The past few articles addressed how the use of green building techniques such as renewable sources for energy, energy efficient appliances and energy saving building measures can improve your bottom line as well as help our world to be cleaner and healthier.
The focus of the articles was to foster a dialog beyond the standard global warming argument to show the economic benefits of available green technologies. Through examination we can demystify the technology, start a substantial move away from inefficient “traditional” building and create an environment that promotes safe, efficient and healthy living.
When considering the economic benefits of smart technologies one must include many factors, such as health cost, future economic stability, quality of life and costs of operation. Throughout the series I have indentified technologies that provide far greater energy efficiency, better quality of life and in some cases were less expensive to build than traditional methods. Savings over time plus health benefits and improved quality of life add greatly to the overall economic success of this new technology.
All of the building techniques referenced in the articles are readily available, reasonably priced and many can easily be adapted to existing buildings. For example, the transition from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs can lead to energy savings of some 75% of operating costs. The small increase in initial costs to purchase the bulbs will be paid back 10 times by the savings and extended service life of the new bulbs. The use of energy star appliances could save American households $100 billion in energy consumption. These are simple and easy changes will produce huge benefits and could eliminate the need for many coal fired power plants, which will lessen the amount of particulates in our air, and in turn lower health costs from respiratory disease.
Home winterization can bring a dramatic drop in energy consumption, provide a more comfortable place to live and lower utility costs. Winterization can be done to existing homes and buildings, is relatively cheap to do and has tremendous economic benefits through jobs and energy savings.
By using super insulated walls and high energy efficient windows in new buildings, eliminating energy inefficient fiberglass bats, will dramatically reduce the amount of energy needed to operate them. Better living and improved comfort are a bonus to the improved energy efficiency. As new buildings are built to a higher insulation standard inefficient, antiquated buildings will be phased out and sooner or later all buildings will provide greater energy efficiency. Of course, as the new buildings with these amenities become available, the older buildings without these amenities will lose competitiveness and will be need to upgrade to gain business. This has already happened with the technology boom, when buildings were wired for smart communications.
Another example of readily available technologies that can offer huge benefits to society is the natural energy from the sun, wind and earth. Through this initiative we must move away from the centralized power plant grid system, and move towards a community driven system. A community system is far more economical to build and operate and will return the control of power back to the people who use the power and away from the oligarchies and monopolies that control our power today. A decentralized system could be implemented immediately, without much infrastructure change and at a far lower cost than creating a new grid system.
The transition to better living through energy efficiency can and will come. All it takes is the will of the people and the demand from the market for the most efficient buildings and appliances. We can change our society by encouraging use of green technologies. One step towards this end is to change of our tax laws from giving tax breaks to oil and coal companies to giving these incentives to companies building with renewable energy sources. Our system rewards consumption and not savings, power companies make more money by selling more power. If we can change this model to reward power companies by selling less power because they and their customers have become more energy efficient then we will change the way we live our lives.
We must change our ways to become more energy efficient and smarter in the use of technology because our economy, lives and planet depend upon it.