Green Building News

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.

Google and SunPower Create a $250 Million Solar Fund

Posted on April 29, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Google Inc. and SunPower Corp. are creating a $250 million fund to finance rooftop solar systems that will be leased to homeowners.

Google will contribute as much as $100 million and SunPower will chip in as much as $150 million, the companies announced. SolarPower, which already has lease arrangements with about 20,000 homeowners, said the program should be able to finance thousands of new rooftop systems.

Passive House Institute U.S. Schedules Conference

Posted on April 24, 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. says that it is now accepting both papers and presenters for its annual North American conference, scheduled this year from September 10-14 at the Marriott San Francisco Waterfront.

PHIUS was still firming up its speakers and other conference details, and said it would have registration links posted at its website later in the week.

California Regulators Side With Solar

Posted on April 23, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Hundreds of battery-backed 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 that have been delayed by red tape and extra fees should be connected to the grid under a proposed decision from state regulators, Greentech Media reports.

Oklahoma Approves Surcharge for Rooftop Solar

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Oklahoma residents who install small wind turbines or 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 will be paying a new surcharge beginning in 2015, thanks to a bill that zipped through the state legislature and was headed to Governor Mary Fallin for a signature.

UtilityDive.com called the measure "the first complete defeat for solar advocates" in their efforts to prevent electric utilities from recouping money they claim they're losing to distributed generation (DG).

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