New and Notable

January 01, 2007
January/February 2007
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2007 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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Rechargeable Battery Recycling Increases

For the first six months of 2006 a total of 2.4 million lb of rechargeable batteries were collected in the United States and Canada through the nonprofit Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) Call2Recycle program. This represents a 6.4% increase over  the batteries collected during the first six months of 2005.

This increase is due largely to the expansion of collection sites through retailers, businesses, communities, and public agency participation.  Since January, RBRC has experienced a 10% increase in participation by adding 4,466 new collection sites to its previous roster of over 30,000 sites.

In addition, the recently implemented California Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act of 2006 (A.B. 1125) now requires California retailers who sell rechargeable batteries to provide consumers with a free program for returning and recycling those  batteries.   In order to comply with the legislation, a growing number of retailers and licensees in California have also signed on to the RBRC program.

“The first six months of this year have demonstrated a steady increase in our collection of rechargeable batteries, and we look forward to sustaining this growth in the next six months,” says Ralph Millard, RBRC executive vice president.  “We would like to thank all of the retailers, businesses, and communities that serve as collection points, because it is through their commitment that our program continues to grow.”

The list of wireless products powered by rechargeable batteries today includes numerous communication and music listening devices, as well as digital cameras, cordless power tools, camcorders, handheld mini vacuums, and remote-controlled toys.
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Olympic “Eco” Village Showcases Green Building         

The Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympic Games are coming to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2010, and the city is taking the opportunity to build a green Olympic Village.  South East False Creek (SEFC) will be a model of high-density sustainable urban development, implementing a number of green building and community development strategies. 
The project will initially consist of the Olympic Village but will later be expanded to create an 80-acre community of mainly residential and mixed-use buildings. Buildings in the Olympic Village, which are built on public lands, will strive to reach LEED Gold certification and will be required to reach at least LEED Silver. While the project is still in the planning stage, and zoning issues still need to be addressed, elements of the infrastructure have begun taking shape. An example is the Neighborhood Energy Utility (NEU).  The purpose of the NEU is to provide the community with a localized source of hot water for space heating and domestic hot water. This will eliminate the need for each building or suite of the village to have individual HVAC, saving space and increasing efficiency.  The NEU will generate heat through either a sewer heat recovery plant or a biomass plant, and will only use gas boilers for additional heat on the coldest days.

South East False Creek will incorporate a number of green and high-performance building techniques.  They will include energy-efficient lighting, Energy Star appliances, water-efficient fixtures, drought-resistant landscaping, rainwater management, local materials as defined by LEED Canada, and of course, a tight building envelope. This last will consist of metal stud walls that will get an exterior application of 2–3 inches of sprayed polystyrene insulation.

Urban agriculture will be encouraged in the community gardens, as well as on green roofs, and composting facilities will be available.  Green walkways and bike paths will connect the community, and there will be an electric tram or bus line.  Parking will be limited to encourage car sharing, local job procurement, local resource use, and use of nearby public transit; all of these strategies will help to reduce dependence on cars.  There will be ongoing demonstration projects on environmental technologies, such as renewable energy and green building.

The South East False Creek project is a great opportunity for Vancouver to demonstrate the viability of green building to the world.  Some green features will inevitably become victims of scheduling and of the bottom line, but if the city stays with its strategy, SEFC will be a green beacon within central Vancouver, demonstrating successful sustainable development and educating the world on the benefits of green building and sustainable living.

—Jens Verhaegh
Jens Verhaegh is a graduate student in energy and sustainable building design at the Institute for Energy and Sustainable Development in Leicester, England.

Energy Star Home Passes Inspections

Final inspections have certified the first Energy Star home in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. To meet the guidelines set by EPA, a home must be at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).  Most new homes in Pennsylvania are designed to meet the 2003 IECC code, which was adopted in 2004.  Specific features in the home in Fayette County include

•    R-19 insulation in the walls, with 2 x 6 framing;
•    R-40 blown-in attic insulation;
•    R-30 insulation in the ceiling over the garage;
•    high-performance, low-e coated windows with a U-factor of  0.34, and a solar heat gain coefficient  of 0.33;
•    R-8 duct insulation in unheated areas;
•    energy-efficient water heater;
•    air-to-air heat pump rated 13-SEER, 7.7 HSPF; and
•    ducts sealed with mastic compound, which is more durable and effective than any tape.

According to the builder, the additional cost for these upgrades was $3,650.   The home was built by Threshold Housing Development, based in Uniontown, Pennsylvania,  in cooperation with the Fayette County Community Action Agency.  The West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund (WPPSEF), based in State College, provided funding for the project.  Affordable Comfort, Incorporated (ACI),  of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania,  and MaGrann Associates of Moorestown, New Jersey,  provided technical and logistical assistance.

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LBNL Scientist Honored

Christina Galitsky, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division, was named one of 35 top innovators in science and technology under the age of 35 by MIT’s Technology Review magazine, and was also recognized as Humanitarian of the Year. Galitsky has recently worked with fellow scientist Ashok Gadgil on energy-efficient cookstoves for Darfur, the Sudanese region where over 1.6 million citizens have been displaced by civil war.

The stoves that Gadgil and Galitsky have developed help to reduce the need for firewood, which has grown scarce around the refugee camps.

The two scientists partnered with aid group CHF International to test the stoves in Darfur. Galitsky and Gadgil’s stoves are based on a metal stove developed by the Indian nonprofit organization Development Alternatives, but have been modified to include a wind shield, stakes for stability, and a cheap manufacturing process. The scientists hope to produce 300,000 stoves by next year.

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DOE Plans to Reduce Climate Change

DOE recently released its Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) Strategic Plan, which details measures to accelerate the development and reduce the cost of new and advanced technologies that avoid, reduce, or capture and store greenhouse gas emissions. The CCTP Strategic Plan organizes roughly $3 billion in federal spending for climate technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase economic growth.

Energy efficiency, one of Europe’s main responses to climate change, is not included in the CCTP Strategic Plan.

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NESEA Hosts Building Energy Conference

The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) is organizing BuildingEnergy07. This is the Northeast’s premier conference and trade show for renewable energy and green building professionals and others committed to the practice of energy and environmental sustainability. The conference will feature 150 experts in the field. In-depth workshops are held on Tuesday, March 13 on a wide range of green building and renewable energy topics presented by leading architects, engineers, designers, daylighting experts, climate change professionals, solar professionals, and green hospital specialists.

Terry Brennan of Camroden Associates in Westmoreland, New York, will be speaking at the conference on the subject of designing buildings for maintenance durability on March 14th. Brennan is an internationally renowned building scientist with a diverse background in indoor air quality (IAQ) analysis, building envelope and HVAC design deficiencies and their solutions, and common sense answers to difficult building problems.

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