Here’s a shout-out to our friends on the University of Minnesota, Morris campus for being recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy! Check out this page for the story and for a video.
Behavior-based household conservation has the potential to play an important role in Minnesota’s energy future. Lawrence Baker and his team, with the support of a Seed Grant from IREE, are using the Twin Cities Household Ecosystem Project (TCHEP) database to study the potential for greater household energy conservation. This database is unique because of its size (1,800 households) and because it includes all forms of energy use: heating, electricity, auto and other ground travel, and air travel.
To date, Baker has developed an approach for estimating “energy poverty”, based on household income, the insulation efficiency of the home, a minimum temperature comfort level (based on age of occupants) and energy bills. They are also analyzing energy use in homes of varying income levels and household types (parents + children; empty nesters, etc.) and within each group, what factors cause variation in energy use. It is known that energy use increases with income, but income is certainly not the only factor that influences energy consumption. Based on calculations of “disproportionality” that it is quite possible that the least energy efficient home in a neighborhood might be using three times more total energy than the most energy efficient home.
Finally, they are looking at crossover effects: do some households conserve energy and then use the savings to take international trips? Do people who turn their heat down also use less energy for driving? The answers to these questions are important to inform policy makes who want to develop energy conservation policies that are effective, efficient, and fair.
Senator Franken Tells Business Leaders and Government Officials that Increased Energy Efficiency Is Win-Win
Friday, January 27, 2012
U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) told more than 100 Minnesota business leaders and local government officials that energy-efficient retrofits of public and private buildings will create badly-needed jobs, save energy and trim billions of dollars in future energy costs in Minnesota and across the country. Read the entire Press Release.
The forum was sponsored by the Institute on the Environment and held at the St. Paul Student Center.
The University of Minnesota-led NorthernSTAR team is advancing efforts to bring researchers, builders, and owners together around two broad objectives: 1) to develop retrofit strategies for existing homes that achieve 15% to 30% energy savings and ensure safety and quality of the home, and 2) design and produce new homes that use on average 30% to 50% less energy, while improving air quality and comfort, reducing construction time and waste. The team recently convened a wide array of partners to focus on two key aspects of the DOE Building America program’s MN Focus: Improving foundations and windows.
Foundation heat loss represents a significant opportunity and challenge for both new and existing homes. Foundation insulation is a viable and cost-effective means of achieving significant envelope conservation in colder climates for both new and retrofit applications and will be a critical need in meeting the Building America energy targets in a cost effective manner.
Windows have a very important impact on heating, cooling and air leakage in homes. Windows are critical components of both new and existing homes in meeting the Building America energy targets in a cost effective manner. Understanding the impact of high performance windows on HVAC system sizing and cost is another important aspect of determining cost effective energy upgrades. Understanding when refurbishing old windows or using attachments instead of replacement in retrofit situations is clearly relevant to Building America goals as well.
At each workshop, participants representing industry, research, and government gathered to hear presentations from experts on current technologies, challenges, and opportunities, share knowledge, and build consensus on needed research and cost-effective strategies.
For more information on these workshops, or to learn more about the IREE-supported Minnesota NorthernSTAR Building America Team, please contact Pat Huelman or John Carmody. Materials from expert meetings and other Building America meetings and webinars are located at their web site.
Join us on Wednesday, November 30 for Frontiers on the Environment.
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m
IonE Seminar Room R380, Learning & Environmental Sciences Bldg., St. Paul (map)
Free and open to the public; no registration required
This week’s speaker is Richard Leppert, Regents Professor, Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature.
His topic will be:
Modern concern with the natural environment has historical roots in changing attitudes about the relationship between humans and nature that emerged during the 18th century, most dramatically manifested in the concept of the Sublime. These changing attitudes can be traced in philosophy, literature, visual art and music. They inform decisions to establish the first national park reserves. They also explain the general awareness of environmental crisis and the urgent necessity to rethink the fractured relationship between the natural world and its human inhabitants.
Learn more about Frontiers or access this presentation online