» No Blarney here! – Turning up the Heat

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Bike LogoNo Blarney here! – Turning up the Heat

By Patricia

Part of my work on this blog involves reading lots of other blogs and newsletters. Today there is really a big hot issue being discussed either directly or indirectly on everything I am reading.

Where are the codes and incentives?

There seems to be two primary drivers of the discussion, and the overall feeling is that people truly wish to use the Stimulus package to make a difference and a future.

First driver is the AT&T grants for fuel/ carbon saving vehicles. This is stirred up by T. Boone Pickens’s ads and advise. AT&T gave $350 million for 8,000 compressed gas vehicles (CNG) and $215 million for 7,000 alternative fuel vehicles. This is not nearly enough carbon savings to make a difference at all and far less of a savings that the hybrids that are already performing on the roads now.

Lou Grinzo at the Energy Collective Newsletter thinks this was a not a very good idea and not a very useful use of grant money.

If you go to the US EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide and look up the greenhouse gas emissions for the Honda Civic you find that the gasoline powered 2009 sedan with an automatic transmission is rated at 6.34 tons/year of greenhouse gases. The 2009 Civic GX, a 100% CNG-fueled version of the nearly ubiquitous sedan, is rated at 5.41 tons/year, a reduction of just under 15%. (The pages I got from my search are here (gasoline) and here (CNG).)

February 26th, Ed Mazria from Architecture 2030 testified before the Senate hearings about the stimulus package and how the funds are being granted – the second big driver. Since the money is going to projects that already have permits and designs completed and these projects have no clearly defined energy savings properties, codes, or incentives we will just be getting the same old same old renditions. Because 40% of the energy use is through our buildings without these codes in place there can be no recovery or diminishing of carbon or energy usage – thus crippling living standards even further and not creating substantially more jobs.
Mazria’s own words:

I have carefully read through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009, specifically to analyze the bill’s requirements on energy efficiency. I find that only in some cases are there requirements, and that the few programs with requirements are somewhat vague. There are no benchmarks or energy reduction targets (which are essential to attaining real and significant reductions) mentioned in the bill.

  • That any new and renovated federal buildings receiving stimulus money be required to meet the 2010 energy reduction standard set by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Funding preference will be given to projects that achieve overall energy savings compared to the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey 2003 for commercial buildings and Residential Energy Consumption Survey 2005 (RECS) for residential buildings (or other comparable codes, standards or measurement protocols authorized by the Secretary of Energy) of, in the following order of priority—(1) carbon neutral, (2) 85 percent, (3) 70 percent, (4) 55 percent.
  • For any new building construction or renovation project grants made with stimulus money by state and local governments, preference shall be given to projects that achieve overall energy savings compared to ASHRAE 90.1-2004 for commercial buildings and IECC 2006 for residential buildings (or other comparable codes, standards or measurement protocols authorized by the Secretary of Energy) of, in the following order of priority—(1) 75 percent to carbon neutral, (2) 50 percent, (3) 30 percent.

Nils at the blog Keeping the Lights On, has just done a superb job of sharing with his readers about passive structures here in the US that have achieved astounding results and then asks the poignant questions of why are we so behind the European housing and building industry in recognizing environmental and energy efficient design? Maybe gas at $6.00 a liter is more incentive to work harder at energy and the reduction of dependence on foreign energy supplies?

Barbara at From Waste To Resource, is determined to teach us all about how to reuse and recycle on a local – individual level. Her clear post talks about tangible ways to change our energy use habits – it is clear and easy to understand information.

Better Bricks Newsletter, is busy working on trainings to assist engineers and architects in accomplishing green design when the codes and incentives are not in place. States do vary on their own codes, requirements, and incentives and that is also a big read these days.

I hope you will pop over to links provided and read what is going on and discover for yourself. Architect2030 has posted the video of the senate hearings, which is interesting but not as easy to find the details as the transcripts of the questions. I didn’t even mention the discussion of Green Roofing!

Do you think much will really happen in energy use reduction without changes in the energy codes and incentives? What do you think will help individuals understand what is at stake and be able to participate in getting on track with green buildings?

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Tue, March 17 2009 » Inspiration, Links

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