New housing starts dropped 10.6% in October compared with September, to a seasonally adjusted rate of 529,000, the Commerce Dept.reported on Nov. 18. The number, which was lower than analyst estimates, is a seven-month low.
October housing starts were down 30.7% year-over-year.
Single-family housing starts were off 6.8% in October, to an annual rate of 476,000. The October rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 48,000, down one-third from the previous month and off 78.1% year-over-year.
From the Alaska Journal of Commerce, Monday, November 16, 2009:
A statewide weatherization program with the potential of reducing energy costs in thousands of Alaskan residences will improve some 1,740 homes in 2009 alone, and Alaska Housing Finance Corp. expects to more than quadruple that number by 2011. The goal is to weatherize 4,000 homes in 2010 and 7,500 homes in 2011, said Bryan Butcher, public affairs director for the state agency, whose mission is to provide Alaskans with quality affordable housing.
“We can show there are average savings of 25 percent on energy right now, and we are hoping it goes up,” Butcher said.
From the New York Times on Wednesday, June 11, 2009:
Environmental savings can be elusive, and the benefits and costs confusing. To help households wade through the information, consultants armed with stepladders and gadgets are selling advice on energy efficiency, indoor air quality and even methods for creating an eco-conscious wardrobe.
The field of personal and home eco-consultants is relatively new. GenGreen, a Colorado company that offers a national directory of businesses marketing themselves as green at gengreenlife.com, says it has just over 3,000 listings under the umbrella term environmental consultants, up from 657 when the database was started in 2007. They include energy auditors, health and wellness experts, interior designers and “eco-brokers,” real estate agents who specialize in green homes. While real estate agents can get training and certification as “eco” or “green” by trade organizations, and states like New York run energy audit programs with accreditation rules, there are no industry standards for most eco-consultants, who can range from environmental engineers to the self-taught.
Susan Carpenter breaks California state plumbing code three times a week. Her accomplice is her washing machine. Rinse water from washing machines usually goes into the sewer — so what if you could recycle it? That’s what Carpenter does, using it to water plants at her Southern California home.
“The washing machine is filling up with water, and it is going through its normal process of washing clothes,” she says. “And after about eight minutes, you’ll start to hear it spin and we will run outside and see it squirting through the tubes.”
The “it” is gray water, which looks like its name — a bit gray, a bit cloudy. After all, it’s the wastewater from bathtubs, sinks and washers.
The gray water lapping up Carpenter’s dirty clothes will soon be lapped up by her passion fruit trees — and no, the fruit won’t taste like Tide. She uses a special type of detergent that doesn’t contain salt or boron, compounds which dehydrate plants.
Click here to read (or listen to) the whole story.
Building green can open the door to plenty of legal pitfalls, a new study warns.
The study, by Harvard Law School’s Environmental Law & Policy Clinic and sponsored by Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox, a Philadelphia law firm, says that green building raises a number of liability questions.
What if the building set out to meet LEED certification or other government green-building standards, but falls short, for example? What if it fails to garner expected tax breaks from the government for building green?
People in the business of weatherizing homes are expecting to profit from the new economic stimulus plan. The federal aid package sets aside $5 billion worth of spending for making homes and buildings more energy-efficient. The idea is to save energy, create jobs — and even perhaps slow global warming.
Click here to read and/or listen to the whole story.
For more information about weatherization in Alaska, click here to be directed to the PORTAL.
… we’re focusing upon tracking energy usage, since the first step to cutting down on our power consumption is being able to measure it. Smart meters installed as part of smart grid projects will make it extra-easy to monitor home energy use — and while there are numerous smart grid-linked energy monitoring devices coming out soon, there are also are plenty of ways to keep track of your power consumption with an old-fashioned meter.
It’s the great taboo, I hear many environmentalists say. Population growth is the driving force behind our wrecking of the planet, but we are afraid to discuss it.
It sounds like a no-brainer. More people must inevitably be bad for the environment, taking more resources and causing more pollution, driving the planet ever farther beyond its carrying capacity. But hold on. This is a terribly convenient argument — “over-consumers” in rich countries can blame “over-breeders” in distant lands for the state of the planet. But what are the facts?
From the New York Times on Wednesday, April 8, 2009:
Still looking for ways to lower your taxes? Greening your home means you can get more greenbacks in return. The stimulus plan approved by Congress in February offers tax credits for making your home more energy efficient. For tax tips, the Green Home turned to Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit group that advocated some of these credits.