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Minneapolis May Require Energy Evaluations on Homes for Sale

City officials backing the energy evaluations see it as part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But some Minneapolis real estate agents express concerns that required energy evaluations would be invasive and impact sales. (Image credit: Robin Amer / CC BY-NC-ND / Flickr) In Minneapolis, the City Council is tinkering with a proposal that would require an independent energy evaluation of houses when they go on the market. Although the plan is still evolving, according to an article posted by the Star Tribune, evaluators may be boring holes into walls of houses built before 1980 to check on…

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Efficiency Is Still the Best Energy Deal

This post originally appeared at the ACEEE blog. New data by Lazard, a financial advisory firm, show that prices for renewable electricity declined again last year, continuing their downward trend. But the data, released last month, miss another critical clean energy resource. Energy efficiency — the kilowatt-hours we avoid by eliminating waste — remains, on average, our nation’s least-cost resource. Efficiency also delivers a host of other benefits. It improves electric grid reliability and resilience, can target savings where and when needed the most, creates jobs, spurs other economic development, reduces customer utility bills, makes homes and buildings more comfortable, and…

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Help for Thirsty Cities

This post is reprinted with permission from Ensia. In March, residents of Cape Town, South Africa stood in line for hours to buy drinking water at supermarkets or pump it from springs amid severe water shortages. Cape Town isn’t alone: One in four big cities worldwide already has overstretched its water resources, and climate change may increase the likelihood of prolonged dry spells in some regions. Facing a future of increasingly erratic rains, water-stressed cities are looking for solutions. One alluring possibility? The capture and reuse of stormwater. But the water infrastructure of most cities was built with a single…

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Untangling a Roof Insulation Goof

This Q&A Spotlight begins with a confession of sorts from Ryan Lewis, who thinks he may have botched an insulation job. “Let’s suppose you screw up insulating a flat roof from the exterior in Climate Zone 4A,” he begins in a post at the Q&A forum. The code minimum for attic insulation in this climate zone is R-49. Lewis’ roofing contractor has added 1 1/2 inches of polyisocyanurate foam insulation on top of the roof deck, which Lewis assumes will perform at its nominal R-value of 9.75. If he adds enough fluffy insulation between the rafters to get the total…

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EPA Sued Over Inaction on Paint Stripper

Paint strippers made without methylene chloride are readily available. Many retailers no longer stock paint removers that contain the chemical. (Image credit: Scott Gibson) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been sued for its failure to ban methylene chloride, a chemical used in some paint strippers that has been linked to a number of deaths. E&E News reported that a group including the mothers of two men who died while using paint strippers containing the chemical filed suit in a federal district court in Vermont on January 14. The Vermont Public Interest Research Group, and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families also…

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Mike Rogers Dies

Energy efficiency advocate Mike Rogers died on December 18, 2018. Rogers was best known for his work establishing the Home Performance With Energy Star program. I first met Rogers in 2003, when I interviewed him for an article in Energy Design Update. Like me, Rogers lived in Vermont. Every few years, we’d bump into each other at a conference, and once we encountered each other by chance on a hiking trail. (We were both climbing Camel’s Hump at the time.) Rogers was a leader in our industry, and an all-around good guy. He died too young, the victim of a…

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