29 November 2009

GAO Head 2 years ago!

28 November 2009

Peak Oil

27 November 2009

Peak Oil

26 November 2009

Peak Oil

25 November 2009

Passivhuas Makes Builder Magizine

INNER WARMTH: Passive House Institute’s Smith House, which it built in its home city of Urbana, Ill., exhibits the design and technology features of passive construction, including a heat exchange system that makes conventional HVACs superfluous.

By the end of this year, Passive House Institute(PHIUS) should have at least 150 consultants trained to spread the gospel about building energy-efficient houses that can maintain a comfortable indoor temperature without using furnaces or air conditioners. For more of the article click here.

24 November 2009

Action Now or Reaction Later

We all face the same global issues of climate change, economic uncertainty and resource scarcity, however the specific circumstances and reactions to these are each different. The concept of "thinking globally but acting locally" is what this is all about. If you live in northern Georgia the most pressing issue for you to consider may be drought and water scarcity, if you live in Cuba you may be faced with energy shortages most immediately, if you live in the Ukraine environmental degradation may be your most pressing issue. Regardless of the area, if you are conscious of the circumstances this species finds itself in, there is plenty to think about.

Unfortunately, Americans as a whole are either totally unaware or worse in denial about the impending changes. Be that as it may, as I have said before, this is the most exciting time to be alive, a time of extreme change and revolution.

I encourage you to think about the issues facing your local community and to decide to make a step towards sustainability. Join or start a group to discuss the issues. Make a start at changing your thought process to one of long term harmony. Start making the changes in your mind that will allow you to flourish in the coming time of change.

Peak energy is here, unsustainable population is here, species collapse is here, the future holds tremendous turmoil to those who try to cling to the old paradigm. I guarantee in the US that we as a country will be the last to embrace the coming changes as a society. It is clear to me that the US political "leadership" is leading us off a cliff. They do not have the vision or will to make the type of changes the next 40 years will require. Therefore, it is up to us, you and me to make those changes.

Act now or react later, it is your choice.

23 November 2009

CEED Update

We broke ground on the CEED a two weeks ago and true to Murphy's Law of Construction, it promptly rained, and rained and rained. I thought about looking for gopherwood and converting my measurements to cubits, but the rain has eased and we hope to get footings in the ground soon.

22 November 2009

Exciting Breakthrough in Energy Storage

Here is a perfect example of American ingenuity at work. I wonder what foreign government will have the foresight and will to fund the commercial development.

21 November 2009


Click on the link below for important information.

Watch it all, you will not be disappointed.

20 November 2009

Climate Change Wake Up Call II

Here is a very important message on climate change.

Two years ago, the United Nation's International Panel onClimate Change forecast an increase in global temperatures by the end of the century of between 1.8C and 4C, depending on the success of nations in reducing their carbon emissions. But now an international team of scientists, led by Professor Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, argues that the world is in fact on course for a 6C rise in temperature by 2100. These might sound like small numbers. But their implications could not be bigger – or more dangerous.

For the rest of the article click here.

Dr. Pachauri's Hopenhagen Message

Dr. Pachauri's, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change supports Hopenhagen campaign.

19 November 2009

Hopenhagen 1

18 November 2009

An excellant commentary by Ron Jones

Inline ImageDesperate times may demand desperate measures, but be careful what you ask for.

Ever since the President signed a bill last week that included provisions to extend and expand the tax incentive for first time home buyers, and now some other folks as well, the trade associations for the housing industry have been throwing a self-congratulatory message party to convince the nation's home builders, and others in the shelter industry, that their universal interests have been served. The public relations specialists, who actually contrive the wording on their behalf, have the spokespeople for the industry groups reveling like drunken sailors in a daisy chain of back slapping victory celebration.

Not so fast. In an open letter to some of these folks back in March of this year I expressed (in part) the following:

"Publicly, the members of the industry … have predictably circled the wagons and hunkered down under a communal blanket of denial when confronted with the notion that builders themselves, regardless of size, are at least partially responsible for the combination of factors that contributed to the disastrous economic situation we are now facing, along with the rest of the country, indeed, apparently the rest of the world.

While we may not have planned all the courses of the meal—nor anticipated or especially concerned ourselves with the raging heartburn and indigestion that would eventually result from the gluttony engaged in by so many who lapped up the seemingly endless flow of gravy—at best we stood by and did little while we watched as the greediest among us slaughtered and plucked the golden goose of home ownership in plain site of anyone who was paying attention.

To the surprise of some, that bird has been resurrected, not once, but amazingly, twice! Not only that, it has been reincarnated in the form of the federal sow, the mother protector and provider of nourishment for all those willing to overcome the stench of the trough. And when the first teat ran dry, we simply squealed and squirmed until a second was provided to quiet our cries.

It seems that no matter how deeply ingrained the aversion to "government interference" runs in the DNA of the industry (don't we still hold sacred the eternal claim that ours is the most overregulated and persecuted occupation in history?) and how often the choruses of our hymns are sung by the choir as we hold regular worship services for the gods of market-driven free enterprise and the American Dream, we have eagerly added another entrée onto the dinner plate already bearing tried- and-true menu favorites like the mortgage interest deduction and other recipes for topping previous calorie counts of ever-higher home ownership numbers.

The apron strings binding us to the federal government have just been cinched with a new set of tight and very complex knots, which will be difficult to release. In the immortal words of former New Mexico Governor Bruce King, the last of the old-style western cowboy governors: "We might have opened ourselves a box of Pandoras."

When the new supply of government milk and honey runs dry in a few months, will we find ourselves shouldering our way to yet another spigot or do you suppose we can actually wean ourselves off this new source of sweetener and return to our professed preference, free enterprise? In truth, is our current celebration of success going to bear a bitter harvest because these devices actually amount to a premature picking of the next crop of market demand that will only repeat itself down the road?

A wise man once warned me: "We have to be careful to not become what we despise the most." My March letter to the "spokesmen" concluded with the following:

"The 'golden goose' I spoke of earlier is not nested in the windfall profits expressed not so very long ago on those gaudy quarterly reports of the publicly trade building corporations, whose business is really little more than mass producing containers in which to package millions of America's families when the boom is on. Nor does it reside in the glowing, intoxicating bumper-crop lists of housing starts that we all feasted on during the recent fat times.

The real Holy Grail of this nation's home builder is embedded in the American Dream itself, which, in our rush to harvest profits we have helped to plunder by going along with the notion that home ownership is a right, not a privilege to be earned, and that the price of everything of importance can be accounted for in our fixation on first cost, which allows us to systematically devalue the fruits of our labors that have been held so dear, practically sacred, by our fathers and grandfathers, most of whom would never have understood the concept of dollars-per-square-foot or why we would allow ourselves to be suckered onto such a treadmill of destruction designed by someone else for their own self-interest.

If it is not too late already—some say it may be—I encourage … builders to re-establish our credibility … through a return to the values that made home building an indispensable thread running through the fabric of our great nation—its economy, its culture, and its peoples—from generation to generation."

It would be hard to deny that for the housing industry these are, indeed, desperate times. But let's make sure that the medicine we have prescribed for ourselves is not more harmful and habit forming than what prompted us to take it in the first place.

17 November 2009

16 November 2009

German Views on Building vs American

I was discussing the reasons that it has been easier for the Germans to make the transition to high quality sustainable building practices than the Americans with a German Architect at Greenbuild.

Very simply put, the Germans look at buildings as a legacy. When they approach a building project they think about leaving the building to future generations almost as a gift. Cost is a secondary consideration to quality.

We Americans think not about the long term implications of our buildings or their effect on future generations but on the short term implications of up front costs. With cheap energy and a quick buck to be made, why be concerned at what you are leaving to your grandchildren?

15 November 2009

Where to look for sustainable building prototypes.

I have said it before, but will repeat it here. If you want to see what basic prototypical massing and form our buildings should be taking, you need look no further than the regional architecture of an area prior to the invention of air conditioning. In general, this should be the starting place for conceptual design of almost any building.

14 November 2009

Tuck this one away for future reference.

Here is the list of 26 Democrats who voted "Aye" on Stupak but "Nay" on the final bill:

Altmire, Barrow, Boccieri, Boren, Bright, Chandler, Childers, Davis (AL), Davis (TN), Gordon (TN), Griffith, Holden, Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, Melancon, Peterson, Ross, Shuler, Skelton, Tanner, Taylor, Teague

13 November 2009

Ground is Broken!!!!!!! 11/11/09

Some CEED Photos

11/10/09 Arriving on site

11/10/09 Getting Started

11/11/09 Getting ready for Rain!

12 November 2009

Message from Greenbuild

As usual I am both inspired, excited and depressed from the Greenbuild experience. I sat in on some very exciting classes about some truly wonderful initiatives from greening our schools to sustainable large scale development to to net zero building retrofit strategies. I talked to people from all around the country and the world who are doing really good work.

I also realize how far we have to go in both southwestern Virginia and the US as a whole. This evening the 26,000 attendees were greeted by Al Gore. He gave an impassioned plea for us to get active to push the politicians to have the political will to make the necessary regulatory changes to make this country move on a sustainable path. He listed the same reasons i have, climate change, energy independence and economic growth.

As I sat there a tear actually came to my eye as I thought about the chances of the kind of significant action it would take by the politicians to make the type changes we really need. As I watch the "debates" on health care and cap and trade, and see that Rick Boucher voted against the heath care bill and was instrumental in giving the Coal industry a 10 year free pass in Markey Waxman and see that Tom Periello voted for the Stupak amendment, I realize that these "democrats" don't have the courage to do the right thing for these small, no brainer bills, they definitely wont have the spine for meaningful regulatory reform.

When Al Gore quoted Omar Bradley tonight is was very poignant. Regarding the long term financial commitment to the Marshall Plan he said that it is we should "Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship." We need to take this advice now!

I am hopeful that we have seen the future of the right wing in the defeat in New York 23, but am concerned that the American People, who have never been good at voting for their long term interests, will succumb to the hate mongering, lie spewing conservatives that wouldn't believe the truth if their own Mother's told them, and we may lose seats in 2010. We really need to start a NO GOODLATTE in 2010 campaign now, then we can work on Boucher!

More later, sniff, sniff, Ciao!

11 November 2009


It is Greenbuild week. I will be in Phoenix getting my education on. I will report on anything super cool I find.

10 November 2009

09 November 2009

Grow ZEC

Please help me to grow the readers of ZEC by forwarding a link to those whom you think may be interested. ~ Thank you for the help!

Virginia Getting Ready to Split Over Climate Change

Think of this as a prediction and remember it for future reference. Below you will see a map of the US Geological Survey's assessment of the vulnerability of areas to sea level change. It turns out that Virginia's Hampton Roads is one of the most vulnerable areas in the country because of the combination of subsidence (sinking of land) and sea level rise.

As a state, Virginia seems ready to elect a governor who does not believe in evolution or climate change. If elected McDonnell will undoubtedly slow the meager progress towards meaningful regulatory change needed to combat climate change.

But wait, there is something that will happen to change this. As time goes on, maybe fall 2010 or 2011 or 2012, there will be a hurricane that floods large areas of a coastal city. Maybe in Virginia, maybe not, but it will awaken a sleeping conflict that will tear Virginia apart.

The policy makers in the coastal regions of Virginia are well aware of the predictions of the impact of even a small amount of sea level rise on their areas. While many hide their heads in the sand and fail to confront the issue head on mostly because of strong right wing nut opposition, the earth continues to warm and the sea continues to rise. So what will happen, I predict that sooner rather than later, there will be a natural disaster in the US that will finally push the state's eastern lawmakers to force the rest of the state to confront the challenges of climate change. My guess is that it will come under the reign of McDonnell & Griffith. If so, we will have a grand battle on our hands as the eastern right wing take on the western right wing.

Be prepared and stay tuned. It should be interesting.

08 November 2009

07 November 2009

Wave Power

Notice the political will to provide support for sustainable technological solutions.

06 November 2009

Even Egypt gets it!

Using 50 Millions from a US Group, even Egypt is moving this technology forward.

05 November 2009

VA Wind and Solar Rebates

The Wind and Solar rebates in Virginia are one time stimulus money and limited to 15 million. It is first come first serve, so go and sign up.

Europe Leads the Way!

Here is a nice promotional video from the German Solar Leader - Solar Millenium about a the Spanish projects Andasol 1 & 2. This is the same group that is expected to capture 20% of the US market.

Notice all the high tech, green engineering, manufacturing and construction jobs that the US is not fighting for. We need to convince our weakened politicians to grow spines and stand up to the right wing nuts who oppose anything but business as usual.

04 November 2009

2009 Green Living and Energy Expo!

The 2009 Green Living and Energy Expo! will be held 10-6 Friday, Nov. 6 & 10-4 Saturday, Nov. 7.

Please make the effort to come as it will be a great expo.

If you are interested in seeing a presentation on Passivhaus I will be presenting:

"Cutting Edge Low Energy Construction an Introduction to Passivhaus design principles"

at 12:30 on Friday, Nov. 6

This presentation will focus on the basics of Passivhaus design, a scientific European approach to low energy construction and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Passivhaus has a twenty year track record in Europe but has only recently come to the US.

See you there!

03 November 2009

Perfect Example of Long Term Thinking

The German solar thermal firms, Solar Millennium & MAN Ferrostaal have created Solar Trust of America with contracts to build 2 plants in California and 5 more plants in the US.

Once again we have succeeded in handing the lead in a new energy technology to foreign entrepreneurs with more foresight and long term horizons than we seem to be able to muster in the US. With the Solar One and Solar Two projects in the Mojave Desert, in the 1980's and 1990's, we were among the leaders in alternative, sustainable energy development. This technology was pioneering and forward thinking. It was sponsored by the DOE and could have been the basis for the US taking a leading role in the large scale global market of sustainable energy production. Instead of that what happened?

Well, it is the typical US story.

First - the DOE spent money and time to sponsor cutting edge energy technology. (This part of the story is still on going, as the DOE continues to sponsor such research.) The politicians had a photo op upon opening of these projects.

Then - in the US the political will to support such industry was not there. In the time of $1 gas and republican rule, any hint of sustainable energy support was withdrawn. But there was a group that had the political will and was interested in supporting this technology, this group was lead by Germany. Thanks to their parliamentary system of government, the German Green Party was able to gain the minimum vote percentage to become part of a ruling coalition and because of their determined advocacy of sustainability, the German Government adopted a forward looking approach to sustainable energy.

Now - fifteen years later, the technology that the US taxpayer supported through the DOE in the late 1970's and 1980's and the US political leadership promptly dropped (remember the solar system on the White House) is needed in the US and who is installing those systems? Many are being installed by European Companies that have had the governmental support through subsidy and regulation to get them over the "hump" and now they are poised to grap a large percentage of the global market. One German company is expected to own 20% of the US market!

What can we learn from this. We need to learn that long term thinking and political will to support it is what is needed in the US if we do not want to be left behind in the 21st century economy.

02 November 2009

CEED Update

Well this week has found considerable movement on the CEED center front. Even though we have had our permits ready for over one month, we were waiting for the final go ahead from the school folk. We received that go ahead on Thursday, so hopefully we will be breaking ground this coming week! I will keep posting pictures once we break ground so please stay tuned!

01 November 2009

Virginia Energy Rebates

The stimulus money for Virginia Energy Upgrades has been released.

The VA Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) has opened its residential and commercial energy efficiency rebate program. The money is available on a first come, first serve basis. The funds are expected to go quickly. You must apply for the funds in advance and then get rebates after the work is done and documented.

Click Here for Details.