Solar Power A Requirement For New Construction

It is looking like the wave of the future is increasing requirements to include renewable energy for newly constructed homes and commercial buildings.

The most interesting new story is somewhat local to me here in Southern California where the City of Lancaster now requires 1 kilowatt of solar power for all newly constructed single family homes.  The ordinance that passed last March went into effect in Jan. 1, 2014.  Here is the link to an article that covers it more in depth. (http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/04/lancaster-home-solar-mandate-1st-us-world-leads-city-2014/).

This is a significant escalation on the Californian mandate of net zero homes by 2020.  The City of Los Angeles has been requiring that the conduit and wiring be put in place in all new home construction to make adding solar panels easier in the future for the homeowner.

I certainly hope that more cities follow Lancaster’s lead and make similar requirements as it can only help the environment and speed the transition to the renewable energy economy.

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

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January 5, 2014 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment

Manage and Measure for Less Waste

It seems that what is old is new again.  One of the current trends in management in general is to try and measure more parts of our businesses and life to allow us to manage to a less wasteful existence.

It seems that these folks need to look back at their old college text books as this concept has been around a long time.  Economic Order Quantity and the various inventory models (LIFO and FIFO) anyone?

I suppose that the world may need a refresher course in these ideas, but just because we now have access to BIG DATA doesn’t necessarily make this simpler or easier.  In many ways it may make it harder by requiring new processes to collect and manage the inventory data that don’t actually generate a return on the investment.

I have seen this especially in relation to janitorial supplies which always seem to be a hot button for the accounting department as an example.  Here is a good article that has some positive examples:

GreenBang.com (http://www.greenbang.com/real-time-information-can-shrink-your-waste_25032.html?utm_source=feedly)

So take a look at these and plan your new -old process management accordingly!

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

September 19, 2013 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

The Dark Side of Efficiency

We have all been bombarded with the need to live more efficiently and have less of an impact on our planet.  The problem comes when we possibly make our homes unsafe in the pursuit of this efficiency.

There has been a notable upswing in reports of moisture related problems in recent years.  A large portion of the cause for this is the tightening of the building envelope without regard to proper ventilation. Typically homes built 25 or more years ago allowed a significant amount of  air to leak both in and out. This not only increased our cost to heat and cool our homes but allowed for sufficient air circulation albeit by accident!

The other possible issue is one of safety. By tightening the building envelope we may create a situation where carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide can build up to unsafe levels.  Possible improvements that plug those worrisome air leaks or replace windows should include combustion safety testing both before and after completion.

Here are my suggestions for safely pursuing any energy efficiency project for your home:

  • Have a reputable energy consultant evaluate your current conditions and create a prioritized by return on possible investment list of options.
  • Work with a licensed and certified Building Performance Contractor
  • Acquire applicable permits for all work so that it is properly inspected
  • Have the energy consultant come back at the end of the project to inspect the work and to make sure it is working properly so that you get the maximum return on your investment

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

August 18, 2013 at 9:40 pm 1 comment

Foam Insulation Gets Healthier

OSHA is finally making one of the building trades less dangerous. As a Lifelong asthmatic I applaud this change. The full story is here at BuildingGreen.com (http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2013/7/28/OSHA-Puts-the-Squeeze-on-Asthma-Causing-Polyurethanes/).

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

August 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm Leave a comment

Can Concrete do Everything?

It seems that concrete remains a wonder material that has no end to its uses.  Who would have imagined that the material we walk on could be transformed into a substance that may one day be part of our portable electronics.

It seems that folks at the Argonne National Laboratory have come up with a method to give concrete a metal configuration that makes it conductive for electricity. The full article is here: http://phys.org/news/2013-05-cement-metal.html

The link to the Argonne National Lab is here: http://www.aps.anl.gov/

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

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May 27, 2013 at 9:25 pm Leave a comment

Walkable Neighborhoods Prefered?

It seems that we have finally gotten to the place where downtown is preferred to suburbia and I for one think it is about time.  The only thing keeping me from doing more walking and biking is this weekend’s heatwave in Southern California.  I live in a portion of suburbia where I am actually close enough to walk to the market or drop my car off at a local shop and walk home and I consider myself very fortunate.

In a great report on BuildingGreen.com (http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/9/11/Walkable-Neighborhoods-Replace-Suburbs-as-Preferred-Real-Estate/) you can read the report.

There is a disappointing report on a main feature of our current downtown’s not keeping up with their neighbors on the green front.  New hotels are actually worse power guzzlers than some built 50 years ago.  In the story on Ecogeek.org via Metropolitan Magazine (http://www.ecogeek.org/architecture/3807-hotels-not-getting-greener-even-the-green-ones?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EcoGeek+%28EcoGeek%29) it seems it is time top rethink the whole process.

But there is always hope and the next story for tonight re-purposes something we see a lot  of in Southern California since we host one of the world’s largest port, shipping containers!  From the pages of Inhabitat .com (http://inhabitat.com/koma-modulars-live-work-store-in-luneburg-germany-is-made-from-recycled-shipping-containers/) we have a cool looking and very functional live/work space.

Lastly we have a couple of articles concerning one of the most enjoyable parts of a walkable community, creative landscape.  We have a great article on the other not so obvious benefits of community gardens from Sustainablog.org (http://sustainablog.org/2012/09/community-gardens-provide-more-than-food-in-dc/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-sustainablog+%28Sustainablog%29). Also a fun thought about fitting our mass transit buses with green roofs from Ecogeek.org (http://www.ecogeek.org/ecogeeks/3809-green-roofs-for-buses?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EcoGeek+%28EcoGeek%29)
As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

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September 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm Leave a comment

Hard to be Green….

I know that we are all trying our best to be green, but it seems sometimes that life throws us under the bus despite our best efforts.

Our first story tonight is about the confusion that all of the ecolabels are causing in the marketplace. From the article on IMD.org (http://www.imd.org/research/challenges/sustainability-ecolabels-effectiveness-ralf-seifert-joana-comas.cfm)

” In a nutshell, ecolabels have been useful in increasing sustainability awareness and performance, but there are also credibility concerns given the proliferation and fragmentation of such labels. And indeed, by now the Ecolabel Index lists 431 ecolabels in 246 countries and across 25 industries. [1]“

This proliferation leads to little or no consistency and the consumers at large will simply throw up their hands in confusion.

Next we have bad news for homeowners because the Federal Home Finance Authority (FHFA) has proposed making the rules permanent that will most probably kill the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.  This is a wonderful tool used by local governments to provide a method of financing for energy upgrades for homeowners that are in turn paid back through and assessment  on their yearly property taxes.

This rule would prohibit Fannie-Mae or Freddie-Mac from financing a home with a PACE loan.  Many cities have had PACE programs in place for some time and this rule will adversely affect many consumers throughout the country.

The full story is here at: Green Building Law (http://www.greenbuildinglawblog.com/2012/07/articles/pace-1/even-after-installing-extra-insulation-the-fhfa-proposed-rule-on-pace-leaves-homeowners-out-in-the-cold/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GreenBuildingLawBlog+%28Green+Building+Law+Blog%29)

Lastly we have a study out of New York warning us that the Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL) in your desk lamp  may be harmful to your health.  The good news is that you have to be really close (less than 8 inches or 20cm) for a long time.  A very good reason to upgrade the bulb in your task lighting on your desk to that LED bulb you have been thinking about.

The full story is here at: BuildingGreen.com (http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/8/7/Damaged-CFLs-Could-Make-Your-Desk-a-Tanning-Bed/)

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

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August 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

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