Green Building News

Green Building News November 1998

November 23, 1998

Low-cost, Sub-compact Fluorescent Lamps Now Available

New sub-compact fluorescent lamps -- only about 5 inches long -- are now available at discount prices to large volume purchasers.

The new sub-CFLs have several unique advantages over the current crop:

  • prices as low as $6.10 per lamp including delivery.
  • lengths ranging from 4.7 to 5.6 inches.
  • paybacks in less than six months in retrofit applications where lights burn more than 12 hours per day.

Like all CFLs, the sub-compacts also consume about 25 percent of the energy of comparable incandescents and they last up to 10 times longer.

One obstacle to the wide acceptance of compact fluorescent lamps has been their size. Because they are several inches longer than incandescent bulbs, CFLs sometimes don't fit in existing fixtures. Another obstacle has been the CFL's high price in retail outlets. To overcome both obstacles, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (on behalf of USDOE) staged a competition among potential suppliers to develop aggressive technology and performance specifications for sub-CFLs. Then, bidders were asked to meet or beat those specifications at the lowest possible price. Awards were made to the sub-CFL suppliers that submitted the most attractive offers. The winning suppliers are Duro-Test Lighting, LINK USA International, Inc., Lights of America and Sunpark Electronics Corp.

To stimulate the market over the next 12 months, suppliers are selling the sub-CFLs at specially arranged prices directly to volume buyers such as multi-family building owners/operators, universities, public housing authorities, hotel/motel companies, federal agencies, and lighting product resellers. The suppliers are offering 15- to 26-watt sub-CFLs with delivered prices as low as $6.10 per sub-CFL for the minimum order of 6 or 10. The minimum order is six lamps that suppliers will deliver to locations in the United States and U.S. Territories. The sub-CFLs carry an unconditional one-year warranty (among the best in the industry).

More information about the products and ordering is available from PNNL's Sub-Compact Fluorescent Lamp program by calling 509-372-4333. This effort is the lastest addition to the joint DOE/EPA Energy Star Volume Purchase Program which uses open competition and existing market forces to bring new and emerging technologies to the marketplace.

Carrier Corporation Receives Ozone Protection Award 

Fred Keller of Carrier Corporation, received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award earlier this month. Keller was recognized as the driving force behind Carrier's introduction of non-ozone depleting technologies into residential products. Beginning in 1994, he led Carrier's program to develop the first U.S.-manufactured air conditioner using R-134a refrigerant. After that, Keller conducted an extensive analysis of alternative refrigerant technology to determine the optimum refrigerant for ducted unitary products. Working closely with Allied Signal, Carrier introduced the first residential air conditioner to use Puron (R-410a). Now carrier offers an entire line of its Weathermaker air conditioners and heat pumps with Puron. This is the third time in five years that Carrier has been recognized with the EPA award.

Whirlpool Joins Resource Efficient Washer Market

The largest manufacturer of clothes washers in the U.S. recently introduced a machine that saves energy and water. Unlike other machines aiming to improve efficiency by following the European horizontal-axis model, Whirlpool's efficient washer continues to employ the American-style vertical agitator. (Whirlpool must believe that Americans are willing to bend over to load dryers, but not washers.) Efficiency improvements come mainly from a highly-refined water spray system. According to an article in the October issue of Environmental Building News, the energy efficiency of the Whirlpool Resource Saver is 125 percent greater than minimum federal standards. While the unit is far from the most efficient washer on the market, this marks an important step in the right direction for a major U.S. appliance manufacturer.


November 17, 1998

Renewable Energy Survey

A new survey conducted by the American Solar Energy Society shows that 76 percent of Americans think that the federal government should increase its purchases of renewable energy even though it costs more than energy from conventional sources. The survey of 1,003 registered voters was conducted in September with the results made public last week.

Do you think the federal government should increase
its purchase of renewable energy or not?

Strongly favor more purchases

Favor more purchases

Oppose more purchases

Strongly oppose more purchases

Don't Know/Refused






As the largest single energy user in the United States, the federal government is in a unique position to influence the market for renewable energy through its purchasing decisions. According to ASES, the United States government could give the fledgling renewable energy industry a big boost by shifting a tiny portion of its huge energy appetite to renewables. Such a move would not only greatly reduce carbon emissions, it would also build the market by creating greater demand, supporting higher production and encouraging more efficient infrastructure. "Federal purchasing of renewable energy is a wise investment in the future, an investment with a return that will far exceed its costs," said Larry Sherwood, Executive Director of ASES. Details are laid out in their Policy Statement on Federal Purchases of Renewable Energy and Green Electricity.

Speaking of surveys...


Consumer Survey Elevates Energy Efficiency

Pulte Homes is a production builder in the southwestern United States that has embraced a systems approach to energy efficiency. Their homes cut energy cost by 30 percent (compared to the Model Energy Code) with little if any increase in cost.

To gauge consumer demand for energy efficient homes the Tucson Division included questions on energy efficiency on three separate consumer surveys: The Buyers Study, which focused on the new construction and resale markets. The Options and Design Study, which investigated consumer perceptions of elements in new homes. And Pulte's Homeowner Survey, which asked Pulte consumers about their purchase decisions.

The surveys found solid consumer demand for energy efficiency in new homes as demonstrated by the answers to these questions.

"In the decision to purchase a Pulte Home
how important was energy efficiency?"

Very Important


Somewhat Important

Not Important






"If a builder could save you $300 a year
in future heating and cooling by adding an energy
package would you spend the money?"

Yes, would spend $1,200-$1,500

Yes, would spend $1,500-$2,000






"Importance levels of issues related to decision
to purchase Pulte Homes"

Interior Design


Builder Reputation

Kitchen Lay-out

Bedroom Lay-out

Kitchen Open to Family Room

Exterior Design

Sales Person

Split Bedroom Lay-out

Lot Size

Pulte Protection Plan

Bonus Room

Availability of Home

Formal Living & Dinning Areas















Pulte's homes are certified by the U.S Department of Energy's Building America Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Program.

Meanwhile, Pulte Home's Las Vegas Division is guaranteeing energy bills through Greenstone Industries' Engineered for Life (EFL) Program. Based on systems thinking EFL uses design and building techniques that consider all the components or systems of a house -- the frame, insulation, duct work, windows, heating and air conditioning -- and base critical construction and design decisions on the interaction of those components.

"Because we design the systems in the house to work together more efficiently, we are able to guarantee heating and cooling bills for two years,'' said Joe Lstiburek, principal of Building Science Corp. and founder of the building specifications in the EFL program. "In order to support this promise, we provide an added level of training to builders and contractors and test the home throughout the building process.''


November 12, 1998

Free Access to National Lighting Product Information Program

Want to get the nitty-gritty details about energy efficient lighting products, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and electronic ballasts. Check out a the National Lighting Product Information Program (NLPIP). One thing sets the NLPIP apart from other information sources -- they test products themselves and publish their data. Normally, the service is available only by subscription. Until October 1999, anyone can view the information on their Web site for free, if you're willing to register by providing your name, email address and a few additional pieces of information.

Once in the door, you'll have access great technical information that normally sells for more than $400. Product Databases allow you to scrutinize CFL and ballast products in more detail that most mortals would care to know. However, specialists will be amazed by the amount of information and the power of the searches. Data from the manufacturers is also available and can be compared side-by-side with the test results. NLPIP also produces Specifier Reports which offer guidance on the selection of energy efficient lighting technology and identify product sources. Here are a few of the topics covered: CFL Downlights, Occupancy Sensors, HID Accent Lighting Systems, Exit Signs and Parking Lot Luminaires. NLPIP is a program of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


November 11, 1998

Winners of CollinsWood® Awards Announced

To show that sustainable and beautiful can work hand-in-hand, Collins Pine -- a leading producer of certified hard and soft wood -- sponsored a furniture design contest. This week, they announced the winners of their CollinsWood® Awards.

Over $300

Under $300

Children's Furniture

Gary Weeks & Co.

Robin Tedeschi,
The Joinery

Margaret Puckett

Click to see a larger version.

Gary Weeks & Co. Furnituremakers of Wimberley, Texas won in the "Home Furnishings Over $300" with their exquisitely designed and crafted black cherry rocker. Weeks' rockers are hand built by a crew of four along with dining tables and chairs. Robin Tedeschi of The Joinery in Portland, Oregon, won the "Home Furnishings Under $300" with his handsome black cherry bench entitled "Robin's Perch." The bench displays a simple lines, easy construction and usefulness in a variety of settings. In the "Children's Furniture" category, Margaret Puckett of Corvallis, Oregon, won for her "Tower of Shelves." This piece was made entirely from pine mill byproducts pulled from the scrap conveyor of the Collins Pine Sawmill in Chester, California. She used short pieces and small scrap with defects such as blue stain, knots, cracks and wane. She intended her entry to demonstrate that thoughtful design can add value to low-value material, that certified wood producers could use scrap materials for high value wood products and forest ecosystem health can be promoted by using the whole tree.

Three jurors selected the winners. Bruce Plantz is Vice President and Editorial Director of FDM & Cabinetmaker magazines. Chris Hammer is Environmental Liaison with Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Inc. and publisher of Green Clips. Peter Whiteley is Senior Writer with Sunset Magazine. Collins Pine Company operates forests certified for sustainable management by Scientific Certification Systems in accordance with strict rules of the Forest Stewardship Council.


 November 6, 1998

Code Agency Publishes Primer on Alternative Building

If you walked into a building code agency anywhere in the U.S. and said that you wanted to building a house our of straw bales, you might get one of these reactions: blank stares, firm rejection or three-little-pigs jokes. Building officials have rarely embraced alternative construction methods -- and to be fair -- it's not their job to be on the cutting edge of technology. Instead, their role as protectors of public health and safety leads them to be cautious. A notable step in the cautious acknowledgment of alternative building methods can be seen in the September/October issue of Building Standards Magazine, the official organ of the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO). In a series of articles, the magazine offers a primer on several topics that might be classified as earth construction:

  • Toward Less Waste and Pollution by Design
  • Building a Sustainable Future
  • Adobe: A Code Official's Perspective
  • Adobe: A Present from the Past
  • Earth Architecture and Ceramics: The Sandbag / Superadobe / Superblock Construction
  • Sandbag / Superadobe / Superblock: A Code Official Perspective
  • Pozzolans Unpuzzled: As Mineral Admixtures, Fly Ash and Other Waste Products Add Strength and Durability to Concrete
  • Rammed Earth: Developing New Guidelines for an Old Material
  • Rammed Earth: A Code Official Perspective
  • Straw-bale Construction
  • Straw-bale Construction: A Building Official's Perspective

If you're not familiar with one of these methods, the article will serve as good introduction. If you are already knowledgeable on a topic, you won't discover much new information. However, you will gain valuable insight into code issues and way that building methods outside the mainstream can be accepted. The major significance of these articles is that they appear in an official journal of the profession. At the least, this plants a seed of recognition with mainstream code officials, so that fewer alternative building pioneers will get a chilly reception at the building code counter.


November 5, 1998

Energy Source Builder #54 has been added to the archives. Articles cover green power, wood-conserving construction techniques, a revealing study of electronic line-voltage thermostats and photovoltaic design software. Product announcements include an insulated concrete form, a unique flooring for radiant heating systems, wheat board and more...


November 1, 1998

The Oikos Product Gallery spotlights three new products for November: a line of beautiful cabinets made with certified wood and environmentally-friendly finishes, a super-efficient water heater with chlorine-free foam insulation and a urinal that uses no water. Still on display from last month you can see: a kit for adding hydronic radiant heat to existing buildings, a line of environmentally-friendly flooring adhesives and a prismatic skylight.

| News Archives |