NREL examines solar policy pathways for states

The following report from NREL concerning issues in state solar energy policies should prove timely and useful to those involved with commercial and residential renewable energy products. The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report that aligns solar policy and market success with state demographics. By organizing the 48 contiguous states into four peer groups based on shared non-policy characteristics, the NREL research team was able to contextualize the impact of various solar policies on photovoltaic…

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New and Very Practical Art Forms: Buildings on the Cheap

One of the most popular places to visit at GBE concerns buildings on the cheap, the remarkably alluring Hobbit-like house Wales residents Simon and Jasmine Dale built into a hillside using a hodgepodge of used and organic materials.  Their estimated cost for the entire project came in at less than $5,000. This was a tremendous accomplishment for a young couple with two children and very little money, a reality that is all too familiar to a significant sample of our population.…

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New Book: “Making Better Buildings”

Chris Magwood’s comprehensive book concerning sustainable construction for homeowners and contractors has just been released by New Society Publishers. For those wanting to know more, here are some comments: “Making Better Buildings is essential reading for home builders, owner-builders, or anyone interested in hiring a contractor to build their dream green home. This book is full of useful, up-to-date, cutting edge information and is amazingly thorough and easy to read. It will help readers make the best decisions possible regarding…

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SolarWorld Has Injected $1.5 Billion into U.S. Economy since 2008

Positive Impact on U.S manufacturing In a vivid illustration of domestic manufacturing’s potent impact on the U.S. economy, SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar manufacturer for more than 35 years, announced today that it purchased more than $1.46 billion in goods and services from other American manufacturers and employers between 2008 and 2013. This industrial wellspring of business for suppliers, shippers and professional service providers highlights solar manufacturing’s demonstrated “multiplier effect” in creating jobs, filling factories and fueling investment nationwide. In…

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Guest Post: How You Can Make Your Home Breathe Better

On the surface, some homes are deceptively clean-looking, with visible vacuum cleaner lines running down the carpeting, and the smell of household cleaners fumigating the air. However, there are many hidden health hazards that can lurk in air filters, air ducts, carpet fibers, fans and more that can make breathing very difficult. Replace Air Filters: It’s recommended by most HVAC contractors that air conditioning filters be changed at least once a month. In a short amount of time, air filters…

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Energy Neutral Architecture That Inspires

What follows is a truly dynamic engineering feat, an entry in the 2014 Solar Decathalon, adding a photovoltaic skin to an old house – in this case a Dutch row house that was built following World War II – that will change the structure to an energy neutral domicile. The skin covers the exterior of the existing house from font to back, one side fitted with glass and photovoltaic panels to harvest solar energy, while the other contains insulation to…

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History Preserved in Architectural Forms

When people question the need for preservation or restoration, there are a million examples of why these two processes produce exceptional results. One big example is Rome, where every layer of earth produces a new layer of the past and every new structure must have a historical preservationist on the team to become a static part of the ever-changing ‘Eternal City.’ The historical significance of Rome, of all of Italy, cannot be summed up in a single paragraph but the…

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Vertical Glass House

Architecture, like all art forms, has its lovers and its critics. If a new structure did not draw attention of both, then there would be nothing new to celebrate or berate. A new residential structure built for West Bund in China is one dwelling that is causing a stir. The building is the Vertical Glass House and was designed by architecture firm, Atelier FCJZ. It was originally designed by Principal Architect, Yung Ho Chang as an entry into the Shinkenchiku…

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Architecture & Passive Design

This story about a passive house comes from the architectural firm, Studio APXE. “Тhe family passive house is situated in Delta Hill, the vicinity of Kladnica village, the south green slopes of Vitosha mountain in a picturesque area. “The headway and experience gained of the Studio APXE team contributed for our most significant success till now. “The challenge was to fit successfully the large scale one-storey building in the green landscape without appearing foreign and superfluous there. We detached by their volumes…

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Attending to the Land: Smart Building Management

Attending to the land should be a builder’s first step. Too often a structure is designed and built without giving adequate consideration to the relationship the final product will have with the landscape on which it has been erected. The time-consuming task of excavation must first take place so an adequate foundation can be built.  This I no small task and generally demands high-end machinery to properly accomplish the work at hand. Unfortunately, this same set of heavy-duty tools can be…

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Can You Make Money on Energy Bills from Being Green?

For years now, we’ve been forking out huge amounts on our energy bills. With the big six companies recently announcing their latest price hikes, it can be really frustrating to read that these providers are enjoying a five-fold rise in returns, as The Telegraph reports – while many of us struggle to meet the payments. However, have you ever thought about turning the tables and making these energy companies pay you? With renewable energy sources, this is a possibility. Take…

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Guest Post: Protect your Garden Waste and Rubbish from Vermin with a Sturdy Garden Bin

Is your garden waste  or rubbish attracting foxes and vermin to your home?  Are you worried that, perhaps, these unwanted critters will find their way to your yard where you store your rubbish?  There are a few things you can do to prevent your area from attracting unwanted and unhealthy pests.  By investing in a sturdy garden bin to hold your organic waste and taking care to reduce your waste through effective methods, you can increase the likelihood of enjoying…

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Modular Design Lab: Meet the Flat-Packed Honeycombed HIVEHAUS

Here is an interesting way to approach building an easy-to-assemble living space, configured to be as small or large as you wish. HIVEHAUS, a new concept in modular living space – “inspired by nature- influenced by modernism and constructed using unconventional building techniques,” writes the UK-based company. Each hexagonal HIVEHAUS cell is a self-contained unit with low energy LED lighting and 240v electrical sockets installed as standard. A wide range of additional plumbing, heating and electrical options can be installed…

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Small Homes Preview

In the name of sustainability and sanity, the era of the oversize home is hopefully giving way to the small home, becoming a phenomenon of the past, where little regard was given to energy, materials, and land consumption. As the economist E. F. Schumacher once opined: “Small is Beautiful.” The following three designs (220 to 900 sq ft) provide some interesting examples of far smaller dwellings, some of which can be moved on wheels. Minim House From MinimHouse: “Designed by Foundry…

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A Journey Through the Natural Building Techniques: Light Clay Infill

Light Clay Infill a.k.a Leichtlehm Leichtlehm, said from the throat easily by any native German speaker, translates directly as “light loam”. Loam is a composition of earth including relatively equal parts of sand, silt, and clay – which makes Leichtlehm easily translated to “light clay”. Light Clay Infill is a fairly old building technique, and quite a basic one at that. Many of you are probably familiar with the Tudor style buildings that make English and German architecture famous. Well,…

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FilterWatch: Your Energy Efficiency Lookout

Paying the unneeded cost of heating a home in winter is never a welcome expense, especially if it’s a matter of clogged air filters affecting your home’s energy efficiency.  Fortunately, this is a problem that can be addressed with a cost-effective solution called FilterWatch. Let’s start with this straightforward benefit: “A simple, effective energy efficiency solution that will save you money.”  Add cleaner air to the list of benefits, especially the air we breathe in and out most days of…

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Guest Post: When is the best time to purchase and install replacement windows

The number #1 reason why homeowners pay more As any homeowner will know, maintaining the appearance and integrity of your home can be a demanding task, requiring hands-on application and extensive personal research to find not only the best products for your home, but also the most effective ways in which to apply them. Windows are no exception. The wide variety of styles and visual possibilities can be a bit overwhelming for both new and experienced homeowners alike. Though some…

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