California To Go All-In on LEDs

Read the full story at FutureStructure.

The Sacramento-based California Energy Commission is pondering energy-efficient lighting standards that, if approved, would establish LED bulbs as a statewide staple and consign some forms of track lighting to history’s discard pile.

Connecticut Creates Mandate for Energy Efficient Homes

Read the full story in FutureStructure.

As area home builders and remodelers wrap up a successful 2015 construction season, already looming large for the 2016 season are coming revisions to Connecticut’s building codes that will have homeowners and contractors hitting the books on new requirements.

Builders say they expect the most significant changes will involve insulation and other aspects of energy efficiency.

Healthy Environments: What’s New (and What’s Not) With PVC

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What’s New (and What’s Not) With PVC examines recent efforts by PVC manufacturers to remove carcinogenic phthalates from their products and rebrand those products as more environmentally friendly by labeling them as “clean” or “bio.” The paper also reviews recent scientific data on PVC’s health and environmental impacts in the wake of these product reformulations.

“The bottom line is that the fundamental hazards inherent in the chemistry of PVC cannot be resolved,” says Melissa Coffin, principal investigator with the Healthy Building Network (HBN) and co-author of the white paper. “PVC will always require a highly toxic vinyl chloride monomer and produce even more potent dioxins during manufacture and disposal.”

As American homes get bigger, energy efficiency gains are wiped out

Read the full post from Pew FactTank.

U.S. homes have become considerably more energy-efficient over the past four decades, according to government data. But homes also are a lot bigger than they used to be, and their growing girth wipes out nearly all the efficiency gains.

The skyscraper at the heart of the debate over America’s green building standard

Read the full story in the Guardian.

The skyscraper at One Bryant Park in Manhattan looks like a vision of the future – or at least, what the movies tell us the future will look like. A towering 945 feet of glass, concrete and steel, arranged in crystalline planes, it evokes utopian visions of space-aged cities, hyper-efficient and cutting-edge.

But the building is cutting-edge beyond the surface too, reflecting the latest trends in sustainable construction: its urinals are waterless, its concrete is partially composed of blast furnace slag and its water system recycles rainwater. Completed in 2009, the billion-dollar building was the first skyscraper to be awarded a coveted platinum rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or Leed.

Somehow, though, it has become ground zero in a battle over Leed, with critics claiming that it highlights the certification’s shortcomings and defenders pointing out its numerous improvements over traditional building construction.

What to do With Fallen Leaves

Read the full story from the National Wildlife Federation.

You shouldn’t feel obligated to rake up every last leaf in your yard this fall.  Leave leaves on the ground — they have a lot of benefit to wildlife and your garden.  Below are some tips on how to minimize the time you spend raking and maximize the benefit to wildlife and the greater environment that fallen leaves offer.

LA Kicks Off Program to Retrofit Houses to Catch Thousands of Gallons of Rainwater

Read the full story at Curbed LA.

If this winter comes along with a heaping side of El Niño, Los Angeles is going to have a wet one. If we could just save up some of that water, we might be able to cut back on the amount of water we use from other sources, like reservoirs, which would certainly be helpful in the middle of California’s long drought. A new project launching today will do just that, outfitting houses (just one at first) with “high- and low-tech” additions like a rain-capturing roof, a giant cistern, and a “rain garden” designed to help store water as well as gradually replenish groundwater, says a release for the pilot.