Green Building News

Green Building News August 2002

August 21, 2002

Physicians Panel Says CCA Treated Wood Poses no Risk

A panel of physicians appointed by the Florida Department of Health has concluded that wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) does not pose a risk to children or adults. This comes six months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with the wood treatment industry that would end the sale of CCA-treated wood through retail sales outlets for most residential applications.

The panel of six public health physicians, called the Florida Physicians Arsenic Workgroup, reviewed existing literature concerning the toxicity and carcinogenicity of arsenic in order to evaluate the risk of clinical disease associated with the use of CCA treated wood in playground equipment and recreational facilities.

The report, a two-page letter signed by the six members of the workgroup, stated that "the available data have not demonstrated any clinical disease associated with arsenic exposure from this use of the CCA treated wood."

The report also supported the EPA's position that consumers need not replace or remove existing structures made with CCA treated wood or the soil around the structures.


Illinois Schools Receive $3.5 Million to Upgrade Lighting

The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation will give $3.5 million in grants to 141 elementary and high schools in 26 Illinois counties. These energy efficiency grants are the first distributed by the Foundation through its school lighting upgrade initiative and constitute one of the largest contributions from a private source to Illinois K-12 schools this year.

Combined, these 141 projects will reduce electricity demand by more than 6,000 kilowatts when completed by the summer of 2003. As a result, the Illinois schools upgrading their lighting through these grants will together save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on utility bills. The energy that will be saved every year is approximately equal to what six thousand households normally use.

“Schools gain in three ways from investing in energy efficient lighting: They improve lighting quality in the classroom for students and teachers. They reduce operating and maintenance expenses in the annual school budget. And they save energy, leading to less pollution in communities,” said Peter P. Peters, Chair of Illinois Clean Energy.

Disruption to the learning environment from old, unreliable fixtures that provide inadequate light was often cited when schools applied to Illinois Clean Energy for funding, as was the high expense of electricity bills from inefficient lighting. Schools plan to use the savings from the upgrades to invest in other energy efficiency projects, make facility improvements and return dollars to the classroom. For example, several school districts have earmarked their savings to support teaching positions.

“This win-win-win initiative benefits students, schools confronting tight budgets and the environment,” noted Howard Learner, Illinois Clean Energy Grant Committee Chair. “The participating schools are responding to Illinois residents’ calls for government agencies to take the lead in making public buildings in our state more energy efficient.”

In a statewide poll commissioned by Illinois Clean Energy last summer, 75 percent of respondents felt that it was extremely or very important for schools and local governments to make existing and new buildings energy efficient. Eighty-four percent favored energy efficient designs for all government-funded projects.

Illinois Clean Energy, an independent nonprofit foundation, received its $225 million endowment from Commonwealth Edison (ComEd). “It’s exciting for ComEd to help bring these energy saving projects to life,” said Frank Clark, president of ComEd. “And it’s gratifying to know that schools and students across the state are the ones who will reap the benefits.”


USDOE Announces Design Guidelines for Cutting School Utility Bills

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released Energy Design Guidelines for High Performance Schools, a series of publications that will help school districts save millions of dollars on annual utility bills by designing energy-efficient schools compatible with regional climates.

"Our nation's schools spend more than $6 billion on energy costs per year," Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said. "With these guidelines, schools can lower their energy bills by 25 percent and spend the savings for books, computers, more teachers and other worthy programs that improve learning.

Also released was the National Best Practices Manual for High Performance Schools which provides engineering and architectural specifications and other details on how to apply the guidelines.

The books provide information on site design, daylighting and windows, energy-efficient building shells, lighting and electrical systems, mechanical and ventilation systems, renewable energy systems, water conservation, recycling systems and waste management, transportation and resource-efficient building products. The guidelines also address health and safety issues and will help school districts improve the learning environment for less cost.

The first set of guidelines, released in February, is tailored to hot and dry climates. The others address school design for the following climates: hot and humid, temperate and humid, cool and humid, cold and humid, cool and dry, and temperate and mixed.

The guidelines resulted from meetings that the department's Rebuild America Program convened during 2000 and 2001 to discuss the best energy-saving practices with school administrators, architects, teachers, developers and other interested groups. Partners that worked with DOE to develop the guidelines include the American Institute of Architects, the National Institute of Building Sciences, the Texas State Energy Office, Ashley McGraw Architects, the Oregon Office of Energy, Environmental Support Solutions, the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Building Science Corporation, Energy Design & Consulting, Innovative Design and the Facility Improvement Corporation.

Copies of Energy Design Guidelines for High Performance Schools and the National Best Practices Manual for High Performance Schools are available free to the school design community in book form or on CD-ROMs by calling 1-800-DOE-3732. They are also available in .pdf format on the EnergySmart Schools Web site.


Ice Cream Maker Buys Wind Power

Ben & Jerry's will fight global warming by offsetting one year's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its Vermont ice cream production facilities -- while supporting the construction of a new wind turbine on the rolling grasslands of South Dakota. Ben & Jerry's action will have the same impact on global warming as avoiding 10 million miles of car driving.

Ben & Jerry's has secured the CO2 offsets through NativeEnergy's WindBuilders(sm) Business Partner program - a novel initiative that enables individuals and businesses to support new wind farm
construction through the advance purchase of long-term streams of renewable energy credits, including the associated CO2 offsets. Revenue from Ben & Jerry's purchase will support construction of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Wind Turbine Project -- the first Native American owned and operated large-scale wind turbine in the country -- which is expected to be operational by November, 2002.

Through its purchase, Ben & Jerry's will secure 5,000 tons of CO2 -- enough to offset the 2002 estimated CO2 emissions produced by its manufacturing and office facilities in Vermont. Ben & Jerry's will then donate the CO2 offsets to Clean Air - Cool Planet, a New Hampshire-based environmental organization working to promote practical solutions to global warming. Clean Air-Cool Planet will "retire" the CO2 offsets to ensure that Ben & Jerry's CO2 emissions are neutralized.

"Ben & Jerry's energy goals include efficiencies and technology opportunities, along with valuable offsets," says Andrea Asch, Ben & Jerry's Manager of Natural Resources. "NativeEnergy's WindBuilders(sm) Business Partner program is a unique opportunity for Ben & Jerry's to offset its CO2 footprint in a way that helps build a new wind turbine and create important social and economic benefits for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe."

According to Pat Spears, President of the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, the Tribe sees "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."


PV Power Systems Appear in Eastern Home Depot Stores

AstroPower's residential solar electric power systems are now being sold through select Home Depot stores in Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. The solar power program began in three San Diego stores last Fall. This expansion brings the total number of Home Depot locations that carry AstroPower's solar electric home power systems to 61, including 18 stores in greater San Diego as well as 16 in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Through displays at each of these stores, customers learn how easy it is to generate their own clean electricity with AstroPower solar electric home power systems. The systems are being sold and installed under The Home Depot's "At-Home Services" initiative, a full-service program providing product sales, installation, and service. The Home Depot also extends two financing options to its customers through the At-Home Services program -- The Home Depot Consumer Credit Card and The Home Depot Home Improvement Loan. Both options provide customers an easy application process, same-day purchase power, and competitive interest rates.

"Expansion of this program reinforces the commitment The Home Depot has made to bring the most environmentally friendly energy solutions to its customers," said Howard Wenger, AstroPower's Vice President, North American Business. "A combination of early success in San Diego and heightened consumer interest in our products on the East Coast has prompted us to move quickly forward with the expansion."

AstroPower's SunUPS and SunLine Solar Electric Home Power Systems are complete packaged systems that are installed by AstroPower's fully trained and licensed installer network. The systems operate in conjunction with the utility grid, so that electricity not used in the home is sent back to the electrical grid, generating a credit on the homeowner's utility bill. AstroPower's SunUPS systems include batteries to provide uninterrupted power 24 hours a day even during utility outages.


ACEEE Names Champions of Energy Efficiency

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) presented five Champion of Energy Efficiency Awards at its Summer Study Conference on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Given every two years, these awards recognize leadership and accomplishment in the energy efficiency field. Winners are selected based on demonstrated excellence in program implementation, research and development (R&D), energy policy, private sector initiatives, and international initiatives. Following are the winners for 2002.

    California's Utilities: The Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and Sempra Energy Utilities combined to facilitate unprecedented levels of energy efficiency during California's electricity crisis in 2001. Their efforts (plus those of the state government, municipal utilities, and many others) reduced the state's energy use by 6 percent in 2001, and cut demand by as much as 12 percent. The utilities used rebates for high-efficiency products and a full spectrum of other customer programs and media campaigns to garner these results. As one example, the utilities helped sell 9 million compact fluorescent light bulbs in 2001 -- more than were sold in the entire United States in 2000.

    Blair Hamilton: As Managing Director of Efficiency Vermont (the first statewide "efficiency utility" in the United States), Blair has led a successful effort to help Vermonters save energy. With help from Efficiency Vermont, customers are saving about 58 million kilowatt-hours a year -- equal to the usage of Rutland, the state's second-largest city. These savings were obtained at an average cost of 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour at a time when electricity costs about 4 cents on the wholesale market. Efficiency Vermont is only the latest in Blair's career of leadership and innovation. He co-founded the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation in 1986, and developed it into one of the nation's leading sources of energy efficiency expertise and innovation.

    Howard Learner: As founder and director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago, Howard has become a major force in energy efficiency policy in the Midwest and the rest of the nation. He was a key player in the addition of an energy title to the farm bill passed last spring, which targeted hundreds of millions of dollars in new support for efficiency in rural communities. He previously had helped write the seminal report Repowering the Midwest: The Clean Energy Development Plan for the Heartland. The solid research and analysis in this work helped members of Congress see the importance of adding the energy title. Howard also engineered the creation and funding of the Illinois Clean Energy Communities Foundation, an organization funded through the $250 million received from the proceeds of the sale of utility generating plants.

    Steve Selkowitz: A Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Steve has been a tireless, persistent, gently persuasive, and innovative leader in the energy efficiency R&D field. His work has led to major advances in such technology areas as windows, lighting, building controls, and building design tools. Perhaps his most noteworthy success has been the development of low-emissivity (or low-e) windows: LBNL's Windows and Daylighting Group has been the R&D lead in bringing low-e technology from laboratory concept to market reality. In the National Academy of Sciences' recent review of the U.S. Department of Energy's research programs, low-e windows emerged as one of the most successful stories in 25 years of energy efficiency R&D. Steve was also key in bringing electronic lighting ballasts to market in the 1980s, which helped enable the federal standard negotiated in 1999 that will complete the transformation of the ballast market to electronics by 2010.

    Linda Wigington: Linda founded and remains the force behind the Affordable Comfort Conference, now the nation's largest energy efficiency event with over 1,000 attendees in 2002. From its inception in the mid-1980s as a network for the weatherization community, Affordable Comfort has become a phenomenal force in the housing industry. Building on the core focus on energy efficiency, it has incorporated other key aspects of home performance, including human comfort, health and safety, and durability. Affordable Comfort is known as one of the best-managed conferences anywhere, from the way it recruits and screens new presenters to the way it treats registrants and exhibitors. Most of Affordable Comfort's qualities stem from Linda's technical and managerial skill, her integrity and tenacity, and her personal dedication to excellence.

These winners were nominated by their peers and selected by a committee of ACEEE's Board of Directors.


Los Angeles Cathedral Sports New PV Array

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) added the City's newest landmark -- the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels -- to its growing list of solar power customers and in the process gained strong advocates in Cardinal Roger Mahony and other religious leaders throughout the city, General Manager David Wiggs announced.

"I couldn't think of a better partnership - the nation's largest municipal utility joining with the nation's largest Catholic Archdiocese to promote renewable energy," Wiggs said. "Like the Cardinal, LADWP is committed to improving the environment and together we can let more people know that solar power is clean and emission-free."

The solar panels, which are on the roof of the cathedral's conference center, will generate enough energy for 66 homes. The Archdiocese is paying for the 66 kilowatt-system with the assistance of LADWP's Solar Incentive Program, Wiggs said.

"In the new cathedral, light becomes a beautiful symbol of the transcendent. In a wonderfully different way, these solar panels will transform the gift of light into a clean and renewable source of energy for many centuries to come," Cardinal Mahony said. "I am both pleased and proud that our cathedral is the first religious building in our city to become solar-power friendly. It is my hope that this partnership between LADWP and the Los Angeles Interfaith Environmental Council (LAIEC) will encourage the creation of similar 'green sanctuaries' throughout the City of Angels."

In support of Cardinal Mahony, Lee Wallach, LAIEC co-chair, and board member of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, said, "By embracing renewable energy in such a pro-active and comprehensive manner, the Cardinal is not only sustaining a healthy environment and quality of life for our children and grandchildren in Los Angeles, he is establishing the moral compass for the rest of the nation by setting this extraordinary example of environmental stewardship."

"The Archdiocese is a green power customer and is also committed to using electric vehicles and promoting energy efficiency. Our success in promoting a greener LA is due in large measure to our community, civic and business partners," Wiggs said.

The LADWP Solar Incentive Program makes it easier for Department customers to pay for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at their homes, business or places of worship.

The program pays $4.50 to $6.00 per watt for installed solar systems. The higher incentive is provided for those systems manufactured in the city of Los Angeles. The solar panels at the cathedral were manufactured by PowerLight Corporation using panels from the Shell Solar (formerly Siemens Solar) plant in Chatsworth.


NEC Introduces First "ECO" Computer

NEC Solutions (America), Inc. introduced the PowerMate eco, the first all-in-one, fanless ecological PC. NEC addresses such problems as lead content, fan noise, heat generation, footprint size, recyclable and material composition usually found in traditional desktop PCs. The PowerMate eco is also designed with laptop components to keep the overall footprint small and power requirements down, while delivering high functionality required in a variety of work environments.

The PowerMate eco includes a 15" TFT LCD flat panel display that does not contain the boron commonly found in traditional CRT monitors. The unit also contains a motherboard made with lead-free solder, which protects both the individuals involved in reclamation, and the ground water in case of disposal. In addition, the PowerMate eco is also made of NuCycleT plastic -- an NEC patented plastic that is 100 percent recyclable. NuCycle is made of polycarbonate resin mixed with a special, flame-retardant silicone compound. Other computer plastics have flame retardant brominated coatings applied, which do retard flames, but produce harmful gases in the process. NuCycle's flame retardant is non-toxic and built-in, requiring no toxic coating. 

Numerous reports have been disseminated recently that outline the negative impact PCs have on the environment, particularly once they reach the landfill. The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition points out that the average desktop PC is comprised of at least 36 chemicals including, lead, barium, boron and cobalt. Additionally, it is estimated that nearly 10 million PCs arrive at landfills throughout the world every year. The PowerMate eco does not contain any of the chemicals.

The PowerMate eco is targeted at high density computing locations such as call centers, hospitals, reception desks and financial trading rooms, where noise, heat and desktop real estate are concerns. For example, nursing stations in hospital ICUs traditionally use desktops with a fan, which not only collect dust, but also blows that waste back into the air environment, which increases the potential for infection. The PowerMate eco, built with no fan, decreases the risk for dispersing dust that puts those with respiratory problems at risk. 

A standard configuration of the PowerMate eco includes a 900MHz Transmeta Crusoe Processor, a 15.0" XGA TFT LCD flat panel display, 256MB memory, 20GB hard drive, Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP Professional and Windows® 2000 Professional, starting at $1,599 (U.S.)3.

| News Archives |