New & Notable

January 03, 2009
January/February 2009
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2009 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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Caroma Receives Awards for Innovation

Caroma, maker of high-quality bathroom products, recently introduced two bathroom fixtures, one of them, the Profile Smart, won recognition in Popular Mechanics magazine’s Breakthrough Product Awards, 2008. The Profile Smart is a high efficiency dual flush toilet with integrated sink averaging only 0.9 gallons per flush. It directs fresh water through the faucet for hand washing. The water then drains from the sink into the tank for the next flush. The all-in-one  toilet suite and hand-washing basin is said to have a 70% savings over a toilet and separate hand basin that uses 11 liters of water. The Profile Smart has already been released in Australia and will be released in North America in early 2009 with a suggested retail price of a little over US$400.

The second of Caroma’s innovations is the H2Zero waterless urinal, which uses no water at all, for optimum performance and water conservation. The vitreous china urinal uses breakthrough technology to solve problems associated with other waterless urinals, including problems of performance, operation, odor management, durability, and waste buildup. The H2Zero uses a Bio Fresh deodorizing block; Bio Seal, a one-way airtight valve to seal the cartridge from the drainage system; and a cartridge tool, which makes possible touch-free replacement of the Bio Seal and the Bio Fresh block.

For more information:
To learn more about Caroma, go to

Partners in Performance in New Jersey

Green Homes America, a residential home performance contracting firm, just launched a new location in Princeton, New Jersey, teaming up with an outstanding HVAC company, Princeton Air. Princeton Air has won Small Business of the Year and Best Place to Work awards in New Jersey in the last few years. It’s a smart, quality-focused company, and Green Homes looks forward to helping it make Princeton a new center of home performance activity.

Green Homes takes a whole-house approach to go beyond the usual HVAC and specialty contractor guesswork, and quickly and accurately solve a home’s comfort and energy efficiency problems. Mike Rogers, Green Homes America’s senior vice president of Market Development, says that Princeton’s Green Homes staff are currently in training to become BPI certified and were gearing up, at the time of this writing, for a public launch, to be announced.

For more information:
To find out more about Green Homes America, go to
For more information about Princeton Air, go to

NESEA Building Energy Conference: March 10–12, 2009

BuildingEnergy09 will return to Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center March 10-12, 2009. The 34th annual conference is expected to draw over 4,000 participants. “Real Solutions, Real Experts,” the theme for BuildingEnergy09, will feature more than 200 experts in climate change, sustainable energy, and energy-efficient building.

The three-day event offers focused discussion and networking with other professionals working on clean energy generation and sustainable building design and construction. Activities include a public forum and preconference workshops, to be held on Tuesday March 10, and a trade show, to be held on Wednesday and Thursday, March 11 and 12. The trade show will focus on exhibitors with sustainable and energy- efficient products and services.

The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) advances the practical application and adoption of sustainable and low-carbon energy practices in the northeast United States. It does so by sponsoring a number of ongoing programs, online resources, and annual events, including the Building Energy conference and trade show, professional education workshops, K-12 education programs, the Green Buildings open house tour, and the Sustainable Green Pages.

For more information:
 To learn more about BuildingEnergy09, visit or call (413)774-6051.

God Save the Climate

The Existing Homes Alliance is a campaigning organization, bringing together a broad coalition of voices from a variety of sectors in the United Kingdom—from utilities to homeowners, from animal rights advocates to government associations—with the purpose of enacting legislation that encourages the repair of existing homes, to make them more efficient, more comfortable, and more beautiful, and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Its official declaration, The Future of Existing Housing, coauthored by World Wildlife Fund-United Kingdom (WWF-UK) and the Climate Change Coalition, is available online, and has been endorsed by hundreds of individuals organizations.

The declaration calls for an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by the year 2050, and a 40% reduction by 2020. The alliance claims that the building sector can make the biggest strides toward these ambitious goals, and can also pose the biggest problem when it comes to attaining them. According to The Future of Existing Housing, “UK’s homes are not fit for the 21st century. They cause over a quarter of all carbon emissions.” While the laws governing new housing are important, it is equally if not more, important to retrofit existing housing stock to help reach the goals that the alliance has set.

For more information:
You can register your support for the declaration at
For more information about WWF-UK, go to

Leapfrogging: Sustainable Megacities

What if by 2030, 90% of the world’s population lived in cities, as some predict? Urban centers worldwide would be challenged to respond to a rapidly increased need for resources, infrastructure, innovation, and complexity.

The cities and people leading the charge to creating these sustainable megacities will most likely be in developing nations, for they will engage in a type of development known as leapfrogging. A community can save a lot of resources, as well as learn from the mistakes of others, when it bypasses the complex technologies in highly industrialized countries to embrace the modern from the ground up. A good example is the use of cell phones in places where sprawling landline systems have never been built, since cell phone towers go up so much faster. An economy such as that of the United States would have difficulty transitioning out of technologies like coal, and gas, whose infrastructures are complex and are already well established.

Some young Malaysian architects, for another example, are leapfrogging directly into the Solar Age by designing a home with giant solar panels that open like flower petals during the day to capture energy (as well as shade the home) from the sun, but close at night to promote ventilation and cooling. This kind of design bypasses the other steps of the industrialization process that had to be followed by most Western countries to create new, sustainable technology.

—Nicholas Leonard
Nicholas Leonard is a student at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and was a summer intern at Home Energy in 2008.

Showing Up Green in Real Estate

Real estate staging is working with homeowners to prepare and market their homes to maximize the home’s appeal to buyers in order to achieve a quick sell at top dollar. Staging today is a very broad term—it could mean anything from arranging the seller’s existing furniture to fully furnishing the entire property as a model home, and in some real estate markets, staging isn’t just fashion, it’s de rigueur.

One company, HomeStagers, Incorporated, in the San Francisco Bay Area, has been responding to clients’ requests for a greener stage, and it has been following suit with its own internal practices, following the principles of people, profit, planet. HomeStagers uses eco-friendly materials, such as low-VOC paints and energy-efficient fixtures. Owner Chris Breining says designers never use CFLs in conventional staging “because of the light they cast. We are shifting to using these in all of our lighting. This is a lot of lighting. If we have 20 properties staged, we use on average about 10 to 12 lamps per property. That is 200 lamps burning most of the time.” HomeStagers even leaves the CFLs behind in the house for the buyer.

By maintaining a few warehouses, HomeStagers can reuse furniture, art pieces, and rugs from home to home. Extra space allows the company to store packing materials, which can be reused from job to job. The company transports its stagecraft in hybrid vehicles.
Each home becomes a showroom floor, for both beauty (for that quick sale) and energy efficiency. Furniture and other props that can no longer be used are donated to nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity’s Restore.

For more information:
To learn more about HomeStagers, go to

Lifecycle Design Challenge II

In fall 2008, EPA announced the winners of the second annual Green Building Design competition, Lifecycle Design Challenge II (LBC2). EPA acknowledged award winners for their innovative green building ideas—ideas that will help to reduce the impact of new and existing buildings on the environment, and will make these buildings more energy efficient. These ideas will also help the building industry to reuse the more than 100 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris that are currently sent each year to landfills in the United States. Reusing building materials also reduces the energy used in, and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with, the extraction, production, and transportation of new materials.

One 2008 winner, Kieran Timberlake Associates’ Loblolly House, includes elements that, are fabricated off-site and detailed for on-site assembly. The whole system is designed for rapid assembly, disassembly, and redeployment. One of its strengths is in its assembly without wet connections, making both assembly and disassembly easier and requiring less specialty equipment than many pre-fab buildings.

“Reducing construction and demolition debris from our country’s waste stream is an important, long-term environmental goal,” says EPA Region Four Administrator Jimmy Palmer.

The remarkable response to the challenge posed by LBC2 has led EPA to launch the competition for a third year, in the fall of 2009.

For more information:
See the winners of LBC2, and find out how to participate next year, at


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