Soenso Celebrates Five Years of Providing Clean, Renewable Energy to Georgia

Solar PV Array on Roof of Campus Crossings Emory University

Solar PV Array on Roof of Campus Crossings Emory University

Source Press release, September 30, 2009

ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 30, 2009 – Founder and president of Soenso Energy, Roger K. Cone, today announced that this Marietta, GA, startup is celebrating five years of service to Georgia. Established in September 2004, Soenso Energy is one of the leading renewable energy installers in the state. Soenso, which is an acronym for Southern Environmental Solutions, installs commercial and residential solar thermal water heating, solar photovoltaic (PV) electric and small wind turbine electric systems.

“Much of Georgia is marginal for wind energy,” said Mr. Cone, “but there are micro-climates in our area where our residential/small commercial-sized wind turbines perform quite well. However, Georgia is indisputably a solar state.” Most of Georgia is rated as “very good” for solar radiation according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Georgia is on par with much of Florida, the self-proclaimed “Sunshine State”, for solar energy potential.
Currently there are generous Federal and Georgia financial incentives in place for the installation of renewable energy. Generally speaking for commercial solar or wind energy installations the Federal incentive is a 30% income tax credit or grant, and the Georgia incentive is a 35% income tax credit or rebate. And generally speaking for residential solar or wind energy installations the Federal incentive is a 30% income tax credit, and the Georgia incentive is a 35% income tax credit. There are published maximum limits on Georgia renewable energy incentives.

In its “long” five-year history Soenso has provided renewable energy systems for clients in a variety of categories including churches, inns, museums, office buildings, private residences, restaurants, schools and warehouse facilities, among others. Soenso Energy encourages the practice of energy conservation first and then the implementation of renewable energy. We are helping Georgia move away from our dependence on dirty fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal that are major contributors to the climate crisis. Soenso Energy is working toward making renewable energy a more significant component of Georgia’s overall energy mix.
About Soenso Energy Located in Marietta, Georgia, near Atlanta, Soenso Energy is a supplier and installer of commercial and residential renewable energy products – solar thermal hot water systems, solar photovoltaic (PV) for generating electricity and small wind turbines for generating electricity. These renewable energy technologies qualify for Federal and Georgia clean energy income tax credits. On the Web: http://www.soenso.com , Email: info@soenso.com, Phone: (770) 973-6298.

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Green Living: Improving Health Today and Tomorrow

Much attention has been paid in recent years to what seems to be a growing environmental conscience in the United States. Going green used to be considered expensive and a luxury for those who could afford the trend. Now it appears that we are learning that not only is adopting more environmentally conscious attitudes good for our economic situation, but also our….health? Yes, if we dig a bit deeper we can see that dirty industries and backwards policy is actually harming the health of the earth for our children and the health of her inhabitants today.

How Does Environmental Policy Affect Public Health?

There are two levels of health consequences associated with dirty industry, both direct and indirect. The direct consequences are examples like increased asthma rates in areas with high smog indices. Chlorofluorocarbon release into the atmosphere has shown to decrease the filter of direct sunlight on the planet, resulting in more concentrated ultraviolet light reaching the surface of the earth. Perhaps it is no surprise then that in countries with depleted atmospheric gas, skin cancer rates are among the highest in the world.

The indirect health consequences are harder to see immediately, but closer examination reveals that these are, in fact, perhaps the most hazardous. Bi-products of dirty and backwards industries, such as coal and oil processing, include cancer causing substances like asbestos and benzene. A U.K. study conducted in 2002 indicated that coal and oil industry workers are at a much higher risk of developing mesothelioma (associated with asbestos exposure) and leukemia (traced to benzene and heavy-metal exposure).  Dr. Valerie Rusch among many other doctors who specialize in this area understand that these are substances that can be directly traced to antiquated pre-regulation equipment in industries whose environmental hazards are even more inherent.

Can we really afford to continue on the path we were on before? Investment in clean industry means not a healthier planet for our children and grandchildren, but also a healthier place for us to live today.

June 18, 2009 Written by Bill Hawthorne with the maacenter

Revised Draft Water-Efficient Single-Family New Home Specification – Public comment period until July 7

Source http://www.epa.gov/watersense/specs/homes.htm

Update

EPA will conduct a public meeting on June 10, 2009 from 8 am – 5 pm (Eastern Time) at the Holiday Inn Capitol – Washington, DC . To register for the meeting, please fill out and submit the Water-Efficient Single-Family New Home Public Meeting Registration Form by June 3, 2009.

EPA will hold an additional public Webinar on June 22, 2009 from 1 pm – 4 pm (Eastern Time) for those unable to attend the Washington, DC meeting. To register for the Webinar, please fill out and submit the Water-Efficient Single-Family New Home Public Meeting Registration Form by June 17, 2009.

Revised Specification Information

EPA released a draft specification for water-efficient single-family new homes on May 22, 2008. Based on substantial feedback and significant revisions, EPA released a revised draft specification on May 8, 2009.

This specification establishes the criteria for water-efficient new homes under EPA’s WaterSense program. When finalized, it will be applicable to newly constructed single-family homes and townhomes, three stories or less in size.

In addition, to meet the Landscape Design Criteria (Section 4.1.1), the builder may choose to comply by completing a water budget. EPA has developed a tool to guide these calculations. The first version of the tool, released on November 20, 2008, was based on methodology developed by the irrigation industry as described in Irrigation Association’s Landscape Irrigation Scheduling and Water Management (2005). This second version incorporates additional research and recommendations suggested by stakeholders as part of the public comment process.

The third-party verification of WaterSense labeled new homes is intended to confirm that the builder has met the criteria of EPA’s specification for water-efficient single-family new homes. The inspection and irrigation audit guidelines explains how inspectors verify that the criteria have been met and must be followed in conjunction with the specification. These guidelines have been revised to incorporate revisions to the specification criteria and methods by which they will be tested.

EPA is interested in obtaining input from all interested parties on the revised draft specification materials. The public comment period is open for 60 days and ends on July 7, 2009. Please send any comments or suggestions regarding the revised draft specification materials to <watersense-newhomes@erg.com>. All comments become a part of the public record.

In order to facilitate the consistency and utility of comments received, please submit your comments using the Template for Public Comment Submission (MS Word) (1 pp, 50K). You may either download and save this document template and directly insert your comments, or attach your comments in your own document, provided that you clearly reference the text/section in question, your recommended changes, and why you think these changes are needed.

Additionally, WaterSense will be conducting a public comment meeting in June 2009. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

For more information about the water-efficient single family new home specification process, including the first draft, public comments, and EPA’s response to the public comments of the specification and water budget tool, please see the Water-Efficient Single-Family New Home Specification Background Materials page.

Come and Watch Caroma’s exceptional flushing power at Greenprints in Atlanta, March 25&26, 2009

Visit Alterna Corp’s booth at Greenprints and see Caroma’s exceptional flushing power yourself.

The Greenprints Conference and Tradeshow, a leading southeastern green building symposium, returns in 2009. Join green building professionals, policy makers and industry experts as they come together at Greenprints to share trends, strategies and the latest environmental technologies in a stimulating and interdisciplinary environment. Learn how Atlanta measures up as a sustainable city and explore smarter ways to “green” your city. Plan now to attend the region’s most acclaimed event of its kind, the Greenprints Conference and Tradeshow, hosted by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority and Southface, in Atlanta on March 25-26, 2009.

The Hyatt Regency Atlanta is the venue for 2009 conference. View more details about Greenprints here

 

First WaterSense® labeled new home in the Nation built by Vanguard Homes

Source: CarolinaNewswire.com

Chapel Hill, NC — NC’s leading Energy Star builders, Anderson Homes and sister company Vanguard Homes, continue to lead the way in “green” innovation. -Chosen as one of only 7 builders in the country to participate in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense new homes pilot program, Vanguard Homes has received the first ever WaterSense label on a new home. WaterSense labeled new homes by Vanguard will be designed to be at least 20 percent more water efficient than homes currently being built under traditional standards, saving homeowners more than 10,000 gallons of water per year. These homes are designed to use significantly less water inside and out, through efficient plumbing fixtures, hot water delivery, appliances, landscape design, and irrigation systems.

The first WaterSense labeled new home built by Vanguard Homes is located in the community of Briar Chapel in Chapel Hill, NC. This “Sensibly Green Concept Home” is the first home in the country to receive the EPA WaterSense label and has achieved gold level certification from the Green Home Builders of the Triangle and National Home Builder’s Association Green Building Standard.

“This kind of WaterSense label is a milestone for us as a builder and leader in the industry, and we strive to achieve that kind of excellence every day,” says Kip Guyon, President of Vanguard Homes. “It is so important to maximize homesite integrity, while minimizing environmental impact”, he also added. Vanguard Homes’ WaterSense labeled new home conserves water by using WaterSense labeled dual flush toilets, bathroom faucets and high-efficiency shower heads. In addition ENERGY STAR® rated clothes washers, dishwashers, a whole house filtration system and a hot water circulation pump work in harmony to save water.

WaterSense was created by the U.S. EPA in 2006 to help Americans save water for future generations. WaterSense labeled new homes, while saving water resources as well as money for the homeowners, also lessen the stress on water and wastewater infrastructure systems across the country.

For more information/education of the importance of WaterSense labeled new homes by Vanguard Homes, please visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/.

To learn more about Vanguard Homes, visit http://www.VanguardHomesNC.com

Should I build a LEED® certified home? What is LEED®?

LEED for Homes FAQs for Homebuilders

This is copied in its entirety from the USGBC’s website

What is LEED®?

LEED®is a national third-party certification system that recognizes leadership in green building. It is developed by a consensus process by volunteer members of the U.S. Green Building Council who contribute their expertise to its technical development. LEED®was first introduced in March 2000 for new commercial construction, and has since grown to include specialized versions for homes, neighborhood development, commercial interiors, high-performance building operations and maintenance, and core and shell development. More than 3.2 billion square feet of real estate in the U.S. and in 60 countries are pursuing LEED® certification.

LEED®for Homes, which launched in February 2008, measures green homebuilding performance based on eight categories: site selection, water efficiency, materials & resources, energy & atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, location & linkages, awareness & education, and innovation. Within each of these areas, projects earn points toward certification. LEED® has four levels of certification: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum, with Platinum representing the highest level of achievement. 

Why should I build a LEED® home?

LEED® certification recognizes and celebrates leadership in high-quality green homebuilding, and allows you as a builder to clearly differentiate your work.

For the homebuyer, LEED® is like the nutrition label on the side of a box of crackers: It clearly labels in measurable terms that the home has healthy, green, efficient features that have been third-party verified.

 What is the difference between LEED® for Homes and other green home programs?

LEED®is a national third-party certification system for green homebuilding. It is designed to recognize leadership, so the program is rigorous and focused on measurable results. LEED®for Homes features lots of support for builders who choose to work with the rating system, including Reference Guides, instructor-led workshops and online courses.

 There are also more than 70 highly regarded local or regional green home building programs in the United States. Each of these programs is unique, with its own specifications and requirements. By reviewing the checklists for LEED® and other available local or regional programs, you can choose the rating system that works best for your goals. 

What types of homes can use the LEED® certification system?

The LEED®for Homes certification system is tailored for the construction of new singlefamily or low-to-mid-rise multifamily buildings. Existing homes undergoing extensive renovations are also eligible to participate in the program. Contact a LEED for Homes Provider to determine if your project is suitable. 

What about remodeling projects?

For green remodeling projects, USGBC and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) partnered to create REGREEN, the first nationwide green residential remodeling guidelines for existing homes. The REGREEN guidelines are available for free download at http://www.greenhomeguide.org.

 What about affordable housing?

Affordable housing is also addressed by LEED®for Homes, and funding from a generous grant from The Home Depot Foundation is available to help offset costs associated with LEED® certification, including local rating and verification services.

Contact a LEED for Homes Provider and visit www.greenhomeguide.org/affordable for more information.

 How can I participate in LEED® for Homes?

First, check out http://usgbc.org/LEED/homesto download the LEED® for Homes Rating System and Checklist. These documents are an easy way to familiarize yourself with the program, so you can decide if you want to take the next step and register a project. 

OK, so I’m ready to register a project for LEED® for Homes certification…

Connect with the LEED for Homes Provider of your choice. They’ll walk through the checklist with you so that you can see how LEED® for Homes applies to your project. Your Provider will also help you complete a HERSrating or other onsite inspections that may be required to submit your project for LEED® certification.

Set your green goals. LEED®is a flexible system, so you’ll need to choose which credits are aligned with your project’s green goals. Your goals should include which level of LEED certification – Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum – you’re aiming for.

Register your project. You can register your project online through the USGBC Web site. Registration fees apply.

Document and verify. Working with your Provider, you’ll need to complete a HERSrating (if necessary), and onsite inspections of the project to document that you’ve met the LEED® credit requirements that reflect your green goals.

Certify. Once your project is complete and your documentation is ready, your Provider will submit your final LEED® checklist to USGBC for certification.

Following a rigorous review, your project will be awarded its final certification.

Celebrate! We want to help you to celebrate your achievement with a certification packet you can share with your homebuyer and a PR toolkit to shares the good news with your community.

 How can I stay up to date on the progress of LEED® for Homes?

Get involved in one of the many USGBC committees. USGBC members interested in LEED®for Homes Committee activities can join the LEED®for Homes Corresponding Committee e-mail listserv. Just sign up online in the Your Account section of the USGBC website (www.usgbc.org/YourAccount). Corresponding Committee members receive committee meeting minutes, periodic updates and announcements regarding LEED® for Homes volunteer opportunities.

Non-USGBC members can join a public announcement distribution list by sending a request to homes@usgbc.org.

 What does it cost to register a home with LEED®?

USGBC members are eligible to receive significant cost discounts for program participation. Registration and certification fees vary based on housing type: 

Single-Family

Registration: $150 Members/$225 Non-Members

Certification: $225 Members/$300 Non-Members

 Multifamily

Registration: $450 Members/$600 Non-Members

Certification: $0.035/sqft Members/$0.045/sqft Non-Members

 What if I’m building a lot of homes all at once?

If you’re registering more than one home at a time – or a multifamily building with more than 50 units – volume pricing discounts may apply. Please contact your LEED® for Homes Provider for more information.

 How do I contact USGBC?

You can call USGBC at (202) 828-7422. Please mention that you’re a homebuilder interested in LEED® for Homes, and our receptionist will transfer you to a member of the Homes team.

January is National Radon Month. What is Radon?

Living “green” is about more than just energy efficiency and recycling – it’s also about giving your family a healthier home.  Breathing “greener” air means checking your home for radon, a leading indoor air problem that is the second leading cause of lung cancer.  Breathing in high levels of radon indoors can lead to lung cancer yet it is easily preventable.  A simple home radon test can tell you if you have a problem. If your home does have a high radon level, there are simple ways to reduce this radioactive gas and make your home’s air safer.

Check out this article EPA: One in 15 Homes in Virginia Have Elevated Levels of Radon

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.It is a colorless, tasteless, odorless radioactive gas that enters your home through cracks and crevices in the foundation.   Decomposition products attach to very small particles in the air which then can be breathed into the lungs, potentially resulting in serious health consequences. National statistics indicate that one in fifteen homes in the U.S. have unacceptable levels of radon. ANY house can contain elevated levels of radon unless there is a functioning radon system in place. It’s not a sign of a bad builder – shifting and settling happens. The only way to know whether your house has unacceptable levels of radon is to have the lowest livable space in the home tested. You may test yourself using kits that are available at home supply stores or seek professional assistance. Winter is the best time to test since doors and windows are kept closed allowing radon concentrations to reach detectable levels. If radon occurs as a result of out gassing from the soil, the most common reason, it can be readily mitigated with ventilation for roughly $1,000. Removal technology is simple and straightforward. It involves blocking points of entry into the lowest livable space in the home and venting areas to the outside using an active circulation system to exhaust basement air. Usually plastic ducting and piping are sufficient, and these low-cost materials help keep total costs low. In a few rare cases, it has been discovered that foundations were made of radioactive mine tailings or other waste materials. In these situations, the costs of radon mitigation become substantially more than $1,000.

More Articles on This Topic:U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Indoor Air – Radon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: A Citizen’s Guide to Radon 

This is a Press release from the EPA

Release date: 01/05/2009

Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543, smith.bonnie@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (January 5, 2009) – – Radon doesn’t have to be the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. By testing for radon and taking any needed preventive steps you can protect yourself and your family from this health threat.
Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. It is an invisible, tasteless, radioactive gas that can become trapped indoors. When you breathe air containing radon, you are exposing yourself to the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is found all over the country and in any type of building including homes, offices, and schools. Because we spend most of our time indoors at this time of year, this is the best time to test our homes for radon.

While many health challenges are tough to solve and expensive, testing for radon is easy and inexpensive. For $20 you can buy a “do-it-yourself” radon test kit at a hardware store or retail outlet. Many of us had our homes tested when they were purchased, but that may have been 20 years ago. EPA recommends you get your home tested every five years, since foundations can shift over time.

If your test shows high levels of radon, confirm with another test and fix the problem. A high radon level might be lowered with a straight-forward radon venting system installed by a contractor. Mitigation costs generally run from $1,000 to $2,500. In new homes, builders can easily and economically include radon-resistant features during construction, and home buyers should ask for these. EPA also recommends that home buyers ask their builder to test for radon before they move in.

EPA estimates that one in 15 homes will have a radon level of four picocuries per liter of air or more, a level the agency considers high. Based on the national radon map, all of the mid-Atlantic states – – Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and Delaware – – have areas with elevated radon levels.

For more information about radon contact our regional website at: http://www.epa.gov/reg3artd/Indoor/radon.htm or contact our national website at http://www.epa.gov/radon or call 1-800-SOS-RADON (767-7236).

You can also reach your state radon office on-line or by phone at:

Delaware Health and Social Services Administration at 302-739-4731
Maryland calls go to EPA Region 3 at 215-814-2086
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection at 717-783-3594
Virginia Radiological Health Programs at 804-786-5932
Washington D.C. Department of Public Health at 202-535-2999
West Virginia Radiological Health Program at 304-558-6716

January is National Radon Action Month: http://www.epa.gov/radon/nram/public.html

If you live in a single family home or an older ground floor condo please get your home tested! Contact your local state Radon contact to find out how to obtain inexpensive test kits or to find a local radon specialist.