Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Built Energy Forum 2009

Build Green Maine hosted and organized the Built Energy Forum on Monday the 26th at the Augusta Civic Center. Nearly 200 people in construction, architecture, building science, energy auditing, and real estate joined together to discuss next steps in residential and commercial building energy efficiency and how to lessen Maine's carbon output. Maine releases the most carbon of any state; 17 metric tons of CO2 per person.

Joe Lstiburek from Building Science Corporation was the esteemed keynote speaker. He is one of the leading engineers and building science professionals in the country. His main contention is that building efficiency is the key to energy security and climate change. He also believes that the battle must begin with success in residential buildings. Success in residential energy efficiency can then be used to promote commercial building efficiency. His humor about commercial buildings was laced with deep concern. We build buildings with way too much glass and steel making them leaky and incredibly inefficient. Even buildings labeled has efficient generally are not. Mr. Lstiburek says that the key to green is energy conservation and alternative energy development.

Dr. Habib Dagher from the Advanced Engineering and Wood Composites Center at UMAINE Orono talked about how Maine can develop alternative resources. He advocates that offshore wind power is the only long-term solution to develop enough clean energy for the electricity generation we need to run hybrid vehicles, our buildings, and our transportation sector. Dr. Dagher also said we must invest in mid-term solutions like geothermal heat pumps and cold air heat pumps to make buildings more efficient and sustainable.

At the end of the long, successful day, DECD Commissioner John Richardson offered six important steps that need to happen:
1. Development of a coordinated alternative energy plan
2. The need for public outreach and education...He believes this is where the state gov't can provide the most help in public relations and education
3. Development of a sustainable credit and rebate program for Maine consumers
4. A strong and effective building and energy efficiency code
5. A strong professional association to maintain the standards of work in the field
6. The need for research and development to happen and stay in Maine

Four major next step themes were agreed upon by the attendees and the communication will continue with all in attendance:
1. Education for workforce development was the #1 need
2. Financing for all income levels through the development of an Energy Efficiency Utility
3. Development of strong regulations in building code and energy efficiency
4. Standards for work quality in the industry

This was a very exciting day and I am very hopeful that Maine will be successful in developing a strong industry sector around energy efficiency and alternative energy resources. Another link to check out is the Carbon Market Project through Maine Housing where they are developing a methodology to compute avoided carbon emissions from energy efficiency projects. This program then will sell the avoided carbon emissions to create a revenue source to expand energy efficiency in housing.

1 comment:

Robert Smith said...

Looks like a great conference with a sound agenda looking forward. My house, built in 2000, has six inch walls to allow for more insulation. I've heard of some new construction actually going to eight inch walls.

My own energy efficiency projects completed this season include:
- Finished insulating the garage, made the bonus above warmer;
- Installed insulating curtains over already energy efficient windows making those affected rooms cozier;
- and my favorite - installed a geothermal HVAC system eliminating the need for 800 gallons of fuel oil annually.

Bottom line though - this is the manufacturing sector of our immediate future. I hope we make it so.