One of the best and most exciting parts of my job is helping make homes and businesses more efficient. Why? The places where we live and work consume 40% of the energy we use in the U.S. Through tune-ups to existing homes or new construction, doing more while using less energy is key to improving our buildings and energy future.
The U.S. retailing giant, Home Depot, is now selling a super-efficient, LED light bulb for just under $20, and the chain says that the bulbs are selling so quickly that it is having difficulty keeping them in stock. LED bulbs, which emit a brighter light than energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, can last as long as 30 years, which makes their $20 price tag appealing; not long ago,
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.
Last week, I spoke at two events that helped underscore the extent to which President Obama’s Recovery Act is paving the way for a clean energy economy.
Before an audience of green affordable housing developers at the Communities of the Institute for Professional and Executive Development (IPED) annual conference, I
Picture a neighborhood block somewhere in your town. It might have single-story homes for 10 families — complete with front porches, sidewalks and green lawns. Or instead that block might have a single apartment building that houses 50 families over five floors. What we know is that each of the families — whether they’re living in a detached house or a mid-rise apartment — pays away some of their hard-earned dollars to pay for energy. And for many low-income Americans, these energy bills absorb a significant amount of the family income.
Now imagine that teams of trained experts come down that block and install measures to help those families save energy. Insulation, caulking, weatherstripping, windows, better furnaces or water heaters. So families’ energy bills go down and their comfort goes up. We call this ‘weatherization’ — and it’s happening in more than 82,000 homes as part of the Recovery Summer.
We talk a lot about the need for America to lead the world in green manufacturing, and with good reason: a strong green manufacturing sector will create good, domestic jobs and boost exports, all while helping us reduce carbon emissions and break our dependence on foreign oil.
But it’s not just talk. We’re taking action to re-establish that leadership, and what’s happening today, down in Louisville, Kentucky, is a perfect example of how we’re going to do it.
Vice President Biden was in Louisville yesterday to visit a General Electric facility called Appliance Park, where
In the past few weeks, the Northland Pines Third Party LEED challenge has exploded, the Washington Building Industry Association sued the State of Washington to enjoin their energy code from taking effect, and a private lawsuit which could potentially turn into green litigation emerged onto the scene. In other words, the wave of green litigation which I first predicted back in 2007 has arrived.
It’s likely that you’ve heard of EnergyStar and seen the recent headlines about US Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency efforts to ensure that appliances are as energy efficient as the blue EnergyStar label indicates. It’s less likely that you’ve heard of a parallel DOE effort to ensure that minimum energy conservation standards are being met.
Because mandatory efficiency standards apply to the manufacture of appliances and therefore are less noticeable to the consumer, standards don’t often make the six o’clock news. However, DOE is actively taking on the enforcement of standards as shown by the recent headlines on the website of the DOE General Counsel:
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.
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.
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.
On November 16-17, 2009 in Beijing, China — one of the pioneering countries of clean technology — the U.S.-China Green Tech Summit will share innovative solutions to deploying renewable and energy efficient technologies. The conference is expecting over 300 clean tech leaders from the United States and China, including speakers from BP Solar, General Motors China Group and UC Berkeley. It will discuss and analyze international projects that will aid in development of sustainability, alternative energy and more.
As official media partner of the U.S. China Green Tech Summit, CleanTechies is happy to offer you a special discount of $300 dollars off the ticket price. Simply mention “CleanTechies” when you register.
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.
For the fourth year in a row, Europe has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions, with CO2 output falling by 1.3 percent in 2008.
The recession appears to be the main factor in the emissions reduction, as factories were idled across the continent. But European Union Environmental Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the EU’s emissions trading scheme and development of renewable energy sources also is playing a part in the reduction.
“This is a timely message to the rest of the world in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate conference,” said Dimas.