Every now and again I hear a homeowner utter the phrase “A man’s home is his castle.” In some ways it’s a comforting thought. Coming home after a long hard day at work is a cathartic experience. Closing the door is like raising a proverbial drawbridge; all the world's problems are locked outside. I suspect, though, that many homeowners wish their windows and walls didn’t also draw comparisons to the drafty stone castles of yore. Especially in older buildings of all kinds, energy and heat can leak like a sieve. It’s something that should worry anyone concerned with their home energy bills or greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, what if it was possible to get ten times the insulation that most old buildings have, without even changing the building facade?
Meet vacuum sealed insulation. Per square inch, it provides just that: ten times the insulation of conventional products. It was one of the ideas on display at the "Das Haus" Pavilion, which was open to the public last week in Cambridge. Sponsored by the German American Midwest Chamber of Commerce, the travelling pavilion shows off innovations based on the German "Passivhaus" model for building construction that are just entering the United States. Started by two professors in Darmstadt, Germany back in the ‘80’s, the movement has had a lot of time to incubate, and the results were on display in a pavilion tucked away in an MIT parking lot in Cambridge last month.
In addition to the vacuum packaging, other features like triple paned windows, LED lighting, energy smart appliances, and solar electric (photovoltaic or “PV”) cells were all on display in and on the structure, which also boasts an excellent ventilation system to keep rooms from feeling too stuffy. While any one upgrade would probably stand out as a good investment, put together the technologies help create a building that consumes 90 percent less energy. With buildings consuming 54 percent of energy in Massachusetts, that could create huge energy and greenhouse gas emissions savings.
Amidst a crowd of Massachusetts businesspeople, curious legislators, and the occasional homeowner, "Das Haus" showed off the potential value of these new technologies to U.S. markets. For anyone keen on new construction or a retrofit of existing properties, don't hesitate to check out the “Das Haus” website.
“Mass. Military Division” and “Energy Efficiency” Go Together posted on Jul 25
Energy measures implemented at a Mass. Military Divison site include improved lighting, high efficiency motors, HVAC controls and energy management system upgrades. Under the Accelerate Efficiency Plan, the Commonwealth is investing over $12 million at 29 state facilities throughout the Berkshires.
Solar a “No-Go” on Your Roof? Share Through Community Solar posted on Jul 16
Harvard residents who wanted solar on their homes and were unable to get it due to shading, sloping, or structural barriers, found a solution by sharing the Harvard Solar Garden, an approximately 250 kW project, provides 41 residents and six small businesses with sustainable, clean energy. .
Summer’s Here: Shed Layers and Shed Loads posted on Jul 11
Electricity usage throughout New England reaches its peak during summer heat waves, causing our electricity bills to spike. During periods of high demand, electric utilities typically call on more expensive “peaking” plants to provide extra power. These costs are passed onto larger, non-residential consumers through demand charges on their monthly electricity bill. Municipal buildings can save a significant sum of money if they shut off portions of their electricity during these peak periods.