Green Building News

Green Building News January 2007

January 17, 2007

DOE Issues Final Appliance Test Procedure Rule

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced a final rule establishing new test procedures and related definitions to determine the energy efficiency of certain residential appliances and commercial equipment. The rulemaking clarifies and codifies the test procedures mandated by the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005.

“These new test procedures are the foundation for standards that will help bring more energy efficient options to the marketplace and result in energy savings for all Americans,” said DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner.

The final rulemaking, which appears in the December 8, 2006 Federal Register, will become effective in 30 days from that date. The rule promulgates test procedures and definitions for the following items as required by EPAct 2005: fluorescent lamp ballasts; ceiling fans and ceiling fan light kits; illuminated exit signs; torchieres; low-voltage dry-type distribution transformers; traffic signal modules and pedestrian modules; unit heaters; medium base compact fluorescent lamps; dehumidifiers; commercial prerinse spray valves; mercury vapor lamp ballasts; commercial package air conditioning and heating equipment; commercial refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator-freezers; automatic commercial ice makers; and commercial clothes washers.

DOE is continuing its work to increase the transparency and speed of the appliance standards process. The Appliance Standards Program, a part of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, manages test procedures and energy conservation standards for consumer products and commercial equipment.

For more on DOE’s Appliances and Commercial Equipment Standards Program, visit: http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/. Consumers can visit: http://www.energysavers.gov/ for easy ways to save energy, including the use of ENERGY STAR® appliances.

 

Congress Extends Federal Solar Energy Tax Credits Through End of 2008

In a December press release, SEIA reports that Congress passed legislation that would extend the 30% solar energy investment tax credit (ITC) for homeowners and businesses for one additional year, through the end of 2008.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) applauded the one-year extension of the solar ITC in H.R. 6111, the "Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006." At the same time, the industry cautioned that the lifespan of the credits is too short to encourage significant industry growth and cost reductions.

"While this bill does not constitute a long-term solar growth policy, it does provide some breathing room for solar projects in the 12- to 18-month pipeline," said Rhone Resch, SEIA President. "It ensures that the solar industry will continue to grow at a record rate in 2007. The passage of this bill with an extension of the solar ITC is recognition by Congress that solar is indispensable to our clean energy future."

An eight-year extension of the ITC will remain the solar industry's top legislative priority in 2007. A long-term extension is essential to reducing the cost of solar energy, as it would create market conditions that allow solar companies to make investments and drive down costs through economies of scale. A longer duration will also be needed to help stimulate the development of large-scale concentrating solar power projects.

SEIA's Resch expressed optimism that the 110th Congress would enact an eight-year extension as contained in S. 2677 and H.R. 5206, the "Securing America's Energy Independence Act," a bill which gained a bipartisan group of 80 House and 15 Senate cosponsors this year.

"This bill is a patch, and emphasizes the importance for Congress to enact long-term, comprehensive clean energy legislation when they return in January," said Resch. "We look forward to working with the next Congress, to craft a comprehensive and effective policy blueprint for a self-sustaining clean energy infrastructure in the United States."

The bill contains the following provisions:

Residential Solar Tax Credit: Extends a 30-percent tax credit, created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, for the purchase of residential solar water heating, photovoltaic equipment, and fuel cell property. Expires after December 31, 2008.

Business Solar Tax Credit and Fuel Cell Tax Credit: Extends a 30-percent business credit, established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, for the purchase of fuel cell power plants, solar energy property, and fiber-optic property used to illuminate the inside of a structure. After December 31, 2008, the credit reverts to a permanent 10-percent level.

 

Earth Advantage® Launches Green Building Media Campaign with Local Developer and TV Station

Today marked the first day in a series of video vignettes that will air on Portland, Oregon KPTV Fox 12's program, “More Good Day Oregon”. The series follows the construction of an Earth Advantage certified Legend Home from the ground up. The segment, called “Good For Us”, runs every Thursday and is repeated again on Sunday showing the different stages and components that not only go into a Legend home, but also what types of ‘green’ products and building methods help make up the rigorous Earth Advantage certification process; the largest third-party verified green building program in the nation.

There will be 17 segments in all, the final one airing the last week of April. Topics that will be covered include indoor air quality, energy efficient appliances, durable and/or natural products, energy efficient heating and cooling systems, high performance windows, fresh air ventilation systems and water efficient products.

Earth Advantage Executive Director Sean Penrith states, “Not only will this media campaign provide information to the general public on what green built homes are, but it also presents them with options for better performing, energy efficient and sustainable homes in the market place. Legend Homes is helping to supply a growing consumer demand for these types of green homes.”

In fall of 2006, the Portland Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS, a unified database resource that allows realtors to search for and find properties for home buyers) agreed to adopt a new feature called “Home Performance Measure” that allows designated homes built to green and energy efficient standards, like Earth Advantage, to be searched for. This feature is being implemented in February of 2007 and will not only create more demand for these types of homes, like the ones being built by Legend, but will also recognize the value of these homes as well. This is the first RMLS in the nation to accept this type of measure into their listings.

Jim Chapman, President of Legend Homes states “Earth Advantage helps set a bar for us that we strive to meet. Not only do we believe we build a good home, but Earth Advantage acting as a neutral third-party verifier confirms that we do. They help support our mission of quality and that enables our homes to be enjoyed by families for generations to come.”

Earth Advantage is having monitoring equipment installed so the home’s energy use and indoor air quality can be tracked once the home is complete and buyers have moved in. The data will be used to demonstrate the superior attributes of a high-performance Earth Advantage home. The concept of this media campaign is to show consumers that homes can be built in a production style manner that is more sustainable, energy efficient and has a softer impact on the environment. Duane Woik, senior green building consultant for Earth Advantage encourages the home buyer to “look for the Earth Advantage symbol in the property pages; you will know the house you are buying is climate-friendly performance.”

Earth Advantage, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, is a leader in the sustainable building industry in the Pacific Northwest. At a minimum, Earth Advantage homes are designed to use 15 percent less energy than houses built to standard code practices. Earth Advantage homes adopt the philosophy of holistic sustainability (4-pillar approach) and are accordingly certified for energy efficiency, healthier indoor air, resource efficiency and environmental responsibility. The organization has the ability to certify homes as Earth Advantage (Gold and Platinum levels exist too), ENERGY STAR, or LEED for Homes and certified just over 2,500 homes in 2006.

 

Finalists Named for National Energy-Efficient Home Building Award

The NAHB Research Center recently announced that 10 finalists have been selected for the 2007 EnergyValue Housing Awards (EVHA). The EVHA honors home builders who voluntarily incorporate energy efficiency into the design, construction and marketing of new homes. Now in its 12th year, interest and participation in the EVHA program has grown significantly making it a signature industry event for the energy- and environmentally-conscious home building community.

EVHA winners will be unveiled on February 7, 2007 at the International Builders' Show (IBS) in Orlando, in the affordable, custom, factory-built, production and multifamily categories for hot, moderate and cold climate regions. Award designations include gold, silver and honorable mention, with one builder earning the distinguished "Builder of the Year" award. Judging was completed in late October by a six-member panel, including a mix of new and returning judges specializing in the fields of engineering, residential energy, construction, design and marketing. Finalists were selected based on their homes' energy value; design; construction methods and processes; marketing and customer relations efforts; and their ability to demonstrate an understanding of a whole-house, systems design approach. The popular "People's Choice" award category has been included again this year, allowing the public to select its favorite home design from among the finalists.

The names of EVHA winners will be withheld until the evening of the awards gala. Finalists for 2007 include:

  • Aspen Homes of Colorado, Inc. - Loveland, Colo. - HBA of Northern Colorado
  • Bob Ward Companies - Edgewood, Md. - HBA of Maryland
  • Ferrier Builders, Inc. - Fort Worth, Texas - BA of Greater Fort Worth & HBA of Greater Dallas
  • Fireside Home Construction - Dexter, Mich. - HBA of Washtenaw County
  • Gary W. Dorris, Inc. DBA Dorris Construction - Central Pointe, Ore. - HBA of Jackson County
  • Grupe Homes - Stockton, Calif. - BIA of the Delta
  • Holton Homes, Inc. - Nampa, Idaho - Snake River Valley HBA
  • LivingHomes - Santa Monica, Calif.
  • Veridian Homes - Madison, Wis. - Madison Area Builders Assoc.
  • Yavapai College, Residential Building Technology Program - Chino Valley, Ariz.

According to judges, the caliber of EVHA applicants proves to be more exceptional each year as winners set themselves apart in ways that add value to their business, their customers and the environment. Among the finalists' entries, judges found exemplary practices related to climate-specific selection of equipment and systems, advanced air sealing and ductwork, consumer education and attention to detail. Winners not only focused on well-integrated systems design but also the use of high-efficiency equipment and innovative construction techniques.

The EVHA is coordinated by the NAHB Research Center in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

 

Building Energy 2007: Building for a Changing Climate - March 13-15

BuildingEnergy07 marks the 32nd year that NESEA is organizing this industry event which includes seminars, workshops and a trade show. This year's event is held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.

 

Greenprints - March 22-23

The Greenprints 9th Annual Green Building Conference and Tradeshow will be held in Atlanta, GA this year. Sponsored by Southface, the conference attracts practitioners, policy makers, building owners and concerned citizens interested in the exploration of better ways to link planning, architecture, construction and the use of natural resources.

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