Archives for category: Weather

solar panel green halo waste tracking system

Great news for those in favor of the USA increasing the amount of renewable energy production and for those who want to see solar panels succeed! Business Insider posted early this week Politifact’s findings that 142,698 employees in November of 2013 spend “at least 50% of their time supporting solar-related activities”. At the end of 2013 the same group also discovered that there were 123,227 coal mining jobs in the USA.

 

Source: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/07/22/u-s-solar-workers-coal-miners/

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This is the outside of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s new FLEXLAB

 

FLEXLAB is the world’s first energy use lab that will help builders and manufactures test entire building systems down to the component level on a significant scale.

This lab offers solutions for people who bring products to test out and want to use all of the lab’s equipment to do so, to people who want to bring their product to test out with their own machinery and equipment.

Current projects involve measuring energy usage for the Genentech building, PG&E and more!

The lab has 4 stations (shown in the video above) to accommodate a variety of testing scenarios including:

1. “Test-drive technologies”

2. “Individual circuits and meters”

3. “Lighting and plug-load elements”

4. “On-site training”

5. “Compression testing”

and more.

According to the FLEXLAB, there is a problem that buildings are designed to be energy efficient, but once they are being used they end up using a lot more energy than was planned. A new study even pointed out that energy efficient buildings sometimes use more than twice the energy than was expected based on their design.

Here’s an except from the lab’s website about what they offer:

FLEXLAB is the first test bed in the world that can evaluate the energy efficiency of major building systems, as an integrated system, under real-world conditions. Stakeholders can evaluate energy-efficient building technologies individually or as integrated systems in advance of building projects or retrofits, in order to:

  • Optimize integrated systems to maximize energy savings
  • Ensure occupant comfort and user-friendliness
  • Verify cost-benefit numbers
  • Train building operators
  • Build confidence in new technologies

 

( Source: http://flexlab.lbl.gov/ )

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Did you know that Chicago, IL has become the epicenter for LEED-certified buildings?

green halo waste tracking system leed building chicago illinois il green

How about the fact that landscaping designed to conserve water is called Xeriscaping and it’s big in Denver, CO?

green halo waste tracking system Xeriscaping denver colorado co

Freshkills landfill in New York, NY is a landfill that’s three-times the size of Central Park and it’s being worked on so that it can be turned into a park!

green halo waste tracking system freshkills park in new york

Portland, OR is home to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance whose mission it is to create healthy, sustainable communities by make bicycling safe, convenient and accessible.

greenhalo_systems_some_of_the_things_that_bicycle_transportation_alliance_offers_and_does

 

Source: http://ecowatch.com/2014/07/14/ranking-sustainability-programs-u-s/

and 

http://btaoregon.org/

 

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waste tracking wastetracking hawaiian sun

Hawaii has become the first state in the US to mandate the installation of solar water heaters in new single-family home construction. According to an article by Mat McDermott from treehugger, this mandate that requires solar waters to receive a building permit, Act 204, went into effect at the beginning of 2010.

waste tracking wastetracking hawaii single-family house

Encouraging renewable energy in Hawaii is supported by the facts that 90% of its energy was imported from outside the island chain in 2008 and oil prices have been high. In regards to the mandate, exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis in forested areas where such a system might be cost-prohibitive or if the dwelling utilizes another form of renewable energy in the building plan.

waste tracking wastetracking hawaii single-family home

 

Source: http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/solar-water-heater-mandate-for-new-hawaiian-homes.html

 

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Here it is, a list of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint according to National Geographic and the folks @GreenHaloUSA

carbon footprint erase pan green halo green environment

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

1. Make your home energy efficient.
Your home can be responsible for creating twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as your car. Since half of the energy used in your home helps to heat and cool it, making your home as energy efficient as possible will take big chunks out of your carbon footprint. Steps you can take include: Getting a home energy audit; installing energy efficient windows; insulating your attic and walls; installing a programmable thermostat; turning your thermostat down 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer.

2. Drive less.
Combine your trips in the car, so you don’t have to go out multiple times to the same location. When possible, use public transit, walk or bike to your destination.

3. Buy the highest gas mileage car for your needs.
Cars contribute 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels; the better your gas mileage, the less gas you burn and the fewer emissions you create.

4. Buy energy efficient appliances.
When replacing appliances, buy Energy Star qualified appliances (these use 10-50% less energy than standard appliances and can save you $80 or more per year).

5. Recycle.
Creating products from recycled materials uses up to 98 percent less energy than producing things from new materials.

6. Replace your light bulbs.
Switching to energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs will save you $30 over the life of the bulb, because these they use about 75 percent less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs.

7. Buy local food.
Each ingredient in a U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles. If we all ate one meal per week of local, organic food, we’d save 1.1 million barrels of oil per week.

8. Eat less red meat.
Beef takes a lot of energy and resources to produce. Replace red meat with fish, chicken and eggs and cut your food carbon footprint by 29 percent. Go vegetarian to cut it by 50 percent.

9. Lower your water heater temperature from 140 degrees F to 120 degrees F.

10. Buy carbon offsets for the rest and make yourself “carbon neutral.”

green halo waste tracking system renewable energy windmill jazz

( Source: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/human-footprint/trash-talk2.html )

 

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beach clean up trash garbage beach green halo waste tracking system

Litter from the streets usually makes its way to the ocean and the chances of litter harming any of the wild life on its “way to the bay” are huge and it’s extremely devastating.

clean up trash garbage beach green halo waste tracking system

The U.S. Embassy Manila’s Public Affairs Section just released a wonderful guide on how to organize a clean-up. There are simple guidelines for what to do 1 week before the clean-up, how to organize the clean-up 2 weeks before the date, on the date, and after the date making this quick and easy! Another awesome thing about this document:

http://photos.state.gov/libraries/manila/19452/pdfs/Coastal%20Clean-up%20Toolkit.pdf

Is that it shows you what tags will attract people to help you and to help you gain visibility to spread the word. There are trending Twitter, Facebook and Instagram tags right now such as #OurOcean2014 and #PHcares4oceans that can make clean-ups this year different than previous years.

Please Tweet us @GreenHaloUSA if we inspired you to clean-up #OurOcean2014 !

 

Another great Green article from Green Halo
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Altaeros Energies has announced the first planned commercial demonstration if it’s Buoyant Airborne Turbine or BAT product. The announcement event plans to deploy the BAT at a height of 1,000’ above ground which could break the record for the highest wind turbine in the world. See what the BAT looks like here:

The BAT has a helium-filled, inflatable shell which lifts the apparatus to high altitudes so that energy can be consistently generated in a low cost way as well. BAT is secured to the ground with high strength tethers and electricity gets sent to the ground from there. The reason behind traveling to higher altitudes is because the winds are stronger and more consistent higher up in the sky.

To learn more, visit: http://www.altaerosenergies.com/

Another great Green article from Green Halo
Track your recycling at www.greenhalosystems.com
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Jeff Jungsten, President of Caletti Jungsten Construction, tells us how to choose a green contractor

By: Jenelle Feole, Green Halo Systems

(MILL VALLEY, CA) – Jeff JungstenJeff Jungsten shared decades of green building industry experience earlier this week from his office in Mill Valley, CA. An avid biker and green builder, it’s obvious that Jeff cares about nature and his clients. Jeff is a game changer, a perfectionist when it comes to building people’s homes and he is deeply in tune to our planet’s needs and sustainability. He was on the Technical Advisory Committee which met weekly for over a year to devise a new green building ordinance for Marin County so that green building could be more simple and accessible to everybody.

Jeff is a Build it Green Certified Green Building Professional (CGBP) and he also holds the Green Home Retrofitting and Remodeling Advanced Certified Green Building Professional certification (GHRR Advanced CGBP) – it’s a rarity. In 1995 Jeff joined John Caletti’s general construction company and complemented the already high–end quality work with a bend towards sustainability. We discussed the bleeding-edge green building technologies that are developed on the West Coast and later used worldwide, what drives green building in other areas of the globe and much more:

1 What is the story behind Caletti Jungsten? Our story really was that, and has been, that we started as a small group doing really high definition work. Started in 1987 by John Caletti here in Marin, taking on some really nice general construction work. John and I met in the mid-90’s on a small project and then took on a really big project together, honed our skills together and figured out what we really wanted to do. We’ve taken that energy and expertise that we both carry and put it into really good people and culture, and we setup a good momentum for our community. So we are really into where we work, why we work, and who we work with.

2 What does it take to be a green contractor? It takes a lot of energy, focus, drive, and understanding that there is a better way to do what we do. It takes a proactive approach, knowledge and energy around why you’re doing certain things.

3 How should one go about choosing a green builder? The best way to choose a green builder is to talk to as many people as you can who have investigated green building. There are township blogs, there are other groups like the Marin builders association. Most municipalities have a builders group of some sort. The people that are doing these things are known by great non-profits like build It Green or the USGBC. [Laughs] Google is a great way to find green builders in your area. They might be listed on the Build It Green or USGBC website of certified professionals. It’s usually just word of mouth but one of the things that we try to do is to get ourselves listed on as many boards as possible to just get the word out.

4 So people will research, or they will find out about you from word of mouth, and am I understanding you correctly that the credentials are really important? Would you say that being a GCBP is a must? It’s a must. The people that take the time to learn and study and take the energy to get themselves certified are the people that are at least trying to understand and stay current of sustainability. And, I would say that if you hire a company that has zero credentials as either a business or individuals and expect them to know more than the people who are studying it, it would be an odd choice. If you are going to hire a company that claims to be a green builder, they will have had to have had projects in that realm that are either published or known or researchable that you can look at and say: were they successful in what they sought out to do? Was is certifiable at a certain level with a certain group? What type of work have they done and where? Who have they worked with?

5 I see, so if they are not certified, one should look at work examples, but sometimes work examples are not impressive enough so take just the work examples with a grain of salt? It depends: one of our intentions was to set a relatively rigorous standard in Marin for a green building ordinance so that people would have to build better than a C- building as a norm. So even if you weren’t certified, you would have to build in a certain way that achieved a certain level of efficiency. The people who can achieve those levels of efficiency in every single building that they build and can prove it, that’s the type of thing to do your research for. To say: “What type of buildings have you built, and how have you proven them to meet the goals that you set up early on in the project?” Everybody can buy low VOC paint, find or buy recycled or reclaimed materials, and claim that they are green builders. But the people that know how to combine them in multiple ways for low cost, and who are out teaching other people or who are being involved in your community, are the people that are usually taking the biggest stride.

In 2010, the Marin Builder’s Association gave me the Leadership and Sustainability Award for being a pioneer in the community which was really cool. Similarly, a LEED Certified home, can’t be built without LEED a Certified team member, so there are certain projects which you cannot do without being certified.

6 Are you certified for LEED? I am not personally…for me I am kind of outside of that loop, and up higher in the policy programming, and the ordinance portion. The people that are actually manufacturing the product that we build are LEED Certified, Project Managers would be LEED Certified.

7 So it’s possible for people to build a LEED property through your company? Yes, absolutely. We did a LEED Gold residence here in Marin two years ago…it was in Camp Woodlands.

8 When it comes to green building, do you think that there’s an area that people are too focused on and they miss considering something else that is important? Most people say: “I want my home to be more energy efficient”. And I think that the indoor air quality part is the part that they might be missing the most. Probably the most toxic place to be is in a new home. It’s like a new car. You can have a really efficient home, seal it up really tight, and then it just develops a really bad problem where you don’t cycle the air enough. So I think that probably the one thing that people miss the most is how to make it healthy.

9 Is it more expensive to build green?

It can be upfront. It can cost more if you’re not going to be in your home for a long time. Low VOC paints and finishes and those things aren’t more expensive, but the other products, like a radiant heating system are more expensive than a forced air system. However a radiant heating system is more far more efficient and way healthier than blowing a bunch of air and dust around the house. So there’s where you have to start making your choices about what type of healthy environment and efficiency you want. Our goal is to get as many people doing these things as possible which makes them more cost effective for a normal consumer.

10 How do you calculate the payback period for green building? The client will inherently have to make choices about upfront costs vs. lifecycle and costs. Part of what any good general contractor will do is help guide a client through those value oriented decisions. Some things just don’t make sense for some clients, and it’s responsible to say: “it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on this, it will never pay off for you”. If a certain budgetary condition is installed in the relationship and things can’t be achieved, then our job is to maximize their budget in as many value-oriented places as possible. And we do that, so we have a deep preconstruction activity upfront before the job that integrates as many sustainable features as possible, using the budget as widely as possible. And not only do we do that, but we have consultants that we bring in that work with the clients directly and work with us directly…these people are experts in facilitating the conversation before it even makes it to us, so these people are incredibly valuable.

11 The architecture firm plays a big role in this too, so where does the construction company come into play and how do you add value? Some architecture firms are getting it and they are understanding that sustainability is not an overlay, it’s a design principle. We come in hopefully as early as possible and I think any general contractor that studies this deeply wants to incorporate these systems at the earliest stages of design. Even as early as the sighting of the building to help integrate these systems into the plan if possible. That’s what the good architects are doing, they are bringing in people like us…

12 So a lot of the awesome homes on your website, you’re working with architects in the early stages of development? Absolutely. Way upfront. As early as the design phase.

13 How do you collaborate with architects and the client? Once we get through the design phase, we define everybody’s role and once the project is running, everybody plays a role in that. We all just collaborate as deeply as possible, as openly as possible, with as much humility as possible. We have a project right now where we are working incredibly closely with the architect, the client, the designer, and the engineers. It’s one of the most amazing homes that we’ve ever seen and it’s really all about being as collaborative and open as possible. Everything’s open for discussion. In the sustainability world, it’s kind of mandatory. There used to be a very closed loop between 2 parties and then a 3rd party would come in- the builder, and it would be a sort of odd scenario. Our goal is to just open up that whole relationship and be as collaborative and proactive as possible with everybody and have everyone do the same. If we’re talking about money, we have to talk about money openly. If we are talking about schedules, we have to talk about schedules openly. If we are talking about systems, we have to talk about systems openly. So that’s what happening in our world, a deeper level of relationship, more client–centric and certainly more proactive for time and money.

14 What inspires you? Everything!!!! Everything! I think if I really break it down into the smallest common denominator, it’s creating beautifully healthy homes for families, structures that- people get to grow up in, get married in, and have kids in. When somebody trusts us to build their home, that’s what we focus on. You know, perfect is close enough for us. We don’t want to just take the lowest common denominator and do that, it’s easy. What inspires us is to learn our craft a little bit deeper than most and then provide that value to people and see it happen. We just love the idea of building an inspired home with more energy and care. I honestly feel that it’s noticeable…and if we do our jobs right, and we care enough, then it’s obviated.

15 I looked at your Green Halo Systems account, I see that you’ve diverted over 255 tons from the landfill, which is a carbon footprint equivalent of 26,000 gallons of gasoline. What types of insights come to your mind when you see these statistics and numbers? One of the things about Green Halo that I really enjoy is that it’s similar to this program called “Cool the Earth”, which we work with here locally. It’s a great grass roots program that’s spreading nationally. Their idea is to train kids to focus on things that they can change…show them that when they turn the lights off and then they see the energy bill at the end of the month, then they will start to see that the small things they do actually have a result. And that’s what I like about Green Halo is that we have the ability to account for the material, see the results of what we are doing, and then change our behavior and modify how we work to then enhance that savings even higher. When I saw what we have diverted since using Green Halo, I turned it into a personal conversation about how: in my smart car, that’s 3,750 fill ups or the equivalent of about a million miles driven. I’ve taken an entire life time of driving off of the planet’s carbon footprint just in this short amount of time that we’ve been using Green Halo! And if we can measure it, we can change it, and that’s what Green Halo allows us to do. They’ve done a really good job making it useful, efficient, scalable, and the best tool for the job. Individual companies like myself can use it, municipalities can use it to collect information from people like me and then they put their stats out as a county. So we use the system as much as possible, and we review it monthly, and everybody always enjoys seeing what’s happened to the material or how much we are diverting or how we can do it differently.

 

Check out http://www.calettijungsten.com/

 

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solar power green halo waste tracking system green building guide

Choosing solar panels as a first timer isn’t easy, but this guide provides a short background on solar panel evolution for people who are looking to understand what might give them the best price to performance ratio.

First off, traditional solar cells are made from silicon and they are currently the most efficient solar cells available for homes. Traditional solar cells account for at least 80% of all solar panels sold around the world. In this category, monocrystalline silicon cells are the most efficient, at a rate of up to 24.2% per unit area but they costs are higher than most solar cells. Monocrystalline silicon cells require the most intensive manufacturing because the shape of the silicon cell is extraordinary and there is quite a bit of original silicon waste. The second most popular option is a polycrystalline silicon cell, and it is relatively inexpensive with an efficiency of up to 19.3% per unit area. The third type of traditional solar cell is known as amorphous silicon cells which is the type used in most calculators and other small electronic devices. The amorphous silicon cells have the lowest prices and have an efficiency of up to 10% per unit area. The area of this type of panel is often double the area of other panels to achieve the same power output. The beauty of the amorphous silicon cells besides the low cost are the flexibilities of the material and their ability to perform well at low and high light levels. Lastly, the hybrid silicon cells combine multiple materials in a cost reductive way which are also designed to increase efficiency and the lifetime of the cells.

The second-generation solar cells are usually thin-film solar cells that are made from layers of semiconductor materials. The materials that are used in this type of solar cell varies and they are known for being inexpensive.

Third-generation solar cells are currently being researched and they are made from different materials, new technologies, conductive dyes and plastics. The goal is to improve commercially available solar cells and more can be learned on this page developed for the latest in solar panel research:  http://www.solar-facts-and-advice.com/solar-research.html

For additional tips and specs to look out for, James Walker the Director of Energy Matters does an excellent job of explaining who to buy from and what factors should go into the decision making process here:

 

(Source: http://www.cnet.com/news/solar-junction-claims-cell-efficiency-record/

and http://www.solar-facts-and-advice.com/)

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Obama and the EPA 's fight on power plants, the epa, climate change and green house gas

We at Green Halo Systems have been following the news about the USA’s greenhouse gas policies since the beginning of the year when the Secretary of State John Kerry’s goal was to become the “lead broker of a global climate treaty” according to The New York Times. John Kerry has made President Barack Obama and millions of others focus on global warming in the past six months and today it was announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a 30% cut from 2005 figures to all power plant emissions by 2030.

To review some of what has happened since the beginning of the year, this past February, the EPA drafted a new rule to regulate 1,500 power plans in America to curb climate change and to tighten the language on such a rule. Later that month, Pres Obama ordered the development of new fuel efficiency standards for the nation’s heavy-duty trucks through the use of executive authority. Days later, the Supreme Court considered the President’s orders when it comes to emissions from “stationary sources” such as power plants. Pres Obama’s use of executive authority has since become a popular topic.

At the end of March the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change report warned that climate change is having a “sweeping effect worldwide” that is likely to grow worse unless greenhouse emissions get under control. The report gave weight to Pres Obama’s effort to use his executive authority under The Clean Air Act.

During April the United Nations report said that the United States needs to develop a climate change law so taxing carbon pollution was up for discussion. Paul Krugman’s response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s statement was that economists’ optimism about limiting emissions of greenhouse gases is due to technological innovations that have decreased the cost of renewable energy.

At the beginning of May, Pres Obama announced investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. The President campaigned to build support for the EPA’s carbon pollution limits on pollution from coal-fired power plants. Also in May, research about the giant glaciers’ “tipping points” as proof of global warming was scrutinized by The New York Times. Pres Obama also recently stated that the proof of climate change makes this issue “not some distant problem of the future”.

And so now, in the beginning of June, Pres Obama reiterated the importance of climate change policies in his second-term agenda. On June 1st, 2014, the Obama administration proposed what might be the most ambitious climate change mitigation strategy in the USA so far. The proposal is that the entire power sector (America’s largest carbon polluter) must bring its emission levels down by 30% from what they were in 2005 by the year 2030.

Another great Green article from Green Halo
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