Green Building News

Is Chinese-Made Laminate Flooring Safe?

Posted on March 5, 2015 by Scott Gibson

A report by the television news program 60 Minutes claims samples of Chinese-made laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators contained six or seven times as much formaldehydeChemical found in many building products; most binders used for manufactured wood products are formaldehyde compounds. Reclassified by the United Nations International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2004 as a “known human carcinogen." as permitted by California regulations and may pose a health threat to unsuspecting homeowners.

In a program that was broadcast on March 1, correspondent Anderson Cooper was told that the problem affected tens of thousands of households in California and hundreds of thousands around the country.

Researchers at Work on New Refrigerator

Posted on February 27, 2015 by Scott Gibson

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Whirlpool are at work on a more efficient refrigerator that could reduce average energy use by as much as 40 percent, a report published at R&D said.

The lab said that researchers are banking on an oil-free "Wisemotion" linear compressor manufactured by Embraco along with other technologies and materials to bring down energy consumption to less than 1 kilowatt hour per day.

Another Maine School Chooses the Passivhaus Route

Posted on February 24, 2015 by Scott Gibson

If winter ever ends, work will get underway by mid-April on a private school in Belfast, Maine, built to meet the 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. It's the second such project to be announced in the state within a year.

The 6,000-square-foot Cornerspring Montessori School, with 68 students in pre-school through elementary grades, will cost an estimated $1.2 million. The school has already launched a capital campaign to raise a total of $2 million for the school and related programs.

Indiana Weighs a Bill Allowing New Solar Fees

Posted on February 23, 2015 by Scott Gibson

State lawmakers in Indiana are considering a bill that could lead to lower net-metering rates for customers who own 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.) systems and wind generators, and allow utilities to charge new fees to cover the cost of grid maintenance.

The legislation easily cleared the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee and was headed for a full House vote later this month. The Senate has yet to act.

Plastic Production Rises But Recycling Can’t Keep Up

Posted on February 20, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Plastics serve many purposes, but millions of tons of discarded plastics end up buried in landfills, floating in the world's oceans, and burned in poorly regulated incinerators, a report from the Worldwatch Institute says.

Giant ‘Geothermal’ Community in the Works

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Work is underway on an 1800-lot subdivision in Louisville, Kentucky, that according to its developers will be the largest community in the country that insists that every house must have a ground-source heat pumpHome heating and cooling system that relies on the mass of the earth as the heat source and heat sink. Temperatures underground are relatively constant. Using a ground-source heat pump, heat from fluid circulated through an underground loop is transferred to and/or from the home through a heat exchanger. The energy performance of ground-source heat pumps is usually better than that of air-source heat pumps; ground-source heat pumps also perform better over a wider range of above-ground temperatures..

Builders who buy lots in the North Village of Norton Commons will have a free hand on what kind of houses they build, as long as they meet general architectural guidelines, but a ground-source heat pump for heating and cooling will be a requirement.

EPA Tightens Wood Stove Rules

Posted on February 18, 2015 by Scott Gibson

The Environmental Protection Agency has toughened emission requirements for residential wood heaters, and for the first time the rules will cover indoor and outdoor boilers, forced-air furnaces, and pellet stoves.

Final rules issued on February 3 will be phased in over a period of time, and they don't affect wood stoves that people already have.

The agency said the more stringent requirements, made possible by better technology, would reduce emissions of fine particulates and volatile organic compounds by nearly 70 percent.

Marc Rosenbaum Will Again Offer His Online Course

Posted on February 17, 2015 by GBA Team

Once again, energy expert and engineer Marc Rosenbaum is preparing to teach a 10-week online course on how to design and build zero-net-energy homes. The course will begin on March 9, 2015.

A New Efficiency Standard for Gas Furnaces

Posted on February 17, 2015 by Scott Gibson

The Department of Energy has proposed new standards for gas furnaces that would require a minimum annual fuel utilization efficiency(AFUE) Widely-used measure of the fuel efficiency of a heating system that accounts for start-up, cool-down, and other operating losses that occur during real-life operation. AFUE is always lower than combustion efficiency. Furnaces sold in the United States must have a minimum AFUE of 78%. High ratings indicate more efficient equipment. (AFUEAnnual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Widely-used measure of the fuel efficiency of a heating system that accounts for start-up, cool-down, and other operating losses that occur during real-life operation. AFUE is always lower than combustion efficiency. Furnaces sold in the United States must have a minimum AFUE of 78%. High ratings indicate more efficient equipment. ) of 92 percent, saving consumers billions of dollars in fuel bills over the next several decades.

The proposed rule covers "non-weatherized" furnaces (those intended for use indoors) and furnaces for mobile homes. Under the current schedule, it would take effect in 2021.

How Green Is Your Car?

Posted on February 16, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Consumer Reports magazine is well known for its quality and resale rankings of cars and trucks. Now, there's a website where you can look up the green performance of a vehicle you're interested in.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) launched a website called GreenerCars.org on February 5. The website launch was coordinated with the publication of the ACEEE's newest list of the most environmentally friendly vehicles on the road.

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