Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Green Energy Puts Green in Homeowner Wallets

In this Reuters article a homeowner purchases a windmill and estimates his return on investment (ROI) will happen in about seven years. Seven years. And while he waits for seven years to go by he is paying zero dollars for his electricity. And sometimes he even sells power back to the grid and makes some money. Not bad eh?

But beyond that is the larger trend that the cost of residential renewable energy technology is dropping quickly whether due to cheap hardware from Asian markets, government subsidies, or utility incentives. Once the initial capital expenditures occur for renewable energy, the fuel is free for the foreseeable future. Free fuel is the most exciting prospect to me. Can you imagine a world where every house, business, and community (see solar gardens) is generating clean power from the sun and wind? I know its blasphemous to some, but like it or not we are headed that way.

First things first - get an energy audit for your building. It is important to make your structure as efficient as possible before adding your own renewable power. An energy audit and subsequent weatherization / retrofits are a good way to put more greenbacks in your pocket, whether you want renewable power or not.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

IKEA Marches Toward 100% Renewable Energy

Woah. Imagine the company you work for or even the home you live in is powered with 100% renewable energy. It sounds like an audacious goal, but a very large company also known as IKEA, is moving towards just that. In IKEA's 2011 Sustainability Report, the company reveals that they are halfway to their goal of 100% renewable energy to power all of their facilities. They use mainly solar PV and wind turbines but they did install a geothermal system in their new Denver, Colorado store built in 2011 (check out my post titled IKEA Denver Leads the Way for Big Box Geothermal Installations). This is pretty cool and I can't wait for them to get to 100% renewables. This also shows that giant corporations, if they put they mind to it, can really contribute to a more renewable, efficient, and sustainable world.

CU-Boulder Student-funded Facilities Reach Carbon Neutrality

Congrats to the University of Colorado students for working to achieve carbon neutrality in three student-funded buildings on the Boulder campus. They reduced their carbon emissions to zero by reducing the energy consumption in each of the three buildings, adding renewable energy and purchasing carbon offsets by helping to add solar thermal water heating to low-income houses in Loveland. Plus they did all this in 5 years! Pretty impressive sustainability initiative.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Energy Efficiency Is Good Policy, Good for Economy

I'd have to agree with Sen. Jeanne Shaheene (D-NH): "We should use less energy." The Senator lays out a compelling argument for making our residential and commercial buildings more energy efficient. Not only is the return on investment in energy efficiency quick but it helps to create local jobs that can't be outsourced. We need HVAC experts, window installers, energy auditors, and lighting experts to help teach us the way our buildings consume energy and the way to get them to consume less. Really, energy efficiency is a big win for our economy. And why would you want to waste energy when you don't have too?

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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