Green Building

Central Library renews environment via green roof, including solar

Posted on May 18, 2011. Filed under: Energy independence, Green Building, Solar |

From an article by Bobby Tanzilo on

There are always exciting things going on in Milwaukee Public Library’s Downtown Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave. But, these days, there is also some excitement on the building’s roof, too.

When the library needed to replace its 25-year-old roof last year, instead of going for a conventional roof, a 30,000-square foot green roof was constructed and 132 solar electric panels were added to generate about 36,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That’s enough to power four homes annually.

“Everyone’s very enthused about it,” says the library’s public services manager Christine Arkenberg, on a recent visit that begins on the library’s first floor, where there is an area dedicated to the green roof initiative.

There, visitors can see books about green issues, view explanatory materials, see a monitor with status updates on how much electricity is being generated, watch a video screen slide show and pick up brochures.

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Energy efficient renewable homes: Cheaper to build, sell higher

Posted on October 28, 2008. Filed under: Green Building, Solar |

From a paper published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory:

The data support the conclusion that SheaHomes [the builder of the zero energy home] was able to deliver highly energy-efficient homes equipped with solar water heating systems, 39% of which also included a GPV [grid-tied photovoltaic] system at a competitive price. In fact, despite their quality and amenities, the SheaHomes cost less per square foot than their competitors’. . . .

The increase in value for the SheaHomes averaged $227,592. The highest resale price was $930,000 for a home with a 1.2 kW PV system owned for 23 months. The increase in SheaHomes resale prices were proportionally higher than were those of nearby 6 comparison homes resold in the same time period.

And from an article by Michael Copeland on

Home systems are still rare, so their value is difficult to assess, but home appraisers follow this general rule of thumb: Half the gross cost can be recouped in the home sales price as soon as it is installed. True, that’s well below the recovery rates for kitchens and bathrooms (which range from 70 to 90 percent), but your kitchen doesn’t pay the power bills.

And solar’s ability to lower energy costs also adds value. A study in Appraisal Journal found that for every utility-bill dollar saved annually because of an improvement, you gain $10 to $20 in property value. So if you can zero out a $1,000 annual electric tab by installing solar, you’ll get back $10,000 to $20,000 in home value.

And one more article by Adam Aston in Business Week:

The appeal of solar homes could grow as the economic outlook worsens. The more utility bills cut into household reserves, “the more consumers recognize the value of efficiency,” says Robert W. Hammon, principal of ConSol, a green building consulting firm. And there’s growing consumer awareness that solar homes appreciate faster than ordinary dwellings. They also resell for a premium of up to 5%.

According to Ben Hoen, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who studies the effects of eco-features on real estate values, more homeowners now see solar panels as a long-term asset . . . .

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Solar adds to state’s first green built apartments

Posted on October 9, 2008. Filed under: Green Building, Solar |

Rich Arnesen (right) discusses the solar installations on the roof of Park Central Apartments with a building resident.

From a story by Mike Ivey in The Capital Times:

Back when other developers were pursuing luxury condominiums for the affluent, Stone House Development Inc. was quietly going in a different direction.

Specializing in apartments for moderate-income renters, Stone House has completed a variety of projects statewide in recent years. Its biggest local ventures are the 111-unit Madison Mark on King Street and the 76-unit Park Central on East Wilson Street. . . .

[Stone House Vice President Rich Arnesen notes] that Park Central is the first certified “green built” apartment in Wisconsin. Stone House partnered with Madison Gas & Electric on a rooftop solar water heating system and on photovoltaic panels that send about $5,000 worth of electricity annually back into the grid.

MGE provided $68,000 in funding through its Neighborhood Revitalization Grant program.

“We typically award a grant to only one major multifamily project a year, and we want it to lead the market in its use of energy-efficient designs and products,” said Mark Faultersack, MGE residential services manager.

MGE had also participated with Stone House on the Madison Mark under a similar grant about three years ago.

In addition to using Energy Star-rated appliances and compact fluorescent bulbs, the Park Central development includes other energy enhancements such as insulation sheathing between the apartment floors and the unheated parking garage below.

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Five energy proposals for Wisconsin

Posted on August 20, 2008. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Green Building, Solar |

From a commentary by Don Wichert, director of renewable energy programs for Focus on Energy, in the Wisconsin State Journal:

High energy prices and potential supply disruptions can prompt creative thinking and new approaches in thousands of situations. Here are five energy proposals that could be started immediately.

The most imminent is to provide innovative and analytical support to rebuild flooded homes and communities with sustainable energy designs.

Wisconsin folks have done this before in Soldiers Grove in 1978. This community effort can be replicated and improved upon using 30 years of sustainable development practices.

The second proposal is to retool the General Motors plant in Janesville to make the new GM Plug-In Hybrid Electric “Volt” or some similar next generation vehicle.

The changing of the car guard from big to efficient is a perfect transitional energy fit and an entire trained workforce and significant manufacturing infrastructure awaits in Janesville.

The Volt is due to be produced in 2010 for the 2011 model year, about the same time Janesville’s SUV line will close.

Proposal three is to get the Wisconsin printing industry, led by companies like Quad Graphics, Serigraph and others, to start printing solar electric “paint” on building materials, like roofing, siding and windows.

A company called NanoSolar in the Silicon Valley has shown that this process can be done at drastically reduced cost. And that’s when the printing techniques were developed from scratch.

This is a fantastic opportunity for our mature printing industry to follow suit.

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Doyle recognizes excellence of Mead Wildlife Center

Posted on December 5, 2007. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Geothermal, Green Building, Solar, Wind |

From an article by Carlos Gieseken in the Marshfield News-Herald:

To architect Tom Brown, [a long-time RENEW member], Mead Wildlife Center near Milladore is more than the latest and greatest in a long line of buildings designed during a 30-year career spent exploring “green” building technologies.

“It’s my baby,” Brown said.

“It relies on the way it’s built for its performance,” he said, with its east-to-west layout, maximizing the exposure to the sun while framing views of the 30,000 acre wildlife area.

“When the sun shines, the building smiles,” he said.

The Philadelphia native who moved to Stevens Point in 1977 was smiling when Gov. Jim Doyle presented the 2006 Excellence in Sustainable Design and Construction Award, given for sustainable design of a state project.

“It’s probably the greenest building the state owns right now,” Brown said. “Hopefully there will be more like it.”

The building uses wind, solar and geothermal energy, along with a small supply of electricity. The lobby’s biomass wood stove is lit once a day but radiates heat for up to 24 hours.

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Making and saving energy at the zoo

Posted on November 11, 2007. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Green Building, Solar |

From a story by Jennifer Page in The Isthmus:

For the past few years, Dane County has been working to make its buildings more energy-efficient, hoping to save taxpayers thousands of dollars in heating and cooling costs and reduce environmental impact. One main focus of these efforts has been the Henry Vilas Zoo.

“The county is doing a lot right now with conservation and eco-friendly building,” says county Supv. Chuck Erickson, a member of the zoo commission. “The zoo has seen a lot of this focus.”

. . . The zoo has long looked for ways to improve energy efficiency. For several years, there has been a solar panel array in the flamingo yard. The energy it generates — about one-quarter of what’s needed to power the average home — is sold back to Madison Gas & Electric.

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Step It Up 2007 rallies November 3

Posted on October 25, 2007. Filed under: Coal, Energy Efficiency, Global Warming, Green Building |

Step it Up 2007 to curb global warming events across the country – scheduled exactly one year before the 2008 national election – will demonstrate the contrast between the intense concern of ordinary Americans and the leadership vacuum on this issue in Washington. A similar event last April produced more than 1,400 rallies in all 50 states, making it the largest global warming event in United States history.

There will be a rally at Lapham Peak State Park from 1 to 3 pm that day, with music, local and regional speakers from the scientific, activist, and religious communities, including Dr. George Stone of MATC and Ed Garvey, frequent talk radio guest and founder of “Fighting Bob Fest”, and a petition to our President, Senators and Rep. Sensenbrenner asking them to “step it up” and show real leadership, including these key priorities: (1) 5 million green jobs conserving 20% of our energy by 2015 (2) freeze climate pollution levels now and cut at least 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, and (3) a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants. The rally will be at the Summer Stage, which is a 1/4 mile walk from the main parking lot. The Summer Stage amphitheater has no permanent seating, so plan to stand, sit on the grass, or bring folding chairs. You will need a State Park sticker to enter the park. Car-pooling and bicycling to the event is encouraged.

There are other rallies in Wisconsin as well as the one in Delafield. See the Web site for details on the Delafield and other rallies.

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Interview with Nancy & Steve Sandstrom: Ecotourism hosts and promoters

Posted on October 11, 2007. Filed under: Green Building, Solar |

From RENEW’s quarterly newsletter, which is produced in part with funding from Focus on Energy:

Nancy and Steve Sandstrom slid into chairs around a table at Madison’s Monona Terrace just after finishing a presentation on ecolodge design and planning at the North American conference of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES).

It’s no wonder that TIES wanted them to tell about the Pinehurst Inn, the bed and breakfast that they own and manage just south of Bayfield along Lake Superior. The Pinehurst Inn’s impressive list of credentials includes:

• 320 square feet of solar collectors to heat domestic hot water in the new Garden House;
• Plans to retrofit the original inn with similar solar panels;
• Energy efficient materials throughout both buildings;
• Non-toxic cleaning products and recycled materials wherever appropriate;
• Organic cotton linens and towels;
• Organic and locally grown food as much as possible;
• ENERGY STAR® appliances, lighting and other technology;
• Landscaping with both historic and native plantings; composting of all food and garden waste;
• No pesticides or herbicides or commercial fertilizers used on the lawns or gardens;
• Personal vehicles that run on biodiesel and veggie oil.

When Nancy and Steve both found themselves in stressful jobs, feeling like “square pegs in round holes” in Milwaukee, they began researching the possibility of purchasing a bed and breakfast.

The owner of another Bayfield inn knew that they were looking and called them when the Pinehurst Inn went on the market. They snatched it up in January of 1996, as much to rescue a fine old house as to open an inn.

Nancy and one family dog moved into the Pinehurst shortly afterward, but Steve stayed in his job and made a long commute from the Milwaukee area for another two years.

Nancy manages Pinehurst Inn full-time, and Steve helps as much as he can when he’s not teaching classes at Northland College or on-line courses for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Q. What brought you to Bayfield and the Pinehurst Inn?

Steve: We both knew that we weren’t living the lifestyle we wanted. We had always been close to nature, and we were in the wrong place.

Nancy: We’d reached the age of being empty nesters, and we began researching the bed and breakfast options as a way out of suburbia. We wanted to be in Bayfield where we have family.


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Green Bay utility seeks to go green

Posted on October 8, 2007. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Green Building |

From an article by Joe Grundle in The Daily Reporter:

Green Bay-based electric utility Wisconsin Public Service Corp. promotes energy efficiency to its customers, but its own branch in Rhinelander does not provide a good model.

For that reason and others, WPS hopes to build a 76,000-square-foot green building on the city’s northeast side to replace its two existing buildings: a customer service center and a separate operations center crosstown.

Boilers heat the current centers, and Leah Van Zile, community relations leader for WPS, said it can get really hot and cold.

“Sometimes the A/C is on when it’s not supposed to be, or the heat kicks in when it’s already hot outside,” she said. “We will be looking at a system that automatically regulates office temperature.”

WPS intends to use the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design techniques to guide its development, including sustainable site development, water savings through efficient toilets, energy efficiency, building-materials selection and indoor-air quality

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Kettle Foods opens green plant In Beloit

Posted on September 21, 2007. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Green Building, Wind |

From a story on Channel3000:

BELOIT, Wis. — Kettle Foods held a grand opening for its manufacturing facility in Beloit Wednesday.

Gov. Jim Doyle was on hand to cut the ribbon at the new 73,000-square-foot facility, which created nearly 100 jobs in Beloit. The manufacturing plant will produce 2.5 million bags of all-natural potato chips, which are sold across the country. . . .

In 2006, Doyle provided Kettle Foods with $500,000 in state money to lure the construction project.

In addition to new jobs, Kettle Foods brings new standards for environmentally friendly manufacturing. Kettle Foods’ new facility in Beloit is the first manufacturing plant to be awarded gold certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“We think it’s a big deal. We think we’ve done the right thing to build as sustainably as possible,” said Jim Green, ambassador for Kettle Foods.

The facility uses 18 small wind turbines located on the roof of the building. Combined, and at full capacity, the turbines can create 18 kilowatts of electricity, which is enough power to make 56,000 bags of chips each year, WISC-TV reported.

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