Benefits to a Green Home

More and more people are beginning to understand the connection between the way we build our homes and Earth’s well-being. Today, we are aware of the impact it has on the environment, human health and the economy. Green and eco-friendly building is not just a passing developmental trend and a fashion statement. It is a necessity in these and future times if we want to improve the quality of our lives and protect natural resources and biodiversity.

The benefits of building green homes are numerous and experts usually divide them into three different categories: environmental, economic and social. Let’s see how these green strategies maximise economic, environmental and social performance.

Environmental benefits
Are you aware of the fact that buildings are responsible for approximately 40 percent of carbon emissions? Unlike renewable energy sources (wind and solar power for example), the production of fossil fuel electricity is releasing pollutants, contributing to global warming and numerous issues that accompany it.

As green homes are built with less embodied energy, less greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. It would be possible to prevent further environmental damage if only more builders and homeowners opted for sustainable building. Using alternative sources of energy and saving water is easy with additions such as solar panels and rainwater tanks.

Green homes are also responsible for reducing waste as sustainable building is focused on reusing materials and deconstruction, instead of demolition and construction from the start. Finally, green homes are built to last. Increasing durability by using construction materials that last results in reducing a significant amount of waste over time.

Economic benefits
Most people are mistaken thinking that sustainable building must be expensive. The truth is that green homes don’t necessarily have to be more expensive than regular ones. Even if there are some additional costs, future savings are tenfold.

Green design provides energy efficiency that leads to tangible reductions in operation costs. Therefore, there is no need to worry about additional project costs – reductions in monthly water and energy bills should make up for the investment.

People who are thinking of selling their property in the future should seriously consider green building. A study carried out by The Earth Advantage Institute shows that sustainability-certified homes sell for up to 30 percent more than their regular counterparts. The resale value of property is increased due to lower overall operating costs, reduced energy needs and easy maintenance.

Social benefits
Increased health and comfort represent the social benefits of green homes. This is not surprising as green builders use natural and non-toxic materials and products in construction such as formaldehyde-free flooring and carpeting. Healthy air ventilation, natural lighting, stable temperature and insulation play an important part in occupants’ health and all these factors increase human productivity and well-being.

How can our health be affected by poor indoor conditions? Sick building syndrome is a range of various health problems that can occur because of indoor toxins. Occupants can suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems, allergies, headaches, rashes, nausea, etc. If you’re experiencing these conditions, you should think about removing toxins from your living environment and introducing healthy ventilation.
More pleasing aesthetic qualities and improved overall quality of life are other social benefits we can get from switching to green building.

Building a green home
How can you make your home green? Energy efficiency is maybe the most important characteristic of a green home. Some of them feature rainwater tanks and other additions that reduce the consumption of water from the regular water supply. Installing solar panels provides homes with clean energy and they further reduce operational costs.

Sustainable building also involves using recycled and recyclable materials in construction. Builders are turning to traditional and proven methods. Recycled stone, straw bale, rammed earth and mud brick, new forms of concrete (with less embodied energy), FSC-certified timber, bamboo – those are the materials that are used in green building today.

There is no real green design without smart home positioning and high-quality insulation. We have already mentioned good air ventilation, natural lighting and a steady, comfortable temperature, all of which contribute to the occupants’ well-being and productivity. This is most easily achieved with the help of spatial zoning, orientation, ventilation, shading, glazing, using thermal mass and appropriate insulation.

Various countries offer different tax incentives and rebates to home buyers of green homes. Also, the number of builders who are able to provide you with a true and certified eco-home is on the rise. Home buyers, builders and the government – they all see the benefits of sustainable building and welcome green homes as the best option for our future. Have these facts in mind the next time you’re looking to buy or build a home and opt for a solution that will benefit both you and the environment!Various countries offer different tax incentives and rebates to home buyers of green homes. Also, the number of builders who are able to provide you with a true and certified eco-home is on the rise. Home buyers, builders and the government – they all see the benefits of sustainable building and welcome green homes as the best option for our future. Have these facts in mind the next time you’re looking to buy or build a home and opt for a solution that will benefit both you and the environment!IMG_2378.JPG

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Experts Share their Secrets to an Eco Friendly Lifestyle

Whether it’s protesting the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement or vowing to transition to electric-only vehicles within the next decade, many businesses have been focusing on how they can do their part in saving our planet.

Although many Americans want to make the personal transition towards green living themselves, most don’t even know where to begin! That’s why the team at EmPower Solar decided to speak with a panel of eco-friendly experts on their personal practices. You can see their best advice here.

Whether it’s protesting the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement or vowing to transition to electric-only vehicles within the next decade, many businesses have been focusing on how they can do their part in saving our planet.  Although many Americans want to make the personal transition towards green living themselves, most don’t even know where to begin!

How to Select a Green Lodge when Traveling, Part 1

You are a person who puts active thought into eco-practices at home, but what happens when you go on vacation? Do you ever wonder “Where Can I Find a ‘Green’ Hotel or B&B?” or “How Can I Tell the Difference Between an Authentic Eco Lodge and One That Is Not?” or “Is There a Reliable Directory I Can Use?” If you have asked those questions, you’re in good company. But the answers are surprisingly complicated.

Here’s the reality: there is no one universal authority or definitive tool that eco-conscious consumers can turn to for sourcing “green” vacation accommodations.


With hundreds of countries around the world – all with different government agencies, infrastructure, politics, regulations, and living standards – it is a most difficult task to devise a uniform platform.

In a pinch, that’s the bad news.

The good news is that the ecotourism industry is relatively young and evolving quickly. More consumers are demanding “eco-friendly” travel options, so there will be a response in kind from the industry. More information will become available via online directories and useful apps ready to download to your smart phone or tablet.——————————————————————————————————

Costa Rica is a top-ranked destination for “green” vacations. Click here to learn more about a jungle lodge and rafting adventures down the Pacuare River in Costa Rica – https://www.ecotourlinq.com/blog/spotlight-interview-with-rios-tropicales

Photo: Rafting on the Pacuare River  Photo credit: Rios Tropicales
Photo: Rafting on the Pacuare River Photo credit: Rios Tropicales

What does a green lodge look like? Well the facility can be any number of things – a working ranch or farm, a seaside hotel, a mountain inn, a jungle lodge (on the ground or in the trees), a small village B&B, a desert bunker, a campground, or a dormitory-style hostel. Frequently these accommodations will be located inside or near a national park or possibly a World Heritage Site.
Coming up in Part 2 – Tourism Bureaus and Ecotourism Associations

Guest Writer Bio: Deborah Regen is the publisher of a website directory and blog dedicated to consumer information about ecotourism and sustainable travel. She also sends out a free monthly e-newsletter to subscribers including notices of giveaways. https://www.EcoTourLinQ.com and her email = admin@ecotourlinq.com

Recycle Old Electronics While Purchasing Gifts at Same Time!

Did you know that 25% of all men suffer from “green guilt”, coinciding with the significant increase in E-Waste (used cell phones, old gadgets, old laptops, etc.) we’ve been accumulating? Those are the facts according to a new survey by Call2Recycle®! (Green Guilt is the feeling that they could and should be doing more to help the environment.) 

Father’s Day is right around the corner, so why not help dads get rid of those guilty feelings and remind them to pitch in and help out the environment? If you’re readers receive any new electronics or cell phones as gifts, they can get their dose of green in by recycling those old phones and the used rechargeable batteries from the devices they’ll be replacing. 

With the help of Call2Recycle, the only no-cost rechargeable battery and cell phone collection program in North America, dads can recycle the used rechargeable batteries from their old devices (cell phones, digital cameras, cordless power tools, laptops, etc.) at any of its drop-off locations at community collection sites and retailers nationwide such as Best Buy, RadioShack and The Home Depot.

“Our research shows that more than half of us are holding on to old gadgets in junk drawers and elsewhere rather than recycling them – in part because they don’t know how or where to recycle old technology,” said Carl Smith, CEO and president of Call2Recycle.  “Keeping electronics and used rechargeable batteries out of the waste stream is vital to the long-term sustainability of our planet.” Since 1996, Call2Recycle has diverted 70 million pounds of rechargeable batteries from landfills and established a network of 30,000 public collection sites.

Using rechargeable batteries is a simple step toward a greener lifestyle, and Call2Recycle offers up the following tips to assure the family get the most life out of their new rechargeable batteries by reducing how often they need to be replaced.

  • Follow the charging guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Each product has specific batteries charging battery charging times prior to their initial use.
  • Never return a fully-charged battery to the charger for an extra boost – it actually shortens the life of the battery!
  • Do not leave your rechargeable battery in the charger when not charging. Continuous charging can shorten battery life.
  • When they no longer hold a charge and it’s time to replace your battery, be sure to recycle your old one.

Call2Recycle is the nation’s most comprehensive rechargeable battery and cellphone recycling solution, providing a responsible and convenient way to recycle cellphones and rechargeable batteries found in electronic products, such as laptop computers, digital cameras, cordless power tools, two-way radios, mp3 players and camcorders.  There is no charge to drop-off batteries for recycling or be a collection site. For more information and to find local drop-off locations, visit www.call2recycle.org.

Analysis Group report: No evidence that changing power mix endangers electric system reliability

Washington, D.C. — A new report by Analysis Group answers questions asked two months ago by Energy Secretary Rick Perry about the reliability and market rules of the U.S. electric power grid.

Analysis Group finds it is market forces – primarily low-cost natural gas and flat demand for electricity – that are causing some coal and nuclear power plants to retire, and not state and federal policies supporting renewable energy development. The report finds that the changing electricity resource mix poses no threat to reliability of the nation’s power system.

Perry launched a 60-day review of “critical issues” on the grid on April 14. National business groups Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) and American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) commissioned Analysis Group to answer independently the questions Perry raised. The Analysis Group report has now been submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy to inform its review.

“Recently, some have raised concerns that current electric market conditions may be undermining the financial viability of certain conventional power plant technologies (like existing coal and nuclear units) and thus jeopardizing electric system reliability. In addition, some point to federal and state policies supporting renewable energy as a primary cause of such impacts,” states the Analysis Group report. “The evidence does not support this view.”

Recently, some have raised concerns that current electric market conditions may be undermining the financial viability of certain conventional power plant technologies (like existing coal and nuclear units) and thus jeopardizing electric system reliability. In addition, some point to federal and state policies supporting renewable energy as a primary cause of such impacts,” states the Analysis Group report. “The evidence does not support this view.” width=Recently, some have raised concerns that current electric market conditions may be undermining the financial viability of certain conventional power plant technologies (like existing coal and nuclear units) and thus jeopardizing electric system reliability. In addition, some point to federal and state policies supporting renewable energy as a primary cause of such impacts,” states the Analysis Group report. “The evidence does not support this view.solar helps the gridRecently, some have raised concerns that current electric market conditions may be undermining the financial viability of certain conventional power plant technologies (like existing coal and nuclear units) and thus jeopardizing electric system reliability. In addition, some point to federal and state policies supporting renewable energy as a primary cause of such impacts,” states the Analysis Group report. “The evidence does not support this view.
“The transformation now under way in the electric power system is driven primarily by market forces,” said Susan Tierney, senior advisor, Analysis Group, and one of the authors of the report, along with Analysis Group Principal Paul Hibbard.

Low natural gas prices, technology changes, and flat demand for electricity have been putting financial pressure on and leading to the retirement of older, less economic power plants

This is a natural consequence of market competition. The result is a more diverse set of energy resources on the grid that is being capably managed in a way that provides reliable electric power.”

Key findings of the Analysis Group report:

Market forces: Fundamental market forces – flat demand for electricity, low natural gas prices since the mid-2000s and the addition of significant amounts of highly efficient new gas-fired resources since 2000 – are primarily responsible for altering the profitability of many older, merchant generating assets in the parts of the country with organized wholesale competitive markets. These market fundamentals are producing savings for consumers. 

Lesser factors: Factors such as rapid growth in deployment of advanced energy technologies, and state policies supporting such technologies also contribute to reducing the profitability of less economic assets, but such factors are secondary to market fundamentals in causing financial pressure on merchant plants without long-term power contracts.

Aging resources: The retirement of aging resources is a natural element of efficient and competitive market forces, and where markets are performing well, these retirements mainly represent the efficient exit of uncompetitive assets.

Reliability benefits: Many advanced energy technologies can and do provide reliability benefits by increasing the diversity of the system and by providing important reliability services to the grid. The addition of newer, technologically advanced, and more efficient natural gas and renewable technologies is rendering the power systems in this country more, rather than less, diverse. 

Baseload” an outdated term: Given the many attributes associated with a reliable electric system, the term “baseload resources” is an outdated term in today’s electric system which depends upon a wide variety of resources to provide essential reliability services and is seeing gas-fired resources and renewable capacity together providing both around-the-clock power and the flexibility to cycle and ramp as needed to meet and sustain bulk power system reliability objectives.

“The electricity system in the United States is stronger than it’s ever been,” said Graham Richard, CEO of AEE. “Thanks to innovation and smart policy, we have a more diverse fuel mix, a more reliable grid, and lower electricity costs. The Analysis Group report highlights how advanced energy technologies are helping to modernize the grid and how grid operators are well equipped to manage this market change. As DOE finalizes its report on reliability, we hope the Department will incorporate these key findings, which reflect the true state of the grid.”

Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, said, “Like DOE, we wholeheartedly agree that reliable and affordable electricity is essential. Analysis Group’s report finds that wind and other advanced energy resources, driven by markets and technological advances, are improving electric reliability and reducing costs. Past dependence on a few fuel sources has given way to a more diverse grid, which is more robust and resilient. We think this analysis will be useful for DOE’s study, and we look forward to working with state and federal policymakers to implement market-based policies that will provide consumers with even more reliable electricity at lower cost.”

BACKGROUND

In a memo dated April 14 to his chief of staff, Brian McCormack, Secretary Perry directed the Department of Energy to conduct a study that would “explore critical issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electric grid,” and to analyze “market-distorting effects of federal subsidies that boost one form of energy at the expense of others,” and to report back in 60 days. 

On April 28, business trade groups AEE, AWEA, and SEIA sent a joint letter to Sec. Perry asking that the DOE “initiate a public process,” and that the study “follow standard practice and be conducted in an open and transparent manner,” noting that it is “customary” for agencies developing reports that provide policy recommendations to allow public comment on a draft, prior to the report being finalized. No reply was received. A DOE spokeswoman told Axios on May 5: “The findings will be released to the public (including stakeholders) once the study is completed this summer. The Secretary looks forward to receiving input from all parties once that occurs.”

On May 16, AEE, AWEA, SEIA, and ACORE held a press briefing on documents each submitted to DOE to inform its study of the electric power system and reliability:

AEE: Changing the Power Grid for the Better – shows that today’s electric generation mix is more diverse than ever; low-priced gas is primarily driving the change in resources, followed by flat load growth and competition from renewables; ERCOT and PJM experience shows reliable grid management with high degree of variable renewables and even in extreme conditions.

ACORE: Energy Fact Check – The Impact of Renewables on Electricity Markets and Reliability – ACORE-produced report covering questions around baseload power and economic impact raised in Secretary Perry’s April 14, 2017 memorandum directing a study to explore critical issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electric grid.

AWEA: Renewable Energy Builds a More Reliable and Resilient Electricity Mix. Grid operators are already reliably integrating large amounts of wind energy, and their studies show they can go much higher. Integrating renewables on the power grid costs less than integrating baseload sources; modern power electronics enable renewables to provide reliability services as well as or better than conventional power plants; and renewables diversify the energy mix, improving economics and resiliency. Renewables are not the primary factor undermining baseload sources – as can be seen by maps of where each is predominately located, cheap natural gas is the primary factor. AWEA also submitted a literature review of over 30 existing research studies by federal agencies, regional grid operators, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), and others.

SEIA: Solar & Renewables Benefit Grid & The U.S. Economy – Solar and renewables provide significant advantages to the national grid in terms of reliability, fuel diversity and national security. This SEIA review highlights multiple studies showing that the existing grid can handle high penetrations of renewable energy to the benefit of ratepayers, grid system operators and system performance.

In their letter transmitting these materials to DOE, the groups concluded: “We believe that, taken together, these reports demonstrate that the U.S. electric power system is more diverse in its energy sources than ever before, and due to the flexible way these resources are now managed, becoming more reliable and resilient as a result.”

Sources: Advanced Energy Economy at American Wind Energy Association, June 20, 2017