Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Climate Change, the Indoor Environment and Health: Pay attention, your life depends on how you treat your house.

June 14, 2011

 A recent study from the Institute of Medicine identifies how climate change affects the environment in our homes which has an impact on our nation’s health. It is Ironic that when the weather gets worse, we seek shelter indoors from extremes outside and in doing so still potentially put our health at risk. It is also reassuring that as a Home Performance contractor our work on homes is just what the “doctor ordered”. Most of the issues raised in the report are exactly the things we keep an eye out for with health and safety in mind. Every job we do starts and finishes with testing to ensure your home is a safe haven.

The report identifies 5 major issues:

Indoor Air quality: People don’t think all the cleaning chemicals under the sink amount to much but they can. We tend to leave all sorts of chemicals in our homes, leave connections to garages full of thing we shouldn’t breathe. We also have combustion appliances in our home which left un-checked can cause issues with CO. Our advisors keep an eye out for these conditions, it’s an integral part or health and safety for us.

Dampness and Moisture: Extreme weather conditions outside lead to more frequent issues in our homes as water gets in where it shouldn’t. Cooling systems can contribute to moisture issue if not handled properly and certainly basements and crawlspaces do too. There are fixes for spaces with moisture issues that we sometimes ignore until it’s too late.

Bugs and Bugs: weather and climate change can influence infectious diseases and pests and expanding the area where they flourish. A new “bug in town” will lead to new exposure for some of us and possibly an increase in pesticides previously not used before. Moisture in our home can lead to issues with mold and other pests. A home should be a healthy haven not a petri dish.

Thermal Stress: High heat especially for those not prepared or more susceptible such as the elderly, will experience thermal stress almost exclusively inside. With temperature extremes come power outages compromising our ability to run cooling systems. Treating our buildings by insulating against the heat helps buffer your home.

Building Ventilation, Weatherization and Energy use: As we experience climate change and weather extremes it gives us good reason to weatherize but it must be handled with expertise and always with a mind towards health and safety. No longer can we tighten up a home or insulate it without thinking about the whole house. GreenHomes America makes sure that every home is left a healthier home at job’s end.

“Fixing” old buildings with new methods can create new problems if not done properly.  Being a BPI accredited company   means we are committed to quality and accountability. A comprehensive Home Assessment with solutions provided to you from our team of experts will offer the safest answers to the ever changing environment inside.

Kansans for energy independence

October 19, 2010

When it rains it pours…more stories about people interested in saving energy.  The NYTimes reports on folks in the heartland interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy–even though they’re climate change skeptics.  Why?  Because EE/RE make sense! 

“It is in our DNA to leave a place better than we found it”

and

“There is no sense in our dependency on foreign oil”

As Amory Lovins says, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in global warming or not–most of the things we would do to fight global warming we ought to be doing energy–for economic, security, independence, and environmental reasons.  Just plain smart.

Earth Hour 2010

March 26, 2010

In roughly 24 hours, Earth Hour 2010 will begin, and people across the globe will shut off their lights for one hour in order to make a statement.  However you feel about global warming, everyone can agree that conserving resources, and turning off lights when we don’t need them, is good for our society and our world.
 
Tomorrow night, the centers and capitals of over 4,000 towns and cities will go dark in order to remind us of the importance of conservation in our daily lives. From Lima to Las Vegas, from the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower, cities large and small across the globe will be declaring their dedication to protecting the environment we inhabit.  
 
I support Earth Hour 2010 because reducing energy waste is a great idea—and Earth Hour helps call attention to it. It’s easy in the modern world to forget about where energy comes from when you can illuminate your house with the flick of a finger, but each minute that a light bulb is burning unnecessarily is a minute that fuel is being wasted.  And in the U.S. more than 50% of our electricity comes from dirty coal.  By cutting down on our energy waste, we will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve our air quality, and decrease the load that energy companies are facing on a daily basis, all while helping homeowners save money on their energy bills. Who isn’t in favor of that?
 
Last year over 1 billion people participated in Earth Hour 2009, check out this video to see some of the cities that joined in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FclcMfzjwug

If you want to join us in supporting Earth Hour 2010, turn off your lights today, Saturday, March 27th, at 8:30 PM EDT.  Remember, though, the value here is educational and inspiration.  To really get lasting energy savings, and have a long-term impact, you need to make bigger changes with bigger impacts in your home, the type of energy-efficiency improvements we discuss here at the time.
 
Thanks,
Mike

Watch out for flying pigs! Who woulda thunk it?

October 14, 2009

Earlier today, the Dow nosed about 10,000 given some a sign for optimism.  (We still have to create jobs to go with it, though.  See the comment on the CNN story on energy-efficiency and jobs.)  Most certainly wouldn’t have expected that six months ago.

And just in and perhaps even more unexpected, Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski–who happens to be the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy committee and an opponent of climate change legislation, seems to have come out in support of the framework laid out earlier this week by Senators Kerry and Graham in a NY Times Op-Ed piece, “Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation)“.

The lynch pin may well be the the jobs created by a focus on energy-efficiency, especially retrofitting existing homes, make this even more urgent and commonsensical.  And as I’ve said here before, you can forget the climate stuff if you want–we should be taking all the energy-efficiency steps anyway because it helps families, creates jobs, protects the environment, makes our country more economically competitive, and the nation more secure.  That’s a lot of wins.  And Washington may be figuring it out, now!

Thanks,
Mike

More on the McKinsey EE Report

August 3, 2009

Reading the McKinsey energy efficiency report again over the weekend I noted that one of the solution strategies cited (p.39 of the report) Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, the Building Performance Institutie (BPI) ,and the promotion of home performance solutions such as those of the heart of the GreenHomes approach.

 They call out the need for proper sizing of HVAC equipment and duct sealing—things you’ve seen mentioned here.

 The report mentions a lot of barriers.  Including education, contractor capacity, and financing.  But we address all of these on a daily basis.   So I’m encouraged because we see it working for our customers every day—and it means it really is possible on a broader scale.

Thanks,
Mike

New McKinsey Report: Energy-Efficiency Pays

July 29, 2009

McKinsey Report CoverMcKinsey&Company just released a report on Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy .  The main conclusion of their work is the following:

Energy efficiency offers a vast, low-cost energy resource for the U.S. economy—but only if the nation can craft a comprehensive and innovative approach to unlock it.  Significant and persistant barriers will need to be addressed at multiple levels to stimulate demand for energy efficiency and manage its delivery across more than 100 million buildings and literally billions of devices.  If executed at scale, a holistic approach with yield gross energy savings worth more than $1.2 trillion, well above the $520 billion needed through 2020 for upfront investment in efficiency measures (not including program costs).  Such a program is estimated to reduce end-use energy consumption in 2020 by 9.1 quadrillion BTUs, roughly 23 percent of projected demand, potentially abating up to 1,1 gigatons of greenhouse gases annually.

This is hardly a surprise—energy efficiency makes sense!  The financial value of energy savings more than offsets its cost.  But there’s more…

I’m glad they’ve also documented what we’ve known for some time, namely that energy savings is only part of the equation. 

For example, in the residential sector, energy efficiency upgrades can help reduce exposure to volatility in energy prices, reduce basement water damage, decrease food spoilage, and extend clothing life.

They go on to talk about the positive impacts on comfort and health, productivity, and standards of living.  We already know this to be true—it’s what our clients tell us every day!

The report (a 6MB PDF download) is not light reading—but it’s full of great information.  And it supports the contention that GreenHomes’ home performance approach is barking up the right tree.

Thanks,
Mike

U.S. House passes historic climate and energy bill

June 27, 2009

Thursday evening the House pass a bill to address climate change and energy use, a big part of Obama’s agenda.  Of course, Obama can’t sign these provisions into law unless a similar bill passes the Senate.  An energy bill has solid support there, but many expect the climate portion to present a bigger challenge.

My favorite part of the bill is the energy-efficiency direction introduced by Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont which would help bring Home Performance with ENERGY STAR to more states around the country so homeowners can experience the results seen by participants in New York and New Jersey, for example.

See more in articles in the NY Times or the Washington Post.

[See update, Peter Welch’s remarks on the energy bill.]

Thanks,
Mike

Making sense (and cents) of Climate Change

September 4, 2008

Last night, I reread a piece on Climate Change by Amory Lovins from more than a decade ago.  It provides an excellent discussion not so much about the science of climate change, but why energy-efficiency makes sense in it’s own right.  He concludes the long discussion by dispelling some myths.  A few were particularly striking:

 

• It’s about climate science. No; it doesn’t matter what the climate science says, or even whether it’s right, because we ought to be purchasing energy efficiency anyway just to save money.

 

• It’s about who should bear the costs. What costs? The interesting question is who should get the profits. That’s a good thing to compete about in the marketplace, but it shouldn’t require difficult negotiations.161 The “polluter pays principle”—OECD doctrine since 1974—remains valid, but this time the polluter can profit.

 

• It’s about sharing sacrifices for the common good. On the contrary, it’s about helping individuals, firms, and nations to behave in their economic self-interest.

 

• It’s about “cutting back,” shifting to a lifestyle of privation and discomfort—as the Chairman of Chrysler Corporation recently put it, “dimming the lights, turning off the air conditioning, sacrificing some of our industrial competitiveness and curtailing economic growth.”  No; it’s about living even better with less cost, by using smarter technologies that yield the same or better service. The showers will be as hot and tingly as now, the beer as cold, the rooms as well-lit, the homes as cozy in winter and as cool in summer, the cars as peppy, safe, and comfortable; but we’ll have substituted brains for therms and design for dollars.

 

Exactly!  We can have cold beer and hot showers. (I’m a fan of both!)  But we can do it wisely by eliminating waste.  By eliminating waste, we can do it more cheaply, keeping money in our pockets, in the college fund, or in investments, rather than throwing it up the chimney.  Energy-efficiency is just good home economics.

 

-Mike


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