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A New Green Home in Newton, Massachusetts

I recently had the opportunity to view the construction of a sustainable house being built in my neighborhood in Newton, Massachusetts.  The home was designed by LDa Architecture and Interiors, based out of Cambridge, MA.  

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Eco-Friendly Dorm Room Tips

Throughout my time in college eco-friendly living and awareness has become far more popular and practiced, but there are still many habits that I witness which are not eco-friendly and even more expensive than the green alternative. There are many simple steps in order to make your dorm room a green living space, all while keeping more green in your pocket.

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ENERGY STAR Most Efficient Rating

energy star most efficientWe're all familiar with Energy Star at this point.  Anytime you go to the store to buy an appliance or electronic, you see plenty of products boasting their Energy Star certification.  

A few months ago, Energy Star developed criteria for "highly efficient products" to be labeled Energy Star Most Efficient.  The Most Efficient label will apply to Energy Star washing machines, heating equipment, cooling equipment, televisions, and refrigerators. This is a pilot program operating until the end of 2011.  There is a possibility that the EPA will add more categories of appliances by the end of the year.  ... read more

The Debate Over California's Solar Energy Policy

California Solar Policy

In July, California Governor Jerry Brown, announced a plan to increase the state's renewable energy to a 12-gigawatt by 2020, by relying on “tens of thousands of little decisions” by residents and business owners. Brown cited the cost of routing large-scale energy farms in remote areas as a reason for focusing on smaller projects. He also cited the delays in previous large-scale desert projects due to litigation over natural resources, native animals, and Native American sites.

However, a recent article from Freakonomics.com points out several concerns with this plan, based on simple cost-benefit analysis:

-Individuals (such as homeowners and small businesses) do not make decisions based on what is “socially optimal”... read more

Walnut Creek, California Retirement Community Residents Go Solar!

Community Solar 

A 4-plex of residents in a Walnut Creek, CA retirement community decide to go solar. The result is a small solar community, with other residents watching on and catching the “solar bug.” - “It's a win-win situation.”

Solar Communities” are beginning to pop up around the country – especially in states such as California and New Jersey where financial incentives are strong. A solar community is a block of residents joined together to install solar panels – often receiving the same bulk discounts you might get on a 42-pack of socks at Costco.

Tim O. of Walnut Creek, California recently did just that in his retirement community. Rossmoor is a large retirement community which houses single-family homes, duplexes, four-plexes, and condo apartments for those 55+.... read more

San Francisco Promotes Financial Incentives for Eco-Friendly Home Improvements

The San Francisco Department of the Environment (SF Environment) is partnering with the city Assessor-Recorder's office and Energy Upgrade California to launch the SF Home Improvement & Performance (SFHIP) incentive program. The goal of the program is to increase the affordability of "green" home improvements for San Franciscans. San Francisco is one of the only cities in California that provides governmental incentives in addition to state and federal incentives for going solar.

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San Francisco Electric Plug-In Car Project Faces a Few Roadblocks

Plug-in electric vehicles are becoming more affordable, available, and popular. Leading “green” city, San Francisco, passed legislation to help increase the convenience of electric vehicles in hopes of enticing residents to purchase the green cars. The city is challenged with the task of installing 80 public charging stations at 20 locations by 2012.

The city has been working for roughly two and a half years to implement the charging station policy and necessary infrastructure. ... read more

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Food: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Through What You Eat

Food Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A comprehensive study released on July 18, 2011 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) outlines guidelines to help you, the consumer, make wiser food choices. We have long known that certain foods create an abundance of CO2 emissions. What this study adds is understanding the roll of the entire life cycle of various foods, whereas previous research mostly focuses on food production. The EWG research tracks food production, processing, consumption and waste disposal to teach us how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and pollutions that result from our dietary habits.

“By eating and wasting less meat, consumers can help limit the environmental damage caused by the huge amounts of fertilizer, fuel, water, and pesticides, not to mention the toxic manure and wastewater, that goes along with producing meat,” said Kari Hamerschlag, EWG senior analyst and author of the report. “Choosing healthier, pasture-raised meats can also help improve people’s health and reduce the environmental damage associated with meat consumption.”

Five Worst Foods For the Environment:

1. Lamb, especially loin

2. Beef – choose grass-fed and lean meats to reduce your impact on the environment

3. Cheese (this one shocked me! Total bummer!) - Less dense cheese (such as cottage) results in fewer greenhouse gases since it takes less milk to produce it... read more

Solar Panel Cost and Finance Options

In theory, going solar is a no-brainer. The amount of gas saved and emissions reduced annually is tremendous. And the long term financial savings are also clear. However, the initial Solar cost can be more than most homeowners are able to afford (the average out-of-pocket cost after government rebates is about $15k). Paying for solar panels seems out of reach... But it's not! There are many options that include solar loans with low interest rates and solar leases with no money down.

In the past decade, local and national government policies have driven private companies and public policy to make solar panels more affordable for Average Joe. Enter: Solar Loans. Power Purchase Agreements, and Solar Leases.

Solar panel leases are offered through private companies such as Sungevity and Solar City. They allow homeowners to borrow solar systems. The homeowner is often not required to put any money down and then pays a set amount of money per month. This monthly rate is almost always equivalent to the current energy bill, so the homeowner does not see an increase in monthly cost-of-living expenses.... read more

US Green Job Growth Amidst Struggling Economy - 10 cities that are leading the way

Green Job Growth

The Huffington Post and 24/7 Wall Street released articles today naming 10 US cities with the largest green job growth.  The statistics are based on a non-partisan Brookings Institute study.

While the overall US economy has struggled, green businesses added 565,337 new jobs in between 2003 and 2010. The median salary for a green job is almost always higher than that of a non-green job and many of these jobs are in the manufacturing sector, creating job growth in some older cities known for manufacturing that have been hit hard by the recent economy. The report also states that “on a per job basis, establishments in the clean economy export roughly twice the value of a typical U.S. job ($20,000 versus $10,000).“... read more

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