Green Building News

Green Building News May 2002

May 15, 2002

"Cooler Houston" Plan Aims to Reduce Temperature and Improve Air Quality

Researchers at the Houston Advanced Research Center have received a grant from Houston Endowment to create a "Cooler Houston Implementation Plan," a strategy aimed at reducing temperatures in Houston while, at the same time, improving air quality.


Urban Heat Island Effect
Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

HARC project director David Hitchcock explains that urban areas like Houston are normally 5° to 9° F hotter than surrounding areas. This "heat island effect" contributes not only to discomfort but also to ozone formation and higher energy bills. Hitchcock says that recent meteorological modeling is showing that urban temperatures can be reduced significantly and that these reductions will help improve air quality. "Lowering urban temperatures is a fundamental step in changing the equation for ozone formation," he said.

Hitchcock says he expects to see a number of recommendations that will work particularly well in this area. "Roofing companies, roofing manufacturers and the paving industry are already well out in front with urban heat island solutions," he said. "They have products that cost nothing extra while providing air quality and economic advantages. We need incentives to make solutions such as these common practice in the Houston region. We also need them implemented sooner rather than later."

Hitchcock said that there are also strategies that are already working in other communities that will work in Houston. These include major tree planting projects, use of reflective roofing and other cooler building materials, and paving with cooler surfaces. He added that the Quality of Life Coalition, the Houston Green Coalition and other groups are actively addressing the need for expanding the region's tree canopy. The Cooler Houston project will rely on successful efforts such as these to achieve its goals.

 

Polyiso Goes Green

Polyisocyanurate insulation is changing. Over the years environmental regulations have required Polyiso insulation formulations to become more ozone friendly. The Montreal Protocol requires the phase out of manufacturing and importing of HCFC foaming agents by 2004. The USEPA has accelerated the phase out of HCFC-141b, HCFC-142b and HCFC-22 -- the most damaging HCFCs -- to begin in 2003. The EPA Phaseout Schedule shows more detail. Currently, two manufacturers (Atlas Roofing and Firestone) offer zero-ozone-depletion rigid polyisocyanurate products.


Time to Apply for EnergyValue Housing Award

NAHB Research Center's annual EnergyValue Housing Award recognizes builders who successfully integrate energy efficiency into all aspects of new home production, as exemplified by a specific home. The award promotes increased awareness of the value of energy efficiency among home builders, home buyers and others within the new home market. The NAHB Research Center, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy are sponsoring the 2003 EVHA.

In an effort to make the application more accessible, it is now available on the NAHBRC's Web site. The application for the eighth annual awards program is available in both Microsoft Word and PDF versions -- download instructions are available on the Web site. The entry fee is $100 per entry and there is no limit to the number of entries you may submit. All applications must be postmarked by August 12, 2002 those received by July 10, 2002 receive a reduced entry fee of $50.


Green Development Corp. Opens in Los Angeles

A newly-formed non-profit development corporation aims to provide more livable and sustainable affordable housing on problematic urban sites and to influence and change the vision of urban policy makers and voters. Livable Places was co-founded by Lawrence Scarpa, AIA and Angela Brooks, AIA of PUGH + SCARPA along with a group of planners, developers and contractors. The organization's debut was supported by nearly $1,000,000.00 in grants from The Irvine Foundation, Fannie-Mae Foundation, Washington Mutual and California Federal Bank. Ryan Lehman has been appointed Executive Director and Beth Steckler has been named Public Policy Director. Livable Places expects to have its first project underway sometime this year in southern California.


Atlanta Home Show Features Zero-Energy House

It may look like any other house on the block, but in reality the Zero Energy House is very different. It combines geothermal heat, an energy craft sealing system to reduce air infiltration, whole house ventilation, solar hot water and electricity, and high-energy efficient lighting and appliances. The result is that the Zero Energy House provides a healthy living environment and lower utility bills. Atlanta builder, Julius Poston of Certified Living, and Captain Planet Foundation built the house for the public to experience at the Spring Atlanta Home Show last April.

The Zero Energy House showcased the latest products to achieve energy conservation and a healthier living environment, as well as how to produce energy with little or no power from the power company.

"Good ventilation is a key aspect of the system," said Jeff Allen, Residential Consultant with Certified Living. "Families can enjoy a healthier existence in a Zero Energy House that significantly reduces allergy problems for the inhabitants, especially asthmatic children."

To make a house Zero Energy does cost more up front. However, many lenders are giving “green mortgages” which extend the costs of the loan to include the energy savings. The builder must prove to the lender that he has met all of the requirements to make the house energy efficient with savings that will reduce the house buyer’s operating costs.

“The greatest part is that all in all Zero Energy Houses do not cost any more than a non-Zero Energy Home with the money saved on energy costs,” says Julius Poston, President of Certified Living. After making its debut at the Atlanta Home Show, the Zero Energy House traveled to Washington, D.C. to be showcased in The Mall. Afterwards, it will go to Gwinnett Civic Center and to Sci-Trek.

 

NativeEnergy Supports First Rosebuds Sioux Wind Turbine

The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council and NativeEnergy have reached a financial agreement that will allow the Tribe to proceed with construction on its first large-scale wind turbine, which has been stalled over the past year due to funding uncertainties. Tribal officials see this first turbine as a start of an economic development initiative that will bring a vital industry to the reservation, and they will position this first unit as a "show horse" with an educational mission.

William Kindle, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe said, "We have spent many years studying our wind resource and planning our first wind turbine installation, and are pleased that the combination of the Tribe's efforts, NativeEnergy customer support and special assistance from the DOE, will allow us to construct this first wind turbine."

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is enthusiastically pursuing a plan to tap a virtual ocean of energy that consistently blows across the Great Plains, and sees wind farm development as a way to drive economic development without polluting the earth. This project was initiated through the vision of the Rosebud Utility Commission as the first step in the provision of clean energy at a competitive cost to meet tribal community needs and also to access off-reservation markets. This initial turbine has been assisted by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and a loan through the Rural Utilities Services, associated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The tremendous wind resources of the northern Great Plains have many Indian tribes looking at utility scale renewable energy generation as a "no-regrets" sustainable homeland economic development strategy, with a positive impact on CO2 emission reduction. And the Rosebud Wind Project is leading the way in bringing tribal utility scale wind power on line," said Pat Spears, President, Intertribal Council on Utility Policy.

Under a long term agreement, NativeEnergy will purchase renewable energy credits - known as "green tags" - that will be generated by the wind turbine over its operating lifetime. NativeEnergy will use the green tags, including their associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions, to provide emission offset services to individuals and businesses through its WindBuilders(SM) programs. Participation in these programs help build new wind farms and reduce the CO2 emissions that cause global warming.

The largest industrial source of CO2 emissions is burning fossil fuels to generate electricity. The U.S. is the world's single largest source of CO2 emissions. Building new wind farms fights global warming by reducing the amount of electricity otherwise needed from power plants that burn fossil fuels. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe Wind Farm will be interconnected through Cherry Todd Electric to one of the highest CO2 emitting utility systems in the U.S., due to the high level of coal-fired generation that is normally relied upon. This will maximize the environmental benefits associated with the wind farm by boosting the amount of CO2 emissions reduced for each kWh of wind energy generated.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe Wind Farm will initially consist of one 750 kilowatt (kW) NEG Micon wind turbine. The turbine will stand atop a 170 foot tubular tower and have three blades, spanning a diameter of 150 feet. The average wind speed at the site is estimated to be 17.9 mph at a 155 feet above ground, and the initial turbine is expected to produce about 2,400,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity each year, enough to match the energy required by about 200 homes. Construction is expected to commence this summer with commercial operation by fall. Rosebud is working with Disgen, Inc., the developer of this project, on longer term plans for further development of the wind farm under a 100 percent Tribal ownership structure.


Xantrex 100 Kilowatt Solar Power Inverter Receives UL Listing

Xantrex Technology's 100 kilowatt grid-tied, three-phase inverter has achieved an Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) listing to Standard 1741, which includes IEEE 929 interconnect requirements. According to Xantrex, the PV 100208 is the highest rated standardized inverter to receive UL listing to date.

Achieving UL Listing on the PV 100208 makes commercial-scale solar easier and more affordable by providing an off-the-shelf solution for commercial PV customers. In addition, receiving this UL Listing means that the PV 100208 meets certification requirements for the California Energy Commission’s Buydown program as well as similar rebate offers.


Shell Completes Acquisition of PV Joint Venture

Shell Renewables concluded its acquisition of all shares held by Siemens AG and E.ON Energie AG in the former solar photovoltaic (PV) joint venture Siemens und Shell Solar GmBH. The operation will be called Shell Solar. Regulatory approval for closing the transaction has already been received.

"We now combine state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Europe and North America with sales organisations on all continents," said Philippe de Renzy-Martin, Executive Vice President of Shell Solar. "We are in a very strong position to build a sustainable, commercially successful PV business. "

Shell Solar is now the fourth largest PV company in the world and employs around 1100 people. Its PV manufacturing facilities have a total yearly capacity of some 60MW of solar panels:

  • Ingot growing and wafers in Vancouver, Washington, USA;
  • Mono crystalline cells and modules in Camarillo, California, USA;.
  • Multi crystalline cells and modules in Helmond, the Netherlands, and multi crystalline cells at its factory in Gelsenkirchen, Germany;
  • A second cell production line is being planned at Gelsenkirchen and will become operational in 2003.

In April 2001 a joint venture company was formed, merging all of Siemens Solar with Shell's solar business in Germany to create Siemens und Shell Solar GmbH. The shareholdings established were 33 percent Shell, 33 percent E.On and 34 percent Siemens. At that time it was also announced that Shell would contribute all of its remaining solar business before the end of 2002 and that Shell would have the option to become the largest shareholder. This has now happened, with Shell taking 100 percent ownership and renaming the company Shell Solar.The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies announced last year that it would invest up to US$1 billion over the next five years, subject to ongoing economic review, primarily in solar and wind energy.


L-P To Sell Timberlands

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation plans to sell the company's 935,000 acres of timberlands along with its plywood, industrial panels and lumber businesses. Following the divestitures, the company will focus on core businesses, including, oriented strand board (OSB), composite wood products (specialty OSB, SmartSystem(R) siding and hardboard siding), engineered wood products, and plastic building products (vinyl siding, composite decking and mouldings).

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