Blog

Help Give the Earth a Break on Nov. 25!

How much do you feel you are helping to reduce global warming? If you are like me, you are doing things like recycling or turning out the lights in an empty room, but it can feel like a drop in the bucket.

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Details, details, details...

I am reminded every day that the old adage “The devil is in the details!” rings true in our quest for high performance building construction—as much any other endeavor.

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Innovations in Multifamily Plumbing

In early October, I attended the 10th Annual WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas. A repeated theme was “saving water saves energy and vice versa.” Multifamily buildings are a prime example, as domestic hot water (DHW) is a dominant energy use in multifamily. Reducing DHW use and delivering it more efficiently are worthy project goals. Here are some exciting new developments in this arena:

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Exciting Building Products From Passive House Conference

In late September I gave a presentation at the 12th Annual North American Passive House Conference, organized by PHIUS, describing how heat pump water heaters can be used for combined space heating and water heating. When strolling the vendors' floor between presentations, I was pleasantly surprised to see an increase in the quality of Passive building products.

Musings on the Solar Eclipse, One Month Later

I was lucky to be in Jackson Hole, Wyoming—virtually smack-dab on the "blue line" in the narrow path of totality—for the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years on August 21. There was so much hype leading up to this event, and it was completely justified! For an unforgettable moment in the midst of our vast universe, in a special spot dynamically shifting east along with the movement of our planetary objects, our sun and moon literally aligned and our little spot of Earth was transformed: the sky darkened, the horizon turned orange, stars appeared, and the air felt freezing.

Pumping up your savings while reducing impact

Thanks to a recent presentation by Pierre Delforge from the Natural Resources Defense Council (select sides below), the case for deploying heat pump water heaters to replace both electric and natural gas models is becoming more clear for many.

Pierre began by showing that as our electricity gets cleaner, the natural gas we burn is making up a larger portion of greenhouse gas emissions. Two thirds of Bay area household CO2 emissions now come from burning natural gas.

AB 802 - Moving Towards an Era of Energy Use Disclosure and Benchmarking

With the passage of Assembly Bill 802 earlier in 2015, California became the first state in the nation with the mandate to provide energy use data to users so they can measure or benchmark the energy use of building for operational, behavioral, and explore retro-commissioning activities to reach energy efficiency goals.  

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What's the Dirtiest Time of Day to Use Electricity?

Are there "dirty" hours when the California electric grid is producing a lot of CO2 per kWh, and "clean" hours with low CO2 output? It seems that midday should have lower CO2/kWh compared to other hours, if a large fraction of power across the state is generated by solar photovoltaics (PV) during these hours. Looking at data, Beyond Efficiency did in fact find a midday reduction in CO2 emissions per kWh generated for 2014 onward.

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