29 May 2012

Green News

The last roundup of articles and links on various green-related topics was so much fun, let's do it again, shall we?

Time-of-use electric rates. As more utilities face capacity issues (increasing populations and not enough generation), they have to make difficult decisions. Build another power plant? Pursue renewable energy options? Use rebates or other means to encourage residents to reduce their overall usage? Or charge higher rates at times of peak usage (generally, between about 3 and 7 p.m. on hot summer days)? Because the risk of a shortage is highest at peak times, charging more at those times can help to shift activities like laundry and electric car charging to off-peak times. More and more utilities are adopting time-of-use rate schedules to achieve this goal.

Extending "low-VOC" beyond paint. This sheetrock and joint compound not only make for a healthier indoor environment, but they're lighter-weight than their traditional counterparts, too.

Ingredient labels for building materials. The FDA requires disclosure of the ingredients in food, but so far, when it comes to the materials in our homes, we're pretty much limited to VOC information on paint and occasional notices about chemicals known to the state of California to be carcinogens. New programs like this one and this one would create a (voluntary) system of ingredient disclosure for building materials.

Marketing a "green" home. This article, which is aimed at homebuilders but would seem to apply equally to regular folks who are selling a high-efficiency home, suggests that it's better to focus on energy-efficiency (which buyers more readily interpret as utility savings) than greenness (which could sound to many buyers like hippie nonsense). I suspect the term "sustainable" would also fall into the latter category.

Another reason to reduce, reuse, recycle. That Texas-sized mass of plastic in the Pacific that you may have heard about? Researchers think the problem is actually much bigger than that.

Greening the workplace. Change is hard, so convincing folks to be more conservation-minded at the office can be tough. Here are some efforts that have been successful at LG.

Renewable energy on the rise in Texas. 13% increase from 2010 to 2011 (despite a significant drought-induced drop in hydroelectric power) and other fun facts.

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