Spring Greening

If you want to green up your crib (and your life) this spring then Living Green in Culver City is a must first stop. Living Green offers a variety of healthy and environmentally conscious products from coatings and wallcoverings to bedding and linens. The store was founded by Ellen Strickland, who has an extensive background in planning and design. Ellen realized that “traditional” building materials and methods are not only unhealthy for animals and humans but generally damaging to the environment we all share. Her realization was the catalyst for an entirely new mission and life-choice: to offer alternative building materials and furnishings to a broader audience looking for more conscious choices. Living Green has additional stores in Santa Barbara and Montecito and an excellent online store. Visit them on the web at http://www1.livingreen.com/ for more info.

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Water Smarts

Angelenos use, on average, 140 gallons of water every day, but most usage is misusage – nobody is that thirsty. There are several things one can do reduce water usage at home and most are no-brainers. First, use only as much water on your lawn as you need to. Studies show that the average homeowner uses more than 4 times the actual amount of water needed to keep a lawn healthy and green – wasted water that runs off of property and into storm drains. We got a lot of rain last month so give your automatic sprinklers a rest. Second, run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher – this saves 300 to 800 gallons a month. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks. Shortening showers also helps as every minute of shower uses 2.5 gallons of water. And lastly, don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. The city got some much needed rain this year, but the drought is far from over – most of the rain ended up in the ocean.

Get Smart

In 2004, the California Public Utilities Commission directed the state’s regulated utilities to explore the feasibility of upgrading electric meters in homes and small businesses to the type used to measure energy usage by larger business customers. Currently, home meters record only the total electricity used during a billing period. The next generation ofmeters will record not only how much power is used, but when, making possible a wide range of new energy saving service options.

Southern California Edison (SCE) worked with meter manufacturers to develop an enhanced, solid-state electric meter promising a lower overall cost, greater customer benefits and improved grid operations. The outcome is Edison SmartConnect, the industry’s leading advanced metering system currently in field testing by SCE. Between 2009 and 2012, SCE plans to replace 5 million electric meters for residential and commercial customers below 200 kilowatts in demand with “next generation” smart meters.

The system will empower customers to proactively manage their energy use and save money by participating in new programs with time-differentiated rates and demand response options. SCE’s smart meters will enable all residential and small business customers below 200 kilowatts in demand to achieve a “connected home of the future.”

Californians lead the nation in energy efficiency. Nevertheless, the state’s population and per-person energy use continue to grow. As a result, state officials and utilitiesare exploring ways to provide customers with incentives to conserve and shift usage away from periods of peak demand. Edison SmartConnect is key to accomplishing this goal.

Utilities pay much more for the power their customers use during a weekday afternoon than in the middle of the night. But residential and small business rates do not reflect this, and these customers have little incentive to use electricity in ways that reduce utility and customer costs and slow the need for new power plants and transmission lines. If electric rates were higher during peak periods and lower during off-peak times, customers likely would find ways to save by moving discretionary consumption to off-peak periods.

The Edison SmartConnect system will allow customers with communicating, energy-smart thermostats and appliances to automatically respond during critical peak pricing and grid reliability events. This will reduce the overall peak power consumption by an estimated 1,000 megawatts –the entire output of a major power plant.

SCE’s new meters will also be able to “talk” to home area networks, providing customers with real-time energy use and cost information to enable energy conservation. The Edison SmartConnect system has the ability to provide information from the meter into the home through a two-way wireless interface allowing customers to immediately see how their actions affect usage. The result is expected to increase sustained energy conservation that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and smog-forming pollutants by a minimum of 365,000 metric tons per year –the equivalent of removing 79,000 cars from the road.

In addition, the new technology will make remote service activations possible, enabling the 1 million customers who relocate each year to activate service on demand.

Edison SmartConnect is just one aspect of SCE’s national leadership in smart grid technology, bringing customers more reliable, cost-effective, environmentally responsible power.

To learn more about Edison SmartConnect, please visit www.sce.com/smartconnect.

Solar LA

Los Angeles is at a critical energy crossroads. The choice facing Los Angeles consists of staying on a path of dirty, unsustainable and dangerous energy resources or shifting to a clean energy path that exploits the abundant, renewable and reliable energy resources available today.

Los Angeles currently relies heavily on fossil fuels and nuclear power subjecting residents to long-term instability from price spikes, market manipulation and supply shortages. In 2005, 75 percent of the city’s energy came from burning fossil fuels: 50 percent from coal and 31 percent from natural gas. Renewable energy accounted for five percent of DWP’s total electric generation which is significantly lower than the state average of 12 percent.

Much progress has been made over the past few years. Los Angeles now has a goal of increasing renewable energy to 20 percent by 2010, and renewable energy has doubled in the past three years.  These developments should be applauded. However, most of the renewable energy developed by LADWP under its new renewable energy program is large scale projects like wind farms, geothermal fields and biogas facilities. The amount of solar power installed in Los Angeles is among the lowest in the state despite the city’s unparalleled amount of sunshine.

There’s no question, the city of Los Angeles has the potential to be the world’s capitol for solar power. With its year-round sunshine, growing energy needs and an enormous number of rooftops just perfect for solar panels, Los Angeles could easily generate at least five percent of its energy needs from solar power within the next decade. And, accounting for 10 percent of the state’s entire electricity usage, Los Angeles can play a leadership role in realizing California’s goal of building a million solar roofs in 10 years. 

Furthermore, LADWP’s rate structure creates financial barriers for individuals wanting to go solar. For example, DWP limits excess solar electricity generated during a weekday afternoon to offset net demand only during other weekday afternoons, as opposed to allowing afternoon-generated electricity to offset energy usage at night-time. In contrast, the rest of California allows customers to use their solar credits to offset any and all net demand within an annual timeframe. In other words, usually net metering allows a solar system owner to essentially use the grid as a giant battery, storing solar power by day for use by night. LADWP’s net metering program, in contrast, only allows solar system owners to “store” solar energy during the day which is, of course, the time of day storage is not needed.

Both of these issues need to be addressed if Los Angeles is to comply with the spirit of the Million Solar Roofs Initiative and, more importantly, if it is to become a world-wide solar power leader. The opportunity is to make Los Angeles a world-class solar city, bringing significant environmental, public health and economic benefits. Building 100,000 solar roofs in Los Angeles over the next ten years would:

Result in 300 MW of solar power installed in Los Angeles;
Cut global warming pollution by roughly 300,000 tons per year
Reduce smog forming pollution by 90,000 pounds per year
Create 2,100 new jobs

Going for the Green

The Advantage of Building Green

The city of L.A. gives preferential treatment to those who want to build green. Green Building is a high performance building that is built to exceed the minimum requirements of the building code, especially in the areas of indoor environmental quality and resource efficiency (including energy, water, materials, and land). Some of the Green Building design goals are to:
• Conserve natural resources;
• Preserve natural vegetation;
• Contain non-toxic or recycled-content building materials;
• Maintain good indoor quality;
• Provide flexible interiors;
• Provide recycling facilities;
• Recycle construction and demolition waste; and
• Include access to public transportation
LADBS is offering Priority Plan Check (to be given priority in assigning to a plan check engineer ahead of all other plans for which off-hour fees were not paid) for qualifying Green Building projects. Priority Plan Check service will expedite the start of the plan check work that will be performed during regular hours for your Green Building project. To qualify, the following items must be met:
• The project must be registered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC); and
• The project has been designated “Silver” or higher rating per Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating guideline; and
• The project has a minimum of 33 points per the latest version of “Registered Project Checklist,” published by USGBC.
Registration information and the rating guides are available at the USGBC website at:
www.usgbc.org.

For more information about priority plan check of green buildings, please contact the structural plan check supervisor at your local LADBS center.

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