Builder Focus: Leading by Example

2013-12-07T11:45:00Z Builder Focus: Leading by ExampleMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent
December 07, 2013 11:45 am  • 

This week, President Obama signed a memorandum directing the federal government to consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, more than double the current level. The memorandum establishes a new target for federal agencies to consume 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2020 –the current goal is 7.5 percent.

Since 2008, Federal agencies have reduced energy use, pollution and waste in their operations, saving taxpayer dollars and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent in the process. The president’s latest directive asks them to go even further.

“We in the green building community applaud President Obama for taking bold action today to accelerate innovative energy efficiency initiatives across the federal government’s facilities and operations,” Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council, said. “These are significant measures that will advance renewable energy and energy efficiency through programs such as demand response, energy disclosure and other leadership energy protocols.”

According to Fedrizzi, the U.S. Green Building Council is also doing their part to foster a more sustainable economy by helping advance greener, healthier buildings. Today, more than 10.4 billion square feet of commercial real estate is using LEED. These LEED green buildings are saving energy, money and critical resources, and they are healthier for the people inside. The use of LEED has demonstrated success across federal projects and in the private sector. The newest version of LEED, released last month, pushes the envelope of energy and performance even further.

“By insisting on integrating smarter energy management best practices across the federal government, President Obama is showing strong leadership that will ensure the country is saving energy, reducing our carbon footprint, improving air quality, driving investment in clean technology and creating jobs,” he added.

When it comes to saving energy at home, there are many low-cost and even no-cost options to increase efficiency and keep energy bills low. Sealing air leaks, installing a programmable thermostat and performing an energy audit are considered the first steps in any home energy-saving strategy.

Since homes built to meet or exceed the current code already address the low-hanging fruit, the next step would be to consider incorporating green power.

According to the EPA, a home's purchased electricity use can be a significant source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Using green power, a subset of renewable energy, can help reduce your home's environmental impact while also providing a number of other valuable benefits.

Available through NIPSCO, green power is electricity produced from a subset of renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and low-impact hydropower.

You can also install an onsite energy generation system. The most common of these are photovoltaic (solar panels) and wind generators. On-site renewables provide advantages of reliability and price stability. In addition, when on-site renewables generate more power than needed, NIPSCO allows you return it to the electric grid for credit (net-metering). Plus, tax credits are available for on-site generation systems at both the federal and state level, with even more incentives from NIPSCO locally.

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