Green Building News

Will Taxpayers Get Stuck With Coal’s Cleanup Tab?

Posted on June 8, 2016 by ScottG

Regulators in Appalachia are worried that coal companies forced into bankruptcy won't have enough money to pay for reclaiming stripped mountain tops and polluted rivers, leaving taxpayers to pick up at least some of the tab.

According to an article in The New York Times, cleanup costs could amount to $1 billion. While the industry says that its cleanup plans are financially sound, states such as West Virginia aren't so sure.

Living on a Trickle of Electricity

Posted on June 6, 2016 by ScottG

The crippling earthquake and tsunami that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Japan in March 2011 was still causing problems for customers of the Tokyo Electric Power Company more than a year later, and the rolling blackouts were enough to convince a textile artist named Chikako Fujii that her life would be better off without a connection to the grid.

So Fujii terminated her contract for electricity, bought a solar panel or two, and began learning how to live with a lot less power than she'd gotten used to.

Tiny Houses Get a Leg Up in Arizona

Posted on June 3, 2016 by ScottG

Pima County, Arizona, has eased rules on houses of less than 400 square feet, making them legal anywhere that's zoned for single-family dwellings as long as they sit on permanent foundations.

Three Offshore Wind Projects Advance

Posted on June 1, 2016 by ScottG

Pilot projects designed to test three different approaches to anchoring offshore wind turbines have won backing from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOEUnited States Department of Energy.), making each eligible for as much as $40 million in new funding.

In an announcement, the department said that projects in Maine, on Lake Erie and in the Atlantic Ocean off Atlantic City, New Jersey, all show "significant progress toward being successfully completed and producing power."

Residential Solar in Nevada Benefits All, Study Says

Posted on May 27, 2016 by ScottG

A ruling last year in Nevada reducing reimbursement rates for owners of 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. (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 gutted the state's solar industry, cutting the installation of new PV systems by 90% in the first quarter of the year.

In reaching their decision, utility regulators accepted arguments that net meteringArrangement through which a homeowner who produces electricity using photovoltaics or wind power can sell excess electricity back to the utility company, running the electric meter backwards. amounted to a subsidy for solar customers and a $160 million burden for non-solar customers. But according to two new studies, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada was wrong — distributed solar offers a benefit to all ratepayers, whether they own solar systems or not.

Energy Modeling Has a Very Fast Payback

Posted on May 26, 2016 by ScottG

Energy modeling for commercial and institutional buildings is expensive, but a study by an architectural and engineering firm finds the payback is "shockingly short" — in some cases just a month or two.

Fire Knocks Out Tower at Concentrated Solar Plant

Posted on May 24, 2016 by ScottG

A fire last week damaged one of three towers at the huge Ivanpah solar thermal facility in the Mohave desert, but the real threat to the facility's long-term relevance appears to be economics.

The incident left metal pipes in steam-generating equipment near the top of the 459-foot tower scorched and melted, according to a report at Wired. The fire is one more PR headache for the world's largest solar facility.

Failing Concrete Foundations Linked to Aggregate

Posted on May 18, 2016 by ScottG

UPDATED May 18

New York City Will Require More Efficient Buildings

Posted on May 17, 2016 by ScottG

New York City has embarked on an ambitious program to lower the amount of energy consumed by city-owned buildings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050.

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