New & Notable

September 01, 2009
September/October 2009
A version of this article appears in the September/October 2009 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Click here to read more articles about New and Notable
Caroma’s High-Efficiency Toilet

Caroma has recently rolled out its Profile Smart toilet and integrated sink. Like all Caroma toilets, the Profile Smart is dual flush, using 1.28 gallons of water per flush (gpf) for the full flush and 0.8 gpf for the half flush. This averages just under 0.9 gpf, which can save the average family of four more than 5,000 gallons annually compared to a 1.6-gallon toilet; more than 11,000 gallons compared to a 2.5-gallon toilet, and nearly 19,000 gallons compared to a 3.5-gallon toilet. Wash your hands in the integrated sink to increase the savings even more; when the Profile Smart is flushed, fresh cold water is directed through the faucet for hand washing. This water then drains into the tank to be used for the next flush.

The Profile Smart toilet has the following features:
  • dual flush, using 1.28/0.8 gpf per full/half flush (averaging under 0.9 gpf);
  • integrated sink in the tank lid;
  • easy installation;
  • washdown technology to push waste from the bowl; and
  • a large trapway, virtually eliminating blockages.

The Profile Smart with integrated sink is WaterSense labeled. WaterSense is a partnership program sponsored by EPA. Modeled on Energy Star, WaterSense evaluates and labels plumbing fixtures and recommends those that are at least 20 percent more efficient than the existing national efficiency standard. The Profile Smart has been tested to use up to 40% less water than the current federal standard while still providing equal or superior performance.
For more information:

To learn more about the Profile Smart go to  


New Disclosure Rules for Austin Real Estate Sellers

The city of Austin, Texas, is joining such cities as Berkeley and San Francisco, California, in requiring home sellers to conduct an energy audit on their single-family home if it is more than ten years old. Whereas upgrades resulting from those audits are mandatory in Berkeley and San Francisco,  Austin home sellers don’t have to make the upgrades suggested, but they are required to let buyers know what they’re getting themselves into or face a misdemeanor charge.

This new law, called the Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) ordinance, is disappointing to sellers in Austin, who are up against a wall in the declining market in the first place; but Austin Mayor Will Wynn, who is an advocate for green building, has hopes that the ordinance will be a positive development for homes, as well as for people on both sides of the sale. He is hoping it will pave the way for other cities to take on the practice as well. Wynn presented the ECAD ordinance to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in June 2009. Already other municipalities, such as nearby San Antonio, are considering similar legislation to encourage more energy-efficient buildings.

For more information:
For more information on the ECAD ordinance, go to


GroSolar + SunRun = Affordable Solar

A new solar-power purchasing agreement, offered by North Billerica, Massachusetts-based groSolar in partnership with solar-service provider SunRun, is making it easy for homeowners in Massachusetts to invest in solar power for their homes. The financing program dramatically eliminates up-front installation costs, charges no maintenance fees, and requires a down payment of $1,000–$3,000. groSolar is the largest 100% U.S.-owned distribution company in the solar industry, with headquarters in Vermont. The company distributes solar-electric and solar hot water systems nationally from offices and warehouses across the United States.

The program makes solar electricity a commodity that can be paid for along with other utility bills, with no risk of future increases. An average home getting about 70% of its electricity from solar might pay around $87 a month for the solar electricity—and maybe $46 more for electricity from the utility, for a total of around $133, according to groSolar. If the same home were getting the same amount of electricity from the utility, groSolar estimates the total cost at $152, at today’s average rates.

Today, the state of Massachusetts is producing 9.7 MW (megawatts) of solar power. Governor Deval Patrick hopes to bring this figure up to 250 MW by 2017.

For more information:
To learn more about groSolar, go to or call 866-GRO-SOLAR.


Microsoft Takes Up the First Web-Based Do-it-Yourself Energy Audit Tool

Microsoft Corporation has recently launched Hohm, a Web-based home energy management service. This service uses the energy models in the Home Energy Saver, a software tool developed by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Hohm will provide homeowners with a Web-based energy dashboard to help them manage their home’s energy use more effectively.

Home Energy Saver is designed to help consumers identify the best ways to save energy in their homes and find the resources to make the savings happen. It is the first Internet-based tool for calculating energy use in residential buildings. About one million people visit the Home Energy Saver Web site each year, more than 90% of whom are homeowners or renters. The Home Energy Saver calculator quickly computes a home’s energy use online, based on methods developed at Berkeley Lab. Users can estimate how much energy and money they can save, and how much emissions can be reduced, by implementing various energy efficiency improvements.

“Microsoft’s licensing of the Home Energy Saver will bring important capabilities of our home energy efficiency software technology to an even broader user base than it currently has,” says Evan Mills, a scientist with the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of Berkeley Lab, who serves as team leader for the Home Energy Saver project. And Rich Brown, leader of the project’s Energy Analysis program, adds, “This is an example of the power of publicly financed energy research being harnessed by the private sector to develop entirely new applications and markets.”

—Allan Chen
Allan Chen is the leader of the Communications Office of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

For more information:
To learn more about Microsoft’s Hohm, go to
For more about Home Energy Saver, go to
For more information about Berkeley Lab, go to


Rate It Green’s Retrofit

Rate It Green is an online community for people interested in finding and sharing the best in green building and design products and services. The site features a directory and an integrated, user-driven Green Ratings system where members can share their experiences about a variety of green products, services, and related topics. Rate It Green members review and rate products and services for each other and for the larger community. Both the membership and the listings services are free.

The Rate It Green online community is celebrating a major back-end upgrade to its code, so that the site can grow rapidly and meet your information needs as members of the green building community. Rate It Green is boasting a sharper look, but the real changes are under the hood. Registration is easier and smoother, data are managed better and are better protected, and the users’ abilities are expanded to provide technical assistance and site edits more immediately. There are also new categories and expanded classification options for products and services.
For more information:
To learn more about Rate It Green, go to
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