Green building

These Green Roofs Are More Than Just A Garden, They’re Also A Power Plant

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Green roofs produce food, cool buildings, and add a dash of color to the skyline. In the future, could they also generate electricity?

That’s the vision of Marjolein Helder and her Dutch startup Plant-e. Helder has developed a modular system that generates power from submerged plant roots. Eventually, it could power whole households, she says.

Dunkin’ Donuts launches green building program for new stores

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t usually come to mind when it comes to green companies.

After getting two stores LEED-certified since 2008, however, the Massachusetts-based retailer has parlayed the experience to create its own certification program for franchisees.

The company will roll out the program for new construction projects, with a goal of building 100 certified restaurants by the end of 2016. If all goes well, they also want to extend the program to retrofits at some point.

EPA announces new ENERGY STAR tool and tips to save money and energy this winter

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching its ENERGY STAR Home Advisor, an online tool designed to help Americans save money and energy by improving the energy efficiency of their homes through recommended customized and prioritized home-improvement projects.

“As we enter the winter months, homeowners can use our new ENERGY STAR Home Advisor to increase energy efficiency and save money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “When homeowners take advantage of this important tool and increase the energy efficiency of their homes, many families will notice savings on energy bills and improvements in the comfort of their homes.”

The updated ENERGY STAR Home Advisor guides the homeowner through a “do-it-yourself” energy assessment to create an ENERGY STAR home profile. Based on the newly created profile, the Home Advisor provides customized, prioritized recommendations for improvements. From these recommendations, users can create their own to-do lists of projects such as adding insulation to the attic or replacing an HVAC air filter. Over time, users can update their home profiles as they make improvements, see the positive environmental impacts of the changes they’ve made, get additional recommendations, and update their “to-do” lists for future projects. The home profiles can also be printed and used at the time of sale.

More on EPA’s ENERGY STAR Home Advisor:

Families can also use ENERGY STAR tips to save energy and money at home this winter:

Get a Home Energy Audit – Home energy auditors are trained and certified in how to find energy problems using specialized equipment to pinpoint key areas for improvement and provide customized recommended solutions. In select states, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR offers an energy assessment that focuses on a systematic approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort. More:

Seal and Insulate – The average home spends $2,000 on utility bills each year. Heating and cooling costs account for nearly half of that amount. ENERGY STAR estimates that homeowners can save up to 10 percent on heating and cooling costs by sealing air leaks and adding insulation. Learn more through ENERGY STAR’s “Rule Your Attic!” campaign, which encourages homeowners to measure their attic insulation levels as a first step toward making their homes more energy efficient and comfortable. More:

Heat Efficiently – ENERGY STAR recommends that homeowners check their HVAC system air filters every month. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder — wasting energy and possibly shortening the life of the system. A good rule to follow is change the filter every three months. ENERGY STAR also recommends that homeowners have HVAC systems serviced annually by a licensed contractor to ensure they’re running at optimum efficiency. If the heating system is over 15 years old, consider planning for its replacement with a high efficiency unit. Today’s ENERGY STAR certified condensing furnaces operate at over 90 percent efficiency. Depending on where one lives, replacing old heating and cooling equipment with newly certified ENERGY STAR equipment can cut annual energy bills by more than $115. More:

Use a Programmable Thermostat — Avoid heating the house when not necessary, and save almost $200 a year. Programming the thermostat to turn the temperature down 8 degrees for 7 hours each night and an additional 7 hours each weekday could result in a seasonal heating savings of approximately 12 percent. More:

Make “Bright” Choices For Lighting — To get the energy efficiency and performance expected, look for the ENERGY STAR label. LED bulbs that earn the label are independently certified to ensure they deliver on brightness and color and shine light where it’s needed. More:

Decorate for the Holidays with ENERGY STAR Light Strings — ENERGY STAR certified light strings use 50 percent less electricity than incandescent light strings and are available in a variety of colors, shapes and lengths. They are more durable, shock-resistant and cooler to the touch. Some models deliver features such as dimming or color shifting. More:

Give ENERGY STAR Certified Electronics — A home equipped with TVs, set-top boxes, a Blu-Ray player, and a home theatre in a box that have all earned the ENERGY STAR can save more than $280 over the life of the products. If streaming movies or videos over the Internet, remember that laptops and tablets use less energy compared to streaming over desktop computers or game consoles. More:

Upstart manufacturer turns fiber waste into building materials

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Looking for a non-structural building material that is as versatile as wood composite, aluminum or fiberboard but far less toxic?

That’s the promise behind ECOR, a product made from recycled cardboard, wood scraps, even agricultural byproducts such as coffee grounds and corn-stalk fiber.

Net Zero-Energy Building Technologies Gain Government Support

Read the full story in Clean Technica.

With a global focus on reducing energy consumption continuing to grow and increase in importance, many methods of “going green” are beginning to receive increased attention. A new analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that one of these concepts gaining prominence is the net zero–energy building. A net zero–energy building, in theory, generates as much renewable energy as is necessary onsite.

Greener stadiums: Sports world sees the (LED) light

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Good lighting might seem a given at flashy sporting events.

But orchestrating thousands of pricey, power-intensive lights remains one of the most important facets of managing multimillion-dollar sports stadiums — and it’s a field that is changing fast.

Performance always has to be stellar, and significant costs need to be minimized. Lighting is also a major factor in how green (or not green) a venue is. Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights are both high performing and energy efficient, but they initially faced a slow adoption curve in the industry because of high costs. As the cost curve moves down, however, more venues are making the switch to LEDs.