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California Takes the Lead on Light Bulb Efficiency

The Department of Energy attacked new light bulb efficiency standards this fall, but the state of California is pressing ahead just the same. Illustration courtesy of Jessica Russo/NRDC. California has once again demonstrated its environmental leadership by adopting updated energy efficiency standards that prohibit the sale of inefficient light bulbs in the state as of January 1, 2020. California’s state-level action is needed because of the Trump administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) efforts to illegally overturn the national standards that were due to go into effect on that date and complete the phaseout of inefficient light bulbs. Back in 2007,…

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U.S. Senate Drops Building Code Upgrades

The National Association of Home Builders opposed an amendment to a bill in the U.S. Senate that would have encouraged greater energy efficiency in new construction. Photo courtesy of HomeSpot HQ CC BY 2.0. Stricter energy requirements for new construction have been dropped from a legislative package now making its way through the U.S. Senate, and critics are blaming the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), The Washington Post reports. The legislation, called the American Energy Innovation Act, combines dozens of energy-related proposals into a single bill (a two-page summary of the legislation can be found here). The bill has…

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Can a Range Hood and an ERV Get Along?

Roger is building a two-story, 3500-square-foot house that will have an energy-recovery ventilator (ERV) and a kitchen range hood. His question is about how this ventilation system will affect the range hood, and vice versa. “Should one try to install a range hood exhaust with 400 cfm [cubic feet per minute] or less?” he asks in a recent Q&A post. “Would it be OK to install a 600 cfm unit in a home that has an ERV unit? If so, are there any special things to do differently when considering a makeup air strategy for a home that has an…

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Saving Sustainably: Installing the Heat Pump

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of blogs detailing the construction of a net-zero-energy house in Point Roberts, Washington, by an owner-builder with relatively little building experience. A list of Matt Bath’s GBA articles can be found at the bottom of this page. You’ll find Matt Bath’s full blog, Saving Sustainably, here. If you want to follow project costs, you can keep an eye on a budget worksheet here. One of the things I was most excited about, yet also most apprehensive about, was installing the heat pump. Installation of refrigerant systems like air conditioning units and heat pumps…

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2019 and 2020: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Last year—2019—offered a mixture of good and bad news on the energy efficiency front, and 2020 (the 40th anniversary of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, or ACEEE) promises more of the same. Overall, there’s a lot to celebrate, but much more needs to be done to advance efficiency and address climate change. In this post we’ll look at the good, the bad, the ugly happenings of 2019, and the promise of the current year—2020. The good I’m an eternal optimist, so let me start with the good news. Public recognition of climate change has been gradually increasing (e.g.,…

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Best In Show

I attend many trade shows, both national and regional. This year, for example, my calendar includes nineteen events. It will increase in the next few weeks. You see, I teach continuing education classes and trade shows are where they tend to be offered because that’s where building professionals gather. You might imagine a trade show like the USGBC’s Green Build or the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show (IBS) to be full of amazing discoveries. I guess for a first-time or occasional attendee, that may be the case. And that may be true in the educational presentations that…

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