New & Notable

September 04, 2007
September/October 2007
A version of this article appears in the September/October 2007 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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North Texas’s First Green Built Parade of Homes

The Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas (HBA Dallas), one of the largest local home builders associations in Texas, will be hosting a Green Built Parade of Homes event from September 22 to October 7. The first of its kind in North Texas, the Green Built Parade of Homes will consist of resource-efficient green homes that showcase the construction guidelines set forth by the HBA’s Green Built North Texas program. These guidelines address strategies for improving energy efficiency, indoor air quality, material usage, site management, waste recycling, and homeowner education.

The Green Built Parade will be an open-house event where area builders present the very latest green innovations and building technologies directly to the public. Each home will feature state-of-the-art amenities and luxurious decor. The Parade will be held at the Forest Hills subdivision in the town of Crossroads, Texas;  hours will be 10 am to 8 pm Tuesday through Sunday.  Discount tickets will be available at Tom Thumb stores throughout the metroplex.

“The Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas is very proud and excited to bring this first-of-its-kind event to North Texas,” says Bob Morris, executive vice president of HBA Dallas. “Since there is an ever-growing interest and demand from home buyers for environmentally preferable products and services, our Green Built Parade will give visitors a first-hand look at what can be done in residential homes to green them up.”

Although homes built today are 100% more energy efficient than those built during the 1970s, green building has historically been the province of high-end, niche builders who cater to a wealthy clientele. Looking at the horizon in home building, the Green Built North Texas Council developed a program that considers the area’s climate, including humidity, and other factors that affect home construction and energy consumption.

“We’re bringing green building into mainstream home construction,” says Mike Land, Green Built Parade committee chairman. “Builders can do a tremendous amount to make homes more environmentally friendly without pricing them out of the reach of the average home buyer. This Green Built Parade aims to educate builders and consumers about building green—be it with new homes or homes already built.”

—Narciso Tovar

Narciso Tovar is the director of public relations for the Dallas Home Builder Association.


DOE Awards $22.7 Million for Solar Research

DOE has awarded $22.7 million to 27 projects aimed at improving the capture, conversion, and use of solar energy. These basic research projects will help increase the amount of solar power in the nation’s energy supply and will focus on two technical areas: the conversion of solar energy to electricity and the conversion of solar energy to chemical fuels. Directly converting sunlight to chemical fuels will help overcome the problems posed by the lack of nighttime solar resource, and will provide solar-derived energy in forms that can be used in transportation and residential and industrial applications.

DOE selected projects at 23 universities and two DOE national laboratories: Brookhaven National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Fourteen projects will receive $9.9 million over three years for research in the conversion of solar energy to electricity. The projects will involve such technologies as nanomaterials, organic solar cells, solar cell materials that can produce multiple excited electrons from a single photon, and dye-sensitized solar cells, which employ dyes to capture the energy in solar photons.

Thirteen projects will receive $12.8 million over three years for research on the conversion of solar energy to chemical fuels. While some of these projects involve developing catalysts for such chemical conversions, most are aimed at mimicking the photosynthetic process that plants use to convert sunlight into stored chemical energy.


New Climate Change Web Site

The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) has launched a new Web site providing information on climate change policies for its members, businesses, policymakers, and the public.

Last year Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The legislation establishes mandatory reporting requirements and caps greenhouse gas emissions produced by industries categorized as significant sources. With the passage of AB 32, California has distinguished itself as the only state that caps carbon.

“Implementing California’s recent climate change legislation the right way is a top public policy priority for government and employers,” says Allan Zaremberg, CalChamber president and CEO. “It is important that we focus on implementing AB 32 in a way that will satisfy both our environmental and economic objectives. Maintenance of a strong economy is crucial so that we have the resources to develop the innovative technological solutions necessary to reach our greenhouse gas reduction goals.”

The Web site serves as an educational tool that provides information on current climate change regulations and offers citizens an opportunity to take an active role in the implementation process. On the Web site, visitors can track legislation, find updates on regulatory activities, access a calendar of compliance deadlines for AB 32, and read informative news articles on climate change.

For more information, go to www.calchamber.com.


UK’s Code of Sustainability

By 2016, all new houses in the United Kingdom must meet the Code for Sustainable Homes. Launched in December 2006, this new national standard for sustainable design and construction is part of a package of measures designed to promote zero carbon development. It will provide valuable information to home buyers and offer builders a tool with which to differentiate themselves in terms of sustainability.

The first new house to meet the Code for Sustainable Homes, the Lighthouse, designed by Sheppard Robson and built by Kingspan Offsite, was described in the Guardian as “the most environmentally friendly home yet built and the first to meet the highest standards laid out in the government’s code for sustainable homes.”

“We need a complete revolution in the way we design and build our homes,” says Minister of Housing Yvette Cooper. “Many of the technologies exist already, as these new homes show. Now we need more work to test them and deliver economies of scale.”

For more information, go to www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/code_for_sust_homes.pdf.


HHI and BuildingGreen TV

The Healthy House Institute (HHI) recently linked with BuildingGreen TV, “the lifestyle series about creating healthy, beautiful homes and buildings in harmony with the environment.”

HHI has provided content for the BuildingGreen TV Web site, helping to promote the PBS show on HHI’s Web site, featuring how-to video clips from BuildingGreen TV on HHI (after the episodes have aired), and introducing HHI experts and advisors to BuildingGreen’s production team as appropriate.

For more information, go to www.buildinggreentv.com.


Home Depot to Build Homes

The Home Depot’s charitable, nonprofit foundation recently announced a ten-year, $100 million plan to help make communities healthier and more stable. The funds will help support the development of 100,000 affordable, healthy homes, as well as fund the planting and preservation of more than 3 million trees over the next decade.

“The Home Depot Foundation views houses as providing more than just shelter and thinks about trees as providing more than just shade,” says Kelly Caffarelli, executive director of the Home Depot Foundation. “We believe in creating environments—both inside a home and outside in a community—that contribute to the financial stability, personal success, physical health, and overall well-being of our neighbors.”

A shortage of affordable homes in the United States prompted this project.  The foundation says that demand for affordable housing units exceeds supply by 5.3 million, and that more than 14 million families pay more than 50% of their income for housing alone.

The foundation claims that its homes will be environmentally responsible, with reduced utility bills, improved indoor air quality, lower maintenance expenses, and easy access to transportation.

For more information, go to www.homedepotfoundation.org.


Kohler and WaterSense

EPA has begun testing products for its WaterSense program, a labeling program that encourages water efficiency and the use of water-efficient products that perform as well as or better than their less efficient counterparts. As of April, eight toilets from Kohler Company earned the WaterSense label, which means that these toilets use at least 20% less water than standard 1.6-gallon toilets while still meeting strict flushing performance guidelines.

“The WaterSense label lets consumers know with certainty that they’re choosing products that use significantly less water, without having to worry whether those products will still perform well,” says Rob Zimmerman, senior staff engineer for Kohler’s water conservation initiatives. “Kohler Company has made a commitment to being a leader and innovator in this area, and we look forward to developing products that meet both WaterSense and Kohler’s shared commitment to conservation and quality.”

According to EPA estimates, the average family of four uses about 400 gallons of water each day, and toilets represent a whopping 26% of all home indoor water use. Using the same premise as EPA’s Energy Star program, which focuses on products that meet certain energy efficiency criteria, WaterSense has been developed to identify products that conserve water, but makes use of  third-party product certification.

The eight Kohler and Sterling toilets that will bear the WaterSense label are

  1. Kohler San Raphael Power Lite toilet (K-3393);
  2. Kohler Highline Pressure Lite 1.1 gpf toilet (K-3519);
  3. Kohler Wellworth Pressure Lite 1.1 gpf toilet (K-3531);
  4. Sterling Stanton toilet with Dual Force technology (402040);
  5. Sterling Karsten toilet with Dual Force technology (402025);
  6. Sterling Karsten toilet with Dual Force technology (402028);
  7. Sterling Rockton toilet with Dual Force technology (402024); and
  8. Sterling Rockton toilet with Dual Force technology (402027).

For more information, go to www.kohler.com/conservation.


Oakland Tops for Energy

A study conducted by SustainLane Government has concluded that Oakland, California, generates the highest percentage of renewable energy of all U.S. cities surveyed.  Oakland generates 17% of its total energy from solar, wind, and geothermal sources. Most of this renewable energy is generated from commercial and residential PV systems.  At 17%, Oakland generates at least 5% more energy from renewables than any other city surveyed. San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose tied for second place with 12% of their energy coming from renewable sources.

“Results in Oakland are built on the substantial foundation of renewable energy created by California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard,” says Scott Wentworth, an energy engineer with the city of Oakland. He adds that Oakland is working on other energy-related projects with San Francisco State University, Marin County, and the city and county of San Francisco.  These projects will create tools for assessing the solar potential of commercial and residential properties; will conduct wave and tidal power studies in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute and other California cities; and will outfit new municipal buildings to accommodate solar systems.

For more information, go to www.sustainlane.com.
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