Friday Round-Up 12/7/2012

Friday, December 7, 2012 14:00
Posted in category Uncategorized

Warming Slopes, Shriveled Revenues

Melting Ice SlopesSnow can be an entrancing sight or an exhausting burden, but for communities dependent on winter sports, it is one thing above all else: revenue.

In recent years, however, the cold cash that used to fall from the sky, giving an economic boost to 38 states, has become less reliable. Winters are getting warmer, less snow is falling, and snow seasons are starting later and ending earlier.

A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the climate-themed industry group Protect Our Winters takes a look at the possible impacts of climate change on the nation’s $12.2 billion snow sports industry and the 211,900 jobs it supports.

Read more at the NYTimes Green Blog

Solar Power Installation Prices Fell 14% in Past Year

Solar Installation PricesThe price of installing solar power for homeowners and businesses fell 11-14% in 2011 and in the first six months of 2012, new stats from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory show. In the fist six months of this year, California saw even greater drops in the cost of installing solar panels, an additional 3-7% above the national figures.

The report indicates that the median installed price of PV systems installed in 2011 was $6.10 per watt (W) for residential and small commercial systems smaller than 10 kilowatts (kW) in size and was $4.90/W for larger commercial systems of 100 kW or more in size. Utility-sector PV systems larger than 2,000 kW in size averaged $3.40/W in 2011.

Read more at TreeHugger

Next Step Living Gets $18.2 Million for Community-Scale Home Efficiency

Next Step LivingHome energy efficiency audits and retrofits are known to pay themselves off in a couple of years, leaving homeowners enriched over time. But what’s good in aggregate is, on a house-to-house basis, quite complicated. Each home has different characteristics, making them better or worse targets for different solutions, ranging from insulation to whole-home HVAC overhauls.

Any party looking to optimize the return on investing in home energy efficiency — whether it be a utility offering rebates, a company offering a sale, or a government agency offering an incentive — will need to have someone go to each home, meet with each family, and figure out each customers’ individual needs, to make each efficiency dollar count.

Next Step Living has taken a community organizing approach to this business challenge, and with gusto. Since its founding in 2008, the company has grown to 450 employees and has audited about 25,000 homes so far, by working with nonprofit groups, utilities and corporate customers.

Read more at GreenTechMedia

$51 Million LEED-Platinum Project Underway

LEED Platinum ProjectSEATTLE-Stone34, a mixed-use office and retail project here, will begin construction during this quarter. Skanska USA Commercial Development is self-financing the project, the first commercial development by its Seattle office, and is expected to invest $51 million in its construction. The building is expected to be completed by mid-year 2014.

Skanska also worked with the surrounding communities and the Seattle City Council to adopt legislative changes that would make the project possible. Stone34 is pre-certified LEED Platinum and includes technology and features that allow real-time monitoring of employee use, hydronic heating and cooling systems, storm-water capture and reuse and a building design to increase day-lighting and reduce summer heat loads. The project also applied new bicycle commuting criteria by Cascade Cycling to create a property that entices workers to use all forms of active transportation.

Read more at GlobeSt

A Science Guy’s Place in the Sun

Bill Nye the Science GuyBill Nye the Science Guy talks about his green home in Southern California:

My “green home” is yellow, pale yellow. In the Mediterranean environment of Southern California, dark colors soak up more sunlight and turn it into heat. So where I live, a light-colored house is cheaper to run than a dark one. This wasn’t my idea. The ancient peoples of Southern California and the more recent Spanish figured it out.

In our world, we use an astonishing amount of energy. It is sobering to consider that a world-class cyclist, using even a 100%-efficient mechanical-to-electrical-conversion generator, could not power a modern blow dryer, even in a sprint. A cyclist cranking out 400 watts (half a horsepower) can’t make a 1,500-watt hair dryer go (or blow).

I have 18 solar panels, each about 3 feet by 4 feet. This time of year, I produce about 8 kilowatt-hours of electricity each day. In the summer when the days are longer, the system produces more than three times that. By increasing the efficiency of my appliances and insulation, I can produce enough energy during the daylight hours to power my house all night. If nothing else, it’s just fun to get an “electrical service charge” of $16.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal



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Comly Wilson is the Managing Editor of the Kaplan Clean Tech Blog. He studied Energy and Environmental Policy at American University and currently lives in New York City.