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August 2009 - [Sustainable Concepts] Cool Roofs and Hybrid A/C Wins Cooling Challenge
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Sustainable Concepts )
Design Forward Newsletter August 2009, vol. 77
in this issue
  • Coolerado Hybrid A/C Wins Cooling Challenge Using 60 Percent Less Energy
  • Clock Running Down on First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit
  • White Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters
  • Feedback
  •         

    Greetings!

    Welcome to the August 2009 newsletter from Design Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.

    Quote of the Month: "The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river."
    -Ross Perot


    Lisa A. Swan

    Coolerado Hybrid A/C Wins Cooling Challenge Using 60 Percent Less Energy

    • Coolerado unit beat 2010 DOE efficiency standard by 60 percent
    • Cooling capacity increases as outside temperature increase
    • wo-year payback possible through energy savings, utility rebates and tax incentives

    University of California, Davis issued a challenge to manufacturers to build more efficient air conditioners for the Western U.S. The objective was to exceed the 2010 U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards by an aggressive 40 percent. Coolerado Corporation, the first certified winner of the UC Davis Western Cooling Challenge, entered the program with its new hybrid commercial rooftop unit - a system using its proprietary indirect evaporative technology in concert with a traditional compressor and refrigerant system. DOE laboratory testing indicates that Coolerado's new system, the Coolerado H80, beat the 2010 standards by 60 percent at peak demand and will use 80 percent less energy overall.

    Testing revealed that the new H80 also has the Coolerado signature; cooling capacity increases as outside temperature increases - not typical of other systems. Eric Kozubal, senior mechanical engineer at the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory, conducted the testing and said, "In western climates, the Coolerado H80 provides cooling and ventilation for buildings at efficiency far above standard equipment available today. Laboratory testing shows that the H80 provides consistent cooling performance even when temperatures rise above 95 degrees."

    "The UC Davis challenge also targeted water conservation, limiting water use for technologies that use evaporation as part of the cooling process," said Mark Modera, director of the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center. "The water allowance in the challenge was set such that water used at the air conditioner should be mitigated by the savings in water required to produce less power. DOE/NREL determined that the water use for the Coolerado H80 is less than the objective set by UC Davis and is about the same amount of water that will be used to generate electricity for a traditional air conditioner meeting the new DOE 2010 standard."

    The H80 is the first system Coolerado is offering that includes dehumidification, recirculation and an option for heating. The H80 delivers over five tons of air conditioning at 105 degrees Fahrenheit, which is equivalent to larger traditional systems that lose capacity as outside temperatures climb. In some extreme operating conditions and climates, the Coolerado H80 will deliver as much cooling as an eight-ton conventional system and will have an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) over 20.

    Coolerado began taking H80 orders in August for delivery late this year and is currently building several units which will be delivered to Australia for installation during its cooling season (December). Customers may expect to realize a two-year payback on the price of the H80 through energy savings, utility rebates and tax incentives.

    The unit that was initially tested at the DOE lab in Golden, Colorado is operational on a building at a college in Sacramento, California. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) will be monitoring the energy savings of the unit during the next several years.

    Article & Picture coolerado.com
    Comment on "Coolerado Hybrid A/C Wins Cooling Challenge Using 60 Percent Less Energy" on Lisa's Blog

    Clock Running Down on First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

    According to a news report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the clock running down on the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers and less than four months to go, builders are urging qualified prospective buyers to start the sales process long before the Nov. 30 deadline.

    Faulty appraisals that have been using foreclosed properties as comparables for new homes have been slowing down the sales process in many instances, builders warn, creating hiccups in the financing stage that can often push the closing date much later than originally expected.

    First-time buyers should also anticipate tighter lending standards that generally don't allow 100% financing, making buyers responsible for coming up with enough money prior to their purchase to meet required downpayment and closing costs.

    For these two reasons alone, young families considering becoming home owners should be advised to start the process long before they put a bid on a new home. As part of that effort, builders can provide key educational information on the home buying process - including financing and closing - that their customers need to ensure that they occupy their new home in time to claim the tax credit.

    Assistance on Upfront Costs Available in 16 States

    For home buyers who need assistance with downpayment and closing costs, some state housing finance agencies are able to provide a short-term loan based on the home buyer's qualification for the federal tax credit.

    Sixteen state housing finance agencies - in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia - are participating in loan programs to help facilitate home sales for first-time home buyers in their area.

    Each state is different and qualifications and restrictions vary among the programs.

    Home buyers should be warned, however, that there are organizations or individuals who are providing this service who are not legally permitted to do so. If the organization is a unit of state government, such as a state housing finance agency, it is safe to say that it is reputable. Otherwise, a home buyer should check with their local Better Business Bureau or through a state or local government's department of consumer affairs to ensure that the program they are working with is legitimate.

    Remind Buyers of Requirements, Special Circumstances

    Although the tax credit has three requirements listed for home buyers to qualify - status as a first-time home buyer, timeframe in which the home must be purchased and income limits - it is sometimes not that simple. Specific situations - such as those involving the sale of a home between related individuals or prior ownership of a mobile home as a primary residence - may result in a buyer's disqualification from claiming the credit.

    In a statement released last week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warned taxpayers to beware of first-time home buyer tax credit fraud. Home buyers who may be unsure of their status on claiming the tax credit should seek professional advice from a certified public accountant or an enrolled agent licensed by the federal government.

    Home buyers who may need additional information can find answers to frequently asked questions about the tax credit at www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com.

    Article and Picture nbnnews.com
    Comment on "Clock Running Down on First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit" on Lisa's Blog.

    White Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters

    SAN FRANCISCO - Returning to their ranch-style house in Sacramento after a long summer workday, Jon and Kim Waldrep were routinely met by a wall of heat.

    "We'd come home in the summer, and the house would be 115 degrees, stifling," said Mr. Waldrep, a regional manager for a national company.

    He or his wife would race to the thermostat and turn on the air-conditioning as their four small children, just picked up from day care, awaited relief.

    All that changed last month. "Now we come home on days when it's over 100 degrees outside, and the house is at 80 degrees," Mr. Waldrep said.

    Their solution was a new roof: a shiny plasticized white covering that experts say is not only an energy saver but also a way to help cool the planet.

    Relying on the centuries-old principle that white objects absorb less heat than dark ones, homeowners like the Waldreps are in the vanguard of a movement embracing "cool roofs" as one of the most affordable weapons against climate change.

    Studies show that white roofs reduce air-conditioning costs by 20 percent or more in hot, sunny weather. Lower energy consumption also means fewer of the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

    What is more, a white roof can cost as little as 15 percent more than its dark counterpart, depending on the materials used, while slashing electricity bills.

    Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics, has proselytized for cool roofs at home and abroad. "Make it white," he advised a television audience on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" last week.

    The scientist Mr. Chu calls his hero, Art Rosenfeld, a member of the California Energy Commission who has been campaigning for cool roofs since the 1980s, argues that turning all of the world's roofs "light" over the next 20 years could save the equivalent of 24 billion metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions.

    "That is what the whole world emitted last year," Mr. Rosenfeld said. "So, in a sense, it's like turning off the world for a year."

    This month the Waldreps' three-bedroom house is consuming 10 percent less electricity than it did a year ago. (The savings would be greater if the family ran its central air during the workday.)

    From Dubai to New Delhi to Osaka, Japan, reflective roofs have been embraced by local officials seeking to rein in energy costs. In the United States, they have been standard equipment for a decade at new Wal-Mart stores. More than 75 percent of the chain's 4,268 outlets in the United States have them.

    California, Florida and Georgia have adopted building codes that encourage white-roof installations for commercial buildings.

    Drawing on federal stimulus dollars earmarked for energy-efficiency projects, state energy offices and local utilities often offer financing for cool roofs. The roofs can qualify for tax credits if the roofing materials pass muster with the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program.

    Still, the ardor of the cool-roof advocates has prompted a bit of a backlash.

    Some roofing specialists and architects argue that supporters fail to account for climate differences or the complexities of roof construction. In cooler climates, they say, reflective roofs can mean higher heating bills.

    Scientists acknowledge that the extra heating costs may outweigh the air-conditioning savings in cities like Detroit or Minneapolis.

    But for most types of construction, they say, light roofs yield significant net benefits as far north as New York or Chicago. Although those cities have cold winters, they are heat islands in the summer, with hundreds of thousands of square feet of roof surface absorbing energy.

    The physics behind cool roofs is simple. Solar energy delivers both light and heat, and the heat from sunlight is readily absorbed by dark colors. (An asphalt roof in New York can rise to 180 degrees on a hot summer day.) Lighter colors, however, reflect back a sizable fraction of the radiation, helping to keep a building - and, more broadly, the city and Earth - cooler. They also re-emit some of the heat they absorb.

    Unlike high-technology solutions to reducing energy use, like light-emitting diodes in lamp fixtures, white roofs have a long and humble history. Houses in hot climates have been whitewashed for centuries.

    Before the advent of central air-conditioning in the mid-20th-century, white- and cream-colored houses with reflective tin roofs were the norm in South Florida, for example. Then central air-conditioning arrived, along with dark roofs whose basic ingredients were often asphalt, tar and bitumen, or asphalt-based shingles. These materials absorb as much as 90 percent of the sun's heat energy - often useful in New England, but less so in Texas. By contrast, a white roof can absorb as little as 10 percent or 15 percent.

    "Relative newcomers to the West and South brought a lot of habits and products from the Northeast," said Joe Reilly, the president of American Rooftile Coatings, a supplier. "What you see happening now is common sense."

    Around the country, roof makers are racing to develop products in the hope of profiting as the movement spreads from the flat roofs of the country's malls to the sloped roofs of its suburbs.

    Years of detailed work by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory have provided the roof makers with a rainbow of colors - the equivalent of a table of the elements - showing the amount of light that each hue reflects and the amount of heat it re-emits.

    White is not always a buyer's first choice of color. So suppliers like American Rooftile Coatings have used federal color charts to create "cool" but traditional colors, like cream, sienna and gray, that yield savings, though less than dazzling white roofs do.

    In an experiment, the National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., had two kinds of terra-cotta-colored cement tiles from American Rooftile installed on four new homes at the Fort Irwin Army base in California. One kind was covered with a special paint and reflected 45 percent of the sun's rays - nearly twice as much as the other kind. The two homes with roofs of highly reflective paint used 35 percent less electricity last summer than the two with less reflective paint.

    Still, William Miller of the Oak Ridge laboratory, who organized the experiment, says he distrusts the margin of difference; he wants to figure out whether some of it resulted from different family habits.

    Hashem Akbari, Dr. Rosenfeld's colleague at the Lawrence Berkeley laboratory, says he is unsure how long it will take cool roofs to truly catch on. But he points out that most roofs, whether tile or asphalt-shingle, have a life span of 20 to 25 years.

    If the roughly 5 percent of all roofs that are replaced each year were given cool colors, he said, the country's transformation would be complete in two decades.

    Article Felicity Barringer, New York Times
    Comment on "White Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters" on Lisa's Blog.

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