A new water-efficiency standard enters pilot phase, Alabama's 'Smart Community', a call to action to update LEED to fight climate change, and Los Angeles' sustainability goals
L.A. Must Transition to Cleaner Energy, Boost Transit to Reach Sustainability Goals
In order to reach its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals, Los Angeles must transition to 100% renewable electricity and 45% passenger travel by transit and active transport (such as biking or walking) by 2050. These are the key steps the city must take to achieve its Sustainable City pLAn of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) 60% by 2035 and 80% by 2050, according to the LA City Performance Tool Report by Siemens.
Siemens says these goals are achievable by ramping up 11 transportation technologies: electric cars, reduced headway on the Metro, new lines on the Metro, e-highways, electric car-sharing, congestion charging, high-occupancy toll lanes, electric buses, new electric bus rapid transit lines, e-ticketing on public transportation, and intelligent traffic light management.
Los Angeles reports a use of 33% renewable energy and 14% transit and active transport today.
LEED Should be Updated to Combat Climate Change
Although LEED has advanced sustainability in the built environment, it hasn’t kept up with the accelerating urgency of climate change or the availability of low and no-cost ways to deeply cut carbon, says Greg Kats, president of Capital E. Kats is a clean energy investor and was the first recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council Lifetime Achievement Award. He cites a 60% cost reduction of residential solar since 2010 that “make these now the cheapest electricity source in most states.”
Also, rapid growth in the ability to buy onsite and offsite solar and wind under power purchase agreements (PPAs) allows building owners to buy carbon-free power at a fixed price at or below conventional utility rates, Kats says. “Many buildings receiving LEED Silver, Gold, and even Platinum ratings deliver an anemic 15% or 20% lower energy use and CO2 reduction,” he says.
Kats and other environmental leaders have submitted a proposal to USGBC in support of minimum levels of carbon reduction by level of LEED certification. “LEED immediately should be revised to require substantial minimum carbon reductions for each level of LEED certification, both for new LEED buildings and for LEED rating renewals,” Kats says.
New Alabama ‘Smart Community’ has Microgrid That Supports all Homes
All homes in a new “smart community” in the Birmingham, Alabama suburb of Hoover features the first microgrid in the Southeast to support an entire residential community. The microgrid is composed of solar panels, battery storage, and a backup natural gas generator.
All of the homes in the development received a HERS Index score in the mid-40s. The community’s intelligent technology interacts with each home’s heating, air-conditioning, and water-heating systems to meet homeowner needs while maximizing efficiency.
Coastal Communities in Texas Consider Mandatory Storm Proofing for Residences
With no state building code, some coastal towns in Texas are debating the costs and benefits of implementing storm-resistant building requirements. The communities are considering the Fortified program that was developed by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.
Risk consultants say that implementing the Fortified standards would make these towns viable for more insurers. Insurers have been shying away from offering policies to the region due to the risk of hurricanes. There are 8,200 Fortified homes in the U.S., with about 7,000 located in Alabama where homeowners can get mandatory discounts up to 55% from insurers if their homes comply with Fortified standards.
HERSH2O, a Water-Efficiency Standard, Enters Pilot Phase
After several months of limited field testing, HERSH2O is now entering a formal pilot phase. RESNET has spent more than three years developing the whole house water efficiency rating index that will provide homebuyers with information about a home’s water usage.
The new index will rate the indoor and outdoor water usage of a home including the bathroom and kitchen, clothes washer, pools, and irrigation, while also accounting for leaks, excess pressure, and waste. The score is derived by comparing the rated home to a reference home, which was typical of construction practices in 2006.