Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Learn about LEED Regional Priority Credits

One of the changes in the new LEEDv3 system is the addition of Regional Priority Credits (RPCs). RPCs are already-existing LEED credits that are selected as most environmentally important to a specific zip code. One additional point can be earned for meeting a RPC (in addition to its regular points), for up to four points out of the six possible per location. Search the Minnesota Regional Priority Credits by zip code here.

Still curious about RPCs in Minnesota? The Mississippi Headwaters Chapter of the USGBC is hosting a seminar to explain LEED's new regionalization points and criteria. It will cover Minnesota's regionalized points and their specific focus on environmental and habitation zones. The event will be held at Center for Changing Lives, 2400 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404, July 21st from 11:30am-1:00pm as the USGBC's local quarterly chapter update.

Registration closes soon - register for this event here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Zero Energy Homes on Display in Minnesota

In Sweden, there was a lot of talk about zero-energy (and even energy-producing!) homes. But you don't have to travel overseas to learn what exactly a zero energy house looks like - in August and September two eco-friendly homes will be viewable right here in Minnesota.
2008 Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair, photo by Charles Bevier
One of the homes will be featured in the Progress Center at the fourth annual Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair August 27-September 7, 2009. The Eco Experience is put on by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and focuses on holistic sustainable living. The Eco Home is currently under construction and has a goal of being carbon-neutral. Some of the features include solar panels, stormwater management, geothermal heating and cooling, electric appliances, and a carport instead of a garage. Although the home will be 4-bedrooms and 2,200 sq.ft. and have a bigger footprint than previous years, it is being designed to be net-zero energy based on "typical" living practices and should fit on a typical 50' city lot. Besides the Eco Home, the Eco Experience will also display other green products and services, showcase the U of M's solar car that recently won a 850 mile race, and offer local healthy food options such as caprese salad on a stick!

Winner of 2007 Solar Decathlon, Technische Universit├Ąt Darmstadt

The Solar Decathlon ICON House will be on display in August. The ICON house is being designed, engineered, and constructed by the University of Minnesota's Solar Decathlon Team to be Zero Energy and completely powered by the sun. It is currently under construction at the ReUse Center and was designed with architectural features that blend easily into a residential neighborhood. It is being designed using a whole systems design approach, life-cycle focused sustainability, and with the Minnesota climate in mind - see some of the solar components and design aspects here. In October, the ICON house will compete against 19 other Decathlon Teams in Washington, DC for the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar house. Images and plans of the house will be on display at the University of Minnesota's Exhibit at the State Fair on Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood street August 30th and 31st. The house will be on display at the East Bank of the University of Minnesota in August and near the Equine Center on the Saint Paul campus during the State Fair. Buses to the Equine Center and the Eco Experience are currently being arranged. Stay tuned for further updates!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Green Treated Lumber

I recently received an inquiry involving a viewer's concern over a home improvement show that built a children's play area/retaining wall using green treated lumber. The question was "what potential health hazards are there in using green treated lumber?"

While I am not an expert on this by any means, I found these links very helpful (provided to me by colleague Dr. Jim Bowyer). I hope they help.

What's In That Pressure Treated Wood?

CCA-Treated Wood for Residential Use

Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA): Questions & Answers: What You Need to Know About Wood Pressure Treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA)