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Net-Zero Energy Building

Net-Zero Building Ashley Halligan, an analyst at Software Advice, asks whether or not net zero is a realistic expectation in Breaking Down Net Zero: Reality or Wishful Thinking? By 2050, all commercial buildings must become net-zero.  By 2030, all federal facilities must be net-zero.  These ambitious targets were set by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. So… what does net-zero mean? Also known as NZEB (Net-Zero Energy Building), net-zero building aims to match energy consumption with on-site production.  Though there are multiple definitions floating around, for our purposes “net-zero” refers to a building that produces the same amount of energy as it consumes in a year, flattening out the the building’s net consumption to carbon-neutral. How is this “net-zero” status achieved? There are essentially two basic methods of creating a net-zero building: retrofitting and ground-up initiatives.  The first step for either choice is to plan to minimize the building’s overall energy consumption.  For ground-up initiaves, this is handled in the planning process; retrofitting projects should make most changes ahead of time. Before modifying the building or adding on-site renewable energy systems to existing infrastructure, some basic measures can be taken to reduce the amount of energy needed to run the facility.  This can be as simple as using LED lights, such as DirectLED Flourescent Replacement Tubes, or exchanging an old refrigerator for a Steca PF166.  When you’re shopping for appliances, you should always look for the Energy Star label.  Also, setting your programmable thermostat down a smidgen can notably reduce energy consumption.  Explore solar thermal heating and set the water temperature to a max of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Because heating, cooling, and ventilation accounts for about 30% of overall energy consumption in commercial buildings, it is wise to consider upgrading aged HVAC systems to newer Energy Star HVAC systems.  Furthermore, setting the temperature to 69 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer can make a noticeable difference. As new infrastructure is developed, energy efficient design techniques will be implemented to reduce the amount of energy used in heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, etc. Passive solar design maximizes use of the sun’s light with features like south facing windows and strategic shading to illuminate rooms during the day without too much heat, reducing the need for artificial light and HVAC systems.  Many buildings were not originally designed to make use of passive solar technology, which can pose a series of obstacles while retrofitting a building.  Constructing net-zero buildings from scratch has its advantages in this area. Whether retrofitting or constructing buildings with net-zero in mind, it is imperative that building contractors, property owners, and CEOs collaborate...

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Living Green on a Budget for the Socially Conscious Consumer
Jul12

Living Green on a Budget for the Socially Conscious Consumer

There are plenty of ways to become more energy efficient while pinching your pennies.  Going green is more than green consumerism; it’s a mentality, a lifestyle, a discipline.  Though the environmental impact of our lifestyles may appear to be lost in abstraction, there are real-life changes we can make to reorient our mindsets and actions to help our planet.   The easiest technique to begin this journey is to create new, environmentally-conscious habits.  According to the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, it takes an average of 66 days to normalize a repeated behavior, forming a new habit.  Make it a goal to turn off the lights every time you exit a room.  See if you can do this for two months- it’ll stick.   It’s far too easy to move around your place, flipping on the lights and wasting energy.    Limit your driving by coming up with alternative modes of transportation.  Next time you’re headed somewhere in town, make it an activity.  Cruise on a bike or walk to your destination.  If you live in an urban area, make use of public transportation.  If you do need to drive, plan to knock out several errands at once, making your trips more gas efficient.  Do you live by your coworkers?  Get in the carpool lane and avoid traffic.   Consume local produce, which requires less fossil fuels used to transport the food.  Consider growing a garden, using kitchen and yard waste as organic compost.  Furthermore, you might want to think about reducing your consumption of meat, particularly beef.  Cattle rearing releases an obscene amount of greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere (for more information, see this article).Pay your bills online and request direct deposit to save trees.   Landscape, or “naturescape,” your yard with plants that are native to your region.  Indigenous plants require little maintenance and support biodiversity.  Traditional landscaping uses exotic plants that are often invasive species, which muddle up the natural balance as they dominate their environment.  Ditch the fancy landscape and harmful fertilizer.  Credits to Alex Koutzoukis, Landscape Architect Hit up local thrift stores for clothes, furniture, and household items.  Yard sales are another eco-friendly alternative to the shopping mall.  And when you’re washing your clothes, use cold water and hang them on a clothesline to dry. Reuse old products.  In the move towards green consumerism, there are plenty of companies that push the idea of green products.  Eco-friendly cleaning products and energy efficient appliances are fantastic.  Green household items, on the otherhand, are wonderful if you actually needto purchase new items.  Instead of buying a brand new product that’s made from recycled materials,...

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motion-activated led Security Light by RAB

Presenting the RAB LED LFLOOD 18W with STL360, a motion-activated security light for your home or office. Ideal to complete your home security system, the RAB LStealthworks as a deterrent against crime.  This security light is perfect to protect your garage, back yard, side yard, barn, or any area that needs security lighting on a regular basis.  The RAB LStealth is also convenient to have at your front porch for those times you spend outside in the evenings. The RAB LStealth’s finish is offered in your choice of bronze or white to match style of your home or office building. One thing that sets this security sensor apart from the rest is the range of motion that it detects.  The RAB LStealth tracks movement not only in front, but in a full 180 degrees that extends sixty feet.  On top of that, the RAB LStealth’s sensor also picks up any motion underneath it in 360 degrees.  There is no sneaking past the RAB LStealth!  Upon activation of this high-powered sensor, the RAB Stealth’s LED light extends a brilliant fan of over 1600 Lumens, covering an area that would normally require two standard floodlights to produce.  This LED light comes in color temperatures of 3000k, 4000k, or 5000k to match your personal taste.  By using this LED technology, you will also be conserving energy.  This highly efficacious security light consumes only 18 Watts, helping you chip away at the cost of your monthly electric bill. To save even more energy, the RAB LStealth also comes with an evening timer mode. This allows you to set your RAB LStealth to work for a designated amount of time in the evening.  Forgotten are the days of constantly replacing incandescent lamps for your security lights.  This LED is packed with an impressive lifespan of 50,000 hours.  The RAB LStealth is sturdy and built to withstand intense weather conditions; its minimum working temperature is -40 degrees Celsius! The manufacturers of this dependable product stand behind the RAB LStealthwith a ten-year warranty. The RAB LStealthprovides exceptional performance for commercial or residential use. Where can you use the RAB LED LFLOOD 18W with STL360?...

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energy efficiency is the ticket to success

According to a recent report released by McKinsey & Company, a consulting company energy efficiency can save the U.S. $600 billion by the year 2020. Also the report states our country can reach half our target towards lowering carbon emissions through energy efficiency. The report called, “Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy” stresses not only the environmental benefits but highlights the economic benefits investing in energy efficiency. Even though energy efficiency is one of our largest sources of energy, it has been ignored in public policy, why? Today many new products are being released to decrease energy usage in homes and businesses. For example LED Light Bulbs are becoming more affordable and are a great way to create “negawatts” in our energy supply. How do you invest in energy...

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phoenix testing green street lighting

Phoenix has recently created it’s first “green light district” in downtown, the city is testing new high efficiency LED streetlights that use fraction of the energy compared to standard incandescent streetlights. Streetlights are a major drain to our nation’s electric grid by replacing old lighting technology with state of the art LED streetlights, cities can reduce their energy bills and their carbon footprint at the same time. The pilot program put together by the city of Phoenix is testing different brands of LED streetlights along North Third St between Garfield and McKinley. The goal of the test is to determine the highest quality LED streetlights on the market to eventually convert the entire city of LED street lighting. LED streetlights can make a big difference, wouldn’t you...

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save money with a solar attic fan

Today, I want to talk about a product that gets very little attention but can save you a lot of money on your summer cooling costs each year. We can all agree that the air conditioner the biggest energy hog on your electric service, when you flip your air conditioner on your electric meter starts spinning forward really quickly and your bill starts to rack up. What if you cut the number of hours your air conditioner runs everyday, how much money would that save you? That’s exactly what a solar attic fan does, it forces the hot air out of your attic, therefore cooling your living space below which requires the air conditioner to kick on less everyday the solar attic fan is running. Many people can’t afford the upfront investment of purchasing a grid tie solar electric system that can offset a majority of your electric bill so I tell many consumers to start with a solar attic fan. It’s more cost effective to first figure out whats to become more energy efficient and then produce clean energy. what do you...

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