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Top 10 Technologies to Make Homes More Resource Efficient
PATH Top Ten recommended technologies for buildings have notable strengths for energy and environmental performance
PATH identifies and explains the technologies with the most promise for making homes and buildings more durable, stronger and more resource efficient.
The PATH Top Ten recommended technologies have notable strengths in one or more of the following areas:
quality and durability
safety and disaster mitigation
Technologies For Durable, Strong, Resource Efficient Buildings
- Mold Resistant Gypsum
reated gypsum wallboard products resist mold because they won't absorb moisture as easily as typical gypsum board. The paperless surface does not support mold growth. Georgia-Pacific and United States Gypsum manufacture mold resistant gypsum.
- Solar Water Heating
Solar water heaters have been commercially available since the 1800s. But now more than ever, they're an environmentally sound way to reduce energy bills. The Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (www.solar-rating.org) provides evaluations of solar collectors and solar hot water systems.
- Recycled Concrete Substitutes and Aggregates
Recycled concrete is widely available, though it is typically not geared toward use as a concrete aggregate substitute. Therefore prices may be high to obtain aggregate of a particular size range specification. Crushed glass aggregate is less widely available than recycled concrete, and is also not usually sold as aggregate.
- Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
CHP technologies, sometimes referred to as cogeneration, have provided heat and electrical energy efficiently at commercial and industrial sites for many years. Hundreds of micro CHP systems have been operating in Japan and Europe for years. Several manufacturers and organizations are conducting ongoing field trials in the United States.
- Horizontal Axis Washer/Dryer
The washer-dryer combination unit simplifies doing laundry. Just put in clothes, choose settings and press start. You will come back to clean, dry clothes that are ready to fold and put away. Washer-dryer combination units do not contain an agitator. Thus, they run quietly. For this reason and because no venting is required, the product can be installed anywhere there is access to plumbing, a drain and a standard electrical receptacle. Several models meet ENERGY STAR® and Consortium of Energy Efficiency (CEE) standards.
- Hydrophilic, Impact-Resistant Windows
A new glass coating is available that sheds water more quickly than standard glass and resists water spotting and dirt accumulation. A thin, invisible layer of silicon dioxide, applied to a window’s exterior, makes the surface smoother than conventional glass and hydrophilic.
An NFRC label on the window will contain the information regarding the high-performance glazing features of a window - U-value, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), and Visible Light Transmittance (VT). Generally, the lower the U-value, the better the window performs at preventing heat loss (or gain in hot climates). Low-E and solar control low-E (also called spectrally selective) coatings can be used to boost the energy efficiency of windows.
- Super-Sized (Vertical) ICFs - Insulating Concrete Forms
Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) are rigid plastic foam forms that hold concrete in place during curing and remain in place afterwards to serve as thermal insulation for concrete walls. Vertical ICFs (Insulating Concrete Forms) have all the energy efficiency, strength and building speed benefits of conventional ICF walls, plus a bonus: they go up faster and easier because fewer pieces are assembled on site. The wall sections are sturdier than conventional ICF walls and require less bracing. Composed of two polystyrene panels held together by plastic or steel I-beams and filled with concrete, vertical ICF panels form straight, energy-efficient walls.
- Induction Cooktops
Want to know how to cook faster, using less energy, with more control? Try cooking with magnetic induction, a process that bypasses heating the cooktop surface and goes right to heating the pot. Induction offers flexible, safe and energy-efficient cooking. Go from extremely low to extremely high settings and back again nearly instantly. The stovetop doesn't actually heat up or radiate heat from its surface because the heating elements under the ceramic-glass surface use electricity to produce a magnetic field that heats only the cooking container. Food heats much faster, which saves energy while pleasing hungry mobs. Induction cooking is about 90 percent energy efficient, while gas and electric are about 50 and 60 percent efficient, respectively.
- GPS for Land Development
Satellite-controlled software simplifies site grading, therefore dramatically reducing labor and material costs. The software assists excavation machines to more efficiently and accurately cut and fill grade while also reducing the potential for soil erosion. It eliminates the need for grade stakes, while letting the operator know exactly where the machine is, and its relation to the final grade.
- Permeable Pavers & Pavement
Rainwater seeps through these pavement systems and filters naturally through soil on its way to groundwater aquifers and surface waters. That means less unfiltered, nitrate-laden stormwater running off paved surfaces into drainage gutters. And since engineered curb and gutter storm drainage systems are costly to design and build, permeable pavement systems can mean lower construction costs for developers or municipalities.
These technology tips come from PATH, a Public-private Partnership for Advancing Housing technology. Follow this link to find more detailed information on these and other technologies for efficient building solutions: www.pathnet.org
Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions