the family blog

Energy 101: Solar PV

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Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems can generate clean, cost-effective power anywhere the sun shines. PV panels convert the energy of the sun into renewable electricity to power homes and businesses. A small solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system can be a reliable and pollution-free producer of electricity for your home or business. And they’re becoming more affordable all the time. Small PV systems also provide a cost-effective power supply in locations where it is expensive or impossible to send electricity through conventional power lines.

As with wind powered systems, solar PV systems can be used in two ways: off-grid or on-grid. Off-grid is when your home or business is entirely disconnected from an electric utility company and you generate all of the electricity your home or business requires. An on-grid wind power system sends all of its electricity back into the public electrical network (grid) which the electric company gives you credits for. At the month, the electric company sums up your credits with how much your home or business has consumed, and issues rebates if you consumed less than you put into the grid.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s website ENERGY.GOV has a wealth of information as it relates to Science & Technology, Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, the Environment and Prices & Trends. The EPA series of short videos related to Energy 101 topics are being posted on studio4llc.com to present entry level information related to Home Energy Assessment, Cool Roofs, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar PVs and Wind Turbines.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.




Energy 101: Geothermal Heat Pumps

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An energy-efficient heating and cooling alternative, the geothermal heat pump system moves heat from the ground to a building (or from a building to the ground) through a series of flexible pipe “loops” containing water. This edition of Energy 101 explores the benefits Geothermal and the science behind how it all comes together.

The California Energy Commission also has an excellent in-depth analysis on geothermal heat pumps. follow me »

The U.S. Department of Energy’s website ENERGY.GOV has a wealth of information as it relates to Science & Technology, Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, the Environment and Prices & Trends. The EPA series of short videos related to Energy 101 topics are being posted on studio4llc.com to present entry level information related to Home Energy Assessment, Cool Roofs, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar PVs and Wind Turbines.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.




Energy 101: Cool Roofs

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Environmentally friendly “Cool Roofs” reflect the sun’s heat,  reduce both building cooling loads, lower utility bills, reduce the urban heat island effect and drastically reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.

Cool roofs for commercial and industrial buildings fall into one of three categories: roofs made from inherently cool roofing materials, roofs made of materials that have been coated with a solar reflective coating, or green planted roofs.

Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions. Roofs and road pavement cover 50 to 65 percent of urban areas. Because they absorb so much heat, dark-colored roofs and roadways create what is called the “urban heat island effect,” where a city is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. Cool roofs significantly reduce the heat island effect and improve air quality by reducing emissions. A recent study by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found that using cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world can help reduce the demand for air conditioning, cool entire cities, and potentially cancel the heating effect of up to two years of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s website ENERGY.GOV has a wealth of information as it relates to Science & Technology, Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, the Environment and Prices & Trends. The EPA series of short videos related to Energy 101 topics are being posted on studio4llc.com to present entry level information related to Home Energy Assessment, Cool Roofs, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar PVs and Wind Turbines.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.




Energy 101: Home Energy Assessment

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A home energy assessment, also known as a home energy audit, is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time.

A home energy checkup helps owners determine where their house is losing energy and money – and how such problems can be corrected to make the home more energy efficient. A professional technician – often called an energy auditor – can give your home a checkup. You can also do some of the steps yourself. Items shown here include checking for leaks, examining insulation, inspecting the furnace and ductwork, performing a blower door test and using an infrared camera.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s website ENERGY.GOV has a wealth of information as it relates to Science & Technology, Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, the Environment and Prices & Trends. The EPA series of short videos related to Energy 101 topics are being posted on studio4llc.com to present entry level information related to Home Energy Assessment, Cool Roofs, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar PVs and Wind Turbines.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.




Life in the Cubicle Village

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No fried food: Health Dept. workers cringe at new rules restricting foods, fragrances, decorations

A few days ago in the Current News & Events section I posted the link re: Your nose knows: Does your workplace pass the sniff  test, proclaiming my ignorance regarding the subject of workplaces in Canada adopting policies to control fragrances in the workplace. Well now, controlling fragrances, and much more, is coming to the U.S. of A, compliments of New York City. No overbearing perfume. No obscene pictures. And definitely no French fries for work lunches. And, employees should avoid eavesdropping. Via NYDailyNews.com., workers at the new NYC Department of Health facility are being furnished with a set of guidelines. Perhaps we can term these as Green Workstyles? follow me »




BMW i Sustainable Neighbourhoods Project

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Wallpaper* and BMW i are giving six creative teams the opportunity to help write the future of their urban environment. The cities of the 20th century were shaped by transport, public and private; the challenge of the 21st is to keep Megacities moving. Over the course of six months, Sustainable Neighbourhoods will explore, chronicle and research six different city zones, with the aim of defining a new infrastructural, cultural or social project that will scale seamlessly into the future.  The cities include London, Paris, Beijing, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Berlin with populations of 13 M, 2.1 M, 22 M, 3.8 M, 13 M and 3.4 M respectively.  follow me »

If you are wondering why BMW is co-sponsoring this event, a clue may be found in their marketing tag for the new “i” sub-brand – This is BMW i. Born Electric.  As Forbes recently wrote – BMW’s Newest Model Isn’t a Car 




Dangers Of Going Green

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Dangers Of Going Green is the title of a 2008 article written in Science Daily, where industrial hygienists found that mold, rot and corrosion are dangers that must be accounted for when builders construct energy-efficient homes. Moisture is an area addressed by green building rating systems for homes, as well as an ongoing concern for builders trying to find the right mixture of moisture/air infiltration control and, on occasion, local building codes. Improper evaluation of new products and strategies for controlling moisture and air infiltration can lead to homes being too tight, resulting in condensation, mold and rot. Most builders, for a variety of reasons, experience leaks and other unintended occurrences that cause moisture to penetrate the building envelope. Most builders are also aware of the measures required to mitigate potential issues related to wet insulation, damp interior finishes (e.g.; drywall, carpet), foundation walls, etc.    

Whether or not you are interested in green homes or green lifestyles, you should be aware that mold is a health concern and what steps can be taken to marginalize the causes.  Continue Reading →




A Day Made of Glass…

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Can you imagine organizing your daily schedule with a few touches on your bathroom mirror? Chatting with far-away relatives through interactive video on your kitchen counter? Reading a classic novel on a whisper-thin piece of flexible glass? Corning is not only imagining those scenarios – the company is engaged in research that could bring them alive in the not-too-distant future. You can get a glimpse of Corning’s vision in the new video, A Day Made of Glass.

Corning Chairman and CEO Wendell Weeks says Corning’s vision for the future includes a world in which myriad ordinary surfaces transform “from one-dimensional utility into sophisticated electronic devices.”

The video depicts a world in which interactive glass surfaces help you stay connected through seamless delivery of real-time information – whether you’re working, shopping, eating, or relaxing.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.




A Product Is Only as Sustainable as the Sum of Its Parts

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Selecting sustainable cabinetry requires careful examination of multiple components.

One of those little inconvienences with documenting credits is tracking installed materials where their presence can involve both the Materials & Resources and Indoor Environmental Quality categories. This can become a tedious exercise when the material is acutally a component consisting of several materials, as is the case with cabinetry and millwork.

Katy Tomasulo has a good article on ebuild,     Continue Reading →




Homeowner Handbook: A Seasonal and Operational Guide to Managing and Maintaining Your Home

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The Center on Sustainable Communities (COSC), Iowa’s Trusted Educational Resource for Sustainable Building, recently made a very generous offer. Thanks to COSC’s recent Re-Building a Sustainable Iowa statewide program, with support from the Iowa Department of Economic Development and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, this first printing of their Homeowner Handbook is available for free to the public. The purpose of this manual is to provide owners of existing and newly constructed homes with information and resources to assist them in efficiently operating and maintaining their homes. The information provided is guided by the fundamental green building principles of durability, sustainability, energy efficiency, healthy indoor air quality Continue Reading →




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