We exist to provide, promote, and advocate energy conservation.

AECP GREEN LIVING AND ENERGY EXPO IS HUGE SUCCESS

AECP concluded its fifth annual Green Living and Energy Expo on December 4, 2004 at the Roanoke Civic Center . The two- day event enjoyed record attendance, a steady flow of interested and diverse people, and the largest number of exhibits that we have ever had. Senior citizens from RSVP and AARP were in attendance as well as public school classes, home schoolers, and Brownie and Girl Scout troops from all over the Roanoke Valley . Close to 1,000 people walked through the doors to enjoy the many interactive and informative demonstrations and exhibits.

The Expo also involved standing room only sessions on green building, wind energy in Virginia , the Virginia Tech Solar Decathlon House, and a history of renewable energy. HUD conducted a class for realtors on energy efficient mortgages and attendees were also able to enjoy the House of Pressure with Anthony Cox. There were several alternative fueled vehicles on display including a Honda Civic hybrid, a Toyota Prius hybrid, an all electric GEO Tracker, and a hydrogen powered hybrid electric Ford Explorer.

Thanks to all AECP members who exhibited, attended, and who helped to plan, set-up, and implement this successful event. Your efforts are greatly appreciated and most importantly you have contributed to an endeavor that will better educate people about the need to live in a more sustainable society.

EPA WARNS 22 STATES ABOUT AIR SOOT CONTENT

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned 22 states that air quality in many of their counties is unhealthy because of tons of microscopic soot from power plants, diesel burning trucks, cars, and factories. This fine particulate matter is responsible for thousands of pre-mature deaths in America and is directly related to the dramatic rise in asthma related illness.

In 1997 the EPA issued new air quality standards for fine particulate matter only to have it challenged by industry. The legal fight went to the Supreme Court and eventually the EPA prevailed. But the agency has yet to implement the tougher standard. Experts in environmental enforcement, prominent environmental groups, and several members of Congress have charged that the EPA – under the current administration – is lax in enforcement of emission standards and is going easy on polluters.

SHORT EXPLANATION OF OIL PROBLEM

Fred Gross, Weatherization Coordinator with People, Inc. sent in the following explanation of our current oil problem:
A lot of folks can’t understand how we came to have an oil shortage in America. Well, there’s a very simple answer…..Nobody bothered to check the oil. We just didn’t know that we were getting low. The reason for that is purely geographical. All our oil is in Alaska, Texas, California, and Oklahoma. All our dipsticks are in Washington, DC.

AECP CLOSE TO WIND FUNDS GOAL

AECP in partnership with the Jacksonville Center has almost reached its fundraising goals towards purchasing a wind generation system. AECP received a partial grant from the Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative to purchase a small wind system that will be installed at the AECP office in Floyd, VA. The wind system will generate electricity as well as serving as a teaching tool for people interested in small residential wind generation systems. The total cost including installation for the 1Kw system is about $7,000. AECP is about $600 short of the amount needed to match the 33% partial grant allocation.

AVERAGE SIZE OF NEW HOME INCREASES

According to the National Home Builders Association the average size of the American home has increased from 1500 square feet in 1970 to 2300 square feet in 2003. This increase in size also means an increase in electricity demand because these larger homes are also equipped with more appliances, more hot water use, and more energy using electronics and other amenities. Even though homes are more energy efficient – the increase in electricity use has increased the demand and is causing prices to rise nationwide. In just five years the estimated average home budget for energy has increased from $6,000 annually to $9,000. This increased demand due to larger and more luxuriously layered housing is causing prices to rise for everyone, even those less fortunate whose homes are far from luxurious and who struggle to pay their monthly utility bills.

ENERGY TIP

Check out www.sbrd.org for info on green products and services.

OCTOBER 30 IS WEATHERIZATION DAY

The U.S. Department of Energy has declared October 30 as National Weatherization Day in honor and recognition of the achievements and contributions of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). WAP is the oldest, largest, most comprehensive, and most effective residential energy efficiency program in America. The program is comprised of a national energy efficiency workforce that operates in every town, city, county, and state in the country. The mission of the program is to reduce energy costs for low-income Americans by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring their health and safety. Over 100,000 homes were weatherized nationally and in Virginia over 2,000 homes were provided services last year. These services include heating system safety and efficiency testing, repair, and/or replacement, blower-door directed air sealing, advanced insulation applications, duct system diagnostics and repair, pressure balancing, carbon monoxide testing, moisture control, base load electric measures, water conservation, lighting efficiency, and energy education.

It is well known and documented that WAP is an energy saving program and a health and safety program but it is also a green building and an environmental program as well. The technology that WAP has pioneered and used in its program over the years is the same technology that is driving the green building movement in America. Blower door directed air-sealing, pressure balancing, duct diagnostics, insulation techniques, and indoor air quality measures are WAP technologies that are defining criteria for Energy Star homes, Earth Craft homes, LEED Standards for residential green building certification and paving the way for energy efficient building around the country.

Every weatherized home – on average – reduces carbon dioxide emissions by one metric ton. This means that there is a consistent and daily reduction in the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming. It also means there is a consistent and daily reduction in air pollution and fine particulate matter that is the result of the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. This reduction is responsible for saving thousands of lives annually, making our air cleaner to breathe, and protecting our environment and climate for generations to come.

Celebrating Weatherization Day is actually a celebration of responsible stewardship and effective management of the planet we all live on. The program benefits everyone – not just the families who are receiving weatherization services.

AECP’S ENERGY EXPO IS ON SCHEDULE

Mark your calendars and spread the word – AECP’s fifth annual Green Living and Energy Expo will be coming to the Roanoke Civic Center on December 3 and 4, 2004. As in the past this event promises to be an exciting educational opportunity that will inspire, inform and enable the public about important issues that will allow people to make better decisions and smarter choices. All of which will help folks save money, save energy, save on our natural resources, and save the environment.

THE THREATENED RAIN FOREST

  • Rain forests, which occupy just 2% of the Earth’s surface, are home to more than 50% of its plant and animal species.
  • Of the 8 million square miles of original rain forest, only 3.4 million square miles remain.
  • Each minute, an area of tropical forest the size of 18 city blocks is burned or bulldozed.
  • Many birds that migrate to the U.S. require winter habitat in Latin America rain forests.
  • Rain forests plants are important sources of beneficial drugs.
  • Trees provide oxygen and help minimize the emission of carbon dioxide by absorbing this gas as a food source.

RUSSIA VALIDATES KYOTO PROTOCOL

Russia has signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, which means that the greenhouse gas emission caps are now binding because the Protocol required either the U.S. or Russia to be a partner in order to satisfy the charter’s requirement that 55% of global greenhouse emissions be represented. The U.S. has refused to sign the Treaty even though they are responsible for over 36% of global emissions of carbon dioxide. This signifies a huge success for the international fight against climate change.

ENERGY TIP

Consider having a professional energy audit done on your home to determine cost-effective ways to improve the energy performance of your home. It is money well invested!

PECO PROVIDES SOLAR GRANT FOR LOW-INCOME HOUSING

PECO Energy, a Philadelphia based electric and natural gas utility, has provided the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) with $232,100 for installation of photovoltaic solar energy systems in 22 low-income homes. This is part of a $500,000 PECO commitment to support solar power installation in low-income housing in Philadelphia. The grant is made available through PECO’s Universal Services program, which provides usage reduction and utility financial assistance to more than 125,000 low-income households throughout the company’s service area.

The PHA estimates that residents using the solar systems will save from $400 to $500 yearly in energy costs, or as much as 25 percent of their energy costs each year. Six 185-watt solar panels will be mounted on each roof and connected to the home’s electrical system. Each installation is expected to produce 1,630 kilowatt-hours of usable electricity in a year.

AECP ASSISTS IN CONSTRUCTION OF ENERGY STAR CERTIFIED HOME

AECP is assisting The Jacksonville Center (TJC) in Floyd, VA design and construct an Energy Star certified residence that will house students and families that are participating in TJC’s Craft School. TJC is a small business incubator that promotes economic development in the region through art, culture, local history, and sustainability. The Craft School will provide opportunities to students and young people to learn arts and crafts that are taught by skilled artisans that are in residence at TJC. The AECP office is located at TJC where there are plans to build a Sustainable Living Education Center.

An Energy Star certified home is independently verified to be at least 30% more energy efficient than homes built to the 1993 national Model Energy Code or 15% more efficient than state energy code, whichever is more rigorous. These savings are based on heating, cooling, and hot water energy use and are normally achieved through a combination of:

  • Building envelope upgrades (maximum insulation)
  • High performance windows
  • Controlled air infiltration
  • Energy efficient HVAC systems
  • Tight duct systems
  • Energy efficient water heating equipment
  • Energy efficient lighting and appliances
  • Features designed to improve indoor air quality

To find out more about Energy Star homes – check out www.energystar.gov

GREEN POWER CHOICE IS AVAILABLE IN VIRGINIA

Pepco Energy Services, a utility serving Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, DC and Pennsylvania is offering green power – electricity that is produced through renewable energy sources – to customers in Virginia. This is possible because the restructuring of the electric utility industry is allowing consumers to choose the provider of their electricity.

Pepco is offering 100% pollution free electricity that is generated by wind farms located in the Mid-Atlantic region and under contract to Pepco Energy Services. They are also providing electricity generated by solar panels, biomass fuels and hydroelectric plants. The generation of green electricity produces almost none of the emissions commonly referred to as “greenhouse gases” that contribute to global warming, smog, acid rain, and can result in damage to our environment. So for just a few pennies more per Kilowatt-Hour, you can:

  • Help improve the quality of our air and water
  • Reduce environmental impact
  • Protect wildlife and their natural habitats
  • Reduce our dependence on foreign fuels
  • Support the development of more efficient and affordable renewable resources

Check out www.pepcoenergy.com or call 1-800-ENERGY-9 and find out if green power is an option in your service area.

ENERGY TIP

Stay cool naturally by reducing heat gain in your home. Reflect sunlight away from the home by increased outdoor shading, eliminate heat- generating sources in the home, and removing built-up heat.

AECP MEMBERS WIN WEATHERIZATION AWARDS

Several AECP members won Weatherization awards at the Virginia Weatherization Program Interchange held during the week of June 21 at Virginia Beach.

Community Energy Conservation Program (CECP), located in Charlottesville, VA won the “Best All Around Program” award. It was stated that CECP “has consistently had good compliance reports and a low average cost per (weatherized) unit. In addition, they are consistent and timely with reports. CECP’s program was categorized as excellently managed, with facility, files, and equipment in exemplary condition. There were no findings and no corrective actions or re-works”. Congratulations to Linda Rayner, CECP Executive Director and Bill Craig, CECP Field Director, and all the staff at CECP for a job well done.

Other AECP members who received awards are as follows:

  • Most Improved Program – Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project (STOP)
  • Best Compliance Report – Rooftop of Virginia
  • Certificates of Appreciation – BayAging, Inc., Community Housing Partners, H.O.P.E., Inc., Halifax/Charlotte County CAA, and Mountain CAP
  • Special Certificate of Appreciation – Fred Gross, Weatherization Coordinator with People, Inc. and his Buchanan County Crew of Tina Blankenship and Beverly O’Quinn for excellent mobile home belly insulation work.

Congratulations to everyone and keep up the great work!

ENERGY EFFICIENT LANDSCAPING WILL REDUCE UTILITY BILLS

The Department of Energy has done sophisticated computer models showing that three properly placed trees can cut your utility bills – heating and cooling – by up to $250 per year. Trees reduce pollution, create more oxygen, and reduce road noise and dust as well as making a house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. In the summer, trees provide natural shading from the heat of the sun but they also function as natural air-conditioners through an evapotranspiration process. As the leaves on trees give off water, they cool the air similarly to how our own perspiration cools our skin. The air temperature near the house on a well- landscaped yard can be 10 degrees cooler than on a treeless one. Plant deciduous trees on the south and west of the house to block the sun during the summer. In the winter these trees, with their leaves gone will allow the warmth and natural light of the sun to shine through. Plant evergreens on the north side for a winter windbreak. The key to efficient landscaping is selecting the proper species – trees that are natural to your area – and placing them in the proper location for your specific climate. Utilizing the services of a landscape designer is highly recommended.

HONDA UNVEILS THEIR THIRD HYBRID-ELECTRIC VEHICLE

Honda introduced the Insight, America’s first hybrid gas/electric vehicle and still the fuel economy leader - in December of 1999. Honda then took Hybrid technology into the mainstream with it’s introduction of the Honda Civic Hybrid in March of 2002. Sales of the Insight and Civic accounted for more than half of all U.S. Hybrid sales in 2003. Now Honda will have available, later this year, its 2005 Honda Accord V6 Hybrid. Utilizing a newly developed powertrain, the Accord will deliver power and performance of a 240 horsepower, six-cylinder engine that has the fuel economy of a compact-class, four-cylinder Civic sedan. Honda’s hybrid technology uses a high-output electric motor/generator to provide for more efficient engine operation by capturing electrical energy during braking or deceleration and using that energy to power the engine. This results in superior fuel economy and a very significant reduction in harmful emissions.

STUDY SAYS BLACKOUT LED TO CLEANER AIR

Last summers blackout disrupted lives and cost the economy billions of dollars but the temporary shutdown of more than 100 power plants dramatically cleaned up the air. University of Maryland scientists say air monitoring during the second day of the blackout showed a 70% decrease in sulfur dioxide and ozone levels. Scientists expected to see some reduction but were surprised at the extent and quickness in which the air that we breathe became so much cleaner.

Energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy can accomplish the same thing – clean our air by shutting down power plants.

LYNCAG HOSTS HOME OWNERSHIP FAIR

Lynchburg Community Action Group (LYNCAG) hosted its first annual James River Home Ownership Fair in Lynchburg on June 12. The purpose of the Fair was to provide consumers who were interested in purchasing a home an opportunity to interact with banks, realtors, mortgage companies, state and federal housing organizations, credit counselors, and others to learn more about the steps necessary in being a first time home buyer. There were workshops conducted by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) on steps to homeownership and workshops on different loan packages conducted by area banks.

AECP participated as an exhibitor and was able to provide energy education and tips on saving energy in the home to many perspective homebuyers.

Lt. Governor Tim Kaine was the keynote speaker and music was provided by the Spring Hill Choir and the Jefferson Forest High School Jazz Ensemble. The event was extremely informative and well attended. Tom Daniel, AECP Vice-President and Assistant Director of LYNCAG served as master of ceremonies during the day.

GENERAL MOTORS DELIVERS 235 HYBRID BUSES

General Motors delivered 235 hybrid buses to the Seattle, Washington area last week. These buses will be used to provide public transportation to the City of Seattle and surrounding King County. The hybrid buses combine a diesel/electric engine that delivers 60% greater fuel economy than conventional transit buses and can reduce certain emissions up to 90%. General Motors plans to roll out more than 270 of its hybrid buses to 10 cities in 2004. If 13,000 traditional buses were replaced by hybrid diesel/electric models in America’s nine largest cities – over 40 million gallons of fuel would be saved annually.

AECP DIRECTOR DELIVERS KEYNOTE ADDRESS

AECP Executive Director, Billy Weitzenfeld, delivered the keynote address at the opening plenary session of the West Virginia Weatherization Conference on May 25. The audience was comprised of weatherization crews and support staff from around the state. The address focused on the fact that weatherization crews are “the heart and soul” of the program and that the work that they are doing has an impact outside of the home that is being weatherized. It was emphasized that weatherization crews are part of a national energy efficiency work force that is having a positive impact on the environment, utility rates, home health and safety, home affordability, global warming, air pollution, our natural resources, and the economy. Weatherization crews are leaders in the energy industry because the techniques and applications that are used daily in the program are the same building science measures that are driving the green building and energy efficient housing movements in America. The cumulative impact of weatherization work performed nationally is not only paving the way for the rest of the energy industry but is making the world a better place.

An Energy Expo was conducted as part of the Conference and the West Virginia State Office did a fantastic job in planning and implementing this event.

AECP HOLDS ANNUAL MEETING

AECP will hold its annual meeting on Monday, June 21 at the Ramada Inn, 57th and Atlantic, (Room E), in Virginia Beach. The meeting will be from 3:00 to 5:00 and all AECP members are welcome to attend. AECP Officers and Directors will be elected for 2004-2006.

MARYLAND PASSES CLEAN ENERGY BILL

Governor Robert Ehrlich has signed the Maryland Clean Energy Bill. This bill will significantly increase renewable energy production and consumption in Maryland. Currently, Maryland gets less than one% of its electricity from clean renewable energy resources, like wind and solar. This new law requires Maryland utilities to ramp-up the amount of renewable energy to 7.5% by 2014.

Maryland is the fifteenth state to adopt a renewable energy standard that requires a percentage of utility generated power be from renewable resources. The interest in renewable energy technologies in the Mid-Atlantic region is on the rise. Wind is the fastest growing energy sector in the world, and solar power is a close second. As both of these industries expand, production costs continue to decrease; for example, many wind projects are now cost-competitive to natural gas power plants.

Governor Ehrlich also will sign legislation that will expand Maryland’s net metering law. Net metering allows electricity meters to run backward when on site solar or wind power generators produce more electricity than is used.

ENERGY TIP

Changing and/or cleaning window air conditioner filters on a regular basis will allow your unit to operate more efficiently.

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY ON APRIL 22

AECP encourages everyone to acknowledge and celebrate Earth Day on Thursday, April 22. Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 as a day to focus on environmental issues and to force their recognition onto the national stage. Since that day 34 years ago – Earth Day has become an international event that exhibits a collective expression of public will to create a more sustainable society. Earth Day has inspired action on personal, community, national and international levels and often serves to launch projects that bring ongoing benefit to local communities. Earth Day has also broadened public support for sweeping legislative and environmental change and is a catalyst for protecting and honoring our natural resources.

Consider participating in an Earth Day event in your community. Check out www.earthday.net to learn about Earth Day activities in your area.

CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS INCREASE NATIONWIDE

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for 80% of global warming potential. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), CO2 emissions have increased by 17% over the last decade. CO2 emissions are primarily a result of burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations group of over two hundred scientists, has emphasized that the upward trend of worldwide CO2 emissions will create a situation where the Greenland ice sheet will begin to melt and within fifty years – sea level cities such as London could be under water. Scientists say that the melting of the massive ice sheet in Greenland could increase sea levels by as much as 23 feet. Such a rise would totally immerse vast areas of land and cause massive flooding worldwide.

Global warming is a climate change phenomenon that results from increased greenhouse gases that insulate the Earth from the Sun’s radiant heat. Too much greenhouse gas is akin to too much insulation and increases the temperature of the Earth. Energy conservation and efficiency are direct and specific ways that homeowners and consumers can help contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions. The Weatherization Assistance Program averages a one metric ton carbon reduction in every house that is weatherized. This is accomplished through advanced insulation techniques, blower door directed air sealing, and efforts to increase the efficiency of heating systems through replacement or repair.

DOE INCREASES AIR CONDITIONER STANDARD

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that it will enforce a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) of 13 for residential central air conditioners. This standard will take effect in January of 2006 and represents a 30 percent increase in energy efficiency compared to the previous SEER standard of 10. The Alliance to Save Energy has stated that this improvement in air conditioner efficiency will save consumers $3.4 billion dollars a year and will avoid the need to construct 150 new power plants over the next 16 years. It will also avoid CO2 emissions of about 8 million tons per year.

ASSAULT ON THE ENVIRONMENT CONTINUES

The Bush administration in recent months has done the following:

  • Reversed a law that required industrial laundries to follow federal hazardous and solid waste regulations. Industrial laundries that clean shop towels soaked in toxic waste are now allowed to dispose of this hazardous wastewater right down the drain and into local and regional sewage systems that often drain into our rivers and streams.
  • Bush has eliminated the “polluter pays” provision of the 1980 Superfund law that required companies that pollute to pay for the subsequent clean up. Now the taxpayers are required to foot the bill. This has resulted in a dramatic shortfall in funds that are used for toxic waste cleanups.
  • The Bush Mercury Reduction plan will actually delay enforcement of mercury regulations under the current Clean Air Act and allow three times more mercury pollution for decades into the air and water. Mercury causes nerve and brain damage and is especially harmful to infants and small children. Coal fired power plants are the largest single man-made source of mercury pollution.

ENERGY TIP

Plant a tree on Earth Day – April 22, 2004!

WIND ANEMOMETER INSTALLED AT AECP OFFICE

The Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative (VWEC) installed a wind anemometer at the AECP office located at the Jacksonville Center in Floyd, VA. The installation was part of VWEC’s State Based Anemometer Loan Program (SBALP), which is designed to empower landowners and generate interest and investment in wind energy through the loan of meteorological towers. These towers measure wind speed and direction and provide data that will determine if the site has sufficient wind resources to support a wind power system. AECP is interested in installing a working wind system that can be used as a teaching tool and demonstration for interested members of the general public. AECP is also using the wind anemometer to provide information about wind energy and create interest in wind as a clean and renewable source of energy. For further information on VWEC and SBALP call 540-568-8754 or visit their website at http://www.jmu.edu/vwec

AECP APPLIES FOR GRANT TO ACQUIRE WIND ENERGY SYSTEM

AECP has applied for a grant through the Virginia Small Wind Incentive Program to purchase and install a small wind power system at its office in Floyd. AECP is interested in a 500 watt to 1 KW system that would help to reduce its electric bill but primarily would be used as a teaching tool for people interested in learning more about small residential wind energy systems. AECP continues to believe that the best educational impact is achieved through providing interactive, hands on opportunities to view actual systems and technology at work.

AECP MOVES FORWARD WITH PLANS TO DEVELOP ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

AECP, in partnership with Bob Rogers and his firm Architectural Alternatives, is working with Robert Schubert, Associate Dean in the Virginia Tech Dept. of Architecture, to design a building that will be used as an education center to promote sustainable living practices – particularly those related to residential energy conservation and efficiency. The center will be built on to the back of the existing AECP office. Professor Schubert is enlisting the assistance of an Environmental Design class that he is teaching. The students will create designs for this building based on criteria developed in a meeting with AECP and Architectural Alternatives. A conceptual design is the first step in the development of the project and will enable AECP to begin to seek funding for this project. A group of ten students and three faculty members met with Billy Weitzenfeld and Bob Rogers on Friday March 19 to view the site and brainstorm ideas regarding the proposed project.

AECP PARTICIPATES IN REACH PROJECT

AECP is contracting with Community Housing Partners to provide energy education to low-income weatherization clients as part of the REACh Project. REACh, which stands for the Residential Energy Assistance Challenge, is a program administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development and is designed to find ways to help improve the quality of services offered by the Virginia Weatherization Program. AECP will be providing energy education sessions with clients who have had their homes weatherized. AECP will also be involved in installing and downloading information from Data Loggers that will measure run-time cycles on heating systems before and after weatheriztion measures are applied to eligible households.

AECP HOSTS US GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL MEETING

AECP will be hosting a United States Green Building Council (USGBC) meeting at the AECP office on March 23 at 6:00 p.m. All AECP members are invited to attend. AECP has been involved from the beginning in efforts to establish a southwest Virginia USGBC chapter. The USGBC is a national education organization that promotes green building technology and practice. The USGBC also sponsors the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation, which AECP is currently studying for. LEED is a professional accreditation that certifies that the person has passed a very rigid examination in green and sustainable design, practice, and technology.

ENERGY TIP

Install a rain barrel under a gutter downspout and use the collected rainwater for watering plants.

AECP MOVES OFFICE TO THE JACKSONVILLE CENTER

During the month of January, AECP re-located its office from Christiansburg to the Jacksonville Center in Floyd, Virginia. The Jacksonville Center (TJC) is a small business incubator and community cultural center, which promotes economic development in the region. TJC is housed in a renovated dairy barn complex just outside the Town of Floyd. It is located on Route 8, south, about a mile from the only traffic light in town (going towards the Blue Ridge Parkway). It is, from the light, just past Turman-Yeatts Motor Co. on the right. The AECP office is located in a small building adjacent to the dairy barn. AECP will be sharing the office space with Architectural Alternatives, a Blacksburg firm, which will open a satellite office in Floyd.

Before moving into the building – it was necessary to renovate the building and to make it more energy efficient. Many thanks to Community Housing Partners, Inc., (CHPC) a non-profit housing organization in Christiansburg, who generously donated materials and labor to help weatherize the office space. CHPC donated seven energy efficient replacement windows, prepped and insulated the attic, donated and installed a nine-light wooden door, sealed bypasses, insulated the existing water heater and performed blower door directed air-sealing. J&J Weatherization in Lynchburg also donated an energy efficient replacement window, which will be installed at a later date. These efforts and other measures will be documented and used to help educate the general public about the importance of being more energy efficient.

There are several reasons for the office re-location. The new office arrangement will save AECP over $200 per month in reduced rent and provide some significant opportunities for new partnerships and directions for the organization. AECP in partnership with Architectural Alternatives and the Jacksonville Center is developing plans to build a energy and environmental demonstration and education center, which will be connected to the existing “new” AECP office. The purpose of the education center will be to create a space that incorporates sustainable design, green building technology, energy conservation, weatherization techniques, and renewable energy and allow these technologies to be interactive educational demonstrations. These hands-on exhibits, props, and models will provide an excellent educational opportunity for the general public. This will also serve as an extension of the same philosophy that drives AECP’s annual Energy Expo – using interactive, hands-on exhibits and demonstrations to show people why it is important to save energy and then show how this can be accomplished in the home and/or business.

AECP IS PLANNING 5TH ANNUAL ENERGY EXPO

Aecp’s 5TH annual Energy Expo will be held at the Roanoke Civic Center on December 3 and 4, 2004. Please mark your calendars and make plans to attend and participate in this event. We are developing some very exciting and interesting ideas for this years Expo.

TOYOTA INTRODUCES 4WD HYBRID ELECTRIC SUV

In 2005, Toyota will offer to consumers a mid-size four wheel drive SUV – the Highlander – that will carry seven passengers and maintain the fuel economy of a four- cylinder compact. Models with 4WD will be equipped with front and rear electric motors that will deliver balanced power to all four wheels and provide instantaneous acceleration. The Highlander will ride on 17- inch alloy wheels and offer all of the amenities that consumers associate with a high-end SUV. This hybrid electric vehicle will combine excellent gas mileage with an over 50% reduction in harmful exhaust emissions.

2005 FEDERAL BUDGET DETAILS

The President’s funding year 2005 budget, released February 2, proposes LIHEAP funding at $1.85 billion – same amount as 2004 – but would increase emergency funding from $100 million to $200 million. In addition, the 2005 budget requests $500,000 to conduct an evaluation of LIHEAP. The budget also increases funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program from $228 million to $291 million.

ENERGY TIP

Buy a copy of the January/February 2004 issue of Home Energy Magazine and read about the good work that AECP member organization, The New River Center for Energy Research and Training (NRCERT) has been doing in Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. NRCERT has been training contractors in these states in the whole-house approach to weatherization. Congratulations to AECP members Bill Beachy, Anthony Cox, John Langford, and Lil Weston for their excellent efforts.

WORLD TRADE CENTER’S FREEDOM TOWERS TO INCORPORATE WIND FARM

On December 19, the City of New York unveiled plans for the Freedom Tower, which will be the centerpiece of new construction at the World Trade Center site. The Freedom Tower will be the world’s tallest building and will incorporate wind turbines that will generate 20% of the building’s electrical power needs. The Freedom Tower will include a 60- story base of offices and a 1,500- foot structure of lacy tension cables, which will house the wind turbines.

The Freedom Tower will be the world’s first building integrated wind farm and will produce over 2.6 million KWh (kilowatts) of green electricity annually – enough to power 1,000 homes. Projected average wind speed is 21 MPH and the prevailing wind is from the Northwest, which means the wind will be unimpeded as it travels across the Hudson River. The height of the Freedom Tower should negate the fact that wind turbines are not usually suited for urban environments because of the turbulence created by nearby buildings.

GLOBAL WARMING MAY CAUSE 1 MILLION SPECIES TO BECOME EXTINCT

An international study has recently concluded that more than one-third of all species in several regions of the world are at risk of extinction by 2050 if global warming isn’t controlled. Nineteen international scientists working for the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International, a non-profit, U.S. based, conservation organization presented their findings in the journal – “Nature”. Using widely accepted models that predict Earth’s temperatures will increase by 2.5 degrees to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, the scientists found that 15% to 37% of the studied species will be extinct or nearly extinct by 2050.

Air pollution has caused the climate to warm, meaning some plant and animal species must move to higher, cooler ground. At the same time their natural migratory paths have often been blocked by development trapping them in an environment that no longer supports their life. “Climate change is asking species to move when there is no place to move to,” Lee Hannah, climate change biologist for the Center states. Hannah concludes that two things must begin to happen immediately if massive specie extinction is to be avoided; First, greenhouse gases like car exhaust and power plant emissions must be reduced to halt global warming and secondly, conservation areas must be established “not only where the species is now, but where it will be in the future.”

TOYOTA ANNOUNCES NEW HYBRID SUV’S

Toyota Motor Sales announced production of two gas/electric hybrid SUV’s that will be available for consumers in 2005. Toyota will produce a hybrid version of its 4- wheel drive Highlander and a hybrid Lexus – which is part of Toyota’s luxury division. Both vehicles will get the same mileage as a compact sedan and reduce their harmful emissions by over 50%.

COURT OF APPEALS BLOCKS CHANGES TO CLEAN AIR ACT

On December 24, 2003, the U.S. Court of Appeals blocked the Bush Administration’s changes to the Clean Air Act that would have weakened the New Resource Review section of the Act. The Court stated that the proposed Bush initiatives would cause “irreparable harm” to the public and significantly increase air pollution. The New Resource Review currently requires old power plants, which are exempt from the Clean Air rules, to adopt current environmental standards if they are making any effort to upgrade or repair their facilities.

BUSH ALLOWS THE USE OF SEWAGE SLUDGE AS FERTILIZER TO CONTINUE

The Bush Administration has denied a petition to put a moratorium on the practice of using sewage sludge as fertilizer. Sewage sludge may contain hazardous and dangerous chemicals that can run off into nearby streams, other surface waters, and enter groundwater sources when it is applied to the land as fertilizer. At the same time the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that at least 15 more hazardous pollutants have been found in sewage sludge and these may have to be regulated.

ENERGY TIP

Get involved at work – your company can save money by joining EPA programs such as Green Lights, ENERGY STAR Buildings, and Waste Wise recycling programs. Check out www.epa.gov for more information.

STANLEY FURNITURE PLANT RECEIVES ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD

The Stanley Furniture Plant in Martinsville, Virginia received recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and also the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for its efforts to protect the environment. The Martinsville plant was honored for its recycling of cardboard, metal, and paper, its use of processed wood as fuel, and its reduction of plant emissions – specifically volatile organic compounds. Stanley furniture is the first U.S. furniture company to become a member of the EPA’s National Performance Track program and Stanley has also been admitted into Virginia’s Environmental Excellence E3 program.

Donald Welsh, Region III EPA Administrator stated that companies committed to environmental production can simultaneously increase production, increase profits and reduce their impact on the environment. The Performance Track program is designed, he said, to provide some regulatory relief for proven performers, allowing them to “focus on environmental innovation”. Congratulations to Stanley Furniture for proving that a major manufacturing company can increase production and profits while incorporating environmentally friendly practices.

CITY OF RONAOKE RECEIVES WATER CONSERVATION AWARD

Roanoke won an award for its water conservation during and since the 2002 drought. Mayor Ralph Smith received the award for the city’s “Every Drop Counts” campaign Friday, December 12, at the National League of Cities conference in Nashville, Tennessee. During the 2002 drought, residents reduced water consumption by 1.3 million gallons a day compared with 2001. Even after the water restrictions were lifted, residents continued to curb their water consumption, down 1.1 million gallons a day during the first three months of 2003 when compared with the same time in 2001, an 8% drop.

“It’s a recognition that the citizens of Roanoke value and appreciate their natural resources,” said Carol Davit, Roanoke environmental communications coordinator. Part of the success of the program came from the water conservation kits the city handed out that contained low-flow shower- heads and faucet aerators.

PRODUCTION OF THINNER SOLAR CELLS WILL REDUCE COST OF SOLAR PANELS

Solar cells that are made of crystalline silicon are now being produced that are thinner thus reducing the overall cost. The material cost of crystalline silicon is the most expensive part of solar cells and a thinner cell uses less material and is, therefore, cheaper. This is great news for the solar industry that has long been hampered by the high cost of solar equipment and installations. A solar panel or photovoltaic panel converts sunlight directly into electricity. A normal panel consists of solar cells that are enclosed in a solar module (about 40 cells to a module). The modules (about 10) are mounted into a solar panel, which is then positioned and installed facing south.

NEW JERSEY BUILDS PLASTIC BRIDGE

A 56-foot long bridge crafted from recycled soda bottles, coffee cups and similar refuse has been carrying traffic over the Mullica River in New Brunswick, New Jersey for more than a year. Rutgers University scientists developed the plastic material used to build the one-lane bridge. They say that recycled plastic is already technically and economically competitive with wood, which is used in more than half a million bridges in the U.S., but not yet ready for use on heavily traveled spans, such as those in the interstate highway system. The price tag for the bridge was $75,000 – far less than the $350,000 a conventional wood bridge might have cost. And the plastic bridge has the added bonus of safely and creatively disposing of solid waste.

LIHEAP FUNDING IS REDUCED

Congressional conference committees have reduced the amount of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds available to states by about $200 million dollars. This means that thousands of low-income citizens will not receive fuel assistance, emergency heating services and weatherization. Virginia will receive over $4.5 million dollars less than in 2003. This will have a significant impact on weatherization services in the Commonwealth since the Virginia Weatherization Program receives 15% of all LIHEAP funding. Hey its great to be an American when the rich get richer and the poor get colder!

ENERGY TIP

Use a live tree for your Christmas tree this year. After the holidays plant the tree in your yard.