There are many great reasons to be green in your life and lifestyle. The benefits of being green are also well known. You can save money over time, use less energy, have a more comfortable lifestyle, and its good for the environment.
Except when agendas are involved.
What is now happening is that many people are seeing the benefits of being green and wonder why things are not happening faster or do not believe that the changes to date and the planned ones are real.
We are seeing these green issues in the building industry now. One of the ways this is happening are the various programs and materials that are being touted as improved building practices; which are mostly coming from other countries. It is a great thing to have new ideas, but some of these proposed programs and materials do not even meet our current building codes!
The Canadian residential building industry met our Kyoto goals and since that time we have continued to improve our green requirements and will continue to do so. We have always held out our R2000 program as the best in the world and we have continued to improve it. Our minimum building code now is what R2000 used to be in years past.
If you want to see a major impact on the environment and greening, you need to look at our existing housing and building stock. With the majority of these building built in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s you can do a lot of simple things to greatly improve the performance of these buildings. Bring back the federal incentives to improve the efficiency of our homes and add the commercial stock to the program; and you will see a major improvement in the greening of our buildings.
We are also seeing in some jurisdictions, green changes being imposed onto all new projects. This is happening because the industry sometimes says – wait, let’s see what the costs are; what are the benefits; and what is the science of this proposed change. This method has built a world class building code over time. But because this takes time – some are saying these changes must be imposed.
What we are seeing coming at us is that some of these changes do not have enough benefit for the cost and/or the building science of the change will have a negative impact on the home and owner. These negative impacts can include mould growth, moisture damage, and excessive cost increases to install. Some of the building scientists have been questioning the data presented to back up various claims for a while. The legal community has also started to look at the claims. Lawsuits have been filed in the state of New York against a green building organization.
The building codes changes are on a five year cycle where proposed changes are presented. They are then reviewed by industry representatives, scientists at NRC, and other interested parties. By 2012, the code will be equal to today’s Energy Star 80 rating. So the code is changing without additional “help” and no unintended consequences of them.
As consumers seek energy sources that are eco-friendly, affordable, and renewable, solar panels have gained more awareness and popularity. The benefits of switching to solar power are numerous and will extend far beyond a home that implements this power source. Solar energy is reliable, dependable, and does not have to stand on its own. And with so many innovations being implemented in the industry, the process of installing panels is now cheaper and easier than ever before!
The first and most obvious benefit of switching to solar energy is the amount of money that you will save on your energy bill. Utility prices always seem to be on the rise, regardless of how much you attempt to conserve energy. With solar energy, you don’t have to pay for the sun’s rays and the installation of panels only requires one investment. Solar panels have also seen a reduction in their cost since becoming popular in the 1970s, a trend that is simply unheard of with power companies. Many tax incentives are also available for those that switch to solar power, and you can sometimes even make a little extra money from the power company if you use less energy than your solar panels produce (this is especially true in desert areas and other places with plenty of sunshine).
Solar panels can also be customized to meet your specific needs. One of the reasons most people feel reluctant to invest in solar power is because they fear outages during cloudy and stormy days. But if the right professional is involved in the construction of your solar panels, this risk can be reduced. Your contractor, if properly trained, will carefully analyze the appliances and electronics contained in your home, along with the environment around your home, and develop a plan that provides the most power possible. One important thing to remember is that solar power is still available on cloudy days, and your power source can be easily switched back to the grid during storms. A professional contractor will help you plan for these situations in advance and still help you save money.
Some of the benefits of switching to solar power are those that extend beyond your home. No fossil fuels are required to provide power, meaning no resources will need to be depleted from our planet. The panels work independently of any source other than the sun. Solar energy is also clean energy. The only output is the energy that is provided from your home. No fumes, smoke, or chemicals will ever be released into the environment as a result of solar power.
Solar panels also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This is good news for those that fear a reduction in the aesthetic value of their homes as a result of installing the panels. Installation does not have to result in this and can sometimes actually add to the style of your home. The panels can be set up anywhere along your home (depending on your surrounding area) and can even be set in the yard on racks away from the house. Smaller panels are also available that can typically fit just inside of a window. These panels (usually about the size of a briefcase) can be used to power smaller electronic devices, such as laptops.
Regardless of your home or commercial energy needs, switching to solar is one of the best ways to go green and cut serious spending on your utility bills.