Green Building News

Dutch Firm Announces a New Kind of Wind Turbine

Posted on May 29, 2014 by Scott Gibson

A Dutch company says it has developed a new type of residential wind turbine that is far quieter and more efficient than conventional designs.

The Liam F1 is a horizontal-axis turbine that uses a revolving collector in the shape of a nautilus seashell, rather than blades, to spin a generator.

The company behind the project is The Archimedes, which takes its name from the Greek mathematician credited with inventing a nautilus-like device for pumping water now called the Archimedes Screw.

Smart Meters Save Water in San Francisco

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Scott Gibson

San Francisco has spent $56 million on smart water meters that allow residential and commercial customers to track how much water they're using, all part of a voluntary effort to reduce water consumption by 10%, according to an article posted at SFGate.

New Solar Fees Proposed in San Antonio

Posted on May 26, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Trustees of San Antonio's municipally owned electric utility have approved a plan to award $21 million in new solar rebates, retain the current net-metering rules 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.) systems, and develop a solar leasing program for utility customers who are unable to install their own PV systems.

At the same time, the CPS Energy Board of Trustees wants two new fees to pay for it: a one-time $450 interconnect charge for new residential systems, plus a monthly fee of $1 per kW of PV capacity. Existing customers would be grandfathered.

Icynene Has a New Foam With a Higher R-Value

Posted on May 19, 2014 by Scott Gibson

IcyneneOpen-cell, low-density spray foam insulation that can be used in wall, floor, and roof assemblies. It has an R-value of about 3.6 per inch and a vapor permeability of about 10 perms at 5 inches thick. is now offering a low-density polyurethane foam insulation with a slightly higher R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. , which the company says will help builders meet stricter energy code requirements.

The product is called Icynene Classic Plus. The manufacturer says that the two-part spray foam insulation has an R-value of 4 per inch, compared to R-3.7 per inch for its Classic and Classic Max open-cell foam products.

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.

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