With global climate instability, we face an enormous challenge requiring our im-mediate attention. We need to take action to reduce our production of greenhouse gases. At the same time, we are encountering limits in fuel, water and other resources that we have grown accustomed to having in abundance. As the rate caps come off, our electricity costs will increase at least 35% in 2010, with more increases expected to follow. With those challenges, however, comes the opportunity to make changes that can improve both our efficiency and quality of life.
Residential and commercial buildings consume nearly one third of the energy pro-duced in the United States. Of the energy consumed from electric power generation, most of it (69%) is wasted in generation and trans-mission, resulting in the need for three times more energy capacity and more pollution, particularly greenhouse gases that contribute to Pennsylvania’s carbon foot-print. Much of those losses can be eliminated through two efforts:educing energy requirements through efficiency improvements; and local generation at the point of use, to eliminate transmission and distribution losses from remote generation.
As the rate caps come off, our electricity costs will increase at least 35% in 2010, with more increases expected to follow.
Nearly all our homes inherently waste energy and resources. Historically houses did not need to be built to efficiently use energy. Fuel has been plentiful and inexpensive. However, an existing house can be made to operate much more efficiently using materials that are currently available, but the house has to be looked at in new ways in accordance with new concepts and methods.
The Alliance for Sustainable Communities – Lehigh Valley has undertaken a community project to renovate an existing, typical home into a model for cost-effective energy efficiency and sustainable resource use that will use no fossil fuels and produces no-net greenhouse gases. We call this the E.House, short for Energy House but also considering another important E-word, Environmental sustainability. The project is designed to help home-owners and contractors to physically experience options available to them to help them significantly improve their energy efficiency and sustainability on a sliding scale from a very limited budget to one that might afford greater convenience and/or reduced maintenance on a more substantial budget.
E.House Renovation Goals
- Net-zero energy consumption
- Net-zero carbon emissions (no fossil fuel use)
- Demonstration of off-the-shelf tech-nology
- Sustainable materials and construction methods using local skills and materials wherever possible
- Educational center for the community, schools, professionals
- Sustainable permaculture landscaping and organic gardening
We’d like to see at least one E.House in every municipality in the Greater Lehigh Valley. Contact us by email or call the Alliance office if you’d like to help.