Green Building News

Green Building News May 2003

May 7, 2003

Florida Joins Carpet Effort

Florida became the 10th state to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for Carpet Stewardship, and joined a national effort to further reduce waste by recycling and reusing post-consumer carpet.

“Waste carpet makes up one percent of the municipal waste stream -- about the same amount as plastic bottles, steel cans and tires,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs Allan Bedwell. “This partnership will provide us with ways to more effectively recover materials for recycling and better protect Florida’s environment.”

In 2001, the carpet industry forged a plan with federal, state and local government agencies, and non-government organizations to improve the management of waste carpet in the United States. The Memorandum of Understanding, now signed by 10 states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sets goals to recover, reuse and recycle post-consumer carpet over ten years.

Established through the Memorandum, the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) fosters market-based solutions for recovering value from discarded carpet and a schedule for the phase-out of its land disposal and incineration.

Although most components of carpet can be recycled or reused, only four percent of waste carpet is currently recovered. CARE’s goal is to achieve a 20 percent landfill diversion by 2012. Post-consumer carpet can be used to produce plastic lumber, parking stops, pallets and new carpeting.


DuPont Retires Global Warming Credits

DuPont Textiles & Interiors, the manufacturer of DuPont± Antron® carpet fiber, retired 1,553,340 pounds of global warming credits to offset emissions caused by energy use at EnvironDesign7 conference in Washington, D.C., on April 30 – May 2, 2003. The credits represent a 704-ton emissions reduction from the DuPont Sabine River Plant.

Global warming credits are awarded to companies that take action to reduce pollutant emissions. Credits can typically be sold, traded or banked for future use. DuPont Textiles & Interiors chose to donate these credits to the Leonardo Academy, a non-profit organization dedicated to putting the competitive market to work on improving the environment. Through the organization’s Cleaner and Greener program, the credits will be retired, reducing the amount of pollution that is discharged to the atmosphere from travel, hotels and all operations connected to the EnvironDesign7 conference.

“DuPont Textiles & Interiors has been aggressively moving its operations toward sustainable growth including significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous wastes and energy consumption," said Alan Wolk, vice president and general manager of Global Flooring, DuPont Textiles & Interiors. "Through our efforts, we have achieved Environmentally Preferable Product certification of Antron® carpet fiber, signifying a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared to other products and services that serve the same purpose, and have offset global warming emissions caused by the 2002 USGBC conference, and the EnvironDesign7 conference this year.”


Green Building Guidelines Published

As builders become aware of the benefits of providing a high-performance product, they begin to ask what really goes into a sustainable home. Green Building Guidelines: Meeting the Demand for Low-Energy, Resource-Efficient Homes was published to answer that question.

The straightforward, user-friendly handbook-developed by builders, for builders-is chock full of technical tips for builders to consider. It touches on how to approach the six elements of green home building: Site planning, energy efficiency, efficient water use, optimized indoor environmental quality, materials selection, and homeowner maintenance consideration. For example, there are checklists to help builders manage and control building costs through construction waste management, which show how to eliminate dumping and tipping fees, create less on-site debris, and develop reuse opportunities for materials.

Green building is more than just slapping a sustainable 'add-on' onto the same old box. It involves working with the entire team to think of the building envelope, the home's design components, its mechanical systems, and the outdoor climate as working together to deliver a positive living environment. Builders who follow this approach often position themselves ahead of the curve in the areas of health, efficiency, comfort and overall customer satisfaction.


AIA Publishes Guide for Green RFPs

A new tool to help educational and cultural institutions, companies, agencies, non-profit organizations, and others who write requests for proposals or qualifications from architects and other design and construction professionals has been developed by the AIA's Committee on the Environment (COTE). Available free on the AIA Web site, Writing the Green RFP: Sustainable Design Language for Consultant Requests offers sustainable design language that is admittedly ambitious, so RFP writers must carefully consider the budget and scheduling implications as they fashion their own documents. The guide also includes sixteen samples from notable projects, such as Oberlin College, Battery Park City and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.


Tucson's Zero Energy Home Opens to Public

Zero Energy Homes combine state-of-the-art, energy-efficient construction and appliances with commercially-available renewable energy systems. The homes, like most other homes, are connected to the utility grid, but overall, with their reduced energy needs and electricity generated by the sun, they are designed to produce as much energy as they consume. The Tucson ZEH makes extensive use of active and passive solar systems. Tucson Electric Power has agreed to run the home's meter backward and credit homeowners when the home's renewable energy systems put power back into the grid.

Tucson-area builder John Wesley Miller constructed the home, in partnership with the NAHB Research Center and Tucson Electric Power. Some of the ZEH's features (along with photos) are posted on the NAHBRC Web site. The home is part of a national demonstration program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The program's goal is to introduce the ZEH concept into the single-family, new home construction industry.

NAHB Research Center staff will monitor energy use and other vital information to prepare an evaluation of the home.


DOE Asking for Comments on Water Heaters

Since September 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been thinking about adding residential water heaters to the ENERGY STAR program. During that time, they have been discussing the technical issues with various "stakeholders." DOE has posted the "potential water heater criteria analysis on approaches to developing ENERGY STAR criteria for residential water heaters" for review and comment on its Web site. The page provides access to the criteria itself, comments from others and a method for submitting your own comments. The comment period will end on May 15, 2003.


New Studies Show Cities are Heat Islands

Two studies -- conducted by Montclair State University and National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Institute for Space Studies with research assistance from Columbia University -- confirmed that both Newark and Camden, New Jersey are warmer than surrounding areas. Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) -- the studies examined so-called "urban heat islands" around the cities and explored various measures to mitigate their adverse effects. The average air temperature in Newark can be as much as 11 degrees Fahrenheit higher than its suburbs and Camden's temperature can top the surrounding area by as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit.

On warm summer days, the air in urban areas can be significantly hotter than in surrounding areas -- an effect called a "heat island." The problem is caused by a variety of factors that trap heat, including buildings and dark pavement that absorb the sun's rays rather than reflect them.

Trees can significantly cool urban areas that generate heat and clean the air by absorbing pollution, according to two studies sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

"These two cities generate unneeded heat, which is not only unpleasant, it can have real health consequences for urban residents and for the environment," said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator.

The increase in temperature is bad for many urban residents' health. Hotter weather increases the frequency of heat-related health problems, such as heat exhaustion, and induces more asthma attacks, as the heat concentrates air pollution and speeds up smog formation. In addition, higher temperatures result in more expensive utility bills as residents run their air conditioners longer.

"The good news is that there is a relatively simple and economical solution -- plant trees," he said.

Kenny added that while it can take five years or more for a newly planted tree to grow enough to begin significantly cooling the environment and absorbing pollution, the long-term benefits of trees are irrefutable.

"Johnny Appleseed had it right," said New Jersey DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "These studies reinforce the need for Governor James E. McGreevey's initiatives to plant 100,000 new trees in New Jersey's urban and suburban communities." Campbell noted that the DEP already has begun planting more trees in Camden using $1 million funded by a supplemental environmental project.

In the short term, Kenny pointed out, there are additional steps that can be taken to reduce the "heat island" effect. These include constructing buildings using the principles of energy efficiency, which can conserve energy and reduce demand and the pollution that comes with generating electricity.

The New Jersey studies point to tree planting as a key strategy in combating urban heat islands in the future. Trees serve numerous purposes. In addition to providing shade from the sun, trees absorb carbon dioxide and filter out pollutants from the air. They cool the air by excreting droplets of water that draw heat as they evaporate, which is a process called " evapotranspiration." Trees also absorb sound, prevent erosion and provide habitats for birds and animals.

"Trees also provide an attractive canopy for urban areas, making communities more attractive to business and tourism, transforming a neighborhood's appearance and increasing home market value, as they bring nature closer to where we live and work," added Campbell.

The studies also showed that heat islands can be tempered by using lighter colored or more reflective surfaces on buildings, roofs and streets.


Portland Spotlights BEST Businesses

Ten Portland, Oregon businesses were recognized for their efforts to save energy, conserve water, reduce and recycle waste, promote transportation alternatives, and create environmentally responsible products at the BEST Business Awards breakfast.

Mark Hertsgaard, a highly respected author spoke about the Earth’s environmental future, the topic of his book Earth Odyssey. City Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Erik Sten were on hand to welcome participants and present awards.

“The BEST awards allow the City of Portland to recognize the exceptional environmental and efficiency work of our private sector partners,” said Commissioner Saltzman. “These businesses and individuals are teaching the rest of us how to conserve energy and natural resources and work smarter and more efficiently.” This year's winners included three in the Energy Efficiency category, two for Water Conservation, two for waste reduction, one for transportation alternatives, and two for product development.

The winners with their awards are:

  • 200 Market Building won for an energy-saving micro turbine installed in 2002.
  • Better World Club won in the product development category for their Travel Cool! carbon offset program.
  • Brewery Blocks won for the solar PV and other energy efficiency features built into Blocks 2 and 4
  • Coastwide Laboratories won a product development award for their Sustainable Earth line of cleaning products
  • Community Cycling Center won a waste reduction award for their innovative reuse of old bikes and bike parts.
  • DeConstruction Services won a waste reduction award for their practical alternative to conventional demolition.
  • Lloyd District TMA won a transportation alternatives for their comprehensive efforts to cut solo commute trips.
  • Oregon Convention Center won a water conservation award for rainwater reuse demonstrated in their "Rain Garden".
  • People’s Food Co-Op won an energy efficiency award for features designed into their recent expansion.
  • Sunshine Dairy Foods won a water conservation award for numerous operational improvements at their plant

Special recognition was also given to three local buildings achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification within the past year from the US Green Building Council. Recognition for green design and construction practices went to:

American Honda Motor Co – LEED Gold (2002)
Sokol Blosser Winery – LEED Silver (2003)
Balfour Guthrie, LLC – LEED Silver (2003)

BEST stands for Businesses for an Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow -- a City of Portland program for progressive local businesses. This year’s awards, the 11th annual program, were issued jointly by the City of Portland, Oregon Environmental Council, Portland Business Alliance, Earth Share of Oregon, Portland Tribune, and the US Green Building Council. For more information on the BEST program, this year’s winners, or how to apply for future BEST Awards, contact the Portland Office of Sustainable Development.

Six Granted National Green Building Awards

As part of the fifth annual National Green Building Conference in Baltimore, the NAHB Research Center announced winners of the National Green Building Awards. The awards program, now in its third year, honors and encourages builders, programs, advocates and products in the advancement of environmentally-friendly residential construction.

Some of this year's categories have changed from previous years including the expansion of the Green Program of the Year Award to include categories for both newly-established and longstanding programs. Other than the on-site ballot- based selection of the Outstanding Green Product recipient, winners of the National Green Building Awards program for 2003 include:

Green Advocate of the Year - A "Green Advocate" is someone who is a champion for the green building industry. Someone who, through tireless and often voluntary efforts has affected change in the field of resource-efficient new home construction. The 2003 winner of this award is Peter Pfeiffer, principal at Barley + Pfeiffer Architects of Austin, Texas, who is a pioneer and adamant believer in the implementation of passive solar design in all realms of construction.

Green Project of the Year, Affordable Category - This award is presented to the company that best showcases green design and construction techniques in new affordable homes, which are priced at or below 110 percent of the local median sales price. Artistic Homes of Albuquerque, N.M., won the award in this category.

Green Project of the Year, Production Category - This award is presented to the company that best showcases green design and construction techniques in new homes, in which at least 10 homes have been built to the same specifications. The award for this category was presented to McStain Neighborhoods of Boulder, Colo.

Green Project of the Year, Custom Category - This award is presented to the company that best showcases green design and construction techniques in a new home that is priced at or above 110 percent of the local median sales price. The winner of this year's award is Coho Construction Services, Inc., of Portland, Ore.

National Green Building Program of the Year - This award is given to a home builder association, non-profit group, utility, or other agency with an exemplary green building program that is less than three years old, with demonstrated efforts to expand through advertisement, builder recruitment, training, and education. The judges selected Seattle's Built Green™ program coordinated by the HBA of King and Snohomish Counties as the winner of this award based on the comprehensiveness of its mission and its excellent potential for future market penetration.

National Green Building Program of the Year - This award is presented to a home builder association, non-profit group, utility, or other agency with an exemplary green building program that is more than three years old, with demonstrated efforts to expand through advertisement, builder recruitment, training, and education. The Green Building Program of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Denver got the judges' nod for this category.


Energy Star® Confers Awards

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored winners of the 2003 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year awards in April. The awards highlight the efforts of leading manufacturers, retailers, utility companies, and a variety of state and regional programs that promote energy efficiency and awareness of the ENERGY STAR label.

Some of this year's winners include:

2003 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year - Product Manufacturer: Lighting
Sylvania, one of the world's leading lighting manufacturers, whose product line is 50 percent ENERGY STAR qualified, an increase from 35 percent in 2001. In 2002, Sylvania's sales of ENERGY STAR qualified products also increased by more than 85 percent compared to 2001. Sylvania currently has nine compact fluorescent products available in 27 different packaging configurations prominently displaying the ENERGY STAR label. Sylvania plans to introduce four new specialty ENERGY STAR qualified models in March 2003 and increase the percentage of Sylvania products that carry the ENERGY STAR label to 65 percent. The company's extensive promotional efforts in 2002 included a major newspaper advertising campaign, point-of-purchase materials, retailer circulars, and inserts in utility bill mailings.

2003 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year - Product Manufacturer: Appliances
Maytag Corporation, the first appliance manufacturer to label qualifying appliances at the factory, is ENERGY STAR's 2003 Appliance Manufacturer of the Year. Now a five-time winner of major ENERGY STAR awards, Maytag introduced new models of ENERGY STAR qualified appliances in every product category in 2002. Maytag produced a complete line of new ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers that consume 35 percent less energy than conventional models. In all, Maytag offers 132 residential models that qualify for ENERGY STAR in three product categories—nine clothes washers, 18 dishwashers, and 105 refrigerators. ENERGY STAR qualified residential models represent over 28 percent of the units Maytag sold in 2002, a 33 percent increase over 2001. Dishwasher sales alone rose 63 percent and refrigerator sales rose 53 percent.

Maytag has worked closely with ENERGY STAR to offer appealing promotions and educational opportunities for American consumers. In 2002, Maytag's efforts included conducting a major press event and recognition luncheon for the residents of Bern, Kansas, who participated in a landmark DOE study on energy and water savings from ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers. Maytag also partnered with the University of Delaware to educate its students about energy and waters savings from ENERGY STAR qualified commercial clothes washers installed on campus.

2003 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year - Product Manufacturer: Windows
As one of the world's largest window and door manufacturers, JELD-WEN, inc. is an aggressive promoter of ENERGY STAR. Eighty percent of JELD-WEN's product lines carry the ENERGY STAR label. JELD-WEN's diverse mix of promotional activities have raised awareness among home improvement retailers and major distributors nationwide. In 2002, these activities included running advertisements, training sales staff on the benefits of ENERGY STAR, and helping customers use ENERGY STAR to meet state code regulations.

A complete listing of all 2003 ENERGY STAR Awards winners is posted at the ENERGY STAR Web site.


Sustainable Schools Topic of New Web Site

The all-new Sustainable Schools website was recently unveiled by California's Division of the State Architect (DSA). It is a web portal geared towards those interested and involved in designing, developing and constructing high performance schools.

"Our new web site will aide schools in achieving optimal health and productivity among students and faculty," said Stephan Castellanos, California State Architect, "by providing a broad and diverse collection of sustainable building resources including guidelines, programs, case studies, relevant publications and much more." Of particular interest in these challenging budget times is a database of financial incentives. This database displays financial incentive programs that will fund projects in the areas of energy, water, materials, siting, green building, landscaping and transportation and includes programs from the Federal to the Local level.


California Rejects "Solar Tax"

After threatening to slap a surcharge on all independent power generators--including the thousands of homeowners who installed small photovoltaic arrays--the California Public Utilities Commission has backed down. They will not charge a so-called "exit fee" for most small independent power producers. Renewable energy advocates disparaged the fee as a "tax" on sunlight.

Instead, the PUC will exempt certain independent producers, including systems smaller than 1 megawatt (MW) that are net metered and/or eligible for PUC or California Energy Commission (CEC) incentives for being clean and super-clean. This includes many solar and wind systems, as well as fuel cells.

The fees were intended to recover costs associated with California's energy crisis from independent producers who no longer buy power through major electric utilities. Opponents of the fee pointed out that most small renewable systems are "net-metered" and directly connected to these utilities, and, therefore, would be paying fees. They also argued that the exit fee would directly contradict the many state and utility programs intended to encourage renewable energy development.


Rosebud Sioux Complete Wind Turbine

The Rosebud Sioux Indian Tribe installed a 750-kilowatt wind turbine on its reservation last month, completing a project that began eight years ago with wind resource monitoring. With half of the project funded by a DOE Cooperative Grant, the Rosebud Tribe financed the remainder of the project by obtaining the first-ever loan for a tribal wind energy project from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utility Service. The project will supply power to the reservation and will also sell power to the Basin Electric Power Cooperative. "Green tags" from the project are also being sold through NativeEnergy, LLC.


Energy Star Labels 100,000 Homes

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced that 100,000 new homes have earned the EPA Enegy Star designation over the last ten years. Energy savings to occupants exceed $26 million annually. Whitman made her announcement at a meeting of the National Association of Home Builders.

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