Green Building News

Green Building News November 2007

November 5, 2007

GE Restructures in Response to Demand for More Energy-Efficient Products

GE Consumer & Industrial, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, today announced it intends to restructure its lighting business to become more competitive and better positioned for global growth in the dramatically changing lighting industry. This restructuring proposal, which would impact plants in Mexico, Brazil and the U.S., is a continuation of structural changes that have occurred over the last year and included facility closures, work transfers, employee reductions and the sale of operations at GE sites in Europe, China, Indonesia, the U.S., Latin America and India that have impacted more than 3,000 positions.

The objective of the proposed restructuring is to help the business better respond to customer and industry demands — particularly the global market move to more energy–efficient products — and invest in, and deliver, the high–tech lighting products increasingly in demand by customers around the world.

The announcement today would affect a number of facilities and positions globally, including: the closing of all Lighting operations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, impacting approximately 900 jobs, and the closing of some lighting operations in the U.S., impacting approximately 425 jobs, with a portion of those jobs being transferred to other GE Lighting facilities in the U.S., and the transfer of some operations from facilities in Mexico and the U.S. to other GE locations or suppliers impacting about 80 positions.

"We are proposing these actions in order to continue our leadership in an industry that is in the midst of significant change." Jim Campbell, president & CEO of GE Consumer & Industrial, said. "Global market demand for the most common household lighting product — the incandescent bulb — has dramatically declined over the past five years, and is accelerating due to new efficiency standards and technology advancements."

"In addition," said Campbell, "our historical model of making most of the components we need for our lighting products ourselves is no longer effective in today's global economy. In many cases, we can now purchase the components we need at a more competitive cost than we can make them. It doesn't make sense for us to continue with an inefficient model. The proposed plan would allow us to continue to reinvent our production model to use our global factory more efficiently and effectively."

The business is increasing its focus on the development and production of new, innovative lighting products like LEDs, organic LEDs, new high efficiency incandescent light bulbs and other products that will help maintain its market and technology leadership.


Collins Products Receives Energy Leadership Award for Upgrades to Klamath Falls Mills

Energy Trust recognizes wood products leader for production efficiency investments

Collins Products recently received the Energy Leadership Award from Energy Trust of Oregon in recognition of their outstanding commitment to energy efficiency and the environment at the company’s Klamath Falls, Oregon facilities. Since 2004, Collins has invested more than $1.34 million in energy upgrades at their particle board and hardboard plants, resulting in combined annual electricity savings of nearly 3.5 million kilowatts hours. Energy Trust supported these projects with incentives of more than $623,000.

“Collins has long been an environmental leader in the wood products industry,” said Margie Harris, executive director, Energy Trust. “We are pleased to recognize them for keeping energy efficiency high on their list of priorities.” But in the highly competitive wood products market, energy conservation projects also need to pencil out financially. By investing in their energy future, Collins shows that energy upgrades help companies improve the bottom line and protect Oregon’s environment.

For a company whose motto is “Do the Right Thing,” it’s no surprise that Collins Products is an industry leader in improving energy efficiency at their manufacturing facilities. “Projects like this support our corporate mission of environmental sustainability,” said Dale Slate, vice president and general manager, Collins Products. A family-owned business since 1855, Collins Products has received national recognition for their leadership in harvest practices and plant operations.

“Collins Products is very excited to be recognized for our commitment to energy efficiency and the beneficial effects it has on the environment,” said Slate. “Energy Trust’s Production Efficiency program has enabled Collins Products to install equipment to improve energy efficiency that it would not have been able to do otherwise, to the benefit of Collins Products and all Oregonians.”

Since it started in 2003, Energy Trust’s Production Efficiency program has worked with 462 Oregon industrial companies on energy projects that are saving more than 430 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The Production Efficiency program provides energy audits, technical assistance and cash incentives to industrial facilities seeking to improve electrical process efficiency. RHT Energy Solutions, the southern Oregon service delivery contractor for the Production Efficiency program, worked closely with Collins to identify the most cost-effective projects and to implement them to gain maximum energy savings. Taken together the annual energy savings from upgrades at Collins Products are equivalent to the amount of electricity used by more than 300 average Oregon homes.


New ENERGY STAR® Tool Offers Warm Homes and Cool Savings

With winter just around the corner, consumers now have access to a tool that can help them reduce their energy bills up to 25 percent by making some simple improvements around their home. The new tool from EPA, the Energy Star Home Advisor, provides consumers with customized recommendations for improving energy efficiency and comfort at home. Using energy more efficiently is also another way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The average family spends $1,900 per year on energy bills. For example, EPA estimates that homeowners can save up to 10 percent on their annual energy bill simply by sealing air leaks and adding insulation. If every American home improved energy efficiency by 10 percent, the result would be 800 pounds of carbon removed from the air each year.

Using the Energy Star Home Advisor, homeowners can enter their zip code and some basic information about the types of fuel used to heat and cool their home, and get recommended home improvement projects to increase energy efficiency and comfort. Homeowners can also see the average energy savings for these improvements and associated greenhouse gas reductions.

Common recommendations for homeowners include sealing air leaks and ducts; adding insulation; installing a programmable thermostat; replacing older heating, cooling and water heating equipment with more efficient units; as well as changing lighting, appliances and windows to Energy Star qualified models.


Energy Efficiency Ranks # 1 In Consumer Green Building Priorities

NAHB National Green Building Program Anticipates Home Buyer Demands

A new survey conducted for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) confirms that a desire for greater energy efficiency drives consumers to choose a green-built home.

The NAHB National Green Building Program is a voluntary program, based on the three-year-old NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines and is set to launch Feb. 14, 2008 at the International Builders’ Show® in Orlando.

The survey was conducted the week of Oct. 15 by the national polling firm Public Opinion Strategies.

When 800 registered voters were asked how important certain items would be in their decision to either purchase a new green home or remodel their current home to be more green, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers polled said that “reduced energy costs” would be the most important. The second-highest scoring reason, at 55 percent, was “because it would be healthier.” And 49 percent of those surveyed say it’s “the right thing to do for the environment.”

“That’s a pretty strong showing for altruism,” said Neil Newhouse, partner with Public Opinion Strategies. “But cost is the overriding concern. That’s something that all green players – builders, regulators and advocates – need to keep topmost in their minds.”

The NAHB National Green Building program is being launched in cooperation with the NAHB Research Center, the industry’s leading building science technology testing institution working to make homes more durable, efficient and affordable.

To be certified under the NAHB program, homes must meet energy-efficiency levels that are at least equivalent to Energy Star®, the federal Environmental Protection Agency program that has enjoyed great success in the marketplace. Since 2000, 750,000 homes have earned the Energy Star label, indicating that they are at least 15 percent more efficient than required by current energy codes.

However, energy use is not the whole picture. Elements of green building such as water efficiency, resource efficiency and indoor environmental quality are also essential.

“When a green home doesn’t look or feel significantly different from one built using more traditional construction methods, when builders have the tools and resources to build them without significant materials or labor cost increases and when consumers readily accept the finished product, then green has arrived – and that’s why the NAHB National Green Building Program will bring green to the mainstream,” said NAHB President Brian Catalde.

The NAHB National Green Building program will link dozens of successful state and local voluntary green building programs with a national online scoring tool for builders and verifiers and extensive educational resources. “A flexible, regionally appropriate approach is preferable to a unilateral approach that does not take into account local issues, architecture, or geographic differences,” Catalde said. “This program opens up the opportunity for all our membership to build green.”


PATH Announces First Top 10 Remodeling Technologies

Innovations improve energy and resource efficiency in existing housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) today unveiled its first Top 10 Technologies list exclusively for remodeling.

In PATH's Top 10 Remodeling Technologies for 2007, there's something to improve almost every area of the home: the building envelope, lighting, HVAC, plumbing, controls and floors. Although some technologies are relatively new, most have been around for a while, but for various reasons haven't been widely adopted. The Top 10 is designed to help push them along with much-needed exposure.

"Remodelers comprise a unique part of the housing industry and face the distinctive challenges that come with existing housing," said Assistant Secretary Darlene F. Williams of HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research. "PATH has scanned the industry for underutilized technologies that can dramatically improve the resource efficiency and energy efficiency of our existing housing. This Top 10 list offers remodelers a low-risk way to make today's housing perform better tomorrow."

The technologies include: PATH Remodeling Top 10

  1. Air sealing with spray foam insulation
  2. Smart ventilation/ventilation control systems
  3. HVAC sizing
  4. High efficiency toilets
  5. Compact fluorescent lighting
  6. High performance windows/storm windows
  7. Wireless lighting, thermostats and other controls
  8. Solar hot water
  9. Recycled/renewable flooring options
  10. Tubular skylights

With its Top 10 series, PATH spotlights for the housing industry and consumers innovations that are within easy grasp. However, in past Top 10s remodelers and homeowners had to decipher which ones applied best to existing construction.


U.K. Has New Online Sustainable Building Resource

A new public interest website, SustainableBuild, focuses on green construction techniques and advice in the U.K.


Ecobuild Fall and AEC-ST Fall - Dec. 10-13

Covers sustainable design, renewable energy, environmental planning processes and information collaboration strategies for commercial, industrial, institutional and residential construction. Attendees include the federal government, design and construction decision-makers from the public sector and private practice, AEC professionals, owners, developers and facility managers. Information and Registration.


The Northwest Builders Show™ - Dec. 11-12

The Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBA) is partnering with NAHB for the second annual Northwest Builders Show in Bellevue, WA.

engineeringgreen07 - Dec. 17-18

Seattle and Portland join forces for a combined engineeringgreen07 in Beaverton, OR. This effort will allow for broader participation and higher quality. Technical trainings and workshops, green engineering practices and holistic design process.

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