After experiencing phenomenal growth, Austin’s green living home improvement store, TreeHouse, is looking at other markets with an eye toward expansion.
Microgrid Solar’s translucent solar panels are pushing the envelope on solar aesthetics. They’ve been used to create canopies in a variety of settings, and for the first time are being used as a solid roof at the kitschy Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis.
A retailer who’ve come to rely on for cough syrup, toothpaste and greeting cards has decided to push the envelope on green energy with a model net-zero store that hopes to turn a loss — of energy costs.
Half Moon Ventures, a Chicago-based developer of solar and wind energy products, unveiled a rooftop solar installation the size of two pro football fields at i.Park Hudson, an office/industrial park in Yonkers, N.Y.
The solar project is expected to produce 1.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power more than 120 homes and equivalent in reducing air pollution to taking 160 cars off the road.
The U.S. Department of Commerce decision to hit Chinese solar panel makers with significant import tariffs has shaken up the solar community. Bonn-based SolarWorld, which maintains the largest U.S. solar manufacturing plant and had asked for an investigation of Chinese “dumping” of solar panels, was pleased with yesterday’s ruling. The anti-dumping and anti-subsidy fees announced by the government will help level the playing field between U.S. and Chinese-manufactured photovoltaic cells and panels, a company official said.
B Corps, or benefit corporations, have arrived in the state of New York.
Earlier this month, the legislature passed, and Gov. Cuomo signed, a bill (S.79-A) approving this new type of corporate structure in which companies promise to have a positive impact on the environment and watch out for the rights of workers and communities.
State officials then immediately registered 13 companies as B Corps on Feb 10, the same day the law was enacted.
by Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica, and Aaron Kessler, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
A federal investigation into contaminated Chinese-made drywall has been a long, hard tug-of-war for U.S. investigators trying to pry information from Chinese government officials and manufacturers. When a team of investigators traveled to China last year, the tug-of-war became physical, with a Chinese official trying to wrest a piece of drywall from an American’s hands.
The federal probe is the largest defective-product investigation  ever conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. But almost two years after it began, the CPSC still hasn’t been able to figure out what materials in the Chinese drywall are triggering the release of sulfur gases. The gases have a chemical smell and have corroded wiring and appliances in thousands of U.S. homes. They’ve also been linked to respiratory ailments, nosebleeds and sinus problems
Slapping a solar panel on the roof sounds so alluring. You can produce your own energy, slice your carbon footprint in a big way and not have to fret so much about vacillating energy costs. You’re home free.
Except that solar panels are far from free. While the cost of solar photovoltaics has come down considerable, a solar rooftop array remains in a rarifed price household category, right up there with cars. It will run in the ballpark of $15,ooo-$20,000, maybe more, even with home energy tax credits.
California Attorney General Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. is suing mortgage companies over their refusal to allow PACE funding for clean energy improvements on homes.
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) money allows homeowners to finance energy efficiency projects like solar panels through their property taxes. Cities that offer the plans can sell bonds to generate the money for PACE loans, which are then attached to a homeowners’ property tax bill. The plan provides homeowners with the upfront money they need for big improvements, and allows them to stretch out their payments over 20 years, making large capital improvements like solar arrays possible.
California’s ambitious solar incentive program is basking in early success, despite the poor economy, according to a hopeful mid-course report.
Three years into a 10-year roll out, the California Solar Initiative (CSI), a component of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Million Solar Roofs” plan, is already 42 percent of the way toward its state goals, according to a July 9 report to the legislature. That’s counting projects that are installed, holding reservations and in progress, according to collected data.
All told, California has more than 600 Megawatts of installed solar power connected to the grid at nearly 65,000 customer sites.
By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
Green Depot, a Brooklyn-based supplier of environmentally sensitive building products and household products is extending its reach with a new flagship store in Manhattan.
The depot’s new uptown presence, at 222 Bowery, is set to open on Feb. 12, with 3,500 square feet of retail space featuring products such as cork and bamboo flooring, air and water filtration systems and low VOC paints that can be sampled a “paint bar”.
The new store will have a special section featuring new innovations on the market and another area devoted to helping parents create an eco-friendly, healthful environment for their children.
Browsers beware, you’ll need to remain alert: products will be displayed with eco-report cards, part of the store’s proprietary “icon” labeling system, that are designed to educate consumers. The labels explain how and why a product is green, assessing it in the areas of air quality, conservation, energy use, local origins and responsibility.
By Julie Bonnin
If you’re in the market for a custom-built home, there really isn’t a reason not to build green. Who doesn’t want a smaller utility bill? Or to leave a reduced carbon footprint on your corner of planet Earth? FreeGreen, a web site with free green home designs, allows users to browse a listing of green house plans that range from strikingly modern to suburban friendly.
On a quiet street in the tree-covered city of Rollingwood, a suburb of Austin, Texas, sits a house designed to epitomize everything technology and modern design can do to make a home environmentally friendly and safe for families with children.