Being Green – Good News?!?!?!

Hi Folks:  Well, Friday has come around once again and that means it’s ‘green day’ here for us.  Without question the biggest news in the world this week is the aftermath following the earthquake in Haiti.  If you’re interested you can find links to disaster relief sites here.  It’s events like this that bring the words ‘climate change’ into real focus.  It’s wonderful that so many millions of dollars and thousands of hours of effort have been offered in assisting the people of Haiti deal with what’s happened on their island; as Marcia said to me though, where were the funds to help them upgrade their infrastructure BEFORE this happened?

Ah well.  The title of this blog post is ‘Good News’ and all evidence to the contrary, there is good news to be found.  Last week’s post focused on what I see as the somewhat bewildering plethora of green building standards and certifications, but even that is good news in a way.  It wasn’t that many years ago that none of this existed.  One article I came across this week is titled ‘A Very Brief History of Sustainability‘.  These ideas continue to spread beyond building construction as well.  On the Sustainable Sites Initiative website you can find information on “The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009” (.pdf), which includes “all stages of the site development process from site selection to landscape maintenance”.  There’s also a companion guide called “The Case for Sustainable Landscapes” (.pdf)  It brings a different slant to the idea of being ‘green’.  Another site I came across talks about greening up building operations and maintenance.  In the US these guidelines fall under the USGBC LEED for Existing Buildings – Operations and Maintenance Guide.  The article I read is titled, “LEED Cleaning – Why Not?”  Consider for a moment the wide range of chemicals used in traditional cleaning products and their effects on both the people using them and everyone else occupying the building after their use.  I certainly applaud less toxic alternatives!  Continue Reading →

Being Green… Update

Hi Folks!  Friday has come around once again., so that makes it ‘Green Day’ here on our blog.  I took in two webinars this week, both kindly provided by the Building Technologies Program at the US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy division.

The first was the second part of a series on the ongoing efforts in Greensburg, KS.  In the spring of 2007 the town of Greensburg was nearly obliterated by a class 5 tornado, and when they decided to rebuild the town, the decision was made to rebuild it as a model of green building and green technologies.  Many different people, departments, governments and private industries have been and continue to be involved in this process.  I think it’s inspirational, and a good model to use for future rebuilding efforts when and if they should arrive.  The presentation slides from the second webinar as well as the slides from the first in the series and a video recording of the first presentation are available at the DOE, EERE website.  The next webinar in this series is expected in January, but I don’t have a firm date for that yet.

The second webinar I had a chance to see was titled ‘Activities and Programs Relating to Energy Efficiency Retrofits in Residential Buildings’.  While it may be true that the average homeowner is more aware of ‘green’ products today (i.e. solar panels, solar hot water, wind turbines, ground source heat pumps, etc.) it has been said over and over again that for most buildings in existence today the first steps should be to make those buildings more efficient.  This can be achieved in many ways – better windows, increased insulation, better weathersealing, etc.  This webinar addressed these issues and also the challenges faced by homeowners who have expressed an interest in pursuing these options, in three areas.  From the slides of this presentation:

  1. Access to Information: Consumers do not have access to straightforward and reliable information.
  2. Access to Financing: Homeowners face high upfront costs and are often unable to recoup the value of their investment.
  3. Access to Skilled Workforce: There is an insufficient amount of skilled workers to expand energy retrofit programs on a national level.

The slides from this webinar are also available at the EERE website; more information will be provided when it is available.

From the e-mails I received this week:

  1. The December 2009  issue of Environmental Building News is available here.
  2. The folks at ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) have made available a series of six ‘Advanced Energy Design Guides’.  There’s one for Small Healthcare Facilities, one for Highway Lodging, one for Small Warehouses and Self-Storage Buildings, one for Small Office Buildings, one for Small Retail Buildings and one for K-12 School Buildings.  The guides are in .pdf format and can be downloaded for free, but registration is required.  The guides can be found here.
  3. The latest e-newsletter from Green Building Advisor is available here.
  4. The latest Targeted e-News from Environmental Design + Construction (re: Energy Star) is available here.
  5. And finally (for now), the latest Eco-mmunity Greenzine bulletin from Sundance Channel is available here.
  6. The latest Healthy Building Network News is available here.

That’s about it for now, but before I sign out I want to add one more link to promote some folks I know at the Okanagan Science and Technology Council (OSTEC), specifically the ‘Clean Tech‘ group.

Have a great week, and if you have any links to share, leave a comment here!

Mike.

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