Green Building and Renovating: Part 2

GREEN HOME SHOW #35: Green Building and Renovating: Part 2 Thumbs Up and Down, Skit, and Audience Going Green Questions is pleased to offer our members and website visitors original content that helps all of us save money and the environment. In addition to our ongoing research and writing on energy saving and home remodeling, we have partnered with THE GREAT GREEN HOME SHOW to offer you content like this that includes script excerpts from the weekly radio show. offers the exclusive world-wide on-demand access to the audio files, so you can now read and also listen for FREE to any of the shows at anytime. You can also learn about the show’s co-hosts Paul and Doug. Click here to listen to the show of your choice: Green and Home Improvement Radio Shows

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The following content is from THE GREAT GREEN HOME SHOW #35.

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Overall Segment #2 – 12:00

Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down – 5:00 Sponsored by Energy Services Group

Thumbs up!

Grease is the Word! Kent County is two years into a $15 million project that officials hope will one day use restaurant grease to produce all the electricity the county currently uses to power the Frederica Waste Water Treatment plant. If the grease-to-energy program works, it could mean enormous savings for taxpayers. Hans Medlarz, the county engineer and public works chief, estimates that the monthly electric bill of $70,000 could be trimmed by as much as 90%.The project calls for a back-up source to pick up the slack on months when they are unable to procure sufficient grease to generate enough electricity, and so far, it appears that either wind or solar power will most likely win the job of alternate power source. So thumbs up to Kent County for telling us that “grease is the word”.

Thumbs down!

Thirty-Nine and a Half Won't Do - The United States scores badly in world environmental assessment

The United States ranked poorly in a recent international environmental assessment, coming in 39th out of 149 countries. Nations were ranked according to their performance in key categories, including agriculture policies, air pollution, sanitation, greenhouse-gas emissions, and more. Countries in Europe scored well as a whole; seven of the top 10 nations were European: Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Austria, France, and Latvia. The others in the top 10 were Costa Rica, Colombia, and New Zealand. Researchers at Yale and Columbia University, who crunched the numbers, said this year they weighted climate-change efforts more heavily than in past assessments. High greenhouse-gas emissions, combined with lingering smog problems, contributed to the U.S.'s relatively low ranking. China came in at 104th, India was ranked even lower at 120th, and Iraq came in at 134th. Niger was dead last.

Thumbs up!

Sack Your Bags

Natural foods retailer Whole Foods has announced it will stop giving out plastic grocery bags by Earth Day due to the bags' ubiquity and associated environmental problems. The company is opting instead for bagging customers' groceries in 100 percent recycled paper bags and/or encouraging customers to bring their own reusable sacks. "More and more cities and countries are beginning to place serious restrictions on single-use plastic shopping bags since they don't break down in our landfills, can harm nature by clogging waterways and endangering wildlife, and litter our roadsides," said Whole Foods' A.C. Gallo. The grocery chain estimates that the plastic-bag ban at all its 270 stores in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. will eliminate the use of about 100 million plastic sacks between Earth Day and the end of 2008. All together, Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags each year.

Thumbs down!

The Coal War - Coal lobbyists step up their game

A group called Americans for Balanced Energy Choices is waging a $35 million campaign urging Americans to make one choice in particular: coal. As U.S. activists step up their protests against coal plants -- and find increasing success -- the industry-backed ABEC is running ads chirping that the black rock "powers our way of life" and "will help us with vital energy security." Radio, print, and TV ads are targeting primary voters and caucusers in Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada; an ad that targets the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill can be watched at baggage carousels at Washington, D.C.'s Dulles airport. The coal industry has boosted ABEC's budget more than fourfold since September; the budget of Big Coal's main lobbying group, the National Mining Association, has increased by 20 percent. Caught in the crossfire: Presidential candidate Barack Obama, who's getting flak from enviros for counting among his advisers the CEO of R&R Partners -- ABEC's PR firm.

Thumbs up!

Rise to Power - Clean-tech and wind power both soaring

Investment in clean-tech companies rose 44 percent from 2005 to 2006, and jumped an additional 44 percent from 2006 to 2007, soaring to $5.18 billion, according to the Cleantech Group LLC. Last year in clean-tech, energy generation received $2.75 billion in investment, followed by energy storage ($471 million) and transportation ($445 million). And you know what that means: "More new car companies were financed in the last 12 months than probably in the last 50 or 60 years," says the Cleantech Group's John Balbach. Um ... great? In related news, U.S. wind power grew by 45 percent last year, boosted by federal and state energy policies and green-energy incentives. The American Wind Energy Association predicts that wind could provide 20 percent of U.S. power by 2020. Let it never be said that they don't have ambition.

Sister Mary Chlorophyll - 5:00 Sponsored by: Suntrust Mortgage

Father Shamus O’toole and Sister Mary Chlorophyll meet the new Green Church Building Contractor

SMC: Father, the new contractor is here. He should be able to give you some insight on how to help green the new church. He’s right outside…

FSO: Good marning Mr. Contractor… (Silence)... I said good marning Mr. Green Contractor…

Mr. Black (contractor): Uh… yeah… good morning father… I’m Black, not Green.

FSO: Well if you’re not Green, then why are ya here? Sister Mary Chlorophyll, what on arth is goin’ on?

Mr. Black: No, uh well... I’m sorry Father. I am a Green Builder, but my Name is Black... Adam Black… ya see I…

FSO: Oh, never mind. Ok then, let’s get started… ahem... alright… we want to build a big, new church for our growing congregation... seems like we’re in the midst of a new baby boom, and we have to get ready to house and cleanse the new souls. We want a large, open, cathedral type church, with tall spires and high ceilings. We want to have lots and lots of pictures on the ceiling of all the different saints. So when you’re kneeling there and contemplating your sins, you can look up for a little help. Will ya excuse me far a moment…Sister Mary Chlorophyll… who on arth has been leavin’ sausage patties in the poor box again?

SMC: Oh, I’m sorry Father… that would be Jenny O’Reardon. She wants to feed the homeless and thinks that putting sausage in the poor box will help. I’ll have to send a note home for her mother.

FSO: Well if you can’t get her to stop, could ya at least get her to put some real sausage in here. This is that vegetarian crap and you know how I hate that… I’m sorry Mr. Black… where were we?

Mr Black: Excuse me father, if I might. Let’s just think green for a minute here. If you make a large church and you give it a high ceiling, when you go to heat it you're going to spend a lot of money heating a lot of space that you’re not using. The construction becomes more expensive and your heating bills… Oigavolt! Let's just say you might have to break into the poor box for more than sausage to pay some of those crazy, stupid high heating bills in a cold winter.

One of the really expensive parts of such construction is the maintenance and installation of a large furnace for heating and a large air-conditioning system for cooling during the hot summer. If we can size the church a little bit better, perhaps vault a small part of the church over the altar, orient the building southwest so that the light is coming in through the windows to help the church warm and also light up the stained-glass windows, we could reduce your construction costs and your HVAC costs quite a bit. Is that sausage kosher?

FSO: I think I see what you're sayin’ Son. Actually what you're talkin’ about is usin’ the Sun. And of course we do like reducin’ bills here. So I wonder if you could get it so that durin’ the ten o’clock mass… The Sun is comin’ through the stained-glass windows behind altar and the sun shines a beam of light right on me just as I'm about to read the Gospel. That should wake ‘em up in the back... then we hit ‘em with the baskets... make a note sister...

Mr. Black: Actually father, we could use a lot of “day lighting” concepts in order to reduce your need for electricity consuming lights. With a lower ceiling we could use skylights to give the effect of a higher ceiling, while adding light, and then we could put more windows higher up along the walls to increase the day lighting effect and still leave room for those wonderful stained-glass windows on the lower part. All of this would allow a lot of light in during the day and reduce the need for electric lights.

SMC: OK, I see the reason for all the light changes, but I still don't understand how we’re going to keep this building economically heated. Our choir needs to be warm or we can't hit a high notes .

Mr. Black: Well Sister... let’s see... since we’re building from scratch, and we’ll have a section of the roof facing south, I suggest passive solar radiant floor heating. That's a system where water is heated by the sun on the roof and then pumped through the concrete slab floor, where thick plastic tubing was laid and tied to the rebar when the concrete floor is poured. You need a little bit of gas or propane as a backup system, ya know, in case you have a couple of cloudy days, but the passive solar radiant floor stays warm and heats up to about seven or 8 feet high, thus eliminating the cost for heating areas above your head that no one will benefit from anyway. This saves money. And it's really nice as you can take your shoes off and your feet will stay nice and toasty.

FSO: While I like the concept of savin’ money, and buildin’ a really well insulated church which benefits from passive solar heat, I'm not so sure I want the parishioners takin’ their shoes off in church. I can just see them slidin’ up to the front of the church in their stockin’ feet for communion... and then we would need a huge air exchange system, you know, everyone with their shoes off and everything. Of course we could always use more incense. Maybe that's why they kept hangin’ out around the church in the early days… not sure people took a lot of showers back then.

Mr. Black: Actually father your church probably won't be that airtight, but many houses are. And the energy-saving key to all of these well insulated, tight building shells is in having all of the active heating and cooling elements use very little power and consequently keep your costs down.

FSO: So, its kinda like conservin’ energy is like bein’ good and wastin’ energy is like sinnin’... I truly don’t need to add any time to my current sentence in purgatory or worse if I do a Mortal sin, I mean waste energy, which it looks like we are all goin’ to hell for… why sister and I played tennis on NEW Years Eve this year… took her 2 sets to 1... Anyway I guess its like... if you don't sin in the first place, it doesn't cost anything later, less time in purgatory and you can even avoid a long stay in H - E - double hockey sticks... by the way, what about heated seats in the confessional...

The Language of Green – 2:00 Sponsored by:

Renewable Energy: Renewable energy effectively uses natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished. Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, and hydroelectricity to biomass and biofuels for transportation. About 13 percent of primary energy comes from renewables, with most of this coming from traditional biomass like wood-burning. Hydropower is the next largest source, providing 2-3%, and modern technologies like geothermal, wind, solar, and marine energy together produce less than 1% of total world energy demand.[2] The technical potential for their use is very large, exceeding all other readily available sources.[3]

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), also known as Green tags, Renewable Energy Credits, or Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs), are tradable environmental commodities that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. These certificates can be sold and traded and the owner of the REC can claim to have purchased renewable energy. While traditional carbon emissions trading programs promote low-carbon technologies by increasing the cost of emitting carbon, RECs can incentivize carbon-neutral renewable energy by providing a production subsidy to electricity generated from renewable sources

Listener Letters – 5:00 Sponsored by: CMI Solar Electric

Our first Letter comes to us from Ed Smothers of Broadkill Beach, DE. Tom asks: Is there any new technology coming along for solar and should we wait before installing it?

The simple answer is; “no you shouldn’t wait”.... we have states with rebates and some online rebates going on right now that are excellent and there’s no guarantee that those will remain in effect indefinately… DE is a great place for solar right now and both PA and MD rebate programs are coming along... ie write your representatives…as to NEW TECH?…well CMI just installed a solar system on the roof of the roof of the U of D. professor who oversees energy systems research and Design at U of D....... what that tell you… The Experts are installing now....with present crystal panels...

Oh yeah…and all the hype about SunSolar and solar shingles is great.... except for 1 thing….that they are much more expensive than regular solar panels and do not presently qualify for the DE rebate program… probably wont qualify for a lot of other states rebates also… nice product though if you have the extra cash...

Our last letter is from Ben Durbin of Oxford, PA. Ben is unhappy and wants to know: Where can I find good “green” news? I’m trying to stay optimistic by finding hopeful news. Any suggestions?

Ben! Good news is everywhere! You just ain’t tryin’ hard enough. First of all, listen to this show. We always have good news. Secondly, you can go to any of a number of websites out there that will give you the straight skinny on a lot of great green topics. I just read this morning in the Grist that four tech companies have partnered with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to introduce the Eco-Patent Commons, which will offer the rights to eco-friendly technologies for free. IBM, Sony, Nokia, and Pitney Bowes have together donated 31 patents into the public domain, including one for a shock-absorbing cardboard tray that would replace the need for Styrofoam peanuts and another for a way to recycle cell phones into new devices. "Innovation to address environmental issues will require both the application of technology as well as new models for sharing intellectual property among companies in different industries," says IBM Senior Vice President Dr. John E. Kelly III. "IBM is excited to bring its patent resources to bear in service of the environment. We strongly urge other companies to contribute to the Eco-Patent Commons." So you just have to look for it. It’s there!

Thanks to CMI Electric for sponsoring this weeks Listener Letters.

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