Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Channeling the Hot Air from Washington & Wall Street

While Congress battles with Wall Street lobbyists, the Federal Reserve, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the future of the financial system, I thought I'd tap some of that hot air and do a co-generation conversion.

That means I'm taking the massive amount of bloviation coming from the halls of wealth and power and channeling it into something profoundly useful that will benefit everyone. No, I'm not talking about another approach to world peace. I'm talking about some great new energy ideas.

The first wave of fresh air with charged particles of positive energy comes from the American Physical Society, a group of enlightened physicists. They've just published a new report entitled "Energy = Future: Think Efficiency.

What they've recommended is accessible to everyone; you don't need a doctorate to grasp the simplicity of their energy plan. Basically, they want high efficiency vehicles, buildings, batteries, appliances and other green goals to be part and parcel of the government's permanent energy policy.

I know, so there's nothing new there. What's ambitious is that they have aggressive goals for their plan. Better yet: Everything in their program is achievable.

An interim step to the APS proposal, which is reflected in the energy legislation that is being blocked by the "drill more" crowd in Congress, is much simpler and maybe more accessible than comprehensive energy policy. Let's label buildings for their energy efficiency. Such is the idea of one of my favorite architects Michelle Kaufmann, designer of the Smart + Wired Home and other fine models.

Michele's idea to to make energy efficiency akin to nutrition ratings for foods. How much water can a house save? How much power? If people could compare one house to another, they would know and be able to make informed decisions. It's an inspired idea. Here's more on her proposal:

Green Prefab Architect Michelle Kaufmann Releases White Paper Calling for ”Nutrition Labels” for Houses

“Nutrition Labels” that clearly communicate the sustainability facts of a home would help grow the green building industry by alerting homebuyers to a home’s environmental impact and monthly financial costs while outlining potential health benefits or risks.

Oakland, Calif.—September 22, 2008---Michelle Kaufmann , award-winning green architect and sustainable living expert, today announced the release of the white paper, “Nutrition Labels for Houses.” The white paper explores the need for a universal sustainability labeling standard for houses in the same vein as the federally mandated Nutrition Facts Label for foods. It also asserts that a universal labeling system would help grow the green building industry by making it easier for homebuyers to understand the environmental, health, and financial benefits of living in a green home.

The white paper is available for download at www.michellekaufmann.com.

“Nutrition labeling allows consumers to purchase food according to the quality of its nutritional content. We want homebuyers to be empowered with the same sort of information when it comes to making a decision about what house to live in,” said Michelle Kaufmann, founder and chairwoman of Michelle Kaufmann Companies. “We have to start holding the houses we live in to the same standards as the food we eat. Our habits concerning both are vital to our own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of the environment.”

Michelle Kaufmann, who has built more homes for clients than any other firm in the modern modular architecture world, focuses on making beautiful, thoughtful design accessible to more people by employing prefabricated modular building practices and prepackaging green solutions.

Topics covered in the white paper include:

* Growing the green building industry through universal labeling of all homes—green and traditional
* Exploration of the building industry’s environmental impact, including comparison between traditional and green building practices
* The financial benefits of buying green homes
* Why we need a holistic, “apples to apples” labeling convention
* Proposed methodology for creating a Sustainability Facts Label
* Energy Consumption Study data, comparing a green home to a comparable traditional home

“As soon as a sustainability labeling program is in place, even if it is at first instituted on a small scale before ultimately going national, we will be the first to commit to labeling our houses,” concluded Michelle.

By reducing resource consumption, waste, costs, and building time by up to 50%-75% over conventional building methods, Michelle Kaufmann’s prefabricated, modular building techniques deliver benefits to individual homebuyers as well as builders/developers, who are interested in building green multi-family and community developments .

In the meantime, urge your Congressional representatives to pass the energy package that they've been considering the past two years. It might be the most productive thing they've drafted in 8 years.

Now if they could only label mortgages, investment banks and toxic debt portfolios. But that's a blog for another day.

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