The optimism starts here - Fine Homebuilding
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The Deans of Green

The Deans of Green


The optimism starts here

comments (1) December 22nd, 2008 in Blogs

Posted by: Rob Moody

I attended the USGBC's Greenbuild Expo in Boston last month with 30,000 folks that were enthusiastic about the green-building movement. My week started on Monday with the Affordable Housing Summit sponsored by The Home Depot Foundation. I spoke about our experience with the NOLA100 project.

The expo’s opening plenary included an extremely positive keynote by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In that speech, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate thanked America for electing a president with a specific agenda tied to energy efficiency and green building. In fact, a sense of optimism was ubiquitous throughout this year’s expo. It derived less from the political implication of our recent elections and more from what we now know will be the future of the green movement.

Undoubtedly, job growth in the alternative-energy and green-building sectors is on our next president’s immediate agenda. After the keynote, I went to President-elect Barack Obama’s Web site to get some specifics about what his green plan entails. I’ve listed some highlights and timelines. We can expect the next administration to:

• Provide short-term relief to American families facing hardship at the gas pump.

• Create 5 million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future (over the next 10 years).

• Save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined (within the next 10 years).

• Put 1 million American-made, plug-in hybrid cars—cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon—on the road (by 2015).

• Ensure 10% of our electricity comes from renewable sources (by 2012).

• Ensure 25% of our electricity comes from renewable sources (by 2025).

• Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 80% (by 2050).

If you’re interested in reading more about my Greenbuild 2008 takeaways, check back soon. I’m going to blog about a few other speakers, including Van Jones and The Green-Collar Economy, and the closing session with my favorite biologist, Edward O. Wilson, and naturalist Janine Benyus. As a closet salamander geek, I really enjoyed getting the biological perspective on the green-building movement.


posted in: Blogs, business, energy efficiency, green building

Comments (1)

SolarSasch SolarSasch writes: A day before Obama's inauguration and I think I can safely say the majority of us are pinning superhero hopes for Obama's administration to help us solve so many of our nationwide and global-wide problems. That said, behind the economy I believe that the greening of our energy supply has got to be next.

Speaking for a renewable energy solutions company headquartered out of the Northeast, my biggest fear is that the big D.C. beltway companies and lobbyists will find a way to channel additional funds to large centralized companies (e.g. utility companies and large conglomerates for installations). Much like a successful democracy my belief is that to make a robust green electric system the power has to be spread to the people.

What does this mean? Instead of rolling billions of tax dollars and credits into the few utility companies looking to "green up" that money should be directed right to the end-user to install (whether it's professional or DIY) renewable energy systems on their homes (PV, Solar Water Heating, Solar Heating, etc).

By distributing the power systems their are a number of benefits:
1) No need for expensive upgrade to expanding those unsightly power line trunks across the nation. A significant amount of power generation is lost to the transmission lines. You and your neighbors producing power means the juice you produce effectively only has to go several hundreds of yards instead of hundreds of miles.
2) Reduced brownouts & blackouts: Like the Internet's distributed routing system if one power generation facility goes down (e.g. your neighbor's house) whole town's don't lose their power. In fact, it's feasible that a power plant could lose it's power and the distributed power system could absorb the difference.
3) More jobs! Employing local installers as opposed to large contractors (for utility company installs) means more jobs to go around. More jobs for wholesalers and retailers of the equipment to Do-It-Yourselfers, because they are provided incentives which are NOT exclusively for systems that are professionally installed.

That last point is key. Fine Homebuilding for many folks, like me, is for the DIYer who wants to figure out how to do it better. A lot of folks are DIY'ers because of the satisfaction of figuring out and doing it themselves. And a lot of us also are DIY'ers because we simply can't afford the professional installs. In the solar industry the installation cost can tag on anywhere from 30-120% the cost of the materials - putting it beyond the possibilities of many.

To get Green Energy out to many we have to make sure that we have a green policy that includes more than just upper-middle class folks and above. We need to ensure that DIY'ers are also given financial incentives to install their own renewable energy systems.
Posted: 6:42 pm on January 19th

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