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Recent Blogs
What Went Wrong in Haiti?

What Went Wrong in Haiti?

Jim Gunshinan

Like a lot of people, I’ve been thinking about the devastation from the earthquake in Haiti, seeing images of collapsed buildings and dead people on the news and in the newspapers. I wonder why less than a hundred people in the Bay Area died in the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, and perhaps as many as 200,000 have died from the earthquake last month in Haiti. The Transamerica Building in downtown San Francisco swayed about ... [continue reading]

March/April 2010 Editorial: Home Energy Monitors

March/April 2010 Editorial: Home Energy Monitors

Alan Meier

Home Energy Monitors, that is, devices that display a home’s energy consumption have been touted as Silicon Valley’s contribution to the national energy conservation effort. A Home Energy Monitor (or HEM) constantly informs the occupants of their home’s electricity and gas consumption, along with conversions to monthly costs and comparisons with previous periods. Some models can (or will) communicate with heating and air conditioning systems. These devices will enable ... [continue reading]

Response, Recovery, Rebuild

Response, Recovery, Rebuild

Leslie Jackson

The three R's after any disaster are: Response, Recovery & Rebuild. Response is the first few days, as rescue workers try their best and aid begins arriving. Recovery is the next few weeks, as aid gets out into the field, roads get cleared, water and electricity is restored, sewers are fixed, and temporary accommodation built. But the biggest challenge is the long rebuild which can take months and years, and usually takes place when ... [continue reading]

Interview: Living in Place with Larry Taff

Interview: Living in Place with Larry Taff

Leslie Jackson

Larry Taff heads TZ of Madison, Inc., a long-time family business that performs remodels on homes with a much needed twist. His excellent designs and up-to-date knowledge of residential energy efficiency help aging people whose requirements are changing stay in their homes longer.  TZ of Madison won also won the NARI of Madison Contractor of the Year Award for the Universal Design category for the 2nd year in a row. Larry will be speaking ... [continue reading]

Concrete Home: To Insulate or Outsulate?

Concrete Home: To Insulate or Outsulate?

Leslie Jackson

Yesterday, we got a letter from Martha: "We are in Texas. We have an all concrete home made of blocks and concrete roof. How can we insulate it? The home is about 2000 sq ft. And we cannot get it warm or cool enough with a new 5-ton central AC unit. Please help. [continue reading]

January/February 2010: LEDs: Avoiding the CFL Debacle

January/February 2010: LEDs: Avoiding the CFL Debacle

Alan Meier

The lighting efficacies of LEDs have been rising steadily and are poised to overtake CFLs. Fluorescents and CFLs still outshine LEDs with respect to general applications and cost of light, but LEDs are already superior for some niche applications and offer many new exciting illumination opportunities. Now we need to ensure that the reputation of this new energysaving lighting source won’t be undermined by a tidal wave of shoddy products. Tests for quality, ... [continue reading]

When the Sun Don't Shine and the Wind Don't Blow

When the Sun Don't Shine and the Wind Don't Blow

Jim Gunshinan

In a world energy landscape dominated by coal, gas, oil, and nuclear, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar don’t stand a chance if we can’t find a way to store energy when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. In my last blog entry, I wrote about storing electric energy in a battery made of paper and nanotech ink (see The Paper Battery ... [continue reading]

Retrofit the Home of Your Local Government Official

Retrofit the Home of Your Local Government Official

Tom White, Publisher

Speaking to the Efficiency First California Chapter, Brett Knox (of GreenHomes America) recommended that home performance retrofitters offer discounted audits to their local, state and federal government officials.  These officials understand whole-house performance concepts with the benefit of a demonstration (remember freebies aren't allowed).  An example of this on-the-job approach to educating government officials is given by Rich Manning, a Long Island home performance contractor, writing in the Nov/Dec 2008 issue of ... [continue reading]

The Paper Battery Chase

The Paper Battery Chase

Jim Gunshinan

by Jim Gunshinan • December 11th, 2009 37.424106, -122.1660756 A carbon nanotube. Image courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. [continue reading]

"Cash for Caulkers" a Pretty Good Idea

Jim Gunshinan

In a recent blog post, I wrote about what it takes to become certified as a Building Analyst through the Building Performance Institute (BPI) (“Am I certifiable?”). A BPI certification or becoming a certified HERS (home energy rating system) rater through the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) are the most recognized ways to enter the home performance marketplace. [continue reading]

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