Green Building News

Maine Utility Seeks Surcharge for Renewables

Posted on March 14, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Maine's largest electric utility is seeking permission from state regulators to impose a new “standby” rate that would add roughly $13 to the monthly bill of a residential customer with a grid-tied renewable energy system.

The plan would tack on $24.83 a month to the Central Maine Power power bill for a net-metered residential customer vs. the flat $12 charge for a customer without renewables, CMP said. The proposal is part of a rate case before the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Passivhaus on Spec in Boston

Posted on March 12, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The Boston design-buildCompany that handles house design and construction. Since both services are provided by the same firm, integrated design can often be more easily achieved. group Placetailor is wrapping up work on a single-family house in the city's Roxbury district that was built on spec to 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. The has was sold even before work was completed.

Website Targets LEED Program

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Scott Gibson

A Washington lawyer and public relations powerhouse who has railed against everything from the Environmental Protection Agency to Mothers Against Drunk Driving now has the LEEDLeadership 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. building standard in his sights.

At a website called LEEDexposed, the building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council is attacked on a number of fronts: for its "questionable science," its "arbitrary point system," and its cost to taxpayers.

It didn't take long for the website and some of its claims to make a splash.

New Web Tool Compares Energy Performance

Posted on March 10, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) says that its Technology Performance Exchange, or TPEx, is a portal designed to help manufacturers and others who test products to share performance data with their consumers.

Maine Will Host North American Passivhaus Conference

Posted on March 7, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The two-day North American 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 takes place in September 2014 in Portland, Maine, with the keynote address to be delivered by Passivhaus Institut founder and director Dr. Wolfgang Feist.

Looking for Common Ground in the Solar Debate

Posted on March 4, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Two groups seemingly on opposite sites of the renewable energy divide have called on state utility regulators to adopt rate plans that encourage more renewable energy while protecting the financial interests of the companies that buy and distribute it.

In a joint statement, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) said the future of the country's electricity industry would remain promising "as long as regulatory policies are fair and forward looking."

Habitat’s New Net-Zero House in Minneapolis

Posted on March 3, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity in Minneapolis has built its first 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. project, a single-family house in the city's north end that was designed by architecture students at the University of Minnesota.

Toronto Hosts Energy Conference in April

Posted on February 26, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Two hundred exhibitors and as many as 2,500 renewable energy professionals are expected at the All-Energy Canada Exhibition & Conference in Toronto on April 9 and 10, organizers said.

The Toronto conference is one of three All-Energy conferences this year. Others are scheduled in Australia and Scotland.

Tiny Houses Replace Tents for Homeless

Posted on February 20, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Architect Sarah Susanka made a big splash with her 1998 book The Not So Big House, arguing that Americans didn’t need sprawling drywall palaces with two-story foyers and rooms that people rarely used. She wanted designers and homeowners to go on an architectural diet.

Susanka might not have been thinking of micro-houses barely big enough for a bed and chair. But very small houses are gaining ground, and in one Washington State community they’ve become an innovative way of getting homeless people out of leaky tents and under a dry roof.

Two Builders Will Share Top Connecticut Prize

Posted on February 20, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Two Connecticut builders can claim top honors in the most recent CT Zero Energy Challenge, a design competition that promotes high-efficiency houses with a low environmental impact.

Nick Lehto and Jamie Wolf are both being recognized as Overall Winner, and each will apparently receive a $10,000 check. Scores were based on judging in four categories: lowest overall HERSIndex or scoring system for energy efficiency established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) that compares a given home to a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Reference Home based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. A home matching the reference home has a HERS Index of 100. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is. A typical existing home has a HERS Index of 130; a net zero energy home has a HERS Index of 0. Older versions of the HERS index were based on a scale that was largely just the opposite in structure--a HERS rating of 100 represented a net zero energy home, while the reference home had a score of 80. There are issues that complicate converting old to new or new to old scores, but the basic formula is: New HERS index = (100 - Old HERS score) * 5. index, lowest HERS index without renewable-energy add-ons, lowest cost per square foot, and lowest projected annual net operating costs.

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