19th century Harlem house restored to be energy efficient

January 21, 2022 by  
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A 19th-century house, owners interested in passive house design and an architectural firm came together with a resulting blend of original elements married to modern innovations in a big-city row house. MESH Architectures led the design for this original Brownstone building in New York City . While the façade looks like others in the Harlem area, it’s been restored bottom to top. Walls and roofing are air sealed and insulated with ample blown-in cellulose insulation for energy efficiency . Related: The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs Inside, the cellar was converted into a home gym and media area. The main floor houses the kitchen and dining room that open into the back patio space. One floor up, the parlor level features the living room and library . The master bedroom and home office/guest room are located on the third floor, with four bedrooms on the fourth floor.  Each level was modernized with innovative HVAC systems that constantly filter air to provide fresh air for the residents. The systems are ultra energy-efficient, leaving behind a minimal environmental footprint.  Although brought up to date in terms of passive design standards, the team put significant effort into retaining elements of the original 1800s era home. The process involved repairing the extensive original woodwork around the windows, doors, stairs and fireplaces, while updating the home at the same time.  The hybrid interior design is seen throughout the space with fixtures that are a blend of new and historical. While the kitchen was completely remodeled for the modern era, some doors were recycled by relocating them in order to salvage them.  “This house is an integration of old and new. It is airy and clean, and it responds directly to the needs of a modern urban family,” said MESH Principal Eric Liftin. “We emphasized the social space of the kitchen/dining room/yard, while making a special effort to preserve the historical elements of the house. The house is full of recent building science technology, yet it feels like a serene, historic Harlem row house. We were happy to learn that the clients had already learned about passive house construction before we met them.” Although a row house by design, the retrofitting of energy-efficient technology stands as an example of what’s possible for home renovations in the name of zero-emission futures for both existing and new architecture.  + MESH Architectures  Photography by Frank Oudeman 

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Affordable solar homes are lifting homeowners out of poverty

January 3, 2022 by  
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Carbon-negative, self-financing and scalable are just a few words to describe BillionBricks and Architecture Brio’s PowerHYDE. PowerHyde solar homes are models aiming to help solve both the global housing and climate crises. The PowerHYDE housing model was created by Prasoon Kumar and Robert Verrijt of Billion Bricks from India and Singapore. The housing model won a  Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction . Related: Living conditions rise in an Indonesian village PowerHYDE house explores sustainable means and solutions to empowering and facilitating growth opportunities to people without homes around Southeast Asia. These homes are now being used to create entire sustainable communities that help to lift homeowners out of poverty. “A BillionBricks Community is the world’s first carbon negative solar home  community to bring families out of poverty within one generation,” the designers said. The project presents an opportunity to shape the future of how houses are built. It helps both people to become homeowners and building projects to create their own renewable energy, aiding in the climate crisis. It is a radical concept in housing designed for energy sufficiency and extreme affordability. A BillionBricks PowerHYDE home is built via an indigenous prefabricated assembly technique that makes it easy to assemble in remote locations. The home has a solar array installed on the roof, and the homeowner can sell excess power generated back to power companies, generating a profit that helps to pay off the cost of the home. “BillionBricks homes are plug-and-play modular homes that do not need any connection to services and could be made functional from the day of completion of construction,” BillionBricks explained. The houses produce their energy, and also harvest 100% of the rainwater , clean their sewage and potentially grow their own food. Future BillionBricks homes will be integrated with smart technologies to improve their performance even more. Sample homes have been built in Mathjalgaon Village in India and in the Philippines. BillionBricks is now planning a full community of 500 homes near Manila , Philippines that will generate 10 megawatt of power.  + BillionBricks and Architecture BRIO Photography by Photograhix

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Largest energy company in the US is monopolizing solar power

December 22, 2021 by  
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An investigation carried out by Floodlight and the Miami Herald has found that the leading energy company in the U.S. is trying to influence energy policies in its favor, hurting the rooftop solar industry in Florida. The investigation says Florida Power & Light, the largest energy company in the country, is pushing policies that will overturn the current rooftop solar power reward program. If the company is successful, the current metering program where homeowners and businesses with rooftop solar power can sell unused power back to the grid would be scrapped. In turn, large solar power companies like Florida Power & Light (FPL) would have sole control of the market. Related: Solar parks could help bees make a comeback Emails obtained by the investigators show that FPL sent specific legislation text to state senator Jennifer Bradley. Just two days after the email was sent, FPL’s parent company NextEra Energy donated $10,000 to senator Jennifer’s political committee. One month later, the senator filed a bill identical to one proposed by FPL but it was introduced to the house by a different lawmaker. “This is a tired tactic that utilities have used to maintain their monopoly grip on electricity markets,” said Will Giese, southeast regional director for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Net metering is a popular program that gives people the right to choose the energy that works for them, provides benefits to all ratepayers and creates thousands of energy jobs across Florida.” Although only 1% of Florida electricity consumers currently sell their power back to the grid, the policy has been instrumental in enticing people to install solar panels. Experts say that rooftop solar in Florida could grow at the rate of 39% per year until the year 2025 if the current metering program is upheld. The potential that the program creates in empowering people to generate their own power threatens big companies like FPL. This could explain the reasoning behind the push to have the policy changed. However, experts say that the push may not go so far if legislators do their work well. “Companies do not pass legislation,” said Katie Chiles Ottenweller, south-east director for Vote Solar. “Legislators pass legislation. I’m hopeful this is a conversation starter but at the same time, it’s really hard to have a conversation when you have a gun to your head. The bill as it is written will decimate this industry.” Via Miami Herald and EcoWatch Lead image via Pexels

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Largest energy company in the US is monopolizing solar power

Infographic: Reduce Home Energy Use While on Vacation

December 21, 2021 by  
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Before you leave home for a vacation, remember that your home still consumes energy when… The post Infographic: Reduce Home Energy Use While on Vacation appeared first on Earth911.

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Convert Your Yard From Grass to Veggies

December 21, 2021 by  
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Imagine a life where you do not have to go to the grocery store to… The post Convert Your Yard From Grass to Veggies appeared first on Earth911.

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An Innovative Approach to Resilience in Public Facilities

December 6, 2021 by  
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Severe storms — and extended power outages — can happen anywhere. But instead of waiting for another disaster and grid failure, one community took action. After experiencing a devastating outage, government officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, decided to invest in energy infrastructure that would remain on, even when the grid went down. In a partnership with Schneider Electric™ and Duke Energy Renewables, Montgomery County received a comprehensive solution, including microgrids, upgraded electrical systems, generators, and renewable energy power — for zero upfront costs. Download the story to learn how they did it

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Explaining the exponential growth of renewable energy

December 6, 2021 by  
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Solar and wind energy now deliver nearly 9 percent of global electricity.

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Can briefly raising emissions help us transition to solar?

December 1, 2021 by  
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A new study divides fueling the world into two options: we can continue with a  fossil  engine model, or we can jump on the solar engine. Considering that experts say humanity has only a 50% chance of keeping to the Paris Agreement target of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or under by century’s end, it’s clear the study authors are pro-solar. “ Climate heating  beyond 1.5°C induces potentially existential risks to humanity with rapidly increasing chances to exceed tipping points,” wrote authors Harald Desing and Rolf Widmer in  their study  on reducing climate risks, published November 24 in Environmental Research Letters. Related: A billion-dollar solar investment is coming to Texas However, building the  solar  infrastructure requires fossil fuels. The study authors focus on figuring out how much fossil fuel energy we can use to build the solar infrastructure while still minimizing climate risks. They don’t cover issues like cost or availability of materials. “The model simulations show that fast and complete transitions are energetically possible when temporarily increasing fossil emissions above current levels for the sole purpose of accelerating the growth of renewable energy capacity,” the authors wrote. The study concludes that humanity’s best bet is to temporarily increase  emissions  by up to 40% while building solar infrastructure as fast as possible. They think the energy transition could be completed within five years if we act at top speed. Then, the fossil engine can be shut down. This plan results in the lowest cumulative emissions, according to the study. Even if we start today and transition at breakneck speed, we still have a one in five chance of exceeding the 1.5-degree goal of the  Paris Agreement . But it’s probably already too late to have a prayer of going any lower. And the longer we sit around talking about it, the more the temperature will ultimately increase. The good news is that the authors suggest slapping  solar panels  on readily available surfaces, such as parking lots and roofs, rather than building out huge solar farms. “A fast and complete transition to a solar PV powered society is conceivable: the technology is mature, produced at scale and not constrained by material scarcity,” the authors wrote. “Integrating PV in existing built environment suffices to replace the fossil engine, so no additional land transformation is necessary.” Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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Earth911 Podcast: Budderfly Delivers Energy-Efficiency-as-a-Service for Business

November 24, 2021 by  
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The cost of energy-efficient upgrades prevents many businesses from reducing their environmental impacts. We talk… The post Earth911 Podcast: Budderfly Delivers Energy-Efficiency-as-a-Service for Business appeared first on Earth911.

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Turns out, many Americans actually do support climate action

November 23, 2021 by  
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Americans are open to new climate change policies as long as they offer environmental, social and economic benefits. This is according to social scientists Janet K. Swim and Nathaniel Geiger. According to the two, many Americans are willing to embrace positive climate change policies regardless of political affiliation. Swim, a professor of psychology at Penn State, and Geiger, assistant professor of communication at Indiana University, say that their studies sought to understand people’s opinions on climate issues. They found some climate policies to be more popular than others. In general, they observed that Americans are willing to accept policies that offer incentives, as opposed to policies that punish. Related: Australia’s climate policy ranks last out of 60 countries As they explain in Renewable Energy World, “For example, about one-third of the respondents thought the disincentives for individuals would have more social harms than benefits, while only about 10% thought the same for other policy options.” In two recent studies, the researchers sampled responses from over 265 participants, ranging from ages 18 to 80. The participants were diverse in terms of political affiliation. The researchers found that 87% of the respondents preferred policies that increase renewable energy over those that decrease energy use. At the same time, 77% of respondents also showed support for policies that require energy reduction. Many respondents also thought that policies that promote increased green energy production, such as solar and wind, were better than policies that require people to stop using air conditioning without providing an alternative. The researchers say they were surprised that respondents’ political affiliations did not have a big influence on their preferences. This is coming at a time when political leaders have been accused of polarizing their supporters against specific climate policies. This study helps shed some light on how policies can be framed for public appeal. Overall, the researchers say that while “it may not always make sense for politicians to promote climate policy with the greatest public support…changing policies to increase their positive social impact – a carbon tax that rebates the proceeds to citizens is an example – can help win public support.” Via Renewable Energy World Lead image via Pixabay

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