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Building Energy 11

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As you know, I've shifted my focus from the part of sustainability that many think of as green to the part that addresses obesity and food addiction. But I still have great fondness and concern for those topics.

When I was actively pursuing them, I found no greater source, or concentration of information, than at the annual Building Energy show put on by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association.

Forging the philosophical and the practical

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It is emblematic of a larger condition that I've not reported before now on one of the most thought-provoking and valuable presentations from Building Energy '09, the annual conference of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association held earlier this month in Boston — the keynote by Marc Rosenbaum.

Rosenbaum's comments were literate and far-reaching, on one of this century's most vital issues — how do we maintain life as we know it as traditional fuels decline and the climate changes?

But I chose instead to focus first on the contentious LEED public forum of the night, and the release of recommendations by the state's Zero Net Energy Task Force just before he spoke. There's some argument to be made for the latter — actual news — but I judged both to be shinier that Rosenbaum's topic, deep-energy retrofitting.

I have my reasons, but still, you could say my actions reflect the general outlook: people are more attracted to the glitz and gadgets around energy issues than they are to the real best solutions — conservation and efficiency. I'm totally sold on them, without reservation, and still, I'm getting to that portion of the conference three weeks later. 

LEED controversy, the sequel

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When you write for a big newspaper, you get fact-checked by your readers if something slips through the lines of defense that editors represent. That sometimes happens on a blog, too, but since I haven't yet reached the hundreds-of-thousands-of-readers-per-day stratum, I also try to send my posts to the people most described or affected, so they can point out my errors, should there be any.

I sent last week's report on NESEA's public forum to Henry Gifford and Brendan Owens, who each, very nicely, pointed out facets of the report they thought could be better.

ZNEB: You heard it here first

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The topic is worth more than I can devote right now, but the governor's Zero Net Energy Task Force reports its recommendations this morning, one year to the day since Gov. Patrick announced his intention to form the group at last year's NESEA show.

I'm seated at the back of this year's show right now, as events get underway. I gather that it will be discussed at this plenary session this morning, but I got an embargoed copy of the report; here are the bare bones. The state should:


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No, the subject isn't cold drinks made with evaporated cane juice, organic yogurt, and shavings of ice from distilled water. EcoShakes are an artificial shingle made from wood chips and recycled PVC piping that were shown at GreenBuild.

I thought they looked awful.

Granted, I was seeing them at fairly close range under artificial light, and they might look a lot better espied from street level on a typical day in the suburbs. But in those conditions, they looked as fake as fake could be.

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