29 October 2009

Green carpet news round-up

There's been a slew of news and features recently focussing on sustainable carpets:

InterfaceFlor has received certification to the NSF/ANSI 140: Sustainable Carpet standard for two products. A plant in Thailand has also been certified.

Two New Zealand wool makers are finding U.S. based partners -- including CCA Global -- to manufacture sustainable organic carpet.

A London-based investment firm has bought a minority stake in an Italian carpet-fiber maker in order to invest in recycled fiber.

Grist magazine has an interview with Ray Anderson, founder of carpet maker Interface, about sustainability in manufacturing.

Energy-efficient window line announced

Kolbe has a new series of windows out, the Windquest EP line, that the company says exceeds 2010 Energy Star criteria for all climate zones in the United States. The line is available as casement, awning and studio windows.

According to a Kolbe press release,
These windows achieve energy performance ratings that put them in the top tier in the industry with U-Values of 0.18/.19 and R-values of over 5, along with Solar Heat Gain Coefficient of .23. These insulating values are nearly twice as good as those currently required by Energy Star. Our units allow for a maximum air infiltration of only .01 cubic foot per minute, which is 30 times better than the industry standard.

Windquest EP windows come standard with a special combination of high-performance LoE coatings on the glass to optimize U-value, visible transmittance, solar heat gain coefficient, and external appearance.

In an interesting marketing note, I see that Kolbe is pushing this news on its Facebook page.

28 October 2009

Stimulus smart grid money heads into home channel

Last year the power companies were predicting new smart grid technology and hyper-efficient appliances. GE, for example, is pushing this tech, no surprise, seeing as the company stands to sell a lot of new smart meters. Well, the Obama administration is using $3.4 billion in stimulus money to help that trend along.

While most of the cash is going to a wide range of power companies, $19.3 million of that is going to the home channel's own Whirlpool Corp. to help spur the creation of smart appliances such as dryers. These machines will be able to read the electric grid in order to regulate power use and save money, for example, by turning on when electricity is cheaper.

Here's what Whirlpool exec VP Bracken Darrell said at the Energy Efficiency Global Forum & Exhibition in Paris last April:
By 2015 we are prepared to make ALL the electronically controlled appliances we produce, ANYWHERE in the world, capable of receiving and responding to a signal requesting curtailment of the appliance’s energy consumption. These products will also be capable of providing the consumer with contemporaneous information about their energy consumption. Whirlpool would also require any manufacturer that is licensed to use the Whirlpool brand to add similar capability to products bearing the Whirlpool brand.

I have to count myself unconvinced, though, so far. Are consumers going to be happy leaving their wet laundry in the drier until 3 am, when the electric rates go down? What if they have another two loads to dry after that? And will consumers want their clothes to sit in a ball in the drier getting wrinkled from 4:30 am until the consumer gets around to taking them out two or four hours later? I look forward to seeing how the engineers at Whirlpool tackle these problems. $19.3 million says they'll think of something.

19 October 2009

New LEED for Homes Provider in Florida

E3 Building Sciences, a company that helps certify houses under the LEED for Homes standard, was named last week as one of only 36 LEED for Homes Providers in the United States. Check out E3's green building Web site:
Green building is more than a trend, and we believe that “green building” represents a fundamental shift in awareness with regard to high-performance buildings — both in the commercial and residential sectors. ... Whether you're an architect, engineer, builder, or future home owner, we can walk you through the process of certifying your project green.

01 October 2009

Trade group lobbies Senate for clean energy

Efficiency First, a trade advocacy non-profit, is asking the Senate for prompt action on the American Clean Energy & Security Act.
As new energy business leaders from across the country, we fully support the legislation’s goals: to create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.

The trade association includes contractors, energy companies, and building product vendors including BASF and Panasonic.

Hat tip: California Building Performance Contractors Association