Green Building News

Virginia Farmhouse Wins Top LEED Honors

Posted on May 16, 2014 by Scott Gibson

A house built into the side of a Virginia hillside on a working water buffalo farm has been named the outstanding single-family home of the year in the 2013 LEED for HomesLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. Awards by the U.S. Green Building Council.

NY14 Passive House Conference Announces Speakers

Posted on May 16, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The NY14 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. Conference opens on June 17 with an address by Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, a climate change scientist whose work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) helped the group to a shared Nobel Prize in 2007.

Organizers of the one-day event at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City said Ürge-Vorsatz will discuss several issues, including the role of building efficiency in reducing carbon emissions.

A Looming Challenge for Utilities

Posted on May 15, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Falling prices for solar-plus-battery systems are giving a growing number of people the option of completely cutting ties with the grid and represent a serious challenge to electric utilities, according to a study released by the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Friedrich Pulls Back on DIY Minisplit Launch

Posted on May 14, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Just as the air-conditioning season arrives, Friedrich says it is limiting sales of an air-source heat pumpHeat pump that relies on outside air as the heat source and heat sink; not as effective in cold climates as ground-source heat pumps. designed for installation by do-it-yourselfers to only two states while it studies a broader launch later.

The announcement comes just a month after the company launched the Breeze, and said it would be a "game changer" in the industry. At the time, the company's advertising agency said it would be available nationally.

Government Lab Seeks A Way to Boost Solar Loans

Posted on May 14, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Both homeowners and bankers could benefit from an initiative at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory aimed at lowering barriers to more loans for 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.

NREL's "Banking on Solar" program brings together more than 50 financial, energy, and research interests to discuss ways of making it easier for homeowners and businesses to borrow money to install solar systems.

While lenders are beginning to offer loan products, NREL said in a news release, some barriers remain.

Michigan Gets Its First Passivhaus

Posted on May 13, 2014 by Scott Gibson

A 2,440-square foot home in Holly, Michigan, is the first in the state to be certified under the German 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. standard and has been named the best energy-smart home of 2014 by Fine Homebuilding magazine.

The house was designed by Matt O'Malia and Riley Pratt of GO Logic, a Belfast, Maine, architectural and construction firm, and built by Michael Klinger of Energy Wise Homes. The two-story, three-bedroom was completed in 2012 at a cost of $205 per square foot.

Energy Efficiency Costs Less Than New Generation

Posted on May 12, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Paying for increased energy efficiency is two or three times less expensive than adding new electrical generating capacity, two recent studies have found.

As reported by Midwest Energy News, the average cost of saving energy was between 2 cents and 2.8 cents per kilowatt hour, two or three times less than adding wind, natural gas, coal, or other generating facilities.

A Long Delayed Net-Zero Community Nears A Restart

Posted on May 8, 2014 by Scott Gibson

After years of delay, developers in a Denver suburb are planning to start work early this summer on what they're calling the largest mixed-use net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. community in the United States.

When completed, the $100 million project, called Geos, will include 282 residential units and 12,000 square feet of office space on a 25-acre tract of underused industrial property in Arvada, a city of about 108,000 just to the northwest of Denver.

Changing the Solar Picture in Minnesota

Posted on May 2, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Less than a month after regulators voted to adopt a new and innovative approach to calculating the value of the electricity produced by owners of residential 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. systems, Minnesota’s largest electric utility has formally asked the state's Public Utilities Commission to back up and try again.

Under the plan approved on April 1, utilities may elect to reimburse customers for excess electricity they generate in one of two ways: with the net-metering rules already in place, or with a new "value of solar tariff," or VOST.

Solar Panels May Last Longer Than You Think

Posted on May 1, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The rule of thumb on the long-term performance of 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. panels is that output will decline by about 1% each year. After 20 years in service, panels should still be able to produce roughly 80% of their rated capacity.

But research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory finds that rate of degradation is probably overstated, according to a post at Engineering.com.

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