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Report from Day Two of GreenBuild

More news from Toronto: nuggets of wisdom from presentations and a few interesting new products

Posted on Oct 7 2011 by Martin Holladay

The crowds at the GreenBuild conference in Toronto are daunting; according to USGBCUnited States Green Building Council (USGBC). Organization devoted to promoting and certifying green buildings. USGBC created the LEED rating systems., there are 23,000 attendees this year. As an indefatigable journalist, however, I've managed to survive the crush to board the escalators and have patiently waited my turn in the long lines that form to use the rest room.

If you're interested in new products, check out my photos from the trade-show floor.

If you want to get a flavor of some of the information provided in the presentations, I've culled a few memorable quotes for you to enjoy.

Just say no to screen savers and little hot water heaters

Rob Watson of EcoTech International: “Here’s a common myth: ‘Screen savers save energy.’ Actually, screen savers prevent a computer from going into sleep mode, so they account for most of the energy waste in computers. Here’s an idea: ban them.”

Thomas Green, the project manager for CMHC’s Equilibrium Housing program: “With 24 inches of attic insulation, an attic hatch becomes an attic tunnel.”

Hazem Rashed-Ali, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio: “The homeowners have an instantaneous water heater in the kitchen. It’s one with a small tank, designed to produce very hot water for beverages. The water is kept constantly hot. The energy consumption was really high. That little heater was pulling 7 or 8 kWh per day. It was working constantly, even when no one was home.”

Stephen Carpenter of Enermodal Engineering: “It turns out that utility energy for our office building makes up only 15% of our business’s carbon footprintAmount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that a person, community, industry, or other entity contributes to the atmosphere through energy use, transportation, and other means. . Commuting represents 33% of our carbon footprint, while business travel is 21%.”

Once again, energy nerds are irritated by unpredictable occupants

Robert Buckley from Aecom, describing the energy monitoring results for ZEBRA, an office building in the U.K.: “The building was modeled to operate at minus 14 kWh per square meter annually — that is, to be energy positive — but monitoring showed that the building consumed 40 kWh per square meter annually. Why is this no longer a zero carbon building? It’s the people. This photo shows the reality: all the lights are on, the photocopier has been left on, but no one is there. After a while, people ignore the energy dashboard. It turns out that predicting the future is difficult. Another factor is the wind turbines. The performance of the wind turbines was only half what we thought it would be. The energy model was based on a wind speed which was unrealistic.”

Thomas Green: “At the Riverdale NetZero project in Edmonton, 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. production was less than predicted. Solar thermal production was just a disaster during the first year. So the measured amount of energy production was less than the modeled amount. Energy use for lights and appliances was more than predicted. Looking at all of the Equilibrium program houses, all of the houses show higher energy use than predicted. These days, new homes have a lot of lights. Our models may not accurately account for modern lifestyles with modern electronics. Homeowners are not necessarily being as energy efficient as predicted.”

Last week’s blog: “How to Install Rigid Foam Sheathing.”

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  1. Martin Holladay

Oct 10, 2011 4:34 PM ET

Ban Screensavers?
by Paul W

It's interesting how some ideas have unforeseen consequences. While banning screensavers sounds innocuous enough, I'm sure the folks over at the Berkley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing might have a different take on the usefulness of screensavers. Not to mention the many research projects, such as SETI, Collatz,, and others that use BOINC to access the power of distributed network computing to do their research.

main link to BOINC:
research projects that rely on BOINC:

Oct 10, 2011 4:54 PM ET

Response to Paul W.
by Martin Holladay

Good point. Some idle computers are truly idle; if such computers aren't in sleep mode or off, they are wasting energy. Other computers that appear to be idle may be contributing to research projects using the pooled computing resources of thousands of volunteers.

Once again, your point reminds us that any energy-saving measure must be carefully thought out. Intelligence and actual thinking are always required.

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