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Home/Business Efficiencies


New York State Has Now Made It Illegal For Curbside Pickup of Most Home Electronics

New York State has now made it illegal for residents to take their personal electronics devices, with a few exceptions, out for curbside pickup. The law went into effect earlier this year, but I just came across it online, and haven’t seen it talked about in the mainstream media, so I thought I’d share what I learned.

The new law – the NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act – prohibits taking the following items to the curb:

  • televisions
  • cathode ray tubes
  • computers, including:
    • laptops  
    • desktops
    • tablet
    •  e-readers
  • computer peripherals, including :
    • monitors
    • electronic keyboards
    • electronic mice or similar pointing devices
    • fax machines, document scanners, and printers (only those intended for use with a computer and weighing less than 100 lbs.)
    • any cables, cords, or wiring accompanying a computer peripheral
  • small electronic equipment, including:
    • VCRs
    • digital video recorders (DVRs)
    • portable digital music players
    • DVD players (including projectors with DVD player capabilities intended for home-use)
    • digital converter boxes
    • cable or satellite receivers (including digital media receivers)
    • electronic or video game consoles (including both handheld devices and those intended for use with a video display device)
    • any cables, cords, or wiring accompanying the small electronic equipment.
  • small scale servers

While none of these things can go in the regular trash anymore, the law allows multiple ways to dispose of them include manufacturer take-back programs.

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Insulation: Unlocking The Keys To An Energy Efficient Home

Image courtesy of homeyimprovement.com.

With the current discussion on energy efficiency, concerns over energy costs in a challenging economy, and high prices in the property market, homeowners are increasingly looking to maximize their budget savings and the property values of their homes. 

One key way to approach this, in both  an existing and new home, is to check and update the level of insulation in the home.

How Insulation Is Vital In Insulating Property

Insulation is a vital tool in a homeowner’s arsenal when improving both energy and cost efficiency, and the reason is preventing the over-use of energy and preventing heat loss. 

Heat can be expensive to generate, particularly in winter, and so keeping heat within a home rather than letting it escape through the windows, doors, ceiling, and walls, saves significant amounts of money.  It is also good for the environment, as the amount of fuel used, and the amount of harmful emissions produced is reduced when less energy is required.

Why Insulation And Energy Efficiency Are Newsworthy

While the heat-saving and money-saving aspects of insulation have been known for some time, the environmental factors of effective insulation have only recently become a mainstream topic of conversation. One reason for this is that there is research now available that shows the increased effects and nature of climate change. 

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US Energy Dept.'s New Video on Energy Efficient Designs and Retrofits for Commercial Buildings

The U.S. Energy Department just put out its newest informational video release – Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings – as part of its Energy 101Video Series.

While the video focuses a lot on taking a holistic approach to energy efficient design planning in new constructions, it also has a lot of ideas that can be retrofitted into both existing commercial and residential buildings with little expense.

These ideas are important, especially for commercial buildings, because the department says that, “About 20 percent of all the energy we use in the U.S. today goes to power commercial buildings, like the offices and schools we use everyday.”

The Energy Department said that depending on the level of energy efficient design implemented in a new construction or retrofitted into an existing structure, these “buildings can be up to 70 percent more efficient than conventional commercial buildings.”

One of the easiest approaches that can be taken to reduce energy costs in both new constructions and existing buildings, whether commercial or residential, is daylighting – the practice of using natural light to illuminate building spaces. To make the most use of the concept, there are some important aspects of daylighting to understand.

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Chicago Launches Solar Plan To Streamline Zoning, Permitting & Connection Process

At a recent Chicago solar event, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the launch of a new program, Chicago Solar Express, designed to streamline the permitting, zoning, and connection process for installing solar panels on residential and commercial properties.

The program has incorporated a new platform, the Online Interconnection and Net Metering Enrollment tool launched this month by ComEd – the Commonwealth Edison Company.

Image courtesy of solarfeeds.com.

The platform allows consumers to submit, track, and pay for applications to connect to the electric grid.

ComEd’s net metering program is available to residential and commercial customers who own or operate an on-site, eligible renewable electric generator of up to 2,000 kW that generates electricity for the consumer’s own use.

Customers are eligible who have renewable electric generators that are powered by solar electric energy (i.e., photovoltaic), wind, crops grown for electric generation, fuel cells, as well as waste processed from livestock or food. Customers using hydroelectric energy and that use microturbines powered by renewable fuels are also eligible.

ComEd added that the net metering provides customers with credit for excess energy generated.

The mayor’s office said that these reforms will slash wait times for solar permits for smaller projects from 30 days to one day, and cut fees from $375 to $275, a 25 percent reduction.

The city and its partners, including the Environmental Law and Policy Center and West Monroe Partners, developed these reforms with the assistance of a $750,000 grant received from the DOE SunShot Rooftop Solar Challenge.

The goal of the SunShot challenge was to spur cost reductions for rooftop solar energy system installations for residential and commercial properties through improving permitting, zoning, net metering, and the interconnection process.

The SunShot grant also provided additional funding for the mayor’s environmental agenda Sustainable Chicago 2015, which is a plan organized into seven sustainability categories – economic development and job creation; energy efficiency and clean energy; transportation options; water and wastewater; parks, open space, and healthy food; waste and recycling; and climate change – to create improvements for making the city more sustainable by 2015.

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Report Shows Cost Benefits of Green Buildings Including Increased Productivity of Employees

Shattering the old myth that green buildings cost too much to construct and expenses are never fully recouped, the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has published a report highlighting just the opposite.

Image courtesy of arabianindustry.com.

The report explores the benefits of green building construction through looking at aspects of the industry including: design and construction costs, the perception gap, operating costs, green retrofits, asset value, and workplace productivity.

Jane Henley, CEO of WorldGBC, said in an overview of the report that, “Today, green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to (or cheaper than) conventional buildings, and investments can be recouped through operational cost savings,” and with the right design features, can create more productive workplaces.

Most of the costs in the report related to architectural design and consultant fees, as well as construction costs, referring to building structures, not site acquisition.

Actual cost premiums have been taken from a wide variety of building types, including: offices, homes, schools, warehouses, banks, supermarkets, health centers, community facilities, academic buildings, and public buildings.

The report showed that increases in upfront costs have been found to be proportional to the increased level of environmental certification, with more aspiring projects, such as those that aim for ‘zero carbon’ performance, showing a 12.5 percent increase in design and construction costs compared to a conventional building.

But for the majority of green buildings, the cost typically ranged from less than zero percent to four percent higher based on studies published within the last ten years.

In addition, the report found that higher levels of certification (such as BREEAM Very Good, LEED Silver/Gold, and Green Mark Gold/Gold Plus) were shown to range from zero percent to 10 percent higher cost, while the highest levels of BREEAM Excellent, LEED Platinum, Green Mark Platinum, and ‘zero carbon’ ranged from two percent to 12.5 percent higher cost.

The report also suggests a number of ways to reduce the construction costs of green buildings, including hiring an experienced design and construction team and using an integrated design process, which goes from the pre-design phase through post-occupancy. This involves adopting green strategies and including them in the budget from an early stage to avoid more expensive bolt-on strategies.

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