical energy issues, such as rising costs, dependence on foreign oil, increasing greenhouse gases and the like, they will change their energy behaviors to help save money and the earth. Sound right? Well, as it turns out it isn’t, and according to Social Psychologist Wesley Schultz, education and awareness
Once a building or facility manager has an ENERGY STAR statement of energy performance in hand they’re ready to set goals for improvements that will raise their rating but are often faced with no budget and minimal management support. The key to turning that situation around is showing how common best practices that cost little or provide quick payback can create both
The most unusual place to harvest energy from the sun is perhaps also the most effective and efficient – underground. Earth absorbs nearly 50 percent of the sun’s radiation that reaches the surface and stores it as heat that can be used to warm up or cool down homes and other buildings – without polluting the environment. All you have to do is exchange it between
When businesses consider strategies to increase energy efficiency, they look for the sweet spots where actions that shrink their company’s energy use also lead to boosting the bottom line. The key is to find upgrades and retrofits that will achieve a quick payback by lowering energy costs,
The image of living in a steel cargo container usually conjures up scenes of poor, third-world communities, but Los Angeles architect Peter DeMaria sees their conversion into modern urban homes as an environmentally sustainable idea that will fit into most any neighborhood. While designer Frank Lloyd Wright was famous for his “destroy the box” philosophy, DeMaria
As restaurateurs struggle to keep their business afloat with fewer customers, some are turning to greening as a way to stand out from competitors, from serving local foods to making deliveries in hybrid electric vehicles. When greening includes energy-saving strategies, the benefits can increase profits in addition to helping the environment.
For those who want a custom home made with more sustainable materials, the choices are rather diverse – many more than the straw, wood and brick of Three Little Pigs fame.
Most of us live in traditionally constructed houses and buildings, but we’ve all heard about the unique homes made out
Find home and building energy envelope leaks with infrared cameras by doing it yourself, hiring a professional – or becoming one!
Look as hard as you like, but you can’t readily see if inadequacies hidden in and around walls, ceilings, windows, doors and air ducts are wasting energy, keeping
An abundance of technology upgrades offer ways to reduce energy use in commercial facilities.
Trimming energy consumption in commercial buildings is an objective in the campaign to curb fossil fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that is attainable by upgrading mechanical systems with improved technologies.
There are choices for reducing energy use in almost all functional areas of a commercial facility, according to energy expert David Wylie, vice president of ASW Engineering Management Consultants of Tustin, Calif., “as long as owners are willing to look beyond initial costs to see the long-term gains in lower utility costs, less downtime and increased building equity.”
Wylie outlined the latest developments in technologies for commercial building energy efficiency in seven broad categories during a daylong workshop held at the California Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego, Calif.
Power purchase agreements and solar leases can eliminate up-front costs and are ideal for commercial use.
When considering solar energy for your business, what you really want is the power, so why shell out for the system? That’s the basic scheme of financial agreements known as power purchase agreements and solar leases that cover up-front equipment and installation costs while the customer pays only a monthly amount.
Does this sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t, but the process can be rather complicated and contracts become very complex, according to Matt Lugar, vice president of sales at Stellar Energy in Rohnert Park, Calif. Lugar outlined the primary types of financial structures available for solar and the impacts of the 2008-09 financial crisis on the marketplace during a workshop held at the California Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego, Calif.
Declaring that today’s green movement should use the same organizational approach as the 1960s civil rights movement, environmental advocate Jerome Ringo called for people of all social and economic levels need to be included in building a clean, healthier future during a recent talk in San Diego.
One of the nation’s foremost environmental leaders, Ringo spoke about the latest policies and practices that are spurring clean-tech industries and the green job marketplace at the California Center for Sustainable Energy while he was visiting San Diego to participate in events celebrating Earth Day 2010.
Ringo described the green economy as a race by nations to become leaders in developing clean technologies that can reduce dependence on foreign oil, prevent global warming and put people to work. One of the best ways to do that, he said, is to engage people who have not been traditionally involved – the poor, low income and minorities – who usually spend a greater percentage of their income on household energy and gasoline and often live in areas with the worst environmental conditions.
The next wave of California legislation aimed at reducing the state’s energy consumption and meeting mandates for reduced greenhouse gas emissions is set to wash ashore in January 2011 when Assembly Bill 1103 goes into effect. Its approach has commercial building owners, facility managers and real estate brokers throughout the state scrambling to understand the new law and begin collecting the data necessary to get a high-performance energy rating and keep their properties competitive.
Unlike California’s stringent Title 24 building energy efficiency codes that regulate standards for commercial construction and renovations, AB 1103 comes into play when a building is sold, leased in whole or refinanced. Along with the usual financial and transaction disclosures, it requires that building owners provide 12 months of energy-use information, or energy benchmarking, using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager.
AB 1103 is one of the ways the state legislature is working to help achieve the greenhouse gas emission reductions mandated by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, also known as AB 32. Commercial buildings account for more than 35 percent of electricity consumption in California and are significant contributors to the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The belief that jobs in the solar industry are limited to working on the roof or chasing after sales leads is not really accurate today as other opportunities are available and increasing, according to solar career expert Liz Merry.
Merry, owner of Verve Solar Consulting in Davis, Calif., has been sharing insights and advice about the solar industry since 2001 through numerous courses, articles and blogs. Promising no hype and no panaceas, she offered solid advice for career seekers in the solar photovoltaics (PV) industry at a recent workshop at the California Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego, Calif.
Merry outlined four major steps every solar job seeker should follow to understand where he or she may fit into the industry: