Archive for the 'Green buildings' Category

Now is the time to act in NY and NJ

OK, now that the election is over, can we please have an adult conversation about climate change?

Pretty please?

Climate change is real, it is not a hoax. The world is changing dramatically. Just ask folks in NY and NJ who never expected to have water in their homes, businesses and subways to the extent it happened. The water surged at the level it did because of rising sea levels.

Some are trying to get around the issue of how to deal with it by saying basically let’s not talk about why it happened, let’s just do something. But I don’t think that works.

As I tell my daughter, actions have consequences. They can be good consequences, or bad or somewhere in between. But every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Remember that from Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of motion in middle school science? How can you solve problems if you don’t know why something happened?

To President Barack Obama: congratulations on winning a second term. I was very pleased to hear you mention the climate in your speech (very) early this morning. It’s a start.

Now, it is time for you to take the lead on climate change,  something you failed to discuss during the campaign. I get it; you were being pilloried by the right for everything else, why give the climate deniers and Obama-haters one more sound bite?

But you have an opportunity, here, Mr. President. Hurricane Sandy’s overwhelming destruction should be used as an opening to re-make New York and New Jersey better, stronger and green. Use your powerful voice and speaking ability to rally the nation and use federal money to make it happen. If countries in Europe can put up gates to keep the water out, so can we.

And, please sir, don’t wait years like it’s taken in New Orleans. Grist.org published a story today about a Katrina-ravaged neighborhood that has been re-built into the largest solar project in Louisiana. That’s great, but Katrina hit in 2005.

Let’s not wait seven years to launch a new way forward in New York and New Jersey. Now is the time to act.

 

 

 

Group rates KY 37th in annual energy efficiency report

The non-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has released its annual report on states’ energy efficiencies.

While some states, including Nebraska, Alabama and Tennessee have made significant gains, “from transportation to industry to buildings, helping Americans save money and creating new business and employment opportunities across the U.S.”,  KY remains in the lower half, at 37th.

Here’s a link to the ACEEE’s map, showing how states rank, and also a link to Grist.org, which compared that map to the 2008 presidential election map.

Interesting comparison.

— Linda J.

Kentucky military bases taking the lead on saving energy and money

In many things, the U.S. military takes the lead and soon thereafter, the rest of the country follows.

From technology breakthroughs of all kinds to ending racial, gender and sexual orientation discrimination in the last 50 years, the military truly leads the way. Now, it’s leading in a new area: saving the environment, oh and saving huge sums of money along the way.

And two of Kentucky’s army bases are doing their part, according to a release Monday from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ environment group.

In the release, Pew states that the Department of Defense is “accelerating clean energy innovations in an effort to reduce risks to America’s military, enhance energy security and save money.”

Titled From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Forces, the report says DoD clean energy investments increased 300 percent between 2006 and 2009 and are projected to “eclipse $10 billion annually by 2030.”

The Pew report lists three main areas where  DoD is working to develop and use clean energy technologies:  vehicle efficiency, advanced biofuels and energy efficiency and renewable energy at bases.

In Kentucky, Army bases Fort Campbell and Fort Knox are setting standards. Here’s what the report said about each:

  • Fort Campbell- Ft. Campbell was the first in the Army to have Zero Energy HousingThese houses are designed to be 54 percent more efficient than any other house out there.  This is accomplished by an improved building envelope structure that includes better windows, and installing more efficient appliances and heating/cooling systems. The houses will also be able to sustain the power needs of the Family inside with an on-site renewable energy source in the form of solar panels mounted on the back exterior of the roof. Ft. Campbell also recently completed a roof top solar domestic hot water project for a dining hall on post. They also boast geothermal field wells on site (50) for their barracks.
  • Fort Knox- Ft. Knox uses geothermal energy to heat and cool buildings. In addition to its geothermal systems, Fort Knox has instituted cost savings with changes in insulation, lighting, windows, roofs, and domestic hot water. Biogenetic methane gas provides additional energy to cover the spike in costs of air conditioning during summer months. Ft. Knox is the first in the country and the first in the Army to use biogenetic methane gas. They have installed solar arrays and the tank and picnic area are illuminated by a photovoltaic system which cost $13,000 to implement, compared to the $70,000 that traditional electrical lighting would have cost. Another array of solar panels – or PV systems – were installed at Richardson Hall. That array has the capability to produce 100 kilowatts per hour. Ft. Knox has an experimental wind turbine as well.

— Linda J.

Going green, top 10 — my findings vs. ask.com’s findings

I recently accepted a challenge from ask.com who saw an earlier blog I did on finding companies that do no harm. They emailed me their “Going Green Top Ten questions” and their answers and suggested I try to find answers, too. So here are my findings and ask.com’s.

1. Why should I recycle?
Me:
More importantly, as my 6-year-old daughter asked the other day, “why don’t people recycle?” The National Recycling Council has its own Top 10 reasons to recycle. Read them here.
Ask.com: Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources.

2. How do hybrid cars work?
Me:
A hybrid car attempts to merge the best of gasoline- and electric-powered vehicles for reduced energy waste, while overcoming the environmental problems of gas and short use span of batteries.
Ask.com: A hybrid car has elements of both gasoline powered engines, and electric powered engines, which are combined in such a way that gas mileage is increased and pollution is decreased.

3. What was the recycled material used to make the 2010 Olympic medals?
Me:
“Each medal was made with a tiny bit of the more than 140,000 tons of e-waste that otherwise would have been sent to Canadian landfills,” according to ScientificAmerican.com.
Ask.com: Olympic medals have been made of gilded silver since the 1912 Games.

4. What is energy conservation?
Me:
Reducing the amount of everything we use because everything takes energy to make, create or build. It takes energy to pull the bauxite out of the ground to make foil, even though foil can be recycled. It’s turning off lights, unplugging things when you aren’t using them, and switching to energy-saving equipment and electronics, if not outright doing without them. And don’t forget the CFL bulbs, washing and cleaning full loads (clothes or dishes) and the like. It takes every piece of that and more to reduce the the energy we use to allow save energy and the environment.
Ask.com: Energy conservation is simply using less energy.

5. Where can I recycle batteries?
Me:
In Kentucky, go to: www.waste.ky.gov for a list of places that take recycled batteries and electronics.
Ask.com: Go to earth911.com to find battery recycling centers in your area.

6. What is the cheapest way to go green?
Me:
Check out the queen of saving money’s suggestions for going green at: Suze Ormans Guide to Making Low Cost eco-upgrades. She makes a lot of sense.
Ask.com: The best way to go green is also the best way to save money — use less!

7. What percent of people recycle?
Me:
According to a 2009 article on 911.com, “While 87 percent of people surveyed say they recycle, the U.S. EPA reports only 33 percent of our waste is diverted from landfills.” Makes me question how much that 87 percent is actually recycling or if they really do recycle. Our garbage has dropped more than 75% between recycling everything we can, composting even more and using fewer things like plastic bottles. Packaging matters.
Ask.com: It is estimated that only 70% of the U.S. population recycles.

8. Which city recycles the most?
Me:
Ok, I wasn’t expecting this: Lexington, Ky. was the only city, of those with more than 100,000 people, to score 5 out of 5 in the recycling/green perspective category of a survey by popsci.com in 2008. “Lexingtonians recycle everything from surplus electronics to scrap metal, and they listed the environment as their third most important concern (behind only employment and public safety) & the highest ranking in our survey.”
Ask.com: San Francisco ranks the highest on many survey-based studies on recycling and sustainability.

9. How does wind power work?
Me:
“Breaking it down to it’s simplest components, a wind turbine operates as follows: the wind turns the blades; the blades spin a shaft; the shaft connects to a generator; the generator produces electricity.” Source: ezinearticles.com.
Ask.com: The wind turns the blades of a turbine, which in turn spin a shaft that is connected to a generator. This produces kinetic energy, which the generator uses to produce electricity.

10. How will future generations be affected if we don’t recycle?
Me:
Read number 1 again and then ponder this: If we don’t recycle, we lose jobs, waste energy, create more pollution, greenhouse gases and more.
Ask.com: Higher fuel prices, increased consumer debt, dirty air, and decreasing wildlife population.

How did we do?

— Linda J.

Habitat for Humanity now recycles paint

Do you have half-empty paint cans taking up valuable space in your basement or garage because you don’t know what to do with them?

Here’s a great, local way to help the environment and a good cause.

Habitat for Humanity will take those latex paint cans and recycle them into new paints for purchase.

Called a “bulking operation”, the non-profit plans to take old paint and mix them into new colors.

The bulking involves “combining different colors of paint, separated into light and dark shades, in a 55-gallon mixing vat. In the beginning, two shades will be created, beige from lighter paint; gray from darker paint. Although each 55-gallon batch is a different tone, the paint is sold in 5 gallon buckets so customers have a significant supply,” according to a release issued Thursday.

Habitat has a tinting machine and will offer more colors down the road.

Latex paint can be dropped off at Habitat ReStore, 451 Southland Dr., or Habitat’s offices, 120 Industry Road.

Paint will be sold at the ReStore only.

Habitat already has some paint to start recycling, between the 30 tons dropped off at the city’s household waste on April 24 and because people have dropped off paint at the Southland Drive store even though Habitat didn’t officially take it before now.

“The ReStore already received a significant amount of donated paint and sold or gave away what we could, despite the fact that we weren’t really equipped to handle it,” said Habitat’s deconstruction manager Bill Wood. “We recognized the need for some better way of dealing with it and to hopefully create a uniform product out of the used paint.”

— Linda J.

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler gets kudo for green building bill

Here’s the release:

U.S. Green Building Ccouncil Names ‘Top 10 List’ of Green Building Bills

Praises American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and urges passage of pending bills in Congress that represent jobs and dollars for the economy

Honors Congressional members at reception today

Feb. 24, 2010 (Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) today released its Top 10 List of legislation advancing green building and the economic activity and jobs that come with it. Later today, Congressional members, including Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky., and Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, will be honored at an event for their support of green building.

“Green building saves energy, water and money,” said Roger Platt, Senior Vice President of Global Policy & Law, USGBC. “It is one of the most promising solutions to critical global issues such as climate change, resource depletion and dependence on foreign energy sources. These bills will create jobs and pump money into our economy.”

The USGBC Top 10 list honors The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and spotlights nine other pending bills in the House and ten in the Senate that represent the best proposals to advance green building. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law last February, dedicates more than $22 billion for energy efficiency projects, including $346 million for energy-efficient building technologies specifically.

“The Members of Congress and Senators we are honoring are all demonstrating bold leadership toward a clean energy future, a sustainable built environment and a sustainable economy,” Platt added.

The Top 10 List includes bills that have been introduced in Congress in the last year that would enable innovative financing for home-owners and building-owners to make efficiency improvements, increase and extend incentives for improving our schools and existing building stock, and encourage job growth and training in new fields of building energy management and retrofits.

“Our country will rise and fall based on how we educate our children, and study after study shows that where children learn has a huge impact on what they learn,” said Rep. Chandler. “Not only will this bill begin to fix our crumbling public schools, but it will create local jobs that cannot be shipped overseas, save energy, and during these tough economic times, make a significant long term investment in our country’s most valuable resource, our children.”

“With our crippled economy, continuing energy crisis, and changing climate, Americans need timely and effective solutions to set a new course for how we use and think about energy,” said Sen. Snowe. “Energy efficiency has emerged as one of the most effective and expeditious actions that can be taken to preserve valuable resources for producers and consumers. I am pleased to work with Senators Feinstein and Bingaman to build upon the success of past tax credits and provide critical energy efficiency tax incentives that will spark innovation in our housing and commercial building sector and pave the way for economical and environmentally-conscious living.”

The Top 10 list includes:

HOUSE

· The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – Public Law

· The American Clean Energy and Security Act – Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

· The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act – Ben Chandler (D-Ky.)

· The Expanding Building Efficiency Act – Dave Reichert (R-Wash.)

· The Property Assessed Clean Energy Tax Benefits Act — John Sarbanes (D-Md.)

· An Act to Enhance Private Financing for Clean Energy Technology Deployment – Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)

· The Energy Efficiency Modernization Act of 2009 – Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio)

· The Water Accountability Tax Efficiency Reinvestment (WATER) Act – Michael Coffman (R-Colo.)

· The Livable Communities Act of 2010 – Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) **pending introduction**

· The Federal Personnel Training Act of 2010 – Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) **pending introduction**

SENATE

· The Clean Energy and American Jobs Act – John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

· The American Clean Energy and Leadership Act – Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

· Energy Efficiency in Housing Act (EEHA) of 2009 – Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

· The Livable Communities Act of 2009 – Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.)

· The Expanding Building Efficiency Incentives Act of 2009 – Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)

· The School Building Fairness Act – Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)

· Clean Energy for Homes and Buildings Act of 2009 – Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)

· The Energy Efficiency Modernization Act of 2009 – Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

· The Water Accountability Tax Efficiency Reinvestment (WATER) Act of 2009 — Mark Udall (D-Colo.)

· The Federal Agency Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2009 – Susan Collins (R-Maine)