Oct 21, 2014

Green Topics Archive3

We are transitioning to a new web solution and will be unable to host this article on our new solution so we are placing the material in our blog since although the material may be a bit dated, we still feel it is relevant to a world that needs to be more Green
Thanks
Conservastore.com




From the Manager
So 2006 begins with a declaration by the President of the United States  that Americans are "addicted to petroleum." Sorta wild to hear that is it not? Well first of all he should have said the world or at least the entire developed world is addicted to oil not just North America.
We still feel a weaning away from the current oil-based world economy must come as a building wave slowly and steady and from more than one modality than just hybrids or battery electrics or hydrogen or ethanol or nuclear or water or wind or solar water or solar electrics or coal--they must all contribute to get the developed world away from a dependence on 10 or so countries who currently set the energy standard for billions of people due to their luck to be positioned where oil formed.
But to hear these words from the leader of a super power cannot hurt and of course the Energy Policy Act EPACT of 05 is now law and should be read by you or your accountant if you harbor any designs on building a commercial building in this or succeeding years because the tax credit is quite liberal for incorporating renewables into the design. Please see our Article 3 for a brief synopsis of the offerings of this law. The IRS should soon have a publication available as well giving the letter of the law.
The  other articles for this newsletter are various.
We are a bit late in sending to you but the first article, Feeling Stuffed, about recycling is good for the beginning or anytime of year. It always amazes me what some of my neighbors put out in the trash. Much of trash can be composted, recycled, or taken to the local metals recycling facility(for dollars).
The second article, Coalition aims to cull tax money to preserve land, speaks of a possible unique approach to set up a quasi government authority to purchase land in central Florida(where we live)to prevent total urban sprawl and leave a few areas for non-human earth participants, both plant and animal, to live in this  sub-tropical area of many different species.
The fourth article, Power Struggle, speaks of how a true Republican, Mr Schwarzenegger, is pushing California to attempt alternatives to the grid to promote more energy independence.
We will say that we may or may not agree with all the views and expressions of the writers of these articles but we find the discussion useful.
Happy Early Spring '06 from Florida and thanks for reading,
Porter
General Manager

Feeling stuffed?
Your home's growing appetite needs to be controlled. It's time to go on a clutter-free diet.
Lisa Gutierrez the Kansas City Star
January 29, 2006
Do you need a fresh start around the house? Let take a look at what to recycle.
Recycle it
Old towels and blankets. Donate to your local humane society. Some use towels and blankets in good condition to dry off dogs and wrap animals after surgery; some also take donations of newspapers, which are used to line the bottom of cat and puppy cases; others also accept used manila filing folders.
Used musical instruments. Donate to the Salvation Army. "We have taken in some real pieces of junk," says the group's divisional music director, Tom Carr. But the army fixes them up and uses them to teach music to local children who can't afford to rent or buy their own instruments. Especially needed: brass instruments, guitars, other stringed instruments and woodwinds. (Pianos and organs pose moving and storage problems, but ask anyway.)
Sell to a music store that buys used instruments, but first know the rules.
Because many stores rent used instruments to schoolchildren, they buy only ones that meet school requirements. For instance, many schools insist the instrument have a brand name and not be made in China because of quality issues, says Bob Cox, owner of Antioch Music Center in Gladstone, Mo. You also must show a picture ID and proof of ownership. Find out if there are any limitations on what the store will take. Cox, for example, will take an instrument that is playable or fixable, except accordions and some cheaper guitars.
Old sneakers. Send to Nike. Through its Reuse-a-Shoe program, Nike grinds up old sneakers to make athletic surfaces, such as football fields, running tracks and playgrounds (nike.com). Recycling centers might also accept donations for  the program.
Wanted: running shoes, cross-trainers, aerobic shoes of any brand, dry and mud-free.
Eyeglasses. Pass them on. The Lions Club Recycle for Sight program (lionsclubs.org) collects used prescription glasses for people who can't afford them.
Books. Sell them. Know the guidelines. Many are similar to what Tom Shawver, owner of Bloomsday Books in Kansas City, requires: Books must be in good condition, which means no underlined passages or dog-eared pages, and hardcovers must have dust jackets. Easy to sell: hardcover nonfiction, such as historical and architectural tomes. Harder to sell: paperback fiction. Expect in-trade credit or cash.
Donate them. Obviously, your nearby library would be a good place to donate your books, but call first. Also, many nursing homes will take your old books (and magazines), but again, call first to find out whether they want what you have.
Don't use them as a dumping ground.
Old magazines. Leave them in a coin-operated laundry. We checked with a few around town where the workers said they wouldn't mind if you dropped them off for customers to read.
Give them away at freecycle.org. Special-interest magazines such as Mother Earth
News and Utne Reader are especially popular. Some people will even come to your house and pick them up. (Keep that Web address handy. The Freecycle Network is a worldwide grass-roots effort among people who want to give and get stuff  for free in their hometowns; handy to know when you're editing your household goods.)
Cell phones. Donate them. The Call to Protect project (donateaphone.com; 202-785-0081) refurbishes used cell phones and sells them to raise money for new ones to give to groups serving victims of domestic violence. (Call to see if there are any local drop-off locations.)
Sports equipment. Donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Contact your local branch.
Unused gift sets. Re-gift them. Some nursing homes will accept unopened bath oils, bubble bath and other toiletries; think of all those pretty gift sets you have never used. The home may give them to residents or sell them in a gift shop.

Coalition aims to cull tax money to preserve landKevin Spear and David Damron
Orlando Sentinel Staff Writers
January 26, 2006
Central Florida should move swiftly to create a $1 billion-a-year land authority to buy the last "jewels" of natural lands, a coalition of civic leaders and conservationists proposed Wednesday.
Such a powerful authority, they said, might be the last chance to spare the region from becoming an endless and unattractive grid of subdivisions, commercial strips and traffic lights.
Charles Lee, director of advocacy for Audubon of Florida, said the land authority could operate much like an airport or road authority. It would have a governing board and be funded with a portion of taxes on property or real-estate transactions.
The idea is just a proposal and would need legislative approval, which backers hope to pursue by next year. It is an ambitious plan that faces an uphill battle. But the proposal signals a growing urgency to step up conservation programs in the face of the region's booming growth.
"The pace of development is simply moving so rapidly that unless we have a tool to respond with, it's pretty much over for the ecosystem," Lee said. "What  we see as green now will go under pavement."
Backers of the idea, including the Metropolitan Center for Regional Studies at the University of Central Florida and a regional leadership group called myregion.org, already have a campaign under way to protect seven natural land areas -- from the Wekiva River to the Kissimmee Prairie.
Those groups are calling on residents, visitors, businesses and elected officials to support stepped-up acquisition programs but have fretted over the limited dollars available.
The price is high Traditional methods of land purchases, through government agencies and  some environmental groups, have almost no chance of keeping up with skyrocketing real-estate prices and the pace of development, proposal authors said Wednesday.
Aside from purchasing property, a land authority could also oversee a program that encourages growth in more populated areas while shielding valuable environments.
"I do think we have to be creative," said Mike Knight, manager for Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands.
Linda Chapin, Orange County's first elected chairman and now director of the UCF Metropolitan Center for Regional Studies, said local leaders might balk at contributing money and power to such a large regional agency. "But it's critical that we do it," said Chapin, adding that surveys have found Central Florida residents are willing to support land-buying because they are anxious about destructive sprawl. Plan has some support   A land authority would require a swell of local and vocal backing – not easy to accomplish.

TAX CREDIT OPPORTUNITIES FOR SOLAR
AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY
reprinted from Florida Solar Energy Center website:
http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/EPAct-05.htm
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) is the first effort of the United States government to address U.S. energy policy since the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Among many other things, the 1724 page law provides new tax incentives for a number of solar and energy efficiency measures.
Among them are:
* Tax credits for residential solar photovoltaic and hot water heating systems
* Tax deductions for highly efficient commercial buildings
* Tax credits for highly-efficient new homes
* Tax credits for improvements to existing homes including high-efficiency air conditioners and equipment
* Tax credits for residential fuel cell systems
* Tax credits for fuel cell and microturbines used in a business.
The complete conference bill for the Energy Policy Act may be downloaded at www.fsec.ucf.edu. The solar and energy efficiency provisions are found in Title XIII, Subtitle C, beginning on page 1332 through page 1390 of the act.
An Important Distinction
There is an important difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit.
A tax deduction is subtracted from income before total tax liability is computed. On the other hand, a tax credit is subtracted directly from the total tax liability. This means that a deduction and a credit have very different values, with a credit being 3 or more times more advantageous to the taxpayer than a deduction. For example, a tax credit of $1,000 for someone in the 28% tax bracket is equivalent to a tax deduction of $3,571.
Combined Incentives
In many cases, multiple tax incentives may be claimed. In the case of a new home for example, the builder may claim credit for the high efficiency home and the homeowner may claim tax credits for solar hot water and photovoltaic and fuel cell systems. Other financial incentives, such as utility or SunBuilt rebates, further reduce the cost of building or owning a solar and energy efficient home.
Solar Photovoltaic and Hot Water Systems
This provision offers tax credits to individuals for residential solar energy systems.
* For solar hot water systems, the allowable tax credit is 30% of the qualified solar system expenditures up to a maximum tax credit limitation of $2,000.
* For solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, the allowable tax credit is 30% of the qualified PV system expenditures up to a maximum tax credit limitation of $2,000.
To be eligible for the solar hot water system tax credit, the system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or the Florida Solar Energy Center (in the case of systems manufactured or sold in Florida) and produce 50% or more of the hot water needed by the residence. There is no qualification provided for PV systems (except in Florida, where systems must be rated and ceritified by the Florida Solar Energy Center). Individuals may claim tax credits for either or both types of solar systems.
The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006-2007.
In addition, the provisions of the bill substantially increases the business investment tax credit from 10% to 30%. This tax credit is available to businesses that purchase solar thermal and PV systems during calendar years 2006 and 2007. In Florida, such systems would be subject to the requirement that solar systems manufactured or sold in the state be certified by the Florida Solar Energy Center. This business investment tax credit for solar equipment does not have a maximum credit limit.
Additional information on solar systems that my qualify for these tax credits may be found at the following Web sites:
Solar hot water systems: www.fsec.ucf.edu/solar/
Photovoltaic (PV) systems: www.fsec.ucf.edu/pvt/
Commercial Buildings
This provision offers business taxpayers a deduction of $1.80 per square foot for commercial buildings that achieve a 50% reduction in annual energy cost to the user, compared to a base building defined by the industry standard ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2001. Energy costs refer only to heating, cooling, lighting and water heating, since only these uses are within the scope of the ASHRAE standard and within the control of the building designer.
Each of the three energy-using systems of the building - the envelope, the heating, cooling and water heating system, and lighting system – is eligible for one third of the incentive if it meets its share of the whole-building savings goal. Explicit interim compliance procedures are provided for lighting.
Eligible buildings include commercial buildings such as: offices, retail buildings, warehouses, etc., rental housing of four stories or more, and publicly-owned buildings. For publicly-owned buildings, there is an interesting provision allowing the credit to pass through to the "person primarily responsible for designing the building."
New construction in an existing building is also eligible for the tax deduction, with one third of the deduction amount for new construction that affects the new energy-using system (such as lighting or heating, cooling and water heating).
Compliance is determined by third party inspectors who review the plans and the actual in-place construction.
Energy savings are determined by software that must be certified by the Department of Energy as meeting criteria of consistency and accuracy, following the successful experience of California's performance-based energy code enforcement.
The incentives apply to buildings or systems placed in service during 2006-2007, although extenders increasing the eligibility through 2009 or 2010 are a distinct possibility. (see colloquia)
New Homes
This provision offers homebuilders a tax credit of $2,000 for homes that reduce energy use for heating and cooling only (not hot water) by 50% compared to the national model code - the 2004 IECC Supplement (assuming an SEER-13 air conditioner). Producers of manufactured homes can also choose to qualify for a tax credit of $1,000 for homes that save 30%. This $1,000 credif for reaching 30% savings is not available for site built homes, which must reach the 50% savings tier to qualify for the $2,000 credit.
Eligible homes must demonstrate savings using software that has been approved by DOE and builders must demonstrate compliance by the use of third-party inspectors certified according to DOE rules. While no interim rules have yet been promulgated to meet these requirements, similar standards exist in Florida and elsewhere under the auspices of Florida's Building Energy Rating System and under the national standards of the national Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).
Additionally, the Florida Solar Energy Center has released a free 60-day trial version of software that makes the calaulations that are expected to be used for tax credit qualification. To download this free 60-day trial software click here.
The incentives apply to homes placed in service during 2006-2007, although extenders increasing the eligibility through 2009 are a possibility.
Existing Homes
These provisions offer cost-based incentives of 10% of the amount expended by the taxpayer for "Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements" and up to $300 for "Qualified Energy Property" up to a maximum credit limit of $500.
"Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements" are specifically defined as:
* Any insulation material or system specifically designed to reduce heat loss or gain
* Exterior windows (including skylights)
* Exterior doors
* Any metal roof having pigmented coatings specifically designed to reduce heat gain which meet Energy Star program requirements.
"Qualified Energy Property" is defined as:
* Electric heat pump water heater with EF of 2.0 or greater
* Electric air source heat pumps with HSPF of 9.0 or greater
* Geothermal heat pumps:
o Closed loop products with EER of 16.2 and COP of 3.3 or greater
o Open loop products with EER of 14.1 and COP of 3.3 or greater
o Direct expansion (DX) products with EER of 15 and COP of 3.5 or greater
* Central air conditioner that receives the highest efficiency tier established by the Consortium of Energy Efficiency as of January 1, 2006
* Natural gas, propane or oil water heater with EF or 0.80 or greater
* Natural gas, propane or oil furnace or hot water boiler with AFUE of 95% or greater
* Advanced main air circulating fan used in natural gas, propane or oil furnace that uses no more than 2% of the total annual energy use of the furnace.
Credit limitations on qualified energy property are as follows:
* $50 for any advanced main air circulating fan
* $150 for any qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler
* $300 for any item of qualified energy property.
The incentives apply to improvements and equipment placed in service during 2006-2007.
Residential Fuel Cells
This provision offers cost-based 30% tax credits to individuals for qualified residential fuel cell property expenditures up to a maximum credit limitation of $500 for each 500 watts installed capacity.
The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006-2007.
Fuel Cells and Microturbines Used in a Business This provision offers tax credits for fuel cells and microturbines used in a business. To qualify for the credit, fuel cells are required to be 500 watt capacity or greater with a generation efficiency of 30% or greater.
Microturbines are required to be of 2,000 kilowatt capacity or less with an efficiency of 26% at International Standards Organization conditions.
Tax credits and limitations are as follows:
* For fuel cells, a tax credit of 30% of the expenditure up to a maximum of $500 per 500 watts of capacity.
* For microturbines, a tax credit of 10% of the expenditure with a credit limitation of $200/kW.
The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006-2007.

"Power Struggle"
Charles Petit
Nature Magazine November '05
For decades, California has bucked the US trend of gobbling ever more electricity. But can the state pull off an even more ambitious goal and slash its greenhouse-gas emissions? Charles Petit finds out.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has a mission: he wants to terminate global warming.
In June, the California governor called for the state to slash its greenhouse-gas emissions to 80% of 1990 levels in the next 45 years. "The debate is over," he said in a forthright speech in San Francisco. "We know the science. We see the threat. And we know the time for action is now."
This was fighting talk, but if any advanced economy can pull off such drastic cuts in emissions, this high-technology Pacific Rim state and its 36 million residents probably can. Schwarzenegger has help. His muscle for the job is a team of state energy-conservation experts who have been in the business for years. And first among them is his polar opposite: a short, skinny physicist named Arthur Rosenfeld. More than three decades ago, Rosenfeld helped to trigger the state's successful fight to cut energy consumption; today he is one of the five members of California's Energy Commission.
Rosenfeld was Enrico Fermi's last graduate student and he spent decades as a physics professor at the Univeristy of California, Berkeley. He now commutes weekly between his home overlooking San Francisco Bay and Sacramento, the capital, in an energy-saving Prius hybrid sedan that the state provides. The Energy Commission's job isn't easy: to help the most populous US state figure out how it might cut greenhouse-gas emissions and make money doing it.
Under Control
In his office, Rosenfeld pulls out a data plot of which he is particularly fond. It shows electricity consumption per capita from 1960 to 2002, with one line for California and one for the United States. In 1960, both lines sit at 4,000 kilowatt-hours per person. They rise at roughly the same pace to about 7,000 kilowatt-hours in the early 1970's. But at the point when the US energy crisis struck that decade, the lines diverge dramatically: California virtually flatlines its energy use per citizen- even though its economy was outpacing the rest of the nation. The state's electricity use per capita today is the lowest in the nation at 6,800 kilowatt-hours, compared with 12,800 kilowatt-hours for the country overall.
The strategies that helped California achieve those conservation goals may now help it in its greenhouse-gas cuts. State energy experts, including Rosenfeld, don't foresee California adopting many radical new technologies to meet its ambitious goals. Rather, a steady application of proven technologies should do much of the job.
California's $1.5-trillion gross annual product makes it the world's sixth largest economy, behind France and ahead of Italy. It is the planet's ninth-largest emitter of greenhouse-gases. "California is not an insignificant actor, and we are seen as a world leader in protecting the environment," says Eileen Tutt, a senior officer at the California Environmental Protection Agency. "Not to take action sends a very strong signal."
Still, the governor's pledge, made on the United Nations World Environment Day, caused more than a few jaws to drop. Schwarzenegger is a tax-cutting Republican who owns several fuel-slurping Hummers and is deeply suspicious of government regulation. Beset by budget fights and union opposition, he has sagged in popularity with the state's generally Democratic voters since his election two years ago. But his energy policies, building on those of a string of governors of both parties, get him kudos from longtime activists. "The governor is a real-life climate action hero today," Nancy Ryan, a senior economist with the group Environmental Defense, told reporters after his speech.
Specifically, Schwarzenegger vowed that California will cut its greenhouse-gas emissions to below 2000 levels by 2010 and to less than the 1990 level of 373 million tonnes by 2020. But then the governor added the final, ambitious goal to cut emissions by a further 80% by 2050.
Out on a Limb
His policy stands in stark contrast to that of the federal administration under President George W. Bush, who has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The president has said that such action would squeeze the US economy too much. California officials say that they can do it while boosting the economy and creating  jobs. The state's strong environmental policies in the past, they point out, ovvurred while its economy thrived.
Success will require the cooperation of several interlocking agencies. The Energy Commission's plays a major role, as do the state's Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board and Public Utilities Commission.
Schwarzenegger's proclamation renewed their "absolute licence to go out and make California a model country for greenhouse policies," says Stephen Schneider, a physicist and climate-policy analyst at Stanford University.
State officials have much at stake. California's climate could change utterly if a warmer world redirected storm paths. Rising temperatures could cause winter rain instead of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains, triggering floods for which the state's aqueducts and dams are not prepared. Plus, its coast is vulnerable to a rise in sea level.
Other states have a lso recognized their vulnerability to climate change, and have independently taken climate policy into their own hands. Local legislators, from mayors of cities to state governors, have begun their own versions of Kyoto-like regulations. In the northeast,nine states have agreed to cap carbon dioxide emissions from more than 600 power plants in the region. On the west coast, California has joined with Oregon and Washington in a governors' initiative to encourage energy efficiency and conservation.
But of all the states, California has set itself up as a model of how diligent attention to efficiency can take root and pay off. Its example has caught on: in recent years many other states have adopted California's standards for car pollution rather than the more lax federal standards.
And the state is now attracting international attention. In September, its Public Utitlites Commission, Energy Commission, and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company signed a pact with China's Jiangsu province to train officials and utility executives in energy-conservation tactics. Earlier this month, Schwarzenegger led a sales delegation to China to tout the state's energy-saving technologies, and another team from the state's Air Resources Board travelled to Belgium to brief European air-quality experts on energy policies.
California's approach to energy conservation has helped it save money. The state sets electricity rates for private utilities, and sometimes provides subsidies to help power companies induce customers to cut their consumption. If they do, the state gives money back to the companies- through rate adjustments and other payments- that makes up for what the firms would have earned had they built additional power plants.
The Energy Commission calculates that the toal power bill for residents is about $16 billion lower each year than if the state had not launched its conservation campaign. Conservation has also managed to prevent some 18 million tonnes of carbon pollution being emitted from power plants- equivalent to taking 12 million cars off the raods. After allowing for the cost of measures such as changed building practices, appliances, and subsidies, the net saving is about $12 billion. And deeper energy cuts should pay more, the commission syas. The Air Resources Board estimates that planned reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020, from motor vehicles alone, could save Californians $256 million annualy by 2010 (mostly from smaller fuel bills) and $4.8 billion annualy by 2020.
Cut and Dried?
But will the state's longer-term emissions policy succeed? Schneider is unsure how cost effective the whole plan will be. Earlier stages may pay for themselves, he says, but the final leap to the 80% cut is unlikely to come without costs. "It would take a total revamp of our fuel infrastructure," he notes.
So far, even state planners aren't sure how they will beet the later goals. "We don't have the details, but we'll have a report the governor's office in January," says Tutt.
Some fresh ideas our already in the works. One notion, set out by Schwarzenegger's administration, is to place 1 million solar panel systems on rooftops by 2018.
California gets about 11% of its electricity from geothermal, wind, biomass and solar units; for the United States overall, the number is around 2%. California aims to increase its share of renewable sources to 20% by 2010 and to 33% by 2020.
Also helpful will be the vehicle clean-up legislation enacted just before Schwarzenegger's arrival. This requires car manufacturers, starting in 2009, to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from new cars and trucks by 22% by 2013 and 33% by 2017. But the law remains in dispute- perhaps predictably, car companies have sued.
They argue that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, and that regulating it at state levelwould pre-empt federal control over the fuel-efficiency standards in new cars. In the long run, the governor has chosen hydrogen-fuelled cars as his personal crusade.
Wind power figures large in state plans. California pioneered wide-scale use of it and already has more than 14,000 wind turbines. In a good breeze their combined capacity is 2,100 megawatts- about the same as two nuclear power plants. State energy officials estimate that wind alone, in principle, can generate an additional 30,000 megawatts.
Fuel For Thought
The rest of the renewable energy would probably come from beefed-up geothermal, solar and biomass facilities. In recent weeks, the utiltity company serving San Diego contracted to buy another 205.5 megawatts of wind power, and the Los Angeles utitlitty company ordered 500 megawatts of solar power from a complex being built some 120 kilometres northeast of the city. When construction is completed in 2013, this will be the world's largest solar facility and will more than double US solar-energy generation. One energy source that is not on the agenda, despite not emitting greenhouse gases, is nuclear power, which now provides about 10% of the state's electricity. California law forbids the construction of additional nuclear plants until safe, long-term waste storage has been assured.
If Schwarzenegger's emissions-busting goal seems ambitious, Rosenfeld is happy to put it in perspective. He recalls the early days of conservation work when he co-founded a programme in energy-efficient buildings at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The effort spawned what today is an entire Environmental Energy Technologies Division at the lab.
Back then, Rosenfeld's personal project was to make fluorescent lights more efficient. Around the same time, in 1973, state lawmakers formed the California Energy Commission, which was signed into existence by then-governor Ronald Reagan.
In its early days, the commission took almost as gospel any reports from Rosenfeld's group on how to reduce energy demand. In 1978, the state used the team's recommendations as a guide to impose energy requirements on new buildings. Appliance standards came two years later governing such items as gas furnaces, air conditioning, and refrigerators. Today, due largely to such regulations, refrigerators use a third of the electricity and cost about a third as much to buy as in the early 1970's. In contrast to California's efforts, federal standards, such as 'Energy Star' labels for approved appliances, did not arrive until the 1990's.
Energetic Response
The total electricity used for air-conditioning new homes in California is now a third of what it was in the 1970's. And two technologies from the Lawrence Berkeley initiative- the revamped light bulb and window coatings that keep heat out in the summer and in during winter- will save the US economy some $23 billion in utility bills, the National Academy of Sciences has estimated.
Rosenfeld is not done waging war on wasted energy. He is pushing hard for regulations to encourage the use of white roofs, or at least coloured ones, that reflect most near infared radiation. Such cool roofs could save $200 million yearly in air-conditioning costs in Los Angeles alone. He frets over energy "vampires," the trickle of power that modern appliances continue to suck through their plugs even when they are turned off. Such vampires include televisions waiting for a signal from the remote, cable boxes, cordless phones, garage-door openers waiting for a signal and stereos. Standby power, which was insignificant two decades ago, now typically accounts for 10% of a home's electricity use. New technology that gives appliances photons into the void.
Then, Rosenfeld leans forward with a conspiratorial air. "In the next 20 years," he declares,"California will disappear." And that is more efficient standby modes, which California will require as it becomes available, could reduce this by 75%.
"Let me show you something," Rosenfeld says as he pulls out an iconic NASA Satellite image of the Western Hemisphere at night. The US industrial centres blaze like constellations against the black backdrop of the continent. "You are looking at millions of light bulbs," he says in dismay. To Rosenfeld, the necklaces of light are not signs of advanced civilization but of a wastrel society leaking precious into the void.

Then, Rosenfeld leans forward with a conspiratorial air. "In the next 20 years," he declares,"California will disappear." And that is Rosenfeld's dream- that the state will disappear, or at least fade, at night. Rules enacted this year require new lights for streets, parking areas and the like to focus 98% of their illumination on the ground, not into the sky. Once again, Rosenfeld says, the message for California on saving energy is simple: every little bit helps.

Green Topics Archives2

We are transitioning to a new web solution and will be unable to host this article on our new solution so we are placing the material in our blog since although the material may be a bit dated, we still feel it is relevant to a world that needs to be more Green
Thanks
Conservastore.com



A Note from Our General Manager:
A very happy holiday season to you! Whatever your own religion, or personal belief the end of the solar calendar year brings time with family, reflection, and plans for a new solar calendar. All of this seems cleansing to our souls.
We have a great Holiday Promo on long life light bulbs that will last thru December. If you are not on our mail list and did not get the Holiday Promo link please email us and we will get it to you.
We also have many other gift items that allow you to give a gift that helps the Earth and your friends and family. The 10 can, can crusher is always a good gift item. Our solar race car is a must for kids in 1st thru 6th grade. A Sprite chlorine free personal shower is a great gift item. Gee the list of possible holiday gift items from our store goes on and on including: solar globe lights, hemp clothing, AA nickel metal hydride batteries for your toys, recycling bin carts, solar learning kits for kids. Please use our site for your shopping needs.
I was able to travel a bit in East Asia recently. The attempts of this part of the world to provide for a large population but still keep pollution in check is interesting.
Mass transit is certainly offered in most major cities(I see where China recently ordered a large amount of Bullet style fast trains to be implemented in the next 10 years) and many of the cars are smaller and consume less gas (although not many were hybrids) than in the states. But the air pollution is quite stark in many areas due to poor filtration of coal-fired power plants, auto pollution, and in the rural areas burning of trash by farmers. In many ways some of these Asian economies are experiencing many of the attacks to their societies thru air and water pollution that the Industrial Revolution did to America and Europe prior to the 1960’s.
One article for this edition of Hot Topics speaks of this balancing act the Asian economies must juggle between production and natural resource degradation, “Green Dreams in Shangri-La.”
Another article (a Part 2 of an article we had in our Fall Hot Topics), “Are You Being Served,” speaks to how global manufacturing could be made to figure the cost of pollution into manufacture more accurately by adding the environmental results to their figures.
An article about a local engineer working on wave power shows we need to keep trying a number of ways to power our lives. Not just fossil fuels.
Finally we continue to keep up with the alternate powered vehicle offerings in the world. The Toyota Prius continues to be a leader but there should be more choices in the next few years by all auto manufacturers in “Battery Assault.” The Brazilians are trying sugar cane derived fuel for auto power in “A Tankful of Sugar.”
We will say that the article reprints are the ideas and opinions of the writers that are mentioned. We may or may not agree with all of what they write but we find the discussions useful.
Thanks for reading,
Porter
General Manager
Holiday ’05 New Year ‘06

A NASA scientist picks up where
his father left off and works to pry
electricity from the sea.
SATELLITE BEACH -- It started with a rocket scientist, a Slinky and the first energy crisis of the early '70s.
Now, a generation later with a new energy crisis, the son of that rocket scientist thinks he is close to perfecting that spare-part dream: a machine that might make cheap, clean electricity from the ocean.
"I believe it'll change the world," said second-generation inventor Tom Woodbridge, a NASA engineer.
The renewed interest in finding cheap, plentiful and renewable energy has rekindled interest in the work of Woodbridge and others. He knows about 20 other companies trying to get energy from the sea.
Alternative energy is in the forefront again as high fuel costs after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the nation's oil refineries and Americans' wallets.
Federal officials estimate that all types of fuel will cost Americans one-third more this winter if temperatures are average.
But Woodbridge, a bookish 45-year-old with wire glasses whose old Hobie surfboard hangs in the den above his computer, is chasing an elusive prize that his father, David, now 84 and retired, never caught. It is one that countless would-be inventors have squandered fortunes and careers on: failed efforts to pry electricity from Poseidon's kingdom.
In theory, the idea is simple. Almost any eighth-grader can tell you that spinning copper wires through a stable magnetic field makes electricity -- lots of electrons jumping off the magnetic field and zooming through a conductive metal.
And since the ocean waves are already moving, why not cobble together a machine to harness that energy?
The elder Woodbridge founded Aqua-Magnetics Inc., a small company that Tom now runs.
"The sea is very powerful; there's a lot of energy out there. But the sea is a very hostile environment," said professor Elias K. "Lee" Stefanakos, director of the University of South Florida's Clean Energy Research Center in Tampa.
But after tinkering with the idea off and on for years, Tom Woodbridge is making a final push toward making his father's dream a reality.
He has six U.S. and international patents, a $30,000 grant from the State's Technological Research and Development Authority and prototypes that take up most of the family garage in Satellite Beach.
Woodbridge has added $10,000 of his own money to the project.
His father's idea, to use the rocking motion of the waves to generate electricity, came from looking at his son's Slinky toy back in 1972. After noticing how easily it transferred energy, he thought, “why not use something like the Slinky as a coil that rocks?”
It's a radical departure from most attempts at ocean-based electric generators, which try to use the force of the waves to turn a wheel. Professor Eric Thosteson of the Florida Institute of Technology and others say they've never heard of an idea like it.
The elder Woodbridge has credentials. He's a physicist who worked with the famed Wernher Von Braun, on how to get rockets to safely re-enter the Earth's atmosphere in the 1950s and '60s.
But David Woodbridge never perfected his generator.
"There was not enough time to do everything," he said recently. He had a family to raise.
And as Craig Williams, executive director of the Central Florida Renewable Energy Society, points out, America's attention on the energy crisis was short-lived.
"America got the wake-up call and then rolled over and went back to sleep," Williams said of the Arab oil embargo of 1973 that caused fuel prices to quadruple by 1974.
But with fuel prices expected to rise this winter, and dwindling world reserves of oil, there's a new focus on alternative energy.
Tom Woodbridge has a system that follows his father's principle of capitalizing on the rocking. But there's no Slinky.
Think Pogo Stick inside a floating drum. The rocking motion of the waves pushes a long cylinder of magnets up and down a copper coil.
Testing in the Indian River is planned this spring. Then, if he gets financial backing, Woodbridge will build three full-sized buoys, each about as big as the size of a small bus, for testing in the open ocean.
His prototypes stand about head-high, upside down in the family garage and are painted bright yellow, as the Coast Guard required.
His small model generates 10 watts of power in a 6-inch wave chop. A full-scale version could generate 160 kilowatts. That one buoy is enough to power 160 houses, following the rule of thumb that the average U.S. home uses about 1,000 kilowatts of electricity each month.
Smaller versions could make navigational buoys self-powered, providing warning lights and navigational signals to ships.
Woodbridge says he needs about $550,000 for 18 months of development for three ocean-trial models, and he expects it will cost $4.2 million to complete through production. Woodbridge said he has had a lot of inquiries but not a lot of investors.
"No one wants to give just a couple hundred thousand," he said. "They say I'm to call when I need $5 million. That's the biggest obstacle: up-front money to build with, and work out the kinks."
Stefanakos says he is glad people are looking for alternatives to fossil fuels such as oil, but he's cautious about getting electricity from the sea.
The ocean is "caustic, things corrode. Look at what they have to do for ships -- put them in dry dock and scrape them," Stefanakos said.
Woodbridge has heard naysayers for years, but his wife, Amelia, and two daughters believe in him. And he's determined to make it work.
"Maybe I'll get rich and famous; maybe I won't," he said. "But I want to get into the history book of energy as the man who made this work."
And his father's name will be there next to his, he promises.


Green Dreams in Shangri-La
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
The New York Times
Published: October 28, 2005
Shangri-La County, China
I came to Shangri-La and I met the Buddha.
Well, not the Buddha, but one of the "living Buddhas" designated by the Buddhist hierarchy as spiritual leaders throughout this Tibetan region of China, and not the mythic Shangri-La of "Lost Horizon," but this lush western China countryside near the border with Burma that has renamed itself Shangri-La to attract more tourists.
But don't underestimate this Shangri-La. Its spectacular wetlands, pine forests and mountains (this is where your rhododendrons originally came from) make up one of the 34 biodiversity hot spots designated worldwide by Conservation International as places with large numbers of unique plant and animal species threatened by human development - which, once lost, may never come back.
And that's why I came here. Because Shangri-La County is a microcosm of the biggest challenge facing China. Put simply: if development doesn't come to Shangri-La and other rural areas, the divide between haves and have-nots will widen and destabilize China. But if the wrong development comes here, it will add to global warming and ravage the rural environment where many of China's indigenous cultures and species are nested.
Yes, China must get its smoke-belching factories out of the coastal cities because they are making the cities unlivable, but if it just pushes them into the countryside, they will destroy way too much of China's farmland, and the natural areas that are the home of things like Tibetan culture.
The living Buddha, Ang Weng, is right in the middle of this drama, trying to promote a higher living standard for his people - without destroying the "sacred forests" essential to Tibetan spirituality. The living Buddha wears a sunny smile and a cowboy hat. His wife, who makes a mean butter tea, a traditional Tibetan drink, translated from his Tibetan dialect into Chinese for my translator.
He got right to the point: "The human brain is moving much faster into the modern world than the environment, and this fast move is having an impact on the environment. Build this and build that, and you lose the environment."
The good, and surprising, news I found in Shangri-La was how much the poor villagers here were coming up with their own green growth solutions. For instance, the 39 families in the village of Hamugu have bundled their savings to build a lodge for ecotourists drawn by the wetlands. "We just need a Web site," the manager told me. A local botanist has built Shangri-La Alpine Botanic Garden, which employs two dozen people and shares profits with the local village.
It also has the finest public toilet I've ever used, a solar-powered composting toilet with an automated plastic green seat cover - in the middle of nowhere! It was labeled "The Lavatory of Environmental Protection of the Travel."
A U.S. multinational, 3M, is financing the restoration of the local forests to reduce climate change and protect the watersheds. And the old log-and-mud town of Zhongdian here is a Disneyland-like traditional Tibetan village, with hot-pot restaurants that attract droves of Chinese tourists.
"All the basic elements of a network solution to safeguard environment and culture are here," said Lu Zhi, Conservation International's director in China and my traveling companion. (My wife's a C.I. board member.) "But the challenge is how do you organize this business-N.G.O.-government network more effectively so you can provide ecofriendly alternatives to industrial development that could be replicated in the rest of rural China ."
Not only would this be enormously important for China's environment, but it could also be a model for other developing countries. What we don't want is for China to protect its own environment and then strip everyone else's in the developing world by importing their forests and minerals.
"For 30 years, the business of development has been Americans and Europeans lecturing poor countries about how they need to do things differently," said Glenn Prickett, a senior vice president with Conservation International. "What we hope to see here is a new paradigm, where China, itself a developing country, offers a new model of sustainable development to other developing countries."
I sure hope so. We all need China to start assuming an environmental leadership role commensurate with its impact on the world. Imagine a day when China is sharing its own approaches to environmentally and culturally sustainable development with other developing countries - not just pursuing them for its resources.
Now that would be a great leap forward.


Battery assault Sep 22nd 2005 | TOKYO
From The Economist print edition
How Toyota has seized the initiative
IT IS going awfully fast, and they are not sure where it is leading them, but Toyota's rivals reckon they have no choice but to give chase. The Japanese carmaker is so pleased with the success of its Prius, an electric-and-petrol hybrid car that has sold well in America, that it is pressing ahead with plans to put hybrid engines in a range of other cars and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs). Next week Toyota will launch a new advertising campaign in which it will spend up to $60m trumpeting its hybrid technology. Competitors, ranging from America's General Motors to Germany's BMW and DaimlerChrysler, are scrambling to roll out hybrids of their own. On September 21st Ford announced that it could increase production of hybrid cars tenfold by 2010.
Adding a hybrid engine costs thousands of dollars, which puts off many consumers, but Toyota is pressing ahead anyway, confident that, with practice, it can master fuel-saving technologies more quickly than rivals. Since it launched the new Prius in America in 2003, Toyota has sold over 150,000. It can probably sell many more hybrids, now that it has begun putting such engines into its other models.
The Prius, after all, is an odd-looking machine. Its owners are either so green, or so keen to pinch their petrol pennies, that they were willing to buy an ugly car to prove it. By contrast, some buyers who would never go near a Prius may choose an existing SUV or luxury car over a rival model if it comes with a fuel-saving and eco-friendly hybrid option that is partly subsidized by the maker. Toyota began offering hybrid versions of its Highlander and Lexus SUVs earlier this year. Although Americans love their oversized SUVs, they are heavy machines that guzzle petrol. So buying a hybrid version might ease some of the guilt, even if the savings at the pump do not end up offsetting the higher price.
Toyota will also put a hybrid engine into one of its Lexus luxury sedans, and Honda will do the same for its Acura. That will give wealthy greens a chance to tout their eco-friendly credentials without sacrificing style. Selling hybrid sedans to middle-class consumers might be trickier, but the Japanese are going to try. Honda has just launched a new hybrid version of its popular Civic in America, and Toyota will begin selling hybrid versions of its Camry sedan in 2007. Overall, Toyota is racing towards its target of selling 1m hybrid vehicles worldwide by 2010.
That is the last thing that it’s American, European and Korean rivals want to hear. Many of their executives complain that hybrids are unprofitable and over-hyped. Those rivals are upset with Toyota, for setting the agenda so deftly; with themselves, for failing to keep pace; and with consumers, for having the temerity to buy what they do not want to sell. The European carmakers have trumpeted diesel technology as a fuel-efficient and eco-friendly alternative. Toyota also sees merit in diesels—it opened a new diesel-engine plant in Poland last week—but it has no intention of making life easy for its rivals by taking its foot off the hybrid accelerator.
So everyone else is now playing catch-up. General Motors is teaming up with Daimler Chrysler and BMW on hybrid technology, and will launch hybrid-equipped SUVs in 2007. Volkswagen is co-operating with Porsche. Ford is ramping up production. Toyota may leave them in the dust anyway. While its rivals struggle to integrate hybrid engines into their vehicles, the Japanese giant hopes soon to cut the extra costs of those engines in half.


A Tankful of Sugar Apr 21st 2005 | PANAMA CITY
From The Economist print edition
Has Brazil found the answer to high petrol prices?
While motorists elsewhere fret about high fuel prices, new-car buyers in Brazil can feel smug. They can fill up with petrol, ethanol (alcohol) or any combination of the two. And right now, ethanol is up to 55% cheaper at the pump in Brazil than regular gasoline.
Brazilians are the beneficiaries of an automotive revolution: “flex fuel” cars that run as readily on ethanol as on regular petrol were introduced in 2003, and have since grabbed nearly two-thirds of the market. In America some 4.5m vehicles can run on blends of up to 85% ethanol, but that fuel is available only in Minnesota. In Brazil, ethanol is everywhere, thanks to a 30-year-old policy of promoting fuel derived from homegrown sugar cane.
Eager for energy independence or lower emissions of greenhouse gases, other countries are now starting to promote “bio fuels”. But America and Europe favor their own farmers, who produce fuel based on corn or rape-seed that is mainly used as an additive to conventional petrol- and is dirtier and more expensive than Brazil’s sugar-based ethanol. So, bio-fuelled cars may take years to catch on in other markets.
For Brazil, this is a second try at a failed romance. Prompted by the oil shocks of the 1970’s, Brazilian governments used laws and subsidies to promote ethanol-only cars, which had 90% of the market by the late 1980’s. But supplies of sugar-based fuel dried up suddenly when planters rushed to meet a surge in demand for sugar. Sales of ethanol-powered cars dropped to nearly zero by 1990- one taxi driver famously set his alight outside Congress.
Flex-fuel cars have persuaded Brazilians to give ethanol a second try. The initiative came from the Brazilian operations of parts suppliers such as Magneti Marelli, owned by Fiat of Italy, and Bosch, a German company. They persuaded the government to extend to flex-fuel cars the tax break previously applied to ethanol-only models. Volkswagen was first to the market, followed quickly by other big manufacturers.
The Brazilian car industry as a whole is struggling. Might exports of flex-fuel cars prove its salvation? Probably not! Alas. If the cars become popular outside Brazil, they could easily be made elsewhere, Brazilian parts suppliers are more likely to benefit than car makers. Bosch has sold fuel-supply systems for America’s fleet of superfluous flex-fuel cars. Magneti Marelli would probably start by exporting components, but with higher volumes would move towards selling the technology. Brazil’s biggest opportunity may be to sell fuel rather than flexibility. Its cost of sugar production is so low that ethanol can compete with petrol even with oil prices at $35 a barrel, about half of today’s price.

Are you being served? Apr 21st 2005 | PANAMA CITY
From The Economist print edition
Environmental entries are starting to appear on the balance sheet. Perhaps soon, the best things in life will not be free
This is part 2 of an article we had in our Fall Hot topics - View previous newsletter if you need part 1
Putting a proper value on ecological services is bound up with another economic anomaly that haunts environmental economics. This is the creation of what economists term externalities—economic impacts made when those taking a decision do not bear all the costs (or reap all the gains) of their actions. When a piece of natural habitat is ploughed, for example, the conversion may make sense to the land owner, but it may also damage fisheries downstream, increase flooding and clog rivers with sediment. This makes those who lose out angry. It can also, in some circumstances, subtract from, rather than add to, a country's total wealth.
The problems discussed above all involve externalities as well as the need to price ecological services correctly. If Catskill farmers had not changed their methods, for example, New York City's government would not have faced the question of how to keep its water potable. But when an externality affects only a relatively small, recognisable group of people, negotiation between the parties can often resolve the matter. If, however, an externality is a public “bad” (ie, the opposite of a public good), such deals are not possible.
Public goods are those which are in everybody's interest to have, but in no one's interest to provide, clean air, for example, or, more controversially, the preservation of rare species of plant or animal.
In such situations, the first reaction is frequently to legislate to try to ban the externality. But a more efficient solution can often be what is known as a cap and trade scheme, in which legislation creates both an overall limit to the amount of the externality in question, whether it be a polluting chemical or the destruction of a type of habitat, and a market in the right to impose the externality within that limit.
Cap and trade schemes are best known in the context of polluting gases. Sulphur-dioxide-emission rights have been traded in America for years, and in countries that have signed up to the Kyoto protocol on climate change a market is starting to develop in carbon dioxide. But cap and trade can work in other contexts as well. Fisheries are a well-tested example, while in Australia, farmers who use irrigation (which increases soil salinity) can buy “transpiration credits” from forest owners whose trees, by sucking up water in the process known as transpiration, reduce salinity.
In America, similar markets in wetlands and endangered species have arisen. These are run through so-called mitigation banks. Such banks are created by permanently protecting privately owned swamps, or land that is inhabited by endangered species. This creates a supply of environmental “credits”. Those who want to destroy wetlands, or species-rich habitats, for agricultural or development purposes are able to buy credits from a mitigation bank allowing them to do so. New federal guidelines mean that mitigation banking is becoming popular in many American states. Indeed, it is even starting to finance the emergence of companies dedicated to restoring wetlands, or building them from scratch.
Such liquid markets are different from the fee-for-service arrangements that pertain to such things as watershed management, and, as if to underscore the arrival of environmental trading in the marketplace, two recent publications have been launched to track the field. Platts, best known for newsletters that report prices in energy markets, started a newsletter called Emissions Daily in February. This covers the carbon-dioxide market in Europe, and the sulphur-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide markets in America, publishing daily price assessments for the leading contracts. The second publication is a website called the Ecosystem Marketplace, which tracks markets and payment schemes for ecological services such as water quality, carbon sequestration (planting trees as a way of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) and habitat preservation.
The principle having been established, traders are now looking for other opportunities to arbitrage pollution. One promising area is the trading of nitrate emissions between factories and farmers. Farmers' emissions are generally less regulated than those of factories but—probably because of that—farmers can often reduce their nitrate output at a fraction of the cost that a factory would have to incur. Trading between the two means pollution standards can be met more cheaply.
The greening of the City
All these payments and new markets have not gone unnoticed in the City of London, and other financial centers. People there are watching closely for new financial opportunities, particularly within carbon-dioxide markets—and banks such as ABN AMRO plan to start selling “new environmental financial products”. While the City has little interest these days in specifically “green” investments, there is something of a greenward shift in the way its firms handle large-scale project finance. Almost two years ago, ten of the world's largest banks signed an agreement to address the social and environmental impacts of the projects they financed (at least, those worth more than $50m). The rules were dubbed “The Equator Principles”, and 29 financial institutions have now adopted them. An article published this year in a Euromoney handbook estimated that such “Equator” banks represented about 75% of the project-finance market in 2003. In its sustainability report for 2004, ABN AMRO reviewed 16 deals that had been subjected to the Equator principles. One had been rejected. Four were approved. The rest were modified to fit in with the principles.
Is it working? Of course, banks are not keen to discuss their businesses in any detail, so there is no real way of knowing. It is easy to be cynical about the principles as little more than “greenwash”. Nevertheless, Mr Forgach explains that when projects are under consideration they have to be screened with a “green check”. He describes this as a series of questions, analyses and consultations on the impact a project will have on biodiversity, the climate and “footprint stuff” (a measure of the consumption of ecological resources).
From the perspective of someone wanting to borrow money, this means that green issues have to be considered from the beginning, and possibly even acted on. So, the proposers of a mining project might have to consider damage to the river and to downstream fisheries of any additional sediment the mine would produce. Borrowers may have to change their plans (as they did in 11 of ABN AMRO's deals last year) so that they are more environmentally friendly, or offset damage by protecting land elsewhere.
In effect, this means that the environment has been brought on to the balance sheet. Furthermore, because insurance companies recognise that the environment can be a huge portion of the risk in a project, there may be a financial incentive for paying to protect it.
Valuation is only ever part of the answer, because not everything is for sale. Mr. Forgach says he has calculated that the Panamanians could get far more for their lovely fresh water by shutting down the canal, bottling the water and selling it. Running a canal is a crazy waste of water, he says, but America would not let Panama shut the canal.
Still, many conservationists dislike valuation. Some misunderstand it as an approach that ignores cultural and spiritual values. It does not. It simply converts these values into monetary units that can highlight the cost of a course of action. Of course, it might not be appropriate in some cases for this value to be a factor in making a conservation decision. For example, closing the canal and selling water, or building tower blocks on the site of St Paul's cathedral in London, might be perfectly rational from an economic perspective, but also very unlikely to happen.
The valuation of ecosystem services is not without its difficulties. Nevertheless, the fact that there is a growing consensus about how and where it is appropriate is an important step forward for economists and environmentalists. In 1817, David Ricardo, a pioneering economist, noted that abundance in nature was rarely rewarded: “where she is munificently beneficent she always works gratis.” But if nature pays, who then will pay for nature?

Green Topics Blog Archives

We are transitioning to a new web solution and will be unable to host this article on our new solution so we are placing the material in our blog since although the material may be a bit dated, we still feel it is relevant to a world that needs to be more Green
Thanks
Conservastore.com



From the Manager
We now have a blog that can be found at:

 http://www.greentopics.blogspot.com/
We welcome you to say whatever you wish about my musings on the world or your musings on the world or the website in general. Please be honest either pro or con.

I do not wish to offend our great customers and readers since we badly need you. As I lead my life and see how my fellow Americans lead their lives, it strikes me that a large part of this demand created run up in oil and gas pricing is really our own fault. We are the folk who use the most oil and gas in the entire world and that is largely tied into the approach that we feel each of our lives is most important and we can use natural resources in any amount we wish as long as we pay for them.

I am not a statistician so let me know if this example is flawed. Are all non renewable natural resources like oil, copper etc, not akin to a large glass of water that cannot be refilled, whereby we are all drinking from the same glass with our own straws. Currently those who want to draw more from the glass may do so as long as they pay for what they withdraw. But if the resources are so crucial to our existence should there not be consideration (or more concretely penalty) for those who withdraw profligately. We must change our way of doing business and sooner is
better than later I feel.

So here are my 10 ways to better use your oil and gas allotment yearly:
  1. Keep your car(s) serviced ie correct amount of air in tires, oil change, coolant change, spark plug/fuel injector checks, exhaust checks often--at least quarterly.
  2. Read the vehicle owner's manual regards the "Essentials of Good Fuel Economy". This will offer tips on how to drive to come closest to the projected mpg the auto manufacturer estimates.
  3. If you have 2 vehicles and need a large vehicle to transport kids or items for your business, why not get a smaller  4 cylinder vehicle  for your trips requiring less vehicle space as your 2nd car.
  4. Consider walking or biking if your trip is less than 2 miles and the weather appears favorable for the trip. You will save gas and help your body.
  5. For trips over 2 miles in towns where bus and train service are ubiquitous, please take this alternate form of transport when you can.
  6. Carpooling is certainly an option for those working in one locale together for a large part of the day or parents taking kids to the same school.
  7. Spread the word. Say you are a more conserving type of person but your best friend or family member is not. You may just ask them if they have ever thought of how their apparent over use of oil and gas products may be ultimately reducing the amount of available product for us all.
  8. Contact your legislative representatives, both local and national, on occasion and let them know that laws favoring alternate means of transport are what we all need.
  9. Drive in the correct gear. Incorrect gear shifting can lead to as much as 20% increase in fuel consumption. Also idling is a gas guzzler—many times it is best to turn the car off if idling for more than a few minutes. If not in the middle of winter, warming a car up is a waste of fuel.
  10. Strongly consider a hybrid vehicle as a secondary(or primary) vehicle. Go test drive a hybrid and see what you think. There is currently some tax relief for these models. They are also available in the pre-owned car market.
Watching CSPAN recently, I was overjoyed to see a tremendous presentation by US Representative Roscoe Bartlett on how peak oil production has been reached and how alternatives need to be found. Here is the link to the text and video of this presentation.

http://www.energybulletin.net/4733.html

It was satisfying to see for many reasons including:
  1. NO POLITICS--he did not mention once one party or the other
  2. HIS SCIENCE seemed to ring true as he quoted from 2 different sources and his presentation was beautifully done
  3. HE IS NOT A YOUNG MAN--frankly I think of many of the  more mature representatives having interest only in keeping their machine going rather than broaching new subjects but he showed a willingness to help future generations how to get out of the oil trap.
Our articles this time include a discussion of how colleges and universities are attempting to make better use of their resources, The Greening of America's Campuses

Another article is from E Magazine and discussed the state of paper usage in the USA and the world--We all thought that the computer age would not require as much paper??

We are reprinting the discussion of the current tax incentives for alternate energy use, Tax Credit Opportunities For Solar And Energy Efficiency, since it has gotten good interest.

And an article on rental car companies considering alternative transport options.

We will say that we may or may not agree with all the views and expressions of the writers of these articles but we find the discussion useful.

Happy Early Summer '06 from Florida and thanks for reading,
Porter
General Manager.


The Greening Of America's Campuses
New York Times
Sunday January 8, 2005
By Timothy Egan

THE largest university in Oregon is camouflaged, its many parts spread among the tight urban canyons of downtown Portland. But one building at Portland State University stands out. It has a roof of grass, plants and gravel, like a slice of the high desert on the wet side of Oregon. It is 10 stories high, and inside, all the mechanical organs work with so little waste - pumping water, air and electricity to the 400 residents of the dormitory and, on lower floors, to classrooms - that it would impress even the thrifty New Englanders who founded Portland.

If it is true, as Winston Churchill said, that "we shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us," then Portland State's new residence hall, the Broadway, may be more than environmentally virtuous. Open barely a year, it is attracting students who say they want their campus home to be a living laboratory, even if that means low-flow showers are part of a 24-hour classroom. "This building is really cool, and everybody likes being a part of it," says Micaiah Fifer, a junior who lives in the Broadway. "I appreciate the fact that this school is trying to be environmentally friendly. It's a reason to like the school."

The low water pressure, he admits, "gets to be a little annoying." Still, students are lining up to take on such challenges. More than a hundred students at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, were on the waiting list last fall for what is being promoted as the world's largest green dorm. Students had to write an essay stating why they wanted to live in the building, which opened in fall 2004.

Colleges have long marketed their campus amenities, their rosters of scholars, their selectivity and study-abroad programs. To that list, add one more thing: their green credentials.

From Berea College in Kentucky, where students designed a house that produces its own electricity, to Middlebury in Vermont, where local forests supply wood for construction, the greening of higher education is everywhere, showing signs of outlasting earlier, faddish fits and starts. Nationwide, more than 110 colleges have built or are building structures certified by the United States Green Building Council, a non profit group that promotes construction and designs that meet high standards of energy efficiency.

But it's one thing to put up a trophy of recycled glass and brick that relies on the sun, the wind or other renewable resources for power. It's another to build a curriculum - and to get students to look at the world differently - with green buildings as a centerpiece. In Pittsburgh, students at Carnegie Mellon study the weave of grass, dirt and bugs atop its new "living roof" at Hamerschlag Hall. In class projects they study how the building design can reduce storm water drainage and improve water quality. Yavapai College in Arizona and Harvey Mudd College in California have built classes around new ways to use the earth's resources, with campus designs as the prime exhibits.

The students, professors and designers behind this movement say they are part of a broad push for sustainability, which has become a buzzword for new schools of thought in architecture, interior design, urban planning, culinary arts and other fields. At its simplest, sustainability means taking as little as possible from resources that cannot be renewed. A movement without real leaders, it seems to have the greatest resonance on college campuses, always a home for new thinking. Student groups and sessions dedicated to sustainability are flourishing. While some produce little but conversational - and political - gas, others are preaching practical solutions. At Drury University in Missouri, a campus conference on using natural resources ended with a posting of "10 simple ways to support sustainable living in the Ozarks." Among the suggestions: shop at local food producers.

At last year's annual conference of the Society for College and University Planning, green buildings and ideas on how to spread eco-friendly practices dominated many discussions. With studies showing that students perform better in buildings with better (natural) light and cleaner circulating air, universities are taking their campuses out of the dark ages.

"What university leaders are telling us is that they now see this as an opportunity for recruitment," says Rick Fedrizzi, president of the green building council. "It signals to the potential student that this is an organization that gets it."

Because living lighter can save money, administrators say, they can - as the old line about prosperous missionaries has it - do well while trying to do good. With energy prices at record highs, and many economists predicting the end of the oil age within a generation's time, the college sustainability movement could play a big role outside the academic bubble. For example, by using lots of windows, mirrors and a big bank of photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight to electricity, the University of South Carolina has reduced heating costs in its new residence hall by 20 percent and electricity costs by 40 percent, compared with a similarly sized dorm. The system is the largest on the East Coast, university officials say, and shows that even a large apartment building can use a clean, renewable source of energy at relatively low cost.

"The sustainability movement is no longer a niche thing at most colleges," says Peggy F. Barlett, an anthropology professor at Emory University in Atlanta, who edited, with Geoffrey W. Chase, a book of essays on the subject. "There's going to be a real cultural transformation in the coming years in this area."

Ms. Barlett was behind the Piedmont Project, an effort to bring green sensibility to all parts of Emory. It started slowly, six years ago, but has lately taken off because of high energy costs and the desire of students and teachers to turn their ideas into practicality. Atlanta's environmental problems - stagnant air and poor water quality, sprawl, horrendous traffic jams - also prompted many on campus to take another look at their relationship with the natural world, she says. The Piedmont Project involves little things (a literary class on eco-criticism, a student project on maintaining golf courses using minimal amounts of water and chemicals) and big things (two new green-certified buildings that are under construction).

The project was inspired by the pioneering Northern Arizona University, in the high pine-forested reach of Flagstaff. With its proximity to some of the world's most stunning scenery, Flagstaff, which attracts lovers of outdoor sports, has consistently been rated among the nation's most livable medium-size cities. The university has tried to match the setting.  "Kids who spend a lot of their time in national parks and outside are going to want to live in a campus that reflects their values," says Gary Paul Nabhan, director of the university's Center for Sustainable Environments. "A huge portion of our student body is motivated to be engaged in environmental issues."

Conferences, classrooms and buildings try to reflect this ethic. Administrators have declared that every new building must meet some degree of green construction and design standards, meaning that they use a high percentage of recycled building materials and incorporate low-energy-using lighting and electrical systems. Solar panels are abundant, making use of the sun at Flagstaff's altitude of 7,000 feet.

Even the janitors and land maintenance crews have been brought aboard. "Rather than a bunch of academics and student activists trying to ram some ideas down people's throats," says Dr. Nabhan, who is also a professor of environmental science, "we let the people who work on campus come up with ideas about how to use less, and we listen to them."

IT was not so long ago when what fell from the sky in Pittsburgh caused people to rush indoors or cough. Soot and ash from the mills that gave the city its nickname, Steeltown, U.S.A., could block the sun and discolor clothes. But in the nearly two decades since the mills were shuttered, Pittsburgh has remade itself, with one of the city's best-known universities, Carnegie Mellon, in the forefront.

The living roof of Hamerschlag Hall sprouted four years ago from a "why not?" idea of three students who were members of the campus Sustainable Earth Club. With an undergraduate research grant, the students studied other green roofs and drew up a general plan; students of architecture and engineering in an advanced sculpture studio class designed it last spring.

The roof, which cost $172,000, is a showpiece, with its grasses, perennials and a log drilled with holes to encourage insects to settle in. Instruments were installed to measure water runoff, water quality, and heat loss and retention in the building, with monitors installed on a traditional roof nearby so data could be compared.

Elsewhere on campus, the energy-saving gadgets and systems of New House - the first green dormitory to open in the country, according to Carnegie Mellon officials - have also become teaching tools. Now in its third year, the five-story, 260-bed residence uses 30 percent less energy than a typical building of the same size, and it came in under budget. A kiosk shows the daily energy use and compares it with previous days, making students aware of their daily impact on the resources needed to house them. Carpets are made of recycled fiber and the doors were certified by sustainable forestry groups. Campus environmental groups use New House as a home. "This is very much a living laboratory," says Tim Michael, director of housing and dining services at Carnegie Mellon. "The building is constantly being studied by students, architects and engineers." He says Carnegie Mellon is moving toward applying the same stringent green-building standards to all its major new construction.

Beyond the well-insulated walls of New House, Carnegie Mellon has been trying to integrate sustainable theory in many aspects of campus life and curriculum. Teachers at the new Center for Sustainable Engineering, in collaboration with like-minded colleagues at the University of Texas and Arizona State University, want to revolutionize teaching at the nation's 1,500 engineering programs. Supported by a $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the center holds workshops and develops educational materials meant to get students to think about energy
efficiency and recycled material.

"The whole purpose of this is to take some of the ideas of sustainability out of the fringes and put them into the mainstream," says Cliff Davidson, a professor in civil and environmental engineering and a co-founder of the center.

It helps to have a shiny new example of what all the fuss is about. That is the case with the University of South Carolina's new residence hall, West Quad, which has been certified by the environment-friendly building council. About 500 students live in the complex of three four-story buildings, which includes a learning center where classes on the environment are taught. There is a perception that a green dorm is going to force a monastic life on students, but West Quad residents insist they are not uncomfortable. No cold showers or dimly lighted study halls, they say.

"The thing I notice most is the air quality," says Lindsey Cooper, a graduate student who lives at West Quad. "They are constantly filtering in new air. And the lighting is so reliant on natural lights that I don't even feel like I use electric lights very much."

West Quad has become the iPod of buildings. "It's clearly the most popular hall on campus," says Gene Luna, a university vice president. Plans are under way to build a green fraternity house.

As at Carnegie Mellon, the building is a learning opportunity. Biology majors have experimented with different plants, trying to create an attractive landscape that uses a minimal amount of water. Engineering students monitor the energy output provided by simple daylight to heat all those hot showers.

"This building has just exceeded our expectations in every way," Dr. Luna says. "You can't traverse across the West Quad complex without learning something."



The Paper Chase
E Magazine
May/June 2004
By Jim Motavalli

While many futurists predicted that we'd be enjoying the paperless office around this time, Americans are still at the epicenter of a paper blizzard. Werer you under the impression that the electronic age would free us from all that? According to The Myth of the Paperless Office, a company's use of e-mail causes an average 40 percent increase in paper consumption. The demand for ream after ream of white paper is putting a huge strain not only on America's forests, but the world's. And it's forcing the environmental movement to consider the alternatives.

The U.S. currently gobbles up some 200 million tons of wood products annually, with consumption increasing by four percent every year. The pulp and paper industry is the biggest culprit. U.S. paper producers alone consume one billion trees-or 12,430 square miles of forests-every year, while producing 735 pounds of paper for every American.

The U.S. has less than five percent of the world's population, but consumes 30 percent of the world's paper. Only five percent of America's virgin forests remain, while 70 percent of the fiber consumed by the pulp and paper industry continues to be generated from virgin wood. While logging controversies most often center around the Pacific Northwest, most of the wood pulp used for paper in the U.S. actually comes from southern forests, currently home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the continental U.S. (see sidebar).

Worldwide, global consumption of wood products has risen 64 percent since 1961. The industry expects that demand will double by 2050, keeping pace with population growth. Recycling has helped, but has not yet made an appreciable difference. "Recycling has yet to dent the world's appetite for virgin-fiber pulp," says the Worldwatch Institute.

In Indonesia, the pulp and paper industry is destroying rainforest so quickly that it will run out of wood by 2007, according to a report by Friends of the Earth. An area the size of Belgium is wiped out annually. Only 10 percent of the trees cut down for paper in Indonesia are farmed, although the industry had supposedly committed to replanting its clear-cuts with fast-growing acacia trees.

Globally, pulp for paper and other uses is taking an increasing share of all wood production, from 40 percent in 1998 to nearly 60 percent over the next 50 years. In the same time span, easily accessible and inexpensive sources of wood are disappearing. Because of the rapid consumption of virgin forests in places as far apart as Canada and Southeast Asia, forest restoration has not been able to keep pace with the demand for wood products.

Toxic Pollution and Waste

Loss of forests isn't the only issue. Deforestation has released an estimated 120 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the major global warming gas, into the atmosphere. The pulp and paper industry is the third-largest industrial polluter in both Canada and the U.S., releasing more than 220 million pounds of toxic pollution into the air, ground and water each year.

Much of that pollution is the byproduct of the three million tons of chlorine used annually to bleach wood pulp white. Chlorine bleaching is a major source of the potent carcinogen dioxin, which is routinely discharged into rivers and streams with wastewater. As a result, dioxin is now ubiquitous in our environment, found throughout the world in air, water, soil and food. Every woman alive today carries some trace of dioxin in her breast milk. Dioxin is considered one of the most toxic substances ever produced, and has been known to cause cancer, liver failure, miscarriage, birth defects and genetic damage in laboratory animals.

The U.S. paper industry has been aware of the dioxin problem since at least 1985, but has been very slow to act on alternatives (see sidebar). In Europe, chlorine bleaching is being phased out. That has only been proposed in the U.S., despite the fact that the American Public Health Association strongly supports a phase-out. In Sweden, pulp mills have to meet stringent standards, and were required to reduce chlorine content by 90 percent as early as 1993. When they have to, American companies such as Proctor and Gamble can go virtually chlorine-free: The Pampers exported to Sweden, for example, are made without a chlorine-bleaching process, unlike those wrapping U.S. babies.

Paper is also the dominant material in solid waste. And in the United States, paper-producing companies are the third-largest energy consumer, with a pace that keeps quickening.

It's not surprising that, given all these environmental negatives, the paper industry would wrap itself in a green mantle. International Paper, for instance, issued a Sustainability Report in 2002 that cites its role as "among the largest owners of sustainably managed private forestland in the world." Its raw material is trees, the report says, "the world's greatest renewable resource." It participates in forest certification programs and voluntary partnerships and strictly adheres to environmental regulations. And according to the American Forest and Paper Association, U.S. papermakers recycle enough paper every day to fill a 15-mile-long train of boxcars. Since 1990, the recovered paper would fill 200 football stadiums to a height of 100 feet.

While some of this is undoubtedly greenwashing, Michael Klein, a spokesperson for the American Forest and Paper Association, asserts that the industry is currently using all the recycled paper it can get. "I have a problem with activists who say we have to demand more recycled content," Klein says. "Instead, they should demand that people recycle more. One hundred percent of the paper and boxed fiberboard people put on the curb is used." Paper activists point out, however, that a significant amount of U.S.-generated recyclable paper is actually exported. Nearly a quarter of the recovered paper in the U.S. is shipped to Mexico, Canada, Asia and Europe rather than being recycled here, reports Conservatree.

Tree-Free Paper: Great Expectations

There is vast potential for a "green" paper industry, including recycled and natural fibers, that could not only spare trees but also produce paper with minimal environmental impact overall, but it needs an infusion of both public interest and research funding. It is presently, at best, a $20 million sales niche in a $230 billion U.S. industry, asserts the San Francisco-based Fiber Futures, which lobbies for expanded use of agricultural residues and other tree-free materials for paper. A plan by the Natural Resources Defense Council to open a paper recycling plant in the Bronx, New York ended tragically because of labor opposition and last-minute political maneuvering, which thwarted financing. Many small and medium-sized paper mills that handled tree-free papers have closed because of industry consolidation and the economic downturn, sending many paper manufacturers overseas for sources of pulp.

But despite these market setbacks, research continues to offer strong evidence that non-wood fibers can be used for large-scale paper production in North America. And tiny demonstration projects have been very successful, while full-scale mills are moving forward overseas. According to Fiber Futures, a dedicated wheat straw pulp mill is being built in Turkmenistan.

Progress is arriving incrementally. In Canada, the so-called Markets Initiative, with support from several major nonprofit groups and linked to the U.S.-based Green Press Initiative, has persuaded 67 Canadian book publishers to buy their paper from forest-friendly sources. The Harry Potter books printed in Canada are among the converts.

Meanwhile, paper activists are mobilizing. In late 2002, 75 members of more than 50 environmental groups from around the world gathered together to promote what they called "an environmentally and socially sustainable paper production system." The Environmental Paper Summit promotes collaborations on the use of environmentally friendly papers, and is planning outreach to progressive paper purchasers (including social justice groups and labor unions), producers and suppliers-all in an effort to change paper consumption habits.

The Environmental Paper Summit's steering committee included Conservatree, the Center for a New American Dream, Co-op America, Dogwood Alliance, Environmental Defense, Forest Ethics, the Green Press Initiative, Markets Initiative, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative. The process resulted in a Common Vision document that has already been signed by more than 80 nonprofit groups and corporations.

"We're trying to stimulate demand for recycled paper," says Susan Kinsella, executive director of Conservatree. "Environmental groups needed to express a common mission so that it would be clear the market will be there. We realized we're all in it together, and the process created tremendous camaraderie." A new push is desperately needed, because consumers have become complacent, and big potential purchasers have become worried about steady sources of recycled paper. Recycled fiber content slid from a high of 10 percent in the early 1990s to a current rate of less than five percent.

The Common Vision endorses kenaf and hemp production "if life-cycle analysis and other comprehensive and credible analyses indicate that they are environmentally and socially preferable to other sources of virgin fiber." Kinsella says recycled paper "needs to be the bottom line," but she also sees a need to increase non-wood production.

This view is common in the environmental community. Evan Paul, a Forest Ethics paper campaigner, says, "While it's better to be growing kenaf instead of logging, we want to really look at the whole life cycle of natural fibers. We're not sure of the full impact when it includes clearing land and using pesticides." Paul is, however, bullish on the use of existing agricultural waste in papermaking, including corn and rice husks. "But," he adds, "There hasn't been a lot of development in that field, either."

One such tree-free waste paper is made from 100 percent bagasse fiber, left over from sugar cane production. According to Reprograph's Erik Sanudo, the new Propal paper line was launched in 2003 and hopes to find uses in stores and offices for notepads and cash register rolls. Kimberly-Clark also uses bagasse in paper towels and tissues.

The Common Vision also calls for "responsible fiber sourcing" that cuts down on virgin wood fiber use, ends the use of wood products from endangered forests, and asks for a moratorium on turning natural ecosystems into monocrop wood plantations (see sidebar).

All of this activity strikes many in the paper industry as beside the point. "We think finding a replacement for wood fiber is a problem that does not need to be solved," John Mechem of the Washington-based American Forest and Paper Association told Well Journal. "Our group is not necessarily opposed to kenaf. In fact, some of our members have tried-and may still be trying-to make it work."



Tax Credit Opportunities for Solar and Energy Efficiency
reprinted from Florida Solar Energy Center website:
http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/EPAct-05.htm
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) is the first effort of the United States government to address U.S. energy policy since the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Among many other things, the 1724 page law provides new tax incentives for a number of solar and energy efficiency measures.
Among them are:
  • Tax credits for residential solar photovoltaic and hot water heating systems
  • Tax deductions for highly efficient commercial buildings
  • Tax credits for highly-efficient new homes
  • Tax credits for improvements to existing homes including high-efficiency air conditioners and equipment
  • Tax credits for residential fuel cell systems
  • Tax credits for fuel cell and microturbines used in a business.
The complete conference bill for the Energy Policy Act may be downloaded at www.fsec.ucf.edu. The solar and energy efficiency provisions are found in Title XIII, Subtitle C, beginning on page 1332 through page 1390 of the act.
An Important Distinction
There is an important difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit.
A tax deduction is subtracted from income before total tax liability is computed. On the other hand, a tax credit is subtracted directly from the total tax liability. This means that a deduction and a credit have very different values, with a credit being 3 or more times more advantageous to the taxpayer than a deduction. For example, a tax credit of $1,000 for someone in the 28% tax bracket is equivalent to a tax deduction of $3,571.
Combined Incentives
In many cases, multiple tax incentives may be claimed. In the case of a new home for example, the builder may claim credit for the high efficiency home and the homeowner may claim tax credits for solar hot water and photovoltaic and fuel cell systems. Other financial incentives, such as utility or SunBuilt rebates, further reduce the cost of building or owning a solar and energy efficient home.
Solar Photovoltaic and Hot Water Systems
This provision offers tax credits to individuals for residential solar energy systems.
  • For solar hot water systems, the allowable tax credit is 30% of the qualified solar system expenditures up to a maximum tax credit limitation of $2,000.
  • For solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, the allowable tax credit is 30% of the qualified PV system expenditures up to a maximum tax credit limitation of $2,000.
To be eligible for the solar hot water system tax credit, the system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or the Florida Solar Energy Center (in the case of systems manufactured or sold in Florida) and produce 50% or more of the hot water needed by the residence. There is no qualification provided for PV systems (except in Florida, where systems must be rated and ceritified by the Florida Solar Energy Center). Individuals may claim tax credits for either or both types of solar systems.
The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006-2007.
In addition, the provisions of the bill substantially increases the business investment tax credit from 10% to 30%. This tax credit is available to businesses that purchase solar thermal and PV systems during calendar years 2006 and 2007. In Florida, such systems would be subject to the requirement that solar systems manufactured or sold in the state be certified by the Florida Solar Energy Center. This business investment tax credit for solar equipment does not have a maximum credit limit.
Additional information on solar systems that my qualify for these tax credits may be found at the following Web sites:
Solar hot water systems: www.fsec.ucf.edu/solar/
Photovoltaic (PV) systems: www.fsec.ucf.edu/pvt/
Commercial Buildings
This provision offers business taxpayers a deduction of $1.80 per square foot for commercial buildings that achieve a 50% reduction in annual energy cost to the user, compared to a base building defined by the industry standard ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2001. Energy costs refer only to heating, cooling, lighting and water heating, since only these uses are within the scope of the ASHRAE standard and within the control of the building designer.
Each of the three energy-using systems of the building - the envelope, the heating, cooling and water heating system, and lighting system – is eligible for one third of the incentive if it meets its share of the whole-building savings goal. Explicit interim compliance procedures are provided for lighting.
Eligible buildings include commercial buildings such as: offices, retail buildings, warehouses, etc., rental housing of four stories or more, and publicly-owned buildings. For publicly-owned buildings, there is an interesting provision allowing the credit to pass through to the "person primarily responsible for designing the building."
New construction in an existing building is also eligible for the tax deduction, with one third of the deduction amount for new construction that affects the new energy-using system (such as lighting or heating, cooling and water heating).
Compliance is determined by third party inspectors who review the plans and the actual in-place construction.
Energy savings are determined by software that must be certified by the Department of Energy as meeting criteria of consistency and accuracy, following the successful experience of California's performance-based energy code enforcement.
The incentives apply to buildings or systems placed in service during 2006-2007, although extenders increasing the eligibility through 2009 or 2010 are a distinct possibility. (see colloquia)
New Homes
This provision offers homebuilders a tax credit of $2,000 for homes that reduce energy use for heating and cooling only (not hot water) by 50% compared to the national model code - the 2004 IECC Supplement (assuming an SEER-13 air conditioner). Producers of manufactured homes can also choose to qualify for a tax credit of $1,000 for homes that save 30%. This $1,000 credif for reaching 30% savings is not available for site built homes, which must reach the 50% savings tier to qualify for the $2,000 credit.
Eligible homes must demonstrate savings using software that has been approved by DOE and builders must demonstrate compliance by the use of third-party inspectors certified according to DOE rules. While no interim rules have yet been promulgated to meet these requirements, similar standards exist in Florida and elsewhere under the auspices of Florida's Building Energy Rating System and under the national standards of the national Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).
Additionally, the Florida Solar Energy Center has released a free 60-day trial version of software that makes the calaulations that are expected to be used for tax credit qualification. To download this free 60-day trial software click here.
The incentives apply to homes placed in service during 2006-2007, although extenders increasing the eligibility through 2009 are a possibility.
Existing Homes
These provisions offer cost-based incentives of 10% of the amount expended by the taxpayer for "Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements" and up to $300 for "Qualified Energy Property" up to a maximum credit limit of $500.
"Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements" are specifically defined as:
  • Any insulation material or system specifically designed to reduce heat loss or gain
  • Exterior windows (including skylights)
  • Exterior doors
  • Any metal roof having pigmented coatings specifically designed to reduce heat gain which meet Energy Star program requirements.
    "Qualified Energy Property" is defined as:
  • Electric heat pump water heater with EF of 2.0 or greater
  • Electric air source heat pumps with HSPF of 9.0 or greater
  • Geothermal heat pumps:
    • Closed loop products with EER of 16.2 and COP of 3.3 or greater
    • Open loop products with EER of 14.1 and COP of 3.3 or greater
    • Direct expansion (DX) products with EER of 15 and COP of 3.5 or greater
  • Central air conditioner that receives the highest efficiency tier established by the Consortium of Energy Efficiency as of January 1, 2006
  • Natural gas, propane or oil water heater with EF or 0.80 or greater
  • Natural gas, propane or oil furnace or hot water boiler with AFUE of 95% or greater
  • Advanced main air circulating fan used in natural gas, propane or oil furnace that uses no more than 2% of the total annual energy use of the furnace.
    Credit limitations on qualified energy property are as follows:
  • $50 for any advanced main air circulating fan
  • $150 for any qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler
  • $300 for any item of qualified energy property.
    The incentives apply to improvements and equipment placed in service during 2006-2007.
Residential Fuel Cells
This provision offers cost-based 30% tax credits to individuals for qualified residential fuel cell property expenditures up to a maximum credit limitation of $500 for each 500 watts installed capacity.
The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006-2007. Fuel Cells and Microturbines Used in a Business This provision offers tax credits for fuel cells and microturbines used in a business. To qualify for the credit, fuel cells are required to be 500 watt capacity or greater with a generation efficiency of 30% or greater.
Microturbines are required to be of 2,000 kilowatt capacity or less with an efficiency of 26% at International Standards Organization conditions.
Tax credits and limitations are as follows:
  • For fuel cells, a tax credit of 30% of the expenditure up to a maximum of $500 per 500 watts of capacity.
  • For microturbines, a tax credit of 10% of the expenditure with a credit limitation of $200/kW.
The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006-2007

Bio-diesel car rental opens in world's car capitalReuters  Online
Tue Feb 28, 2006 8:20 PM ET
Bio-diesel car rental opens in world's car capital
Tue Feb 28, 2006 8:20 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A company offering rental cars powered entirely by bio-diesel set up shop in Los Angeles on Tuesday, hoping to bring the aroma of popcorn and doughnuts to the city's smoggy freeways.

Just one snag -- there is only one place in town to fill up.

Bio-Beetle Eco Rental Cars, which started out on the Hawaiian island of Maui three years ago, opened for business near Los Angeles International Airport with four cars fueled by filtered vegetable oil.

"I've always wanted to come to Los Angeles," said founder Shaun Stenshol. " California is known as an environmentally friendly state and LA is the car capital of the world. What better place to do bio-diesel than Los Angeles?"

"As far as bio-diesel rental cars, I don't know of anyone else doing it in the world," said Stenshol, a former Greenpeace worker and environmental activist.

Bio-diesel costs $3.45 a gallon -- about $1 more than regular gas – but the cars get between 400 and 800 miles per tank. There is only one place where customers can fill up but Stenshol said he hoped to help set up other refueling stations in the Los Angeles metro area.

"There are people who say it smells like popcorn, or French fries or doughnuts. But to me it is just a pleasant tang," said Stenshol.