Green Building News

New App Monitors Energy Use

Posted on February 12, 2014 by Scott Gibson

An app called Wattson could prove to be a nifty tool for monitoring home energy use, assuming it makes it as far as the App Store.

Its developers, a team of three engineers and a designer from Toronto, call Wattson a "personal energy butler." The application lets homeowners plug into their local utility wirelessly and monitor how much electricity they're using.

Among the features are a graph tool that shows power consumption throughout the day, plus a tag function that lets users associate various activities with the power they draw.

Arizona Solar Installations Slow

Posted on February 10, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The number of new rooftop 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. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) installations in the area covered by the Arizona Public Service Company is dropping, and the vice president of a California company that finances solar leases says a new monthly fee for photovoltaic systems is the culprit.

According to a report in The Republic, the number of rooftop installations fell from 583 in January of last year to 280 last month.

A Passivhaus-Certified Skylight Hits the U.S.

Posted on February 7, 2014 by Scott Gibson

A Brooklyn-based retailer of high-performance building components says it will begin stocking a skylight certified by Germany's PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. Institut, a move that eventually will shorten the lead time for delivery to U.S. builders to a week or less.

The company, 475 High Performance Building Supply, said its first order of the Lamilux FE Energysave skylights is on the way from its German manufacturer. Once they're in the company's warehouse, the lead time will drop from 10 to 12 weeks to one week or less, said 475's John Druelinger.

New Solar Calculator Available

Posted on February 6, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has updated its PVWatts calculator, an interactive program that helps solar installers and homeowners estimate the performance of hypothetical 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. systems.

PVWatts creates hour-by-hour simulations and provides estimates for monthly and annual energy production, NREL says. A user can use default values that are built in or plug in values of their own, including the location and size of the PV array, the type of array, the tilt angle and the aximuth angle.

Wind Energy Hits a High Note

Posted on February 5, 2014 by Scott Gibson

A record amount of new wind energy capacity was under construction at the end of 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The two main reasons for the wind boom are technological advancements that have lowered costs and a federal tax credit.

Trade Wars over PV Panels Could Boost Prices

Posted on February 4, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The Commerce Department has started new antidumping investigations into Chinese and Taiwanese 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. modules with the potential of closing a big loophole in existing tariff regulations and driving up prices for U.S. consumers.

The Jan. 23 decision is the latest development in a long-simmering dispute over claims that solar modules made in China are sold in the U.S. at prices lower than their fair value, which constitutes dumping. A separate countervailing duty investigation concerns financial assistance from foreign governments that unfairly benefit foreign companies.

Training for Passivhaus Consultants

Posted on January 31, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. Institute U.S. (PHIUS) will begin training its next group of certified consultants on April 8 with a "virtual phase" of online instruction. Classroom sessions will follow later in the spring.

In order to minimize travel time for students, PHIUS last year broke the training into virtual and in-class segments, and that's the approach it's taking again this year. The first phase consists of eight three-hour sessions, each presented live by a PHIUS-trained expert.

Major Utility Wants Lower Net-Metering Rates

Posted on January 28, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Duke Energy in North Carolina wants to pay homeowners less than the retail price for the 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. power they sell to the grid.

According to published reports, including an Associated Press story published by Businessweek, the utility will seek permission from state regulators to lower net-metering rates from the current 11 cents per kilowatt hour to a number that reflects the cost of generation--between 5 cents and 7 cents per kWh.

BuildingEnergy Conference in Boston This March

Posted on January 27, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEANorth East Sustainable Energy Association. A regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA is committed to advancing three core elements: sustainable solutions, proven results and cutting-edge development in the field. States included in this region stretch from Maine to Maryland. www.nesea.org) opens BuildingEnergy 14, the largest conference of its kind in the region, for a three-day run on March 4 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.

Last year's conference attracted 3,000 professionals in the sustainable building industry. They represented 32 states and eight countries, according to NESEA, and included architects, builders, developers, building managers, installers and "anyone else who's working toward a sustainable built environment."

Helping Owners of Green Buildings Get a Fair Appraisal

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Building owners and developers who want to get the most market value from the investments they make in green building features are the intended targets of new recommendations published jointly by the Institute for Market Transformation and the Appraisal Institute.

Green Building and Property Value is directed at those about to retrofit an existing building as well as those planning to construct new buildings with high-performance energy features.

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