New and Notable

March 10, 2007
March/April 2007
A version of this article appears in the March/April 2007 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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GreenPoint for GreenCity

GreenCity Lofts, a community in Oakland, California, is receiving a special award recognizing it as one of the first East Bay communities to receive a GreenPoint rating. The community received 82 points, which is 32 points over the minimum requirement to receive a GreenPoint rating. Points are achieved in five categories: energy efficiency, resource conservation, indoor air quality, water conservation, and community.

The lofts feature radiant floor heating;  formaldehyde-free adhesives; zero- and low-VOC paints, stains, and varnishes; bamboo flooring; and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood products. However, with prices starting at a little under $500,000 for just under 1,000 ft2, these green homes are out of many buyers’ budgets.

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Mortgage Delinquencies on Rise

Mortgage delinquency and foreclosure rates rose over the last few months of 2006. These delinquencies and foreclosure rates may have the  greatest impact on low-income homeowners who have been saddled with high-interest, subprime loans. 

“Expanding opportunities for more people to buy a home is a good thing. But we do not want Americans to become overextended and see their dream end in foreclosure,” says Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

California’s financial institutions have taken out many of these so-called subprime mortgages. If interest rates rise, as happened in the spring of 2006, monthly payments for people with subprime mortgages may rise, leading some families to default on their mortgages.

Battery Solution

Japanese inventor Susumu Suzuki has developed an AAA  water-powered battery. The battery itself is made mostly of carbon-based compounds but is activated with only a tiny amount of water. According to Suzuki, the batteries can be stored far longer than traditional batteries without degrading. If mass produced, they could cost  90% less than traditional batteries. The battery has an electric current as powerful as that of a standard manganese dioxide battery.

Reduce Energy Costs with Data Logger

Onset Computer Corporation has released the HOBO Temperature Logger Kit, a computerized temperature-tracking product for consumers designed to help reduce energy costs. Software allows residents to view heat and A/C activity on a home computer.

“The new HOBO Temperature Logger Kit stems from the need of many homeowners who want to go beyond free home energy audits and really understand their energy usage,” says Frank Deshaies, Onset’s product marketing manager.
Onset claims that the HOBO is easier to use than a programmable thermostat, which is an advantage, since homeowners seem baffled by the programmable thermostat, which was recently taken off the list of Energy Star products.

The HOBO works by collecting energy data and then using the accompanying software to convert those data into time-stamped graphs, which can help homeowners to understand their own usage habits and to diagnose problems with energy use.

The HOBO U10 Kit includes a HOBO U10 temperature data logger, HOBOware Lite software, and a USB interface cable. It retails for $79.

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BuildingGreen’s Top 10

Three of BuildingGreen’s Top 10 building products of 2006 focus on saving energy. The building products were announced at the 2006 U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) conference in November.

“The range of product types showing exemplary innovation is amazing,” says BuildingGreen’s Alex Wilson, and many products besides the Top 10 had outstanding green qualities. These green qualities included water conservation, reuse of recycled waste, the use of salvaged materials, and promotion of renewable energy.

The 2006 Top-10 Products were
1. a  polished concrete system from RetroPlate;
2. underwater standing timber salvage by Triton Logging;
3. Paperstone Certified composite surface material from KlipTech Composites, Incorporated; 
4. Varia and “100 Percent” recycled-content panel products from 3form, Incorporated;
5. recycled-content interior molding from Timbron International;
6. SageGlass tintable glazing from Sage Electrochromics;
7. water-efficient showerhead with H2Okinetic technology from Delta;
8. WeatherTRAK smart irrigation controls from HydroPoint Data Systems, Incorporated;
9. Coolerado Cooler advanced, indirect evaporative air conditioner from Coolerado, LLC; and
10. renewable energy credits from Community Energy, Incorporated.

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