Category Archives: Green building

RMI: How applying Deep Retrofit Value makes for Better Buildings

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Buildings consume more energy than any other sector — 42 percent of the nation’s primary energy and 72 percent of its electricity. And at current trend and performance levels, fossil fuel use in commercial buildings will increase, not decrease, by 2050, when 65 percent of today’s commercial square footage is predicted to be still standing.

This is why in 2011 President Obama announced the Better Buildings Initiative and launched the Better Buildings Challenge to push CEOs, university presidents, state and local government leaders, building owners and others to commit their organizations to reduce their annual energy use by 20 percent over 10 years while showcasing the best energy-saving strategies and their results.

Better Buildings has scored major wins in its first two years: More than 170 organizations are in the Better Buildings Challenge, committing more than 3 billion square feet of building floor space. With clear success garnering broad support for energy savings in the near term, the Better Buildings Initiative has driven the commercial and industrial sectors onto the path of mitigating climate change and reducing fossil fuel dependence.

But to reach the finish line, commercial buildings must become closer to being 40 percent more energy efficient by 2050. Achieving these deeper levels of savings more broadly will require a scaling up of investment in energy efficiency. RMI’s new practice guide on how to calculate and present value from deep energy retrofits can help drive that investment.


A new DOE proposal would cement a big leap in lighting efficiency, but Congress is preventing even bigger savings

Read the full post from ACEEE.

New energy-saving standards for certain types of incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs proposed by the Department of Energy (DOE) last Friday mark another important step in improving lighting efficiency in the United States. DOE’s proposal further advances strong standards completed in 2009. Together, the 2009 standards and the proposed increases announced last week dramatically improve reflector lamp and fluorescent tube lamp efficiency by 70% and 23% respectively. Unfortunately, a congressional budget rider prevents DOE from saving even more.

Friday’s proposal covers incandescent reflector lamps, the cone-shaped light bulbs used in track lighting and recessed light fixtures, and fluorescent tube lamps, which are ubiquitous in office buildings. The sheer number of these light bulbs in use means that even modest efficiency improvements will yield large national energy savings. DOE estimates that in 2012 manufacturers shipped about 80 million reflector lamps covered by standards. And based on DOE data, almost 20% of all commercial-sector electricity use goes to power fluorescent tube lamps.

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Energy efficiency, Lighting


Wooden Skyscrapers Get Federal Support

Read the full story in FutureStructure.

The federal government is promoting an alternative building material for skyscrapers that’s as strong as steel or concrete, but with a smaller price tag and environmental footprint. The miracle product? Wood.

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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Green building, Local government


Green cleaning: The journey from niche to mainstream

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book “Silent Spring” was published. It forced the general public and members of the U.S. government to take a serious look at society’s use of chemicals and pesticides.

By the end of the decade, young people around the world took up the cause for “ecology,” as it was then called. This led to the first Earth Day in 1970, an event reflecting the much greater environmental consciousness that was spreading throughout the world.

Not long afterward, the first green cleaning products made their way onto the shelves of health food stores as the green cleaning movement began. Today, green cleaning is no longer niche, with an increasing number of certifications and other tools that have pushed it into the mainstream.

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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Green chemistry, Green cleaning


Abandoned boats get new life as gorgeous winery buildings

Read the full post at Grist.

Boats make excellent (and unexpected) roofs — they’re sturdy and waterproof by definition. And in Baja’s Guadalupe Valley, one of Mexico’s major wine regions, they shelter Vena Cava Winery.

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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Green building


Funding Opportunity – DOE Commercial Building Technology Demonstrations

The Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office has announced the availability of up to $10 million under the Commercial Building Technologies Demonstration Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0001084.

DOE seeks to fund demonstrations of commercial building technologies and integrated technology-based strategies that are market ready and underutilized. The objective of this funding is to generate and deploy data, case studies and information that lower perceived risk regarding the efficacy and economic benefits of innovative and under-utilized commercial building technologies that can save significant amounts of energy in new and existing commercial buildings. Technologies funded under this FOA are likely to meet the investment hurdles for the commercial real estate market at scale, but may not at the current time, and will have the potential to significantly reduce energy consumption in U.S. commercial buildings.

To be eligible for consideration, a concept paper must be submitted no later than March 31, 2014. Questions about this FOA may be sent to

Join us for a Webinar on March 5

Title: DOE Commercial Building Technology Demonstrations Funding Opportunity
Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.


New York City Bets On Energy Efficiency To Boost Sustainability

Read the full post at Just Means.

The world needs to make a transition to renewable energy as part of a global sustainability project, but until solar, wind and other renewables​ become the norm, there’s one solution that is available​ now: energy efficiency. More energy efficient buildings means less energy and fewer emissions, besides huge savings. However, financing projects is not always easy, since payback is not immediate, ​putting lenders off.

But New York City is looking at this issue in a different light, thanks to two initiatives. New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC) and the recently launched New York State green bank are offer​ing ​solutions for clean energy financing in New York City and State, respectively. They leverage expertise and financial resources to convert inefficient buildings into clean, high-performing investments. Best of all, they can offer custom-built financing options that are too attractive for building owners to turn down.


What’s cool in building design? Think net positive, and add water

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Have you heard the phrase “net zero” enough? As more buildings incorporate energy efficiency and renewables to generate as much energy as they consume over the course of a year, net zero is becoming sort of passé.

Now it’s time for a newer, sexier, more optimistic buzz phrase in sustainable design. Get ready for “net positive,” and add water.

“Life doesn’t do zero. We shouldn’t have as our end point some point that doesn’t do anything. We need to be regenerative and have a net positive affect on life,” said Jason McLennan, founder of the Living Building Challenge, a process for certifying both net zero and regenerative buildings, or “Living Buildings” that actually generate more energy over the course of a year than they consume. Living Buildings also have a minimum net zero waste and water requirement.

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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Green building


A New Way To Measure Energy Efficiency That Counts What You Use The Energy For

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Energy efficiency doesn’t occur in a vacuum. The building-energy-efficiency coefficient also measures how much you’re contributing to the economy with the energy you’re using.


Soon to Grace the New York Skyline: Towers Made of Fungus

Read the full story in Atlantic Cities.

This summer, fungal mycelium will be brought—purposely—to an unusual environment: New York City. To, in particular, the courtyard of MoMA’s outer-borough art and event space, P.S. 1, which each summer brings a new design to its outdoor pavilion. From that space, if all goes according to plan, will rise a tower constructed, almost entirely, of mycelium bricks. The structure—three twisted stacks that vaguely resemble merged y-chromosomes—will be a kind of proof-of-concept for fungal mycelium as a building material.

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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Green building, Sustainable design


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