Category Archives: green living

The True Value of Green

By David Peri

Green is the leaves and needles of healthy, thriving, living forests.  Green signals best environmental efforts conserving Nature.  Green is the color of the American dollar.  Green performance wastes nothing – not energy, nature, health, materials, time or money.

The latest 5th generation German WeberHaus home construction matches your unique architectural design with high-quality aerospace CAD/CAM construction, sustainable natural materials in the hands of certified master-craftsmen to produce arguably the Greenest homes in the world.  These homes marry the best possible technology, materials and craftsmanship producing verifiably a moral home for centuries of living in harmony with Nature, adding value and saving money – not at one step, but at every step.  This Green performance is measurable – from start to finish – for a home built for generations, as aesthetically beautiful and delightful to live within as it is morally in harmony with Nature without. Here, Green is the best, fastest, strongest, healthiest, natural, moral and money saving way to build on earth.

Objective Green Advantages

Four verifiable ways measuring Green value:

  1. Empirical, scientific advantages inside and out delivering measurable savings of time, health, money, energy and materials;
  2. Subjective emotional advantages from living within aesthetically beautiful spaces flooded with natural light and materials delighting the senses – supporting greater productivity and harmony;
  3. More healthful living where natural organic materials grown and harvested sustainably provide a living environment free of those common building materials known to produce harmful gases aggravating asthma, allergies and other ills;
  4. Increased ethical living by knowingly not sacrificing the future – of your own future great grandchildren – of the earth’s resources and other living creatures – by rising above the common selfishness of the modern consumptive lifestyle.

Green isn’t an empty colorless boast.  Independent, 3rd-party verification of each and every Green performance claim is available.  These Green home advantages are measured in lifetimes – yours, your family’s, your neighbor’s, and the rest of the world outside your home.  These homes produce healthy environments – inside and out – delivering value measured to anyone willing to take the time to look and see.  This is a Return-On-Investment that saves money, time, health, energy, materials and something more valuable – the future.

Sustaining a healthy thriving earth isn’t an impossible utopian dream but a choice.  Standing on the shoulders of centuries of advancement, today a 21st Century home is available using best practices to deliver the best possible shelter for those who can’t afford anything less.

Green is a simple color, meaning the best, most valuable, without apology, waste or excuse.

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In Kansas, Climate Skeptics Embrace Cleaner Energy

By LESLIE KAUFMAN
Published: October 18, 2010

SALINA, Kan. — Residents of this deeply conservative city do not put much stock in scientific predictions of climate change.

“Don’t mention global warming,” warned Nancy Jackson, chairwoman of the Climate and Energy Project, a small nonprofit group that aims to get people to rein in the fossil fuel emissions that contribute to climate change. “And don’t mention Al Gore. People out here just hate him.”

Saving energy, though, is another matter.

Last Halloween, schoolchildren here searched for “vampire” electric loads, or appliances that sap energy even when they seem to be off. Energy-efficient LED lights twinkled on the town’s Christmas tree. On Valentine’s Day, local restaurants left their dining room lights off and served meals by candlelight.

The fever for reducing dependence on fossil fuels has spread beyond this city of red-brick Eisenhower-era buildings to other towns on the Kansas plains. A Lutheran church in nearby Lindsborg was inspired to install geothermal heating. The principal of Mount Hope’s elementary school dressed up as an energy bandit at a student assembly on home-energy conservation. Hutchinson won a contract to become home to a $50 million wind turbine factory.

Town managers attribute the new resolve mostly to a yearlong competition sponsored by the Climate and Energy Project, which set out to extricate energy issues from the charged arena of climate politics.

Attempts by the Obama administration to regulate greenhouse gases are highly unpopular here because of opposition to large-scale government intervention. Some are skeptical that humans might fundamentally alter a world that was created by God.

If the heartland is to seriously reduce its dependence on coal and oil, Ms. Jackson and others decided, the issues must be separated. So the project ran an experiment to see if by focusing on thrift, patriotism, spiritual conviction and economic prosperity, it could rally residents of six Kansas towns to take meaningful steps to conserve energy and consider renewable fuels.

Think of it as a green variation on “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Ms. Jackson suggested, referring to the 2004 book by Thomas Frank that contended that Republicans had come to dominate the state’s elections by exploiting social values.

The project’s strategy seems to have worked. In the course of the program, which ended last spring, energy use in the towns declined as much as 5 percent relative to other areas — a giant step in the world of energy conservation, where a program that yields a 1.5 percent decline is considered successful.

The towns were featured as a case study on changing behavior by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. And the Climate and Energy Project just received a grant from the Kansas Energy Office to coordinate a competition among 16 Kansas cities to cut energy use in 2011.

The energy experiment started as a kitchen-table challenge three years ago.

Over dinner, Wes Jackson, the president of the Land Institute, which promotes environmentally sustainable agriculture, complained to Ms. Jackson, his daughter-in-law, that even though many local farmers would suffer from climate change, few believed that it was happening or were willing to take steps to avoid it.

Why did the conversation have to be about climate change? Ms. Jackson countered. If the goal was to persuade people to reduce their use of fossil fuels, why not identify issues that motivated them instead of getting stuck on something that did not?

Only 48 percent of people in the Midwest agree with the statement that there is “solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer,” a poll conducted in the fall of 2009 by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed — far fewer than in other regions of the country.

The Jacksons already knew firsthand that such skepticism was not just broad, but also deep. Like opposition to abortion or affirmations of religious faith, they felt, it was becoming a cultural marker that helped some Kansans define themselves.

Nevertheless, Ms. Jackson felt so strongly that this opposition could be overcome that she left a job as development director at the University of Kansas in Lawrence to start the Climate and Energy Project with a one-time grant from the Land Institute. (The project is now independent.)

At the outset she commissioned focus groups of independents and Republicans around Wichita and Kansas City to get a sense of where they stood. Many participants suggested that global warming could be explained mostly by natural earth cycles, and a vocal minority even asserted that it was a cynical hoax perpetrated by climate scientists who were greedy for grants.

Yet Ms. Jackson found plenty of openings. Many lamented the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Some articulated an amorphous desire, often based in religious values, to protect the earth. Some even spoke of changes in the natural world — birds arriving weeks earlier in the spring than they had before — leading her to wonder whether, deep down, they might suspect that climate change was afoot.

Ms. Jackson settled on a three-pronged strategy. Invoking the notion of thrift, she set out to persuade towns to compete with one another to become more energy-efficient. She worked with civic leaders to embrace green jobs as a way of shoring up or rescuing their communities. And she spoke with local ministers about “creation care,” the obligation of Christians to act as stewards of the world that God gave them, even creating a sermon bank with talking points they could download.

Relatively little was said about climate.

“I don’t recall us being recruited under a climate change label at all,” said Stacy Huff, an executive for the Coronado Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which was enlisted to help the project. Mr. Huff describes himself as “somewhat skeptical” about global warming.

Mr. Huff said the project workers emphasized conservation for future generations when they recruited his group. The message resonated, and the scouts went door to door in low-income neighborhoods to deliver and install weatherization kits.

“It is in our DNA to leave a place better than we found it,” he said.

Elliot Lahn, a community development planner for Merriam, a city that reduced its energy use by 5 percent, said that when public meetings were held on the six-town competition to save energy, some residents offered their view that global warming was a hoax.

But they were very eager to hear about saving money, Mr. Lahn said. “That’s what really motivated them.”

Jerry Clasen, a grain farmer in Reno County, south of Salina, said he largely discounted global warming. “I believe we are going through a cycle and it is not a big deal,” he said. But his ears pricked up when project workers came to town to talk about harnessing wind power. “There is no sense in our dependency on foreign oil,” he said, “especially since we have got this resource here.”

Mr. Clasen helped organize a group of local leaders to lobby the electronics and energy giant Siemens to build a wind turbine factory in the area. When the company signed a deal in 2009 promising to create as many as 400 local jobs, it stirred a wave of excitement about the future of wind power.

Now, farmers expect to lease some of their land for turbines and rely on wind power as a stable source of income, he said, and land prices are rising as result.

“Whether or not the earth is getting warmer,” he said, “it feels good to be part of something that works for Kansas and for the nation.”

 

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The Heart That Beats, Heats, Chills and Whips

By ROBERTA SMITH
The New York Times Published: September 19, 2010

“Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen”: A serving piece by Kenneth Brozen at the Museum of Modern Art.

Sometimes a kitchen is just a kitchen, but not often. If a house is a machine for living, as Le Corbusier said, then the kitchen is its engine. If that machine is seen as a living organism — a house that is a home — then the kitchen is its heart and brain.

The centerpiece of “Counter Space” at MoMA is a Frankfurt Kitchen, 1926-27, designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. More Photos »

The many-splendored thing that is the modern kitchen — as a coherent workspace, object of study and model of efficiency — began to take shape sometime around 1900. It has been a leading indicator of the state of design ever since. It has also been a battlefield of conflicting belief systems, not least regarding the role of women in society. As the use of servants declined, housewives became at once early adopters of new products meant to free them from drudgery and targets of corporate advertising that relentlessly defined them as household fixtures themselves.

Which is to say, kitchens were heavily symbolic sites long before any of us became involved with the ones that bless or blight our individual lives. This is elaborately demonstrated by “Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen” at the Museum of Modern Art.

Using a tantalizing sprawl of design objects, artifacts and artworks, this exhibition places the modern kitchen in a broad historical context. It is bound to invite personal memories: I rediscovered the Ekco vegetable peeler, Chemex coffeemaker and copper-bottomed Revere Ware saucepan of my mother’s kitchen; the Terraillon plastic food scale and timer from my first New York apartment; and the old domed Magnalite tea kettle that an ex-boyfriend cherished.

But in the main, “Counter Space” sprints with dazzling speed and pinpoint precision across an amazing amount of social and aesthetic history, and shows how these histories are connected. The kitchen’s design evolution meshed with the new availability of gas and electricity; with the rise of cities, the middle class and health consciousness; with early stabs at prefab housing; with the growing independence of women; and of course with the emergence of modern design itself, as a self-consciously forward-looking, socially minded discipline whose brief was to improve everyday life for all.

Two world wars fed innovation by making efficiency and conservation pressing matters, creating food and housing shortages and luring women into the work force. As cities grew, the kitchen’s need for regular infusions of fresh foodstuffs, heating and cooling energy, and waste disposal connected it to urban networks that were themselves still taking shape. The kitchen was something like Rome, with nearly all a city’s infrastructure leading to it or away from it.

“Counter Space” confirms that few museums can muster a show of this kind as effectively as the Modern. It been assembled by Juliet Kinchin, curator in the department of architecture and design, and Aidan O’Connor, a curatorial assistant, who have drawn entirely from the museum’s collections. In addition to some 300 design objects clustered according to era, material or designer, it includes posters, paintings, films and film stills, prints and photographs — something from every department.

The museum’s vision of and faith in modernism are a major subtext. MoMA’s historic determination to encompass all that is emblematic of modern life is so breathtaking as to be almost self-congratulatory. “See?” the museum seems to say. “We have this, that and the other, and they’re all relevant and they all fit together in this story.”

But the Modern has the goods. Peter Behren’s 1909 electric tea kettle is here, nickel-plated to resemble parlor-worthy silver, along with a poster he designed two years earlier encouraging the use of electricity. An American poster from 1917 encourages Americans to eat less meat and fat, more grains and vegetables, not for their health, but to save food for Allied troops.

The objects range chronologically from the brown paper bag that Charles Stillwell designed for the Union Paper Bag Machine Company of Philadelphia in 1883 through a Levittown kitchen’s worth of pastel-colored Tupperware from the mid-1950s to Philippe Starck’s overly sculptural Juicy Salif Lemon Squeezer of 1988 (a countertop Louise Bourgeois spider) and Smart Design’s far more user-friendly Good Grips peeler of 1989.

The show’s centerpiece is a stupendous recent acquisition: one of the last surviving examples of a relatively complete Frankfurt Kitchen designed in 1926-27 by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (1897-2000), Austria’s first female architect. It was mass produced for housing blocks built in Frankfurt to meet housing shortages caused by the devastation of World War I, and remains a model of cockpitlike clarity and purpose. Including a grid of small metal bins (for storing rice and the like) that resembles a hardware store, it was one of several determinedly modern kitchens designed mostly in Germany in the late 1920s. But it is probably alone in being the subject of a recent music video tribute by the Austrian musician Robert Rotifer, which is also in the show.

“Counter Space” proceeds in three sections. “The New Kitchen” centers on design up through World War II, when the kitchen was conceived of as a kind of no-nonsense laboratory. Form follows function here, as do metal and glass and a tensile sense of geometry. The mid-1930s brought such classics as Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s Kubus stacking storage containers, made of textured glass; Sherman Kelly’s cast aluminum ice-cream scoop, upon which Brancusi could not have improved; and a handy-looking one-shot cake cutter by an unknown designer that could be a Duchamp readymade. Also here are posters from wartime Britain: those by Frederick H. K. Henrion expound on the economies of raising rabbits for food; several more by Herbert Tomlinson single out the destructiveness of mice.

“Visions of Plenty,” the second section, covers the explosion of new materials, especially colorful plastics, and expanding markets and growing residential footprints that followed the war, when one German designer presciently noted that “America has fat kitchens, Europe has thin ones.” In 1968, when the Italian designer Virgilio Forchiassin designed a mobile kitchen unit that folded up into something like a Minimalist cube, American kitchens were in the process of absorbing dining rooms, living rooms and the den.

Clever forms and pretty colors often superseded function. I, for one, can’t imagine putting anything but decorative pieces of fruit in the bright transparent plastic serving dishes that Kenneth Brozen designed in 1963. But this was also the heyday of Braun’s svelte appliances that made plastic seem as refined as porcelain, and signaled a Germany design resurgence; Kaj Franck’s handsomely basic Kilta tableware for Arabia; and works of genius like the wasp-waisted Kikkoman soy sauce dispenser designed by the renowned Kenji Ekuan in 1961.

The final section, “Kitchen Sink Dramas,” centers on the kitchen as grist for the artistic mill starting with Pop Art — Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes, paintings by James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselmann — and continuing nearly to the present. In a way it is too bad not to devote all the gallery space to design itself, especially since some objects are displayed on high shelves and are difficult to see. But the tradeoff is a sharpened sense of the organic relationship between art and its social context.

An especially vivid example of this relationship is provided by the veritable mother lode of short promotional films and television commercials from the Modern’s holdings in which the presumption of female docility and devotion could not be clearer. Titles like “The Home Electric,” a 1915 silent, and “A Word to the Wives,” from 1955, barely require description. Along with other clips, they supply visual evidence of the stereotypes that artists like Martha Rosler, Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons began to dismantle in the 1970s as the women’s movement got underway. Their works are seen in the show’s final section.

The connection is of course boilerplate art history, but to see it made with real-life art and artifacts against the rich backdrop of this exhibition is something else. Art may not be the best revenge, but it certainly helps.

“Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen” continues through March 14 at the Museum of Modern Art; (212) 708-9400, moma.org.

A version of this review appeared in print on September 20, 2010, on page C1 of the New York edition.

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A Greener Champagne Bottle

Newly forged bottles, still red hot, being checked at random for defects at the Saint Gobain glass bottle factory.

By LIZ ALDERMAN  THE NEW YORK TIMES  Published: August 31, 2010

REIMS, France — Deep below a lush landscape of ripening Champagne grapes, Thierry Gasco, the master vintner for Pommery, ran his finger over the shoulders of a dark green bottle that looked just like the thousands of others reposing in his chilly subterranean cellars.

But to the practiced hand and eye, there is a subtle, if potentially significant, difference.

“This is how we’re remaking the future of Champagne,” he said, pointing to the area just below the neck. “We’re slimming the shoulders to make the bottle lighter, so our carbon footprint will be reduced to help keep Champagne here for future generations.”

The Champagne industry has embarked on a drive to cut the 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide it emits every year transporting billions of tiny bubbles around the world. Producing and shipping accounts for nearly a third of Champagne’s carbon emissions, with the hefty bottle the biggest offender.

Yet while many other industries might plaster their marketing with eco-friendly claims, changes to Champagne, as with so much else in France, are being made discreetly. Producers in this secretive business are tight-lipped about the costs and occasionally enigmatic about how much their carbon emissions will really be cut.

“Champagne is sometimes more humble than it should be,” said Philippe Wibrotte of the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, the region’s trade organization. “Much is done for the promotion of the environment, but it’s kept quiet because we want to make sure each step is perfect.”

The industry speaks in hushed tones, too, in deference to the luxurious image and ritualistic traditions of Champagne, as symbolized for centuries by the bottle. It was Dom Pérignon, a Benedictine monk, who first thickened the glass in the mid-1600s to contain what was often referred to as “the devil’s wine” because its vessels exploded so often. Over time, the bottle was gradually recalibrated until 900 grams, or about two pounds, became the standard weight in the early 1970s.

The current retooling, which uses 65 fewer grams (2.3 ounces) of glass, is in response to a 2003 study of Champagne’s carbon footprint, which the industry wants to cut 25 percent by 2020, and 75 percent by 2050.

The move comes as efforts to reduce carbon output and improve vineyard ecology are accelerating worldwide, as wine houses reduce packaging, pesticides, water use and transportation. In California, for example, winegrowers are promoting what their trade group, the Wine Institute, says are nearly 230 “green practices,” including methods to cut carbon emissions.

Champagne accounts for only 10 percent of the three billion bottles of sparkling wine produced globally each year. But the bottle stands out for its heft. Italian prosecco, for instance, uses a 750-gram bottle. But it and its various fizzy cousins have only about half the pressure of Champagne — which generates three times the air pressure of a typical car tire.

Although some of Pommery’s restyled bottles are already on the market, the C.I.V.C. expects all Champagne houses to start using the new 835-gram vessel next April for bottling this month’s grape harvest; the new wave of bottles will hit stores after three years of fermentation. The effort, the group says, will trim carbon emissions by 8,000 metric tons annually — the equivalent of taking 4,000 small cars off the road.

“For Champagne producers to reduce the weight of their packaging is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Tyler Colman, an author of environmental studies on the wine industry, “because there’s less mass to transport around the world.”

Vranken-Pommery Monopole, which in addition to Pommery owns Heidsieck & Company Monopole and other labels, got a head start by adopting the lighter bottle in 2003. Consumers around the world may have already uncorked some specimens without noticing the new bottle. Moët & Chandon, Veuve Cliquot and a few others quietly switched this year, with those bottles still under fermentation.

The rest of the Champagne producers are deciding whether to embrace the C.I.V.C.’s mandate, which is voluntary but carries special force in this clannish community.

Designing a new bottle was no small feat. The container still had to withstand Champagne’s extreme pressure. It would also need to survive the four-year obstacle course from the factory floor to the cellars to the dining table, and fit in existing machinery at all Champagne houses. And it had to be molded so that consumers would barely detect the difference in the bottle’s classic shape.

“The bottle is part of Champagne’s image, and we don’t want to affect it,” said Daniel Lorson, a spokesman for the trade group.

Mr. Gasco said Vranken Pommery, one of the largest houses, has spent 500,000 to one million euros ($635,000 to about $1.3 million) each year since 1994 on environmental initiatives, including research and testing of the lighter bottle.

But the bottle, he said, is not about money, which has become tighter since the financial crisis. Industrywide sales for Champagne last year were 3.7 billion euros ($4.7 billion), down from nearly 5 billion euros in 2007.

“Reducing their carbon footprint and energy use is also a great way to make their operations more financially viable, especially with the economy the way it is,” said Euan Murray, an official at the Carbon Trust, a nonprofit group that advises businesses and government on global warming issues.

Sipping a glass of Pommery during an interview, Mr. Gasco eventually disclosed that the new bottles cost around 32 euro cents (41 United States cents) each, not much cheaper than the classic. But Mr. Gasco, who sits on the C.I.V.C.’s bottling panel, said “if everyone starts to use it, the price will come down.” Any savings, however, would be too slight to pass on to consumers, he said.

Most of the new Champagne bottles are made at the St. Gobain plant near here, where molten red glass is dropped from a 20-foot-high chute into molds at a rate of 160 a minute. The glass is cooled from more than 1,000 degrees Celsius for over an hour, scanned for imperfections and stacked on pallets for shipping.

A worker on Pommery’s assembly line, who declined to be named, said he noticed that a few more of the new bottles were exploding, and that they made a higher-pitched sound when they clinked together. Mr. Gasco denied there were more explosions, and said any damage more likely came from using heat to inject the cork.

Bruno Delhorbe, the director at the St. Gobain factory, said that using less glass lowered the carbon emissions necessary to make each bottle by 7 percent, and allowed about 2,400 more to be placed inside delivery trucks, reducing the number of trucks on the road.

Slimming the shoulders while thinning the glass, he noted, also allowed his clients to avoid giving their customers more Champagne for the same price.

Of course, there are even lighter alternatives: Many of the world’s producers of still wines are employing plastic bottles and box containers to reduce their carbon footprint.

But it may be a long time before Champagne goes that route. Most houses take pains to cultivate an image of luxury through packaging and pricing — and intimations that other sparkling wines are inferior because they simply are not Champagne.

Still, many producers insist that while tradition has its place, the environmentally motivated changes are about the future. Patrick LeBrun, an independent producer, said he started going green “for personal reasons.” He has not used herbicides for five years, and this year, he is putting all of his product into the lighter bottle.

“There’s about a 2-cent price difference but that’s not what decided me,” he said. Trying to improve the environment “is my contribution to the next generation.”

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Plastic bottle boat reaches Australia after stormy seas

July 23, 2010

(CNN) — After spending 125 days traveling over 8,000 nautical miles, the Plastiki is preparing to reach Sydney, its final destination, on Sunday.

The Plastiki’s arrival in Sydney will not, however, be the 60-foot catamaran’s first time to reach Australian soil. Winter storms producing near-hurricane strength winds forced the vessel and its crew to take refuge in Mooloolaba, Queensland on Monday.

Originally, the crew had hoped to land in Coffs Harbour, south from Mooloolaba, before heading to Sydney. After waiting out the bad weather, the Plastiki took off from its unexpected first port-of-call in Australia early Friday morning with hopes to reach Sydney in the next two days.

Brutal winter storms in the Tasman Sea made the leg from New Caledonia the most challenging. One night winds gusting over 60-knots surprised the crew, leaving them battling to prevent the mast buckling and losing the sail for eight hours.

“I’ve always been apprehensive of the Tasman Sea and this was my own worst nightmare come to fruition,” said Plastiki’s expedition leader, David de Rothschild.

Co-skipper of the boat, Dave Thomson called the waves some of “the biggest you’re likely to see.”

Once in Sydney, the Plastiki will be harbored at the Australian National Maritime Museum. It will remain on display for a month as crew members hold special events aimed at raising awareness of plastic waste in the ocean. The general public will also have the opportunity to visit the vessel during an open day.

Made of approximately 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles and engineered using the most sustainable methods possible, the Plastiki is meant to be used as a platform upon which solutions to the myriad of environmental problems can be found.

Particularly, the Plastiki is hoping to raise awareness about single-use consumer products that are filling landfills and the sea.

The Plastiki has faced several challenges since departing from San Francisco in March. Engineering problems unique to a craft made of plastic water bottles forced the catamaran to make unscheduled stops, as has unpredictable weather.

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D.O.E. targets home energy efficiency with $ 30 million funding

 By Nuel Navarrete (www.ecoseed.org)
Thursday, 22 July 2010

  The United States Department of Energy is releasing $30 million to fund building industry partnerships that will work on energy efficiency projects for homes.

The partnerships will be made up of experts in various fields such as retrofitting, finance and energy management, among others. Their main task will be to improve energy efficiency in United States homes.

Fifteen teams will each receive between $500,000 and $2.5 million, depending on their performance. The total amount of $30 million will be distributed during the initial 18 months.

A total of up to $20 million per year will also be made available for the partnerships, with three potential one-year extensions.

The project is under an Energy Department program that forges research partnerships across the residential building industry to come up with solutions to significantly reduce the average energy use of housing while improving comfort and quality.

Existing techniques and technologies in energy efficiency retrofitting – such as air-tight ducts, windows and doors, heating and cooling systems, insulation and caulking – can reduce energy use by up to 40 percent per home and cut energy bills by $40 billion annually.

“Home energy efficiency is one of the easiest, most immediate and most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon pollution and save money on energy bills, while creating new jobs,” said Steven Chu, energy secretary.

“By developing and using tools to reduce residential energy use, we will spur economic growth here in America and help homeowners make cost-cutting improvements in their homes,” he added.

The partnerships are expected to provide technical assistance to retrofit projects; research on and deploy new technologies and demonstration projects; and provide systems engineering, quality assurance and outreach for retrofit projects throughout the country.

One of the chosen teams, the Alliance for Residential Building Innovation, will focus on resolving technical and market barriers to large scale implementation of innovative energy solutions for new and existing homes.

Team members will work towards retrofit activities, providing considerable experience in audits, home performance contracting, marketing and finance.

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Hans Rosling on global population growth

From Ted.com: The world’s population will grow to 9 billion over the next 50 years — and only by raising the living standards of the poorest can we check population growth. This is the paradoxical answer that Hans Rosling unveils at TED@Cannes using colorful new data display technology (you’ll see).

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