Day: August 29, 2013

State fact sheets on household energy use

U.S. DOE’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) gathers information through personal interviews with a nationwide sample of homes and energy suppliers. The 2009 survey was the largest RECS to date and the larger sample size allowed for the release of data for 16 individual states, in addition to national, regional, and division-level estimates.

See a closer look at residential energy consumption in a two-page format with graphs and text for these 16 states:

 

Detailed information on the fact sheets cover many areas of interest:

  • Overall energy use, electricity use, and expenditures
  • Residential consumption by end use (air conditioning, heating, appliances)
  • Main heating fuel
  • Use of cooling equipment
  • Housing types and year of construction
  • Numbers of TVs and refrigerators

ORNL team uses lignin to power green battery

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Lignin is a waste material that is produced when paper is manufactured from wood.

Instead of disposing of the lignin, a research team at the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE)’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has learned how to take the material and convert it into powering a green battery.

Improbable Journey: The story of New York’s High Line [video]

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

How CSX helped turn an abandoned rail line in the heart of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District into one of the country’s most unusual parks.

Cryptic Barriers to Energy Efficiency

Download the report from American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

Much time and effort has been invested in addressing the market barriers that inhibit greater investment in energy efficiency technologies and practices in the buildings sector. In addition to these common and well-known barriers (e.g., split incentives, asymmetrical information, higher first costs, etc.), there is a class of barriers that has received less attention. These barriers are cryptic in the sense that they are hidden or unrecognized; they do not stem from the same market failures that have been the subject of extensive study and the target of many policy and program interventions. Cryptic barriers reflect several different underlying problems, including regulatory uncertainty, archaic or legacy regulations, and inaccurate ratings and standards. This report is a first effort to characterize and explore cryptic barriers in some detail. We selected cryptic barrier case studies from the results of a broad survey to identify as many cryptic barriers as possible and start a compendium. Drawing on these cases, the objective of this report is to suggest opportunities for policy actions that could improve residential building efficiency and to propose potential tools to eliminate cryptic barriers.

How to make communities more energy-efficient

Read the full story in SmartPlanet.

Most governments try to educate their citizens as to the benefits of reducing energy consumption through public service ads and other similar tactics. But England and Wales seem to have stumbled on a far more effective way to cut energy usage: raise the price of energy.

As utility bills rose a full 28 percent in those areas between 2005 and 2011, energy consumption fell by a remarkable 25 percent, according to a new report from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (pdf).

Is This How You Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Without Hurting The Economy?

Read the full story at FastCo.Exist.

British Columbia introduced a carbon tax in 2008. Five years later, people use less fuel, emissions have dropped, and the economy isn’t in death throes–far from it.

A Quest To Save The Struggling Fish Farm Industry With Algae And Ingenuity

Read the full story in FastCo.Exist.

The algae biofuel industry has struggled to stay afloat. One company is giving up on making fuel and repurposing its technology to help improve the economics of aquaculture.

Insight: biofuels and conservation require coordinated policies

Read the full story at Environmental Research Web.

Biofuels could dramatically transform the economic and environmental landscapes in the US. However, the goal of a low-carbon, energy-independent future has lately seemed further out of reach as many areas of the industry’s growth continue to lag behind expectations and production volumes fall well short of national goals. What’s more, the possibility of using land currently or formerly enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to produce biofuels raises environmental concerns.

Why Are Some States Trying to Ban LEED Green Building Standards?

Read the full post at Atlantic Cities.

The amendments and executive orders never actually mention LEED by name. They ban new construction built with public money from seeking (or requiring) any green building certification that’s not recognized by something called the American National Standards Institute, or that doesn’t treat all certifications for wood products equally. But that’s really just a mouthful meant to ensure no more LEED-certified courthouses or state offices or libraries.

Behind the bans are a group of industries – primarily conventional timber, plastics and chemicals – unhappy that much of their product goes unrecognized by the LEED standard created by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED now certifies a million and a half square feet of real estate a day, affixing a “green” label onto public buildings, commercial offices and private homes that rack up points on a 100-point scale and rewards things like locally sourced materials and energy-efficient design.

The next generation’s best and brightest take on climate change

Read the full story at CNN/Money.

The California Institute of Technology’s Resnick Sustainability Institute has announced a global sustainability contest to “shine a light” on the best work being done by engineers, scientists, businesses and politicians. “One of our goals is to discover new business models for working in a more sustainable ways,” says Neil Fromer, executive director of the institute.

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