Among the many measures the world can take to wean itself off fossil fuels, few match the benefits of making homes, business, and cars more energy-efficient. But financial and psychological barriers have kept individuals, businesses, and governments from realizing efficiency’s great potential.
What is the meaning and importance of embodied energy as a measure of sustainability and why we need to develop widely accepted standards for embodied energy? This article explores this somewhat arcane concept that seeks to measure how much energy is “embodied” in a product or service; in other words how much energy is used throughout the entire life cycle of the thing being measured including the energy required by decommissioning, disassembly and deconstruction.
The single greatest barrier to successful business sustainability, according to the Connecticut Business & Industry 2010 Sustainability and Connecticut Business Survey, is lack of knowledge regarding sustainable practices. This barrier also applies to businesses that have begun green initiatives and are now seeking recognition and certification.
In the coming years, electrical contractors will transition into “energy contractors” to support the fast-growing green construction market. There has been a revival of interest in the electrical trade as home owners and corporations adopt alternative methods (e.g. solar, wind, etc) to power buildings. What’s driving this? Federal incentives, lower material costs and savings from reduced energy spending.
Green buildings provide long-term savings and solid returns on investments. they also command much more than similar non-LEED buildings due to the economic benefits they offer. Soon Class A office buildings that do not attain LEED certification will see their property value decline as LEED becomes the de facto benchmark in measuring quality in construction.
The six keys to driving change in a conservative corporate culture include: top-level support; management-level and administrative support; minimal risk; a clear path; bottom-line value; and political awareness.
The following is an account of one day on the job with Kathrin Winkler. She is Sr. Director and Chief Sustainability Officer at EMC Corporation, where she has a history of taking on entirely new roles in which she has to fill in the interstices between more traditional functions. She took on the full-time sustainability position in July of 2008.
This country’s 130 million homes together generate more than 20% of the nation’s carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions. This is one of the most significant contributing sources in the country to global warming. Existing techniques and technologies in energy efficiency retrofitting can reduce home energy use by up to 40 percent per home on average which would also lower our national greenhouse gas emissions by 160 million metric tons annually by the year 2020. In addition doing so would reduce home energy bills by $21 billion a year and over time these savings would more than pay for the high up-front costs for energy efficiency retrofitting.
Last week, Sierra Magazine named the nation’s top 20 “coolest” schools for their efforts to stop global warming and operate sustainably. The magazine’s September/October cover story spotlights the schools that they believe are making a true impact for the planet, and marks Sierra’s third annual listing of America’s greenest universities and colleges. The […]