Green Building News

Green Building News January 1, 2010

Oikos® Premiers Redesigned Web Site

You'll notice a few changes in our web site today. Along with the new format and graphics, we've added a Blog, Social Networking links and RSS feeds. Oikos continues with the Product Directory and monthly Green Building News. Then there's our Library of timeless information—look for new content there, as well.

What you won't find is the Bookstore. Why not? It's a simple story really. We can't compete with the large online book merchants who often sell books cheaper than we can buy them. For a while, our ability to attract niche publications and self-published books was an advantage, but now the big boys sell those, too.

Oikos remains dedicated to information on energy efficiency and sustainable building construction. The site offers architects, designers, building contractors, consultants and consumers detailed information on products and techniques. Our Product Directory continues as the centerpiece of the site—a searchable database listing more than 2,900 sources of building materials and equipment that have substantial environmental benefits, including products made with recycled content and products that save energy. Our large Library of technical articles is reorganized and contains new articles as well as archived content.

Thanks for taking the time to evaluate our revised site. We welcome your participation as a member of this community. If you would like to support our efforts, please consider advertising on the site.


EPA Releases Final Specification for WaterSense New Homes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final WaterSense single-family new homes specification today, creating the first national, voluntary, water-efficiency specification for an entire new home. With this announcement, EPA is inviting home builders to join the WaterSense program and commit to building water-efficient new homes.

“Home builders can now partner with EPA and earn the WaterSense label for their newly built homes, helping to create livable communities and quality homes that are easy to maintain,” said Peter S. Silva, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “These homes will save homeowners as much as $200 a year on utility bills compared to their current homes.”

EPA worked with hundreds of stakeholders over the past three years to develop this specification, which was designed to complement existing green building programs. WaterSense labeled new homes, which will be 20 percent more efficient than typical new homes, must be independently inspected and certified by an EPA licensed certification provider to meet the WaterSense criteria for water efficiency and performance.

The new homes will feature WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures, ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances (if installed), water-efficient landscaping and hot water delivery systems that deliver hot water faster, so homeowners don’t waste water—or energy—waiting at the tap.


New Category of Geothermal Heat Pumps Can Now Earn the Energy Star

New requirements for residential geothermal heat pumps (GHPs), enable water-to-water geothermal heat pumps to earn the ENERGY STAR® label for the first time. EPA’s stringent specifications for this new category of geothermal heat pumps will help protect the environment and reduce energy costs, because GHPs that meet the new standards will be up to 45 percent more efficient than conventional pumps.

Geothermal heat pumps use ground temperature air instead of outside air to provide heating, cooling and often water heating. GHPs can be installed in new and existing homes. Because they use the constant temperature of the earth, GHPs are among the most efficient heating and cooling technologies currently available in the marketplace.

Water-to-water geothermal heat pumps provide heating and cooling and/or water heating to a building using liquid rather than forced air. The new requirements for water-to-water equipment complements existing efficiency and performance requirements for water-to-air and direct geoexchange GHP models. Homeowners who install geothermal heat pumps with the Energy Star are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit.

New Web Site Brings Energy Technology Information to the Public

The Department of Energy is launching Open Energy Information - a new open-source web platform that will make DOE resources and open energy data widely available to the public. The data and tools housed on the free, editable and evolving wiki-platform will be used by government officials, the private sector, project developers, the international community and others to help deploy clean energy technologies across the country and around the world. The web site was launched as part of a broader effort at DOE, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and across the Obama Administration to promote the openness, transparency and accessibility of the federal government.

“This information platform will allow people across the globe to benefit from the Department of Energy’s clean energy data and technical resources,” said Secretary Chu. “The true potential of this tool will grow with the public’s participation – as they add new data and share their expertise – to ensure that all communities have access to the information they need to broadly deploy the clean energy resources of the future.”

DOE worked closely with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and other National Laboratories to develop and populate the Open Energy Information Platform. The site currently houses more than 60 clean energy resources and data sets, including maps of worldwide solar and wind potential, information on climate zones and best practices. also links to the Virtual Information Bridge to Energy (VIBE), which is designed as a data analysis hub that will provide a dynamic portal for better understanding energy data. NREL will continue to develop, monitor and maintain both sites.

Members of the American public and the energy community globally will have the opportunity going forward to upload additional data to the site and download the information in easy-to-use formats. will also play an important role providing technical resources, including U.S. lab tools, which can be used by developing countries as they move toward clean energy deployment. Over time, the plan is to expand this portal to include on-line training and technical expert networks.

As part of the Administration-wide Open Gov Initiative, Secretary Chu also announced today that the DOE is contributing various tools and data sets for the National Assets program being undertaken by a group of six departments and agencies across the federal government. These agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services; the Agricultural Research Service in the Department of Agriculture; the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the Department of Commerce; the Department of Energy; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, are working together to spur innovation by making it easier for high-tech companies to identify collaborative, entrepreneurial opportunities. By making information from multiple agencies available in RSS and XML feeds on, the National Assets program will increase access to information on publicly-funded technologies that are available for license, opportunities for federal funding and partnerships and potential private-sector partners. This information will help innovators find the information they need and receive real-time updates, which can fuel entrepreneurial momentum, create new jobs and strengthen economic growth.


Lumber and Building Materials Expo - Feb. 4-6

The Northeastern Retail Lumber Association will hold its annual Lumber and Building Materials Expo in Boston at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA. This year's theme is "MISSION: POSSIBLE - ENGINEERING PROSPERITY." The expo will feature several informative seminars, including an industry forecast, sales tips, green building and more.

More information

Ecological Landscaping Association Annual Conference - Feb. 25

ELA's 16th Annual Conference & Eco-Marketplace will be held at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. This year's theme: Expanding the Ecological Landscape: Maximize Biological Potential, Minimize Environmental Impact, and Love the Results!

More information

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