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Will You Vote for the Environment?

Posted by Sara Gutterman

Jul 28, 2016 10:07:08 AM

It’s hard to find words to describe this Presidential election, but there is no doubt that it comes down to two platforms of polar—and polarizing—opposites. When it comes to the climate, this election represents much more than the lesser of two evils—it may go a long way toward determining the fate of humans on this planet.

The last time a major political party nominated a Clinton for President, the world was very different.  Free trade, domestic crime, deficit reduction, and welfare reform were the critical issues then, and climate was all but ignored (only mentioned twice in the Democratic party’s 1996 platform). 

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Climate Change by Any Other Name…

Posted by Sara Gutterman

Mar 12, 2015 9:31:00 AM

What’s in a name? As Shakespeare orated in his epic love story Romeo and Juliet, “that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” But in Florida Governor Rick Scott’s world, the perils of a warming planet are somehow diminished simply by changing the words we use to refer to them.

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U.S. Reduces Investments in Overseas Coal Plants

Posted by Wyatt C. King

Feb 23, 2015 3:42:00 PM

To comply with President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, U.S. agencies are withdrawing support for coal-fired plants in foreign countries. But will Congress thwart this progress?

THE U.S. GOVERNMENT has provided essential financing for major infrastructure in foreign countries for decades, including coal-fired power plants and other fossil energy projects. Most of these investments have flowed through one of two federal agencies: the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which invests to boost development in poor countries, or the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), which provides financing for projects that will create demand for U.S. exports. The aggregate emissions from projects funded by these agencies have been significant: according to an analysis by Greenpeace, they produced 8 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions in the period from 1990 to 2003.

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Solar's Rise Trumps Politics

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Aug 12, 2014 8:10:00 AM

Now that innovation and information have gone global, big oil and big government won’t be able to stifle the coming of the Solar Age.

WHEN I FIRST STARTED WRITING ABOUT HOMEBUILDING, back in 1991, the magazine I was eventually to lead, Custom Builder, had been through a series of upheavals. What started as Solar Age morphed into Progressive Builder morphed into Custom Builder. It wasn’t simply changes in ownership that led the edtiorial drift from renewable energy to homes for the most affluent. It was politics and economics.

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Norway’s One Percent

Posted by Wyatt C. King

Apr 29, 2014 12:20:25 PM

Electric vehicles (EVs) are taking Norway by storm. After a banner year in 2013, nearly one percent of all the vehicles on Norwegian roads are now EVs, a far higher percentage than in the U.S. Since September of last year, one EV model or another has topped Norwegian monthly sales several times, and last November, EVs surpassed 12 percent of all vehicles sold during the month. The brisk sales have continued into this year.

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Three More States Tweak Energy Codes

Posted by Mike Collignon

Apr 29, 2014 12:02:19 PM

MINNESOTA
Energy Code Information: The state’s Construction Code Advisory Council approved a draft energy code based on the 2012 IECC. It then moved to a review by the state’s Department of Labor and Industry. A public comment period was held earlier this year, though the state first has to work through the issue of residential sprinklers. Once they finally get to the energy code discussion, they will review the following amendments proposed to both the commercial and residential codes:

Commercial: The IECC commissioning requirements were incorporated into ASHRAE 90.1-2010, so there is consistency between the code and standard.

Residential: Wall insulation R-value is R-21 for the prescriptive table, while the U-value table remains the same as it was. Ventilation requirements have been increased to balanced ventilation (cannot use exhaust or supply).Two options for basement wall insulation: R-15 continuous or R-10 exterior insulation; however, 2.5 ACH50 must be proven.Elements to ensure basement walls are waterproofed, which helps mitigate moisture damage.
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London Calling: The U.K.’s Distributed Energy Revolution

Posted by Wyatt C. King

Apr 7, 2014 12:51:35 PM

Last fall, at a Conservative Party conference in the United Kingdom, Greg Barker, a Conservative Member of Parliament and the country’s Energy & Climate Change Minister, called for a revolution. “I want to unleash a completely new model of competition and enterprise,” he said. “I want to encourage a vast new army of disruptive new energy players to challenge the Big Six [U.K. energy suppliers] …A decentralized power-to-the-people energy revolution—not just a few exemplars, but tens of thousands of them. The Big Six need to become the Big 60,000.”

What an invigorating call to action and inspiring vision of the future! Tens of thousands of homes and businesses across the U.K., each generating its own power and sharing excess with the grid. It’s a compelling idea, one made all the more remarkable by the fact that it’s not really new. In fact, one might call decentralized—or distributed—power the oldest idea in the energy business.

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Snapshots from Around the Country

Posted by Mike Collignon

Mar 26, 2014 11:14:00 AM

DALLAS

Green Code Information:
On October 1, 2013, the City of Dallas implemented a green building ordinance, requiring green building practices for all new residential and commercial buildings. Here are the details:

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Finding the Trailhead into Green Building Codes Work

Posted by Christina B. Farnsworth

Mar 20, 2014 2:44:00 PM

For nearly two decades, Co-founder and Executive Director David Eisenberg of The Development Center for Appropriate Technology (DCAT) “has lead the effort to create a sustainable context for building codes.” DCAT “works to enhance the health of the planet and our communities by promoting a shift to sustainable construction and development through leadership, strategic relationships and education.”

Eisenberg has built in steel, rammed earth and straw, among other alternative building materials, and is a big proponent of strawbale construction. But what he has focused on the most is getting building codes to include alternative materials.

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No Apparent Change

Posted by Ron Jones

Mar 13, 2014 1:38:16 PM

Nobody loves acronyms more than the military and intelligence agencies, so “NAC”, the popular abbreviation for “No Apparent Change”, is commonly used in updated reports to indicate that whatever is currently being observed or monitored has not changed much from previous versions, a convenient way to save time and space.

In this case, I am reporting that NAC applies to the newly updated official policy of the National Association of Home Builders on green building and sustainability. Allow me to explain…

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Building Code State Spotlight: New Mexico

Posted by Mike Collignon

Sep 30, 2013 2:20:00 PM

A Tale of Two Governors

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New Jersey

Posted by Mike Collignon

Jul 30, 2013 2:36:00 PM

Executive Summary:

In the second half of 2012, the State was considering an update of its energy code. The Code Advisory Board (CAB) was recommending a minor step up from the 2009 IECC, while the codes and standards division was contemplating an endorsement of the 2012 IECC. Then everything changed, when Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast, and the focus shifted to recovery. But even Sandy wasn’t strong enough to wash this decision away, and in some regards, it may have brought an even bigger problem ashore.

The State Energy Code

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A Tale of Two States

Posted by Mike Collignon

Jun 24, 2013 2:42:00 PM

In our June 2011 report, we reported on a bill (S708-CSRO-20) passed by the North Carolina state legislature that (on average) increased the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings by 15% and 30%, respectively. This bill was signed by then-Governor Perdue and became law on January 1, 2012.

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