Green Building News

Hemp Insulation Comes to North America

Posted on March 9, 2018 by Scott Gibson

Two North American companies — one in Canada and another in the U.S. — have started producing insulation for residential construction from locally sourced hemp fiber, giving builders an alternative to fiberglass, plastic foams, and other more conventional materials.

European builders already have access to hemp insulation, but in the U.S. availability has been limited. Some builders here have tinkered with a mix of hemp fibers and lime called "hempcrete," but the wide-scale use of industrial hemp has been stymied by U.S. law.

IRS Allows Tax Credit for Solar Battery Retrofit

Posted on March 6, 2018 by Scott Gibson

The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that batteries added to a residential solar system as part of a retrofit qualify for a 30% federal tax credit, but the decision has only a limited impact for now.

The homeowners who made the request aren't identified by name. They requested the IRS ruling last year after adding batteries to a grid-tied photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. system they had installed earlier. The batteries — with a capacity of 13.5 kilowatt hours and a power rating of 5 kW — were wired into the system so they could only be charged by the solar panels, not by grid electricity.

Solar Firm Targets Low-Income Households

Posted on March 2, 2018 by Scott Gibson

Solar installer PosiGen LLC is targeting cash-poor consumers whose credit may not be great, and so far the gamble seems to be paying off.

Maine Firm Offers Net-Zero In-Law Flat

Posted on February 27, 2018 by Scott Gibson

Maine-based BrightBuilt Home is betting that changing demographic patterns will mean increased demand for small, energy-efficient dwellings that can be ready in less time than conventional site-built houses.

The In-Law Flat & Guesthouse is the 11th design in a series of high-performance BrightBuilt houses. Kaplan Thompson Architects spun off the company as a separate entity in 2013. Since then, BrightBuilt has built or designed 67 houses.

Maine Is Now a Battleground For Wind Development

Posted on February 22, 2018 by Scott Gibson

A long-simmering feud between the state's Republican governor and advocates for wind energy has landed in court.

Maine has more wind capacity than the rest of New England combined — 378 wind turbines with a capacity of 901 megawatts — but development of additional wind farms in lightly populated parts of the state has now become a political and legal football.

In Puerto Rico, Off-Grid Energy Is Looking More Appealing

Posted on February 20, 2018 by Scott Gibson

The slow pace of restoring electricity to residents of Puerto Rico is making off-grid solar-plus-storage an appealing alternative.

Utility Proposes New Approach for Off-Peak Rates

Posted on February 15, 2018 by Scott Gibson

Xcel's proposal is an attempt to find out whether a time-of-day rate structure will be any more successful when customers are automatically enrolled rather than simply invited to participate.

According to a report posted at the Energy News Network, the utility had limited success when it offered a time-of-day rate plan for customers in Colorado.

Mass Timber Tower Planned in Newark

Posted on February 14, 2018 by Scott Gibson

Mass timber construction seems to be picking up steam. Developers have announced plans for an 11-story mass timber building in Newark, New Jersey, that would house 500,000 square feet of office space and be nearly twice as big as similar timber structures in Chicago and Minneapolis.

Cost of Renewable Energy Continues to Fall

Posted on February 8, 2018 by Scott Gibson

In an energy auction in Mexico last fall, the Italian energy conglomerate ENEL was reported to have submitted the lowest ever bid for supplying solar electricity — just $17.70 per megawatt hour, or 1.77 cents per kilowatt hour. It turns out the bid actually was for wind-generated power, not solar, but the initial reporting error didn't change the underlying fact: the cost of both wind and solar electricity is sinking fast.

White House Takes Aim at Renewable Energy Research

Posted on February 6, 2018 by Scott Gibson

A White House budget plan for fiscal 2019 would shrink spending for the Department of Energy's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs by more than 70%, The Washington Post reports.

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