Archive for the ‘Environment’Category
With Earth Day just around the corner, Redfin, a technology-powered real estate broker, today announced a ranking of the country’s top 10 cities with the greenest homes. The Redfin analysis looked at each city’s overall carbon dioxide emissions, as well as the number of homes currently for sale that have “green” features or eco-friendly ratings. Examples include solar panels, low-flow faucets, dual pane windows, ENERGY STAR® appliances, LEED certified homes, and new construction by green builders. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is the most widely used green building program worldwide.
- San Francisco, CA – In addition to having the lowest carbon dioxide emission rate per capita, San Francisco has a large number of homes for sale with eco-friendly features. One incentive for locals to go green may be Pacific Gas & Electric’s rebates, which offer up to $4,000 for home energy upgrades including insulation and air duct sealing.
- Washington D.C. – According to the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington D.C. has the most (LEED)-certified space, which likely contributes to the city’s low carbon dioxide emission rates. In addition, the district offers a number of rebates and tax credits for residential energy efficiency, which may help explain the high number of homes for sale with eco-friendly features.
- Sacramento, CA – Sacramento has the second-lowest carbon dioxide emissions in the country, and new developments have focused on energy-efficient homes, such as the Northwest Land Park, which will build 800 new homes that use net-zero electricity.
- Boston, MA – Boston Mayor Thomas Menino launched an initiative to be “Green by 2015,” which includes powering homes using a combination of waste products and solar panels. The city also supports the Energy Positive “E+” Green Building Demonstration Program, which aims to bring green homes to Boston’s neighborhoods.
- Portland, OR – Portland General Electric offers residents the choice to pay a little more for renewable energy options, including wind-sourced power. In addition, Portland residents who want to make their home more green can attend Fix-It Fairs, which offer resources and information to help attendees reduce water and energy usage, among other green initiatives.
- Philadelphia, PA – Even though Philadelphia’s carbon dioxide emissions were higher than other cities, it ranked second for homes with eco-friendly features. In 2009 the city passed two laws that advance green building practices. The first requires that new city government buildings meet LEED Silver Certification, and the second requires all new construction to have “cool roofs” that meet or exceed Energy Star standards.
- Phoenix, AZ – As part of the “Green Phoenix” initiative, Phoenix offers a one-time grant to homeowners for making improvements that reduce energy consumption. The city has also received funding to retrofit low-income residential homes with cost effective energy saving measures.
- Los Angeles, CA – Homeowners looking to reduce costs associated with air conditioning in L.A.’s warm climate can take advantage of the L.A. County’s Energy Loans Program, which offers loans of up to $50,000 dollars with financing as low as 4.99% when homeowners undertake home energy improvements. In addition, Energy Upgrade California offers rebates of up to $4,000 to homeowners who make their home more energy efficient. To see some stylish green homes on the market in L.A., check out this Redfin Collection.
- Seattle, WA – Seattle residents are known for being eco-conscious, as evidenced by the recent ban on plastic bags, so it’s not surprising they’d want their homes to be green too. Although the city is known for its rain, Seattle receives more sunlight than Germany, the world’s leading solar market, and Washington State offers financial incentives for those who generate their own electricity using solar electric systems.
- Austin, TX – Austin Energy is the nation’s top seller of renewable energy, and the company offers homeowners low-interest loans of up to $20,000 dollars for energy efficient upgrades. In addition, the company offers rebates for numerous upgrades, including extra attic insulation, high-efficiency clothes washers, rainwater collection barrels, and low-flow toilets.
“The residents of these cities are reducing their environmental footprint and saving money at the same time,” said Julie Jacobson , a LEED Green Associate certified Redfin Agent. “By making your home green, you can reduce monthly utility bills, make your home’s indoor air quality healthier, reduce your environmental footprint and even help increase the value of your home without any sacrifice in design or comfort. It is truly a win-win.”
Opinion: All Solar Wants is a Level Playing Field – Justin Pentelute.
Fine for now, but we have to focus on a major point: continuing national and state institutional support of solar is essential. It needs to be a broad, long-term priority. In a political climate that is partisan and contentious, support for energy innovation sometimes gets lost in the ether. That’s a mistake.
In this same category, I am disappointed in the actions of some state legislatures and utility regulatory commissions. Some have acted with disturbing inconsistency, setting helpful programs in place that foster solar installations and then pulling the plug on them before the benefits have really taken hold. What’s equally disturbing is what I call “the race to unviability,” where programs are put in place to imminently fail and be canceled. It seems unfair for homeowners’ access to affordable solar electricity to depend on the state in which the home happens to be built and the all-powerful utility company that provides their electricity. This is a countrywide priority and we should deal with it that way.
Think of the societal good that comes from continued development and implementation of solar electricity. There would be less carbon in the atmosphere if our electric utilities can build fewer new fossil-fuel power plants. That could happen because solar electric can supplement power-grid electricity generated by these plants. Moreover, solar electricity often feeds into the grid when its output exceeds its need in residential and other applications. That’s a plus because not many electric utilities today are anxious to build expensive new generating plants…Read on>
SunPower Corp announced the completion of a 1.3-megawatt high efficiency SunPower solar power system on the roof of the Exploratorium’s future home on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. The system is designed to ultimately generate 100 percent of the electricity demand at the new state-of-the-art facility, which is scheduled to open in spring 2013.
“The SunPower system is a critical piece of the puzzle in meeting our ‘net-zero energy’ goal, reducing our impact on the environment, and eliminating a significant operational cost,” said Dennis Bartels, executive director of the Exploratorium. “The savings will allow us to invest more in the innovative learning experiences for which we are known worldwide, as well as create learning opportunities about the physics of energy.”
The system uses SunPower solar panels that are up to 50 percent more efficient than conventional panels. System performance, updated every 15 minutes, will be displayed in the lobby of the new facility. According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the SunPower solar power system will avoid the emissions of 33,150 tons of carbon dioxide over the 30-year life of the system, which is equivalent to removing 5,910 cars from California’s highways.
“Only with SunPower’s high efficiency technology will the Exploratorium be able to generate all of its electricity demand from a rooftop system – no other solar panel on the markettoday can achieve the same results within the limited roof area,” said Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO. “SunPower is proud to be one of the Exploratorium’s sustainability partners, enabling the museum to achieve significant long-term savings that will support its important work advancing scientific learning for all ages.”
To meet its net-zero energy goal, as well as to qualify as a LEED gold facility, a number of additional features have been integrated into the design of the new Exploratorium facility, including an innovative heating and cooling system using filtered water from the San Francisco Bay, high performance glass to limit heat gain, maximized use of natural light, and use of low-emitting materials and materials with recycled content.
The City of San Francisco, the San Francisco Giants, ChargePoint and ABM, a leading provider of integrated facility solutions, unveiled four new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at AT&T Park. The stadium is the first ballpark in California to offer public access to Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations, a next-generation technology that can charge an EV in four hours, or about the length of a baseball game.“Our San Francisco Giants lead the division in wins, and have now beefed up their environmental batting average by having the division’s first up-to-date EV-ready stadium”
According to the San Francisco Department of the Environment, San Francisco now boasts a total of 110 charging stations at 42 locations across the city — more charging stations per capita than any other city in California.“San Francisco is the Innovation Capital of the World and the EV capital of the world, because we have focused on building the infrastructure needed to make electric vehicles a viable choice for the public,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “The installation of charging stations at AT&T Park, and another 100 on public property for all to use throughout San Francisco, will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create a more sustainable environment, while creating jobs.”
“Our San Francisco Giants lead the division in wins, and have now beefed up their environmental batting average by having the division’s first up-to-date EV-ready stadium,” said Melanie Nutter, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “Supporting new EV infrastructure provides ease and accessibility to electric vehicle owners and is part of our ongoing commitment to making San Francisco the most sustainable city.”ABM installed and will maintain the charging stations, and is offering the public free EV charging at the AT&T Park stations throughout the week of September 17-21. For availability or to locate other charging stations check out ChargePoint’s online tools and mobile applications. ABM has installed over 100 ChargePoint EV charging stations throughout Northern California and ChargePoint is the largest online network of independently owned charging stations operating in more than 14 countries.
The charging stations mark another sustainability milestone for AT&T Park, which in 2010 became the first Major League Baseball park to receive LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance.“AT&T Park’s sustainable features, including solar panels, energy-efficient concession stands – and now the EV charging stations – not only have a positive impact on the environment, but also enhance the fan experience at the ballpark,” said Alfonso Felder, senior vice president of facilities, who oversees ballpark operations for the Giants. “Giants fans will now have a quick and convenient way to charge their electric vehicles while they enjoy a baseball game.”
The 2012 Democratic National Convention Platform calls for the United States to create 80% of its electricity through solar and other renewable energy sources by 2035. According the DNC report 225,000 jobs have already been created in the green energy economy. In his acceptance speech earlier this week in Charlotte, North Carolina President Obama said,”Climate change is not a hoax.“While environmentalist have been consistent in their criticism of the Obama administrations’ lack of actions on climate change the federal governments efforts on stimulating the solar industry in California is quite visible.
Obama has called climate claim deniers and detractors members of “the flat earth society” while California and other states such Arizona, New Jersey, Colorado, North Carolina and New York have taken a leading role the solar energy revolution. California for example implemented Assembly Bill 32 which was passed and championed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. AB 32 calls for 33% of California’s energy to be produced by solar and other renewable energy sources by 2020.
The US Department of Energy through its’ Sunshot Initiate has recently announced new investments to accelerate breakthroughs in cost-competitive solar energy.