Rebuilding sustainably after Superstorm Sandy: Mr Sustainable to speak in Manalapan, NJ May 13, 2013

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Mr Sustainable, Dante DiPirro, will be speaking on rebuilding sustainably after Superstorm Sandy.  Since we have to rebuild anyway as a result of the catastrophe, we have an opportunity to do it right!  The event will be held on Monday, May 13, 2013 at 7PM at the Monmouth County Library – headquarters, 125 Symmes Drive, Manalapan, NJ.  The event is open to the public.

When you travel, travel green!

Monday, May 6th, 2013

When you take a trip, whether on business or for pleasure, a few simple choices will enable you to travel “green.”

Pick a hotel that is constructed of energy efficient materials and promotes conservation (conserves electricity and water, has a recycling program, etc.). Pick activities that are respectful of wildlife and natural ecosystems.  Select modes of transportation that are easy on energy use.  Many establishments and tourism companies compete for your business by providing earth and health-conscious services.  You can reward them by patronizing their businesses.  You can also do something good in the process!

I am pleased today to feature an article on this topic by Sam Marquit, an independent green contractor:

Effective Eco-Businesses

It is no surprise that as a commercial contractor, who has also worked as an independent contractor, I have had a number of opportunities to personally see the practice of the green initiative. That is, the tangible use of components used to become LEED certified. At this point in time, as I do work on certain work sites, those who are being known for their use of green materials and the implementation of it fascinate me. From my perspective, there is much to be acknowledged than just being LEED certified.

The truth of this is that it is acknowledged in Asia! The Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards has recognized communities for being involved in building process as well as growth. In addition to this, focus is put on the culture and character of the community that is being protected. Furthermore, areas that have wildlife and other natural ecosystems are being efficient with known reserves.The result of this can include serving traditional food and having plumbing that features valves that automatically shut off.

The city of Las Vegas, which is a popular tourist destination, has rightly put a strong emphasis in making sure buildings have materials that meet the standards of being LEED certified. In addition to this, the Las Vegas Palazzo Resort was recently recognized as the “Most Eco-Friendly Hotel in America.” Among the reasons why it received the award was that it has an efficient waste recycling program and a number of products that are autonomous. Others seem to be taking notice as current and new green hotels in Las Vegas are trying to achieve sustainability.

However, Las Vegas is not the only city that seeks to be eco-friendly. A number of New York City hotels have sought to become efficient in waste recycling, having products that are autonomous and that seek to diminish the size of carbon footprints. In fact, the Ink48 Hotel has an agenda that enables individuals to share in having the right emphasis in the world called Earthcare.

At the same time, there are many individuals and companies who are taking responsibility in making buildings of various sizes become sustainable. For me, it is a privilege to join in this type of endeavor. Las Vegas has 124,000 rooms in which to stay with about forty million visitors and guests that visit over the course of a year. With this type of factual information, it should be in the thoughts of every worker in the city.

How to reduce the amount of electricity you use with your household appliances?

Friday, April 26th, 2013

So you want to reduce the amount of electricity you’re using with your household appliances… how to do you do it?

First, take stock of the appliances you have.  If you have an older refrigerator or freezer, it’s quite likely that you’re using much more electricity than you have to.  Improvements in technology have made today’s refrigerators and freezers orders of magnitude more efficient.  For example, you can now purchase a refrigerator that is up to 4 times more efficient than a traditional one.  This will save you money too: according to replacing your refrigerator with an energy star certified one can save you up to $1,100 on energy costs over its lifetime.  Also, if you have a secondary refrigerator or freezer in your basement, ask yourself if you truly need it – it’s typically the oldest and least efficient unit in the house and phasing it out may result in a noticeable reduction in your monthly electric bill.

Second, avoid phantom loads.  A phantom load is electricity that an appliance uses even when it is switched off.  For example, a TV or stereo with a sensor that allows you to turn it on with a remote control continues to operate, and continues to consume electricity, even when it’s off.  Your microwave, food processor, toaster or other countertop appliance may all have clocks or other functions that stay on 24/7 – to power these functions, you are using electricity. I tested a compact stereo recently in the off position and discovered that the device – because of clock and flashing message functions – used almost as much energy (2/3) of the total amount it used when it was on!  That’s a lot of phantom load.  And with all the modern devices in our homes today, and with all of the phantom loads built in to them at the factory, the electric usage and electric bills can really add up. Image how phantom loads continue to use electricity while you’re asleep!  You can eliminate phantom loads by putting your appliance on a power strip that has an on-off button.  Just flip the power strip switch to the off position and all appliances connected will not be able to draw power when they are off. When you want use the device, just flick on the button on the power strip first.

Third, use an appliance energy tester to determine exactly how much energy a particular device uses.  For example, I bought a Kill-A-Watt meter for about twenty dollars.  You just plug it into a wall socket then plug the household device into the front of the meter.  Power flows from the outlet through the meter and into the electric device, allowing the meter to display aspects of the power.  Pushing one of the buttons on the front of the meter allows you to see the volts, amps, watts and watt/hours associated with the device.  I used my kill-a-watt meter at an electronics store to test a fancy new LED flat screen TV I wanted to buy, and when I determined that the TV used less than 60 watts (equivalent to a single traditional light bulb)– fantastic! So I bought it! 

 By using these simple techniques, you an easily reduce your household appliance consumption of energy, and thereby save money, and get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done something good for health, the environment and the planet.

Mr Sustainable Dante DiPirro to speak about sustainable energy & building 4/21/2013 at Earth Day Event Wall NJ

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Earth Day 2013 is the perfect time to work on sustainable energy and sustainable building, especially at the New Jersey shore that was so heavily impacted by super storm Sandy.

Mr Sustainable, Dante DiPirro, will be a speaker at the Earth Day Gathering at historic Camp Evans, 2201 Marconi Rd, Wall, NJ, 07719.

For event information.


Next trend in solar: long-term contracts?

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Competitive bids for long-term solar credit contracts is an approach that has been adopted in several states including Connecticut, New York, Delaware, and Massachusetts.  Will this be the next new trend in incentives and financing for solar electric projects?

In the United States, states have tried various approaches to provide incentives to spur development of the solar industry. The first was the rebate approach. With this type of incentive system, the state provides  grant funding upfront to a project to lessen large initial costs and funds the rebate program with a small charge on the monthly bills of electric ratepayers in the state.  New Jersey used this approach very successfully to become the second leading state in the United States for installed solar projects. Some policymakers wanted to move beyond a rebate system and others favored a more market-based approach.

This led to the second approach to state solar incentives: the solar renewable energy credit or SREC approach. Under the SREC system, the government does not provide financial assistance upfront to finance the solar project.  Rather, after a business or residence has constructed the solar system, and put the system into operation, it will qualify for credits based on the systems production:  for every 1000 kilowatt-hours of power generated, the system owner receives one solar credit which in turn can be sold for money on the open market.  The demand for the purchase of such credits and is created by a state requirement that a certain portion of all electricity sold in New Jersey be generated from clean, renewable sources. As a practical matter, this means that the entity selling power must either have its own renewable energy generating systems or must purchase solar credits.

New Jersey is an example of the state that moved from rebates to SRECs.  About two years ago, New Jersey terminated all rebates and moved exclusively to an SREC approach. At first, the SREC system worked because the credits had enough value on the open market to provide incentives for the construction of solar systems. Unfortunately, New Jersey’s lack of structure for the SREC market place permitted new construction to outpace the reasonable availability of demand for credits. In response, the value of SREC’s crashed in 2012. This has resulted in an extreme slowdown in the solar construction in New Jersey and has imperiled thousands of local, solar jobs.

In the past year or two, there has been a new movement toward the development of a long-term contract incentive approach. In this incentive system, project developers bid in competitively for long-term SREC contracts. For example, in a developer may submit a bid saying that it wishes to contract with an energy seller if the entity will  guarantee a specified SREC value for a specified period of time.  The state acts as a mere broker and the decision whether the bid will be accepted is wholly up to the energy seller. This approach is market-based because the price is set by private parties making decisions in an open market. It also has the value of establishing an income stream over a long-term which is what is required for developers to be willing to construct new projects since they know what they will receive in SREC income.  This allows them the ability to calculate if the project will provide a return on investment and that in turn provides a substantial advantage over the current SREC system where, as in New Jersey, the parties have no way of knowing what the value that SREC will be more than 3 or 5 years out for a system that will be in operation for 20-30 years.

Delaware, Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts are all piloting long-term contracting programs.  New Jersey, in addition to having its SREC system, does permit a small portion of the industry to be provided incentives through long-term contracts via its EDC program. However, the small size of the program, means that it has not reached its full potential there.

Whether competitively bid, long-term contracting will be the next big trend in solar remains to be seen.  It must be said that it does try to target certain weaknesses that have been revealed in the SREC approach.


Mr Sustainable Dante DiPirro interviewed on Hunterdon Radio

Friday, March 29th, 2013

On March 20, 2013, Mr Sustainable, Dante DiPirro, was interviewed on the Good Morning Show on Hunterdon County Chamber Radio.

A podcast of the interview is available on line.

The interview covered Mr Sustainable, his off-grid, solar home, his sustainable interests and activities, and how others can live sustainably.


Mr Sustainable, Dante DiPirro, to speak March 24 2013 on rebuilding sustainably after Superstorm Sandy

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

With the tragic devastation of the Shore from Superstorm Sandy comes the opportunity to rebuild in a sustainable way.  Since there is going to be construction, we might as well do it right– incorporating sustainable energy and sustainable building principals and materials.

Let’s make the most of this opportunity to use sustainability to rebuild after Sandy in a way that creates sustainable jobs, bolsters our economy,  protects our health and the environment, and leave us more resilient.

Mr Sustainable, Dante DiPirro, will join a panel of speakers that includes legislators, journalists, and experts in the renewable energy field.

Others on the panel include: Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula the Chair Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, Tom Johnson, Energy & Environment Writer and Co-Founder of NJ Spotlight, and Kris Ohleth, Director of Permitting for the Atlantic Wind Connection.

The conversation will be  moderated by Harriet Shugarman, of ClimateMama, and is sponsored by the Sierra Club.

The event is free to the public.  For information and to register.

Mr Sustainable, Dante DiPirro, to speak March 23 2013 at Sustainable Lawrence Expo

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Mr Sustainable will speak at 2:45 pm about his off-grid, solar home and how to build using solar power and sustainable building materials.  He will show pictures and discuss passive solar design and materials.

Sustainability will be the order of the entire day at the Expo.

Sustainable Lawrence is a large group of residents, businesses, congregations, and other organizations dedicated to creating a sustainable community in Lawrence Township, NJ.

Its mission is to encourage the people and institutions of Lawrence Township to cooperatively adopt fundamental principles of sustainability and to develop policies and practices that fulfill those principles.

Its policies and policies include:

  • Reduce our community’s fossil fuel dependence and wasteful use of scarce metals and minerals;
  • Reduce our community’s dependence on harmful chemicals and wasteful use of synthetic substances;
  • Minimize our community’s encroachment upon nature (e.g., land, water, wildlife, forests, soil, ecosystems);
  • Meet human needs fairly and efficiently.

The Expo is an event open to the public in which residents, non-profits, businesses, community leaders, government leaders, and experts get together to share information.

This year’s Expo will include numerous speakers, displays of electric and hybrid cards, and booths with sustainable items and information.

Previous year’s Expos were attended by hundreds of people and this year’s event is sure to please!

Open to the public.  Held at Lawrenceville High School 2525 Lawrence Road, Lawrence NJ.  Hours: Noon to 4pm.

Mr Sustainable, Dante DiPirro, to speak on sustainable energy & building March 15, 2013 in Hopewell, New Jesey

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Mr Sustainable, Dante DiPirro, will be speaking on sustainable energy & building 3/15/13 at 7 pm at 203 Hopewell Wertsville Road, Hopewell, NJ.  The talk will include principles of passive solar design, solar power, and sustainable building materials, using information from the off-grid, solar home that he designed and built.  The event is open to the public.

How will the US budget sequestration affect the solar industry?

Friday, March 1st, 2013

The US budget sequestration will reduce grants for the solar industry. While the sequestration, which went into effect today, will not impact the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for commercial or residential solar projects, it will reduce the federal grant program (Section 1603 grant in lieu of ITC). The amount of the grant reduction has yet to be announced by the US Treasury Department.