Thursday, April 24, 2014

Google and Sunpower Corp. Partner to Provide Solar Power for Families Nationwide

Google Inc. and Sunpower Corp. have established a recent partnership to provide financing for residential solar leasing projects. This program will allow residential home owners to install solar power systems in their homes at lower prices. The partnership is estimated to provide $250 million in financing--Google Inc. contributing $100 million, and Sunpower Corp. contributing $150 million. Currently, 20,000 residents have solar systems through Sunpower Corp's financing, but the company plans on expanding to families across the nation to make solar energy more affordable and accessible to families. 
Source: Google Energy Investments

Google is known for its sustainability efforts. It has contributed over $1 billion to renewable energy products, and its data centers use 50% less energy than typical data centers. This new program with Sunpower Corp. will allow thousands of families to gain access to solar energy systems. Google and Sunpower will use the funding to purchase solar panels, and then will lease them to families for a price that is lower than a typical energy bill. The initiative plans to help families save money while helping the environment. 

Google has invested in over 16 renewable energy projects around the world, including wind farms in Texas, solar facilities in California, and solar installations in South Africa.  "Just because Earth Day is over," said Rob Parker from the Google Renewable Energy Team, "doesn’t mean we’re done doing good things for the planet."


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Life Cycle and Why It Matters

Yesterday, on April 22nd, the world celebrated Earth Day. The threat of climate change has become critical in recent years, and this year, we encourage everyone to think about how we can individually impact climate change. Although it seems like a difficult, daunting task, we can make progress simply by starting to think about the life cycle.

The Environmental Protection Agency is celebrating Earth Month and urging people to become engaged in the battle against climate change. According to the EPA: "Forty-two percent of carbon pollution emissions in the U.S. are associated with the energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of the food we eat and the goods we use. In every one of these stages of the life cycle, we can reduce our impact."

So, what's the life cycle, and how can we each individually impact it? The life cycle is a measure of sustainability that follows a product from its inception--including extraction of resources, to its final disposal. How we choose to produce and dispose of products, including food, technology, and buildings, has a direct impact on the environment and greenhouse gas emissions. Every stage in the life cycle--production, management, distribution, usage, and disposal--all require massive amounts of energy, and how we choose to engage with these products determines how much energy we use. Most of the energy used in the life cycle are fossil fuels, which release excess carbon and lead to further global warming.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency

How can you engage with the life cycle, and make a positive impact on the environment? The EPA offers a variety of tips for each stage of the life cycle:

  • Purchase products made from recycled materials. This encourages manufacturers to use recycled materials in their production, and reduces energy from extracting materials and resources.
  • Buy durable goods. By reducing the amount you buy, less energy is used and less material is wasted. For example, instead of buying plastic water bottles every day, buy a reusable one, and save money and resources.
  • Buy locally produced products. Transportation requires the burning of fossil fuels. Buy locally produced goods to cut back on future greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Turn off your electronics. When your electronics are fully charged, make sure to unplug them. "Vampire appliances" continue using energy even when they are fully charged. Also be sure to turn off lights, computers, and appliances when they aren't in use to further reduce your energy usage.
  • Recycle! Recycling goods prevents usable material from being sent to landfills. Producers can reuse this material for new products. Some states even offer tax credits for those who recycle. Learn what can be recycled or composted, and set an example for those around you. 



Friday, April 18, 2014

LA To Create Nation's First Building Safety Rating System


Northridge Earthquake of 1994 Aftermath
Los Angeles, CA - Each year, southern California experiences about 10,000 earthquakes. Although many of them have negligible effect, anywhere between 15 to 20 have magnitude over 4.0. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is planning on creating the nation's first building safety rating system. This new system would rate the seismic safety of buildings and would prevent future damage in the event of larger earthquakes. Garcetti has brought on Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey to work with his administration in developing a rating system.

Mayor Garcetti says that the time to act is now. Taking note of the devastating effects after Hurricane Sandy and Katrina in the north and southeast, Garcetti says the cost of being unprepared is too high. "This past month, we've had two earthquakes, literal wake up calls to remind us that the big one is indeed coming," Garcetti pointed out, as the aftershock sequence will produce several earthquakes of all magnitudes for many months.

The Northridge earthquake of 1994 had a magnitude of 6.7 and killed 57 people, destroyed 7 freeway bridges, and led to over $20 billion worth of damage to buildings and other infrastructure. These earthquakes cause horrific damage, including the collapse of larger buildings, the breaking of water systems, and electrical fires. On the 20th anniversary of the earthquake, Garcetti stated in his State of the City Address:

"Today, I’m proud to announce that with Dr. Jones’ expertise, we are developing the first rating system in the United States to detail the earthquake safety of our buildings.

"But we won’t stop with that game-changer.  My charge to Dr. Jones is to help us create plans to mandate that our older buildings are retrofitted, and to protect our water and communications infrastructure."

LA's new seismic safety rating system is still in the works although advocates of building safety have been calling for such a system for many years as LA lies in a fault zone. The mayor and his council will be facing many issues in creating this new system, as there are many variables to take into account.

Michael Cochran, president of the Structural Engineers Association of California, pointed out that these same problems were faced by the U.S. Green Building Council with the LEED certification system for green buildings; however, LEED has gained nationwide success and continues to be the world's top green building rating system.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What Is A Green Building?

New York PS 62- Green School Building 
What is a Green Building?

A green building is a sustainable, high-performance building that is environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient. A building's entire life cycle, including its design, construction, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction is taken into account. Green buildings are designed to reduce the impact of the building on both the environment and human health, striving to efficiently use resources, reduce hazards, and eliminate waste and pollution. In the United States, the most common measure of a green building's design and performance is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Design).

The EPA outlines six primary focuses for green buildings:

  • Energy efficiency- green building strive to reduce energy consumption--including the energy needed to build and maintain the building as well as power its light and heating systems. The use of renewable energy, such as solar, wind, or hydropower can significantly reduce a building's carbon footprint.
  • Water efficiency- green buildings attempt to improve water efficiency and quality. Many green buildings have their own water collection and purification systems. Buildings can get creative when reducing their water consumption. For example, the Bank of America Tower has installed waterless urinals to reduce its water consumption by 10 million gallons a year.
  • Materials efficiency- materials such as recycled bottles, bamboo, straw, and recycled stone have been used to make green buildings. These products are nontoxic, renewable, and/or recyclable. 
  • Indoor environmental quality enhancement- green buildings reduce risks to air quality, such as impurities and microbial contaminants, and control moisture to reduce the risk of mold growth.
  • Operations and maintenance optimization- no matter how green a building may be in its design, it cannot reduce its impact on the environment unless its operations and maintenance are considered. The Bank of America Tower has come under criticism because, despite its green design, it uses an incredible amount of energy.
  • Waste and pollution reduction- green buildings reduce waste, from its occupants to its deconstruction. Green buildings strive to reduce water and energy waste with efficient, well enveloped systems. Buildings can also have compost systems to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfills. 
Why Build Green?

If saving the environment isn't enough of a reason to build green, then consider its other benefits. Although green buildings will cost, on average, 2% more to build than a conventional building, it will save 25% more on energy and water costs a year. 

Additionally green buildings tend to have higher property values, with the average sale price increasing by more than $20 per square foot. 

Studies have found that productivity and sales increase in green buildings. For example, 70% of customers in the retail and hotel industry were more likely to support a green business rather than a conventional business. Customers reported that they felt better contributing to a company that was environmentally-aware. 

Green buildings also can improve the mental and physical health of its residents. Hospitals have begun to create green roofs and gardens to improve the happiness of its patients. A study earlier this summer proved that children and adults with asthma had improved health once moving into LEED-certified green buildings. 

A green building is a smart building. Not only do they reduce their impact on the environment, they are creative, healthy, and economically-efficient. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

EPA Announces Top 25 US Cities with Most Energy Star Buildings

EPA Announces Top 25 US Cities with the Most Energy Star Buildings in 2014This week, the Environmental Protection Agency released the sixth annual list of Top 25 US Metropolitan Areas with the most Energy Star buildings. Energy Star is an EPA program that encourages businesses and homeowners to be more energy efficient, save money, and reduce their carbon footprint.

According to the EPA: "Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. Energy Star certified office buildings cost $0.50 less per square foot to operate than average office buildings, and use nearly two times less energy per square foot than average office buildings."

Products, residential homes, and commercial buildings are reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and improving their energy efficiency through the Energy Star program. They must pass specific requirements in order to achieve the rating. Energy Star buildings use 35% less energy on average and contribute 35% less carbon dioxide emissions than other buildings. Currently, Energy Star commercial buildings must perform in the top 25% of other similar buildings. Not only do individuals and businesses help the environment, but they are also saving a significant amount of money. Energy Star has helped individuals and businesses save over $30 million within the past year--money that would have powered wasteful electricity and greenhouse gas emissions.

Various types of buildings can earn Energy Star ratings, including residential homes, office buildings, schools, hotels, and stores. They are reducing pollution, cutting costs, and increasing the efficiency of their buildings, all while helping the environment.

The 2014 Energy Star Top Cities are:

1. Los Angeles
2. Washington, DC
3. Atlanta
4. New York
5. San Francisco
6. Chicago
7. Dallas-Fort Worth
8. Denver
9. Philadelphia
10. Houston
11. Charlotte
12. Phoenix
13. Boston
14. Seattle
15. San Diego
16. Minneapolis-St. Paul
17. Sacramento
18. Miami
19. Cincinnati
20. San Jose
21. Columbus, OH
22. Riverside, CA
23. Detroit
24. Portland, OR
25. Louisville

Want to become involved with Energy Star and energy efficiency? Sign up for an energy efficiency course with GreenEDU! We offer a variety of energy courses throughout the nation, from building analyst and inspection to infrared and thermography training!

Click here to view the various energy efficiency courses offered by GreenEDU and sign up now!

EPA To Strictly Enforce RRP Rule in Connecticut

New Haven, CT - The Environmental Protection Agency recently has contacted over 200 home renovation and painting contractors, property management companies, and landlords, emphasizing the importance of compliance with the federal RRP rule. The EPA will be inspecting various companies during the summer to make sure they are up to date with their certifications and are compliant with lead paint removal rules.

New Haven, Connecticut is reported to have the highest rate of children exposed to lead paint in New England. New England has many homes with lead paint because the housing stock tends to be older. The EPA is beginning a new initiative to ensure the safety of the New Haven children. Children exposed to even small amounts of lead paint at early ages may experience lower IQ, learning disabilities, impaired movement, and even sociopathic behavior. The EPA seeks to protect children's health with the RRP Rule, which went into effect in 2010. This rule prevents exposure to lead-based paint and any remaining hazards from renovation, repair, and repainting.

Additionally, the EPA RRP Rule mandates that individuals and companies performing renovations or repainting must attend a training course and become certified through the EPA before they can perform work. These training courses teach lead safe work practices for renovations of pre-1978 homes and any buildings that may occupy children, such as schools.

The EPA has invited New Haven individuals and contracting companies as well as landlords and property managers to attend information sessions at the New Haven Health Department. These information sessions will provide a summary of the RRP Rule requirements and regulations as well as an overview of a settlement offer for violating the RRP Rule. Throughout April and May, the EPA will offer assistance for individuals and companies seeking to become compliant. In June, the EPA will send lead inspectors to inspect various renovation and painting companies to ensure that they are compliant with the RRP Rule.

The EPA will likely continue these inspections throughout the New England area this year. Stay compliant with the RRP Rule by earning your EPA Lead Renovators Certification with GreenEDU. Stay up to date with current rules and regulations by attending an EPA Lead Renovators Certification Refresher course. We offer courses with certified instructors nationwide.

Don't wait for the EPA to inspect your company--become compliant now!

Click here to view all of our EPA Lead Certification courses around the nation! 




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

LEED Exam Updates Scheduled for June 2014

The U.S. Green Building Council has announced two important updates regarding the LEED professional credentials:

1.  Content Updates for Green Associate and LEED AP+ Exams

In June 2014, the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP Specialty credentialing exams will be updated to align with the new LEED Version 4 green building rating system updates. LEED v4 passed in Summer 2013, and was officially launched at Greenbuild in November 2013. The new version includes several changes from the previous LEED 2009 (v3) version, and these updates will now be integrated into the LEED credentialing exam material.

The last date to take the LEED v3 version of the exams is June 15, 2014. There will then be a 15 day "black-out" period while the exams are transferred to the LEED v4 versions. Testing for the v4 exams will begin on June 30, 2014.

2. LEED Project Experience No Longer A Pre-requisite For Taking LEED AP+ Exam

In addition to the exam content changing, USGBC also announced a major update in the LEED exam eligibility requirements. Currently, candidates are required to have experience working on a LEED registered project within the last three years to be eligible to take the LEED AP+ exam. Starting June 30, however, this eligibility requirement will be removed. Instead, candidates will be tested on applicable LEED project skills, such as using LEED Online, USGBC's online resource for managing and submitting LEED project documentation.

USGBC has stated that updated candidate handbooks and further details on the new exam content will be available by mid-April.

For those who wish to take the LEED v3 versions of the exam before the deadline, our in-person and live webinar courses will be covering LEED v3 content until Mid-may, and our LEED v3 online anytime program will be available through the June 15th deadline.

GreenEDU will also be holding weekly 2-hour study sessions via live webinar, designed for individuals who want to pass the Green Associate exam prior to the new version. Paired with our full-length exam prep courses, these 2-hour sessions are the final review you need to ace the exam before the June deadline! View our upcoming schedule and register at http://www.greenedu.com/leed-v3-green-associate-study-session-courses.