Green Initiatives

Is a Light Bulb Transforming the Lighting Industry?

Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Is a Light Bulb Transforming the Lighting Industry? Here’s the latest

In 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy was directed by The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to establish the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize (L Prize) competition. The competition is the first and only government-sponsored technology competition. The overall goal was to challenge the lighting industry to develop high performance, energy-saving replacements for conventional light bulbs that will save American consumers and businesses money. What was the incentive? – A $10 million dollar prize.

Five years later, in 2012, the winner was announced, the Dutch electronics company, Philips Lighting North America who was the only entrant. The winning product, the EnduraLED 10W A19 Dimmable Bulb is a huge advancement in technology. Its lifespan is an estimated 30,000 hours (more than 20 years when used four hours a day) and it produces 900 lumens of light while only consuming 10 watts of energy, making it 83 percent more efficient than standard 60-watt incandescents.

There are mixed reviews about the buzz-worthy L Prize bulb. For one, the $60 price tag is steep for most American families, ironic since part of the multifaceted goal of the competition was to be an affordable alternative and failed to meet many of the original prize specifications. The goal was a $22 price tag in the first year, falling rapidly to $8 by year three.

Also, the trade publication Energy Efficiency & Technology notes that the bulbs that are coming to market are actually a little different than the model that won the competition.

Others are saying Phillips is receiving preferential treatment by federal buyers and other major players who are beholden to the federal government, such as the many utility companies offering subsidies to customers who purchase the bulbs. They think the knowledge of this fact may have further reduced Philips’ incentive to keep prices low.

However, none can argue that the bulb isn’t the most eco-friendly bulb on the market. According to the people at Philips, if every 60-watt incandescent in the U.S. was replaced with the bulb, the nation would collectively save $3.9 billion in energy costs in one year. Such a swap-out would curb the emission of 20 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of removing 4 million cars from the road.

What do you think of the L Prize bulb? Worth it or not?

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More Connected Means More Efficient

We’ve been talking a lot lately about the future of smart homes that give consumers the ability to control all of their home’s systems from their mobile devices. Networking all your systems together into a central control system makes a house more energy efficient because the systems communicate with one another to avoid using energy when it is unnecessary. But now there is a study out that shows these systems also makes homeowners more inclined to actually use their energy saving features.

Programmable thermostats have been around for some time, but surveys have shown that only about 10 percent of consumers use the programming features to automatically adjust temperatures during certain parts of the day. However, consumers who have a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat – allowing control of the thermostat from any PC or mobile device – used the programming features of the thermostat 85 percent of the time. EnergyHub, the maker of the Wi-Fi thermostat used in the study, attributes the high usage rates to the interface of the thermostat’s Wi-Fi access.

“We’re not changing the way the thermostat works. We’re getting it to do what it was designed to do 30 years ago,” EnergyHub CEO Seth Frader-Thompson said. “An easier interface is a huge part of it.”

By taking the same technology used today, integrating it with the devices consumers use most often, and giving it an easier-to-use interface, consumers are more inclined to take advantage of energy-saving features. Perhaps this is really what homes and people need today. They don’t need new technology… they need something to make the existing technology easier to use. If the technology were easier to use, perhaps it would be used more often, making us all more efficient.

Preparing Your Home for Winter

Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on Preparing Your Home for Winter

With what looks like another harsh winter upon us, homeowners and apartment dwellers alike are pondering ways to winterize their homes while also saving money. Unless living in a warmer area such as parts of California or Florida, most will likely see at least some snow this winter with temperatures lower than they’ve ever been. There are, however, plenty of ways to keep your place warm this season.

One of the easiest ways to save money during winter is to use an energy efficient space heater. Today’s heaters are smart with thermostatic remote controls, meaning that they sense the ambient temperature and can heat the room accordingly. Most electrical space heaters convert 100% of electricity that they consume into heat, which is good for your wallet. Use one where you’re seated or a few around the house to manage which rooms need the most heat.

The best thing you can do for your power bill is to install a high-tech programmable thermostat to make sure you’re heating your place at the right times. These cut down your power bill significantly allowing users to program an entire week’s temperatures. You can even have a separate program for the weekend.

Most homes and apartments lose heat through windows and doors. Applying window wrap to the windows, although not attractive, will keep the heat inside. This works especially well in older homes. For installation, most recommend double-sided tape and a hairdryer to get all of the wrinkles out, making the wrap almost invisible. New weather stripping for doors can often fix the problem of warping and pulling away from the door frame. If it’s too damaged, however, a new door may be in your future (bonus: upgraded curb appeal!).

What are ways you’re saving heat and money this winter?

The Eco-friendly Easy-Bake Oven: Investing in play

Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on The Eco-friendly Easy-Bake Oven: Investing in play

Going green may be costly for some, but it’s an investment worth making according to most. With eco-friendly options available for homes, products and cars, and as brands continually boast about energy savings and efficiency, carbon footprint reduction is becoming a priority for individuals, families and the government… all of which are getting rid of the old and welcoming the new. Washington recently pushed to eliminate incandescent light bulbs in favor of lower wattage, energy saving bulbs, with the goal of completely replacing the energy-sucking bulbs by 2013. Among others, one classic childhood product that had an unintended casualty was the Easy-Bake Oven.

Since launching in 1963, Hasbro – the maker of the popular toy – has been through 12 versions, varying color from green to orange, changes that were mostly visual. However, today’s purple Easy-Bake Oven is different both on the outside as well as the inside. For the first time in nearly 50 years, the toy no longer requires a 100-watt light bulb as a heating device.

Today’s Easy-Bake Oven contains a heating element that’s more like a traditional oven. It’s also around 50% larger than previous models and is more expensive ($49.99 versus $29.99).

Although some parents may balk at the price difference, going green is more than just an upgrade. Eco-friendly products show clear personal benefits. For kids, the new Easy-Bake Oven gives them more variety in baking with the ability to whip up both sweet and savory items from pizza to cupcakes. Parents will be happy that their kids can be more creative while learning to bake, while simultaneously contributing to smarter energy savings.

With a poor economy, many parents are being more particular about buying toys for their little ones; however, they will find that the new Easy-Bake Oven is an investment – a toy that has proven its longevity and popularity. And who doesn’t want to invest in play?

Solar Restaurants? Check!

Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Solar Restaurants? Check!  Here’s the latest.

The collaboration between Catalan designer Marti Guixe and Finnish culinary expert Antto Melasniemi takes cooking to another level. Their solar kitchen restaurant for beer brand lapin kulta presents non-traditional experiences by examining the relationship between food and nature. Think kitchens of the future, but better.

photo via designboom

This environmental project has no boundaries, and it tests peoples’ patience and flexibility. On days with sunshine, the kitchen is able to serve something like barbecue, an entrée that requires high heat and hours of cooking. With less than favorable weather, the restaurant must adapt with meals that may be prepared with low temperatures, such as salads.

The solar restaurant takes a little more effort to run than a traditional restaurant with expensive equipment and prep time; however, the benefits of using the sun for cooking far outweigh the challenges. Apparently, time sequences that are much more progressive affect food processing, which changes the taste and texture of prepared foods when compared with traditional way of cooking. These techniques present a completely different tasting experience.

Held in 12 locations thus far, the lapin kulta solar restaurant was first presented in 2011 at Milan Design Week and is traveling this summer to visit a range of cities in Europe from August 4th to August 14th. If only they were coming to the states!

“Super Greenies”: A new breed of conservationists

Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on “Super Greenies”: A new breed of conservationists.

In theory, Green products have a large consumer base. Saving water, energy, forests, and our planet are noble goals that many people have embraced. Because there are so many ways to “go green,” people often do so in varying degrees. Some consumers are satisfied with replacing their light bulbs, and others save the forest by reusing shopping bags. But there is an emerging demographic of people who help save the planet in multiple ways.

Super greenies,” a new hyper breed of green movement followers, have done more than their fair share in conservation, earning them the coveted status symbol as the ultimate “do-gooders.” In fact, although a mere fraction of the population (about 5% of Americans), these fervent greenies participate in more than 10 environmentally friendly activities on a regular basis. Everything from their locally grown vegetables to their organic fiber clothing represents what 21st century consciousness is about. In a nation of consumerism and egocentricity, the “super greenies” stand at the frontlines of the war to save our planet.

Giving back to Mother Earth is what the super greenie is all about. This isn’t difficult seeing as many Americans in this category occupy the highest earning bracket in our nation,

Philip's greenest LED light bulb

earning typically more than $150,000 annually. Their spending power and motivational drive is what makes them a lucrative demographic to many new companies pitching green products and services. Knowing the super greenie is an important aspect in knowing where to fund green advertising. Some cities are more environmentally conscious than others. Concentrating advertising efforts in west coast cities such as San Diego and Seattle could prove more viable in the push for environmentally friendly products.

Super greenies hunger for the latest and greatest in energy saving technology. Their aims lie more in long-term investment and less on short-term savings. A $40 light bulb may have less of a sticker shock to the super greenie. Knowing that light bulb could last 35 years is the only payoff they need. Their high income and typical left-wing ideologies also make them politically influential to the average consumer. This trickle down effect can mean big bucks to companies trying to push their new low flow toilets or LED light bulbs. The future of the green movement may rest heavily on the super greenies. It is important for brands to recognize their power and to cater their messages to the environmentally conscious.

They consume online media, including online newspapers, TV, and radio, more frequently and are more likely to spend time on social networking sites than the average American.

So where’s all this new green technology headed? Just look to those advertisers pitching to the “super greenies.” Chances are, a few years from now, the typical consumer will be using these innovative energy saving products.

Charity and Green Combined for the Greater Good

Habitat for Humanity sustainable house

Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on Charity and Green Combined for the Greater Good.

Habitat for Humanity has routinely been on the front lines helping those in need. But they also provide housing that helps the environment. Using sustainable construction techniques, 55 Habitat homes will be built in the San Antonio area this year, all of which meet LEED standards. Habitat for Humanity’s definition of sustainability is “providing housing for people with methods, products and processes that create healthy homes and communities that are less expensive to operate, more durable, and that conserve resources throughout construction and after.” Using this philosophy, Habitat has proved the value of green building – not only is it good for the environment but it can be affordable as well. The organization provides homes at cost to families in need. By seeking out sustainable and energy efficient products that are comparable in price to their traditional counterparts, Habitat is able to keep the cost of a home low. In addition, the construction practices and energy efficient products make the home less expensive to operate on a yearly basis. In recognition of their sustainability efforts to build Smart Energy houses, CPS Energy will honor the organization at this year’s Greater San Antonio Builders Association Summit Awards.

Congratulations to Habitat for Humanity on their recognition as a leader in sustainable building. Their philosophies and practices prove that sustainable can be affordable and can make a family’s future brighter.

Going Green: The Tradeoff Game

Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on Going Green: The Tradeoff Game.

There are many reasons and approaches to go green. Going green can save energy and water, reduce harmful emissions and preserve plants and wildlife. But often each green decision comes with a tradeoff. Typically the tradeoff most talked about is money. The initial investment in green technologies has historically been more expensive than their less eco-friendly counterparts. But there is another tradeoff to being green that must be considered. Oftentimes, green practices also come with green consequences.

Landfill next to a fieldLook at, for example, dishes. One option is to use ceramic or glass dishes every night and wash them while the other option is to use paper dishes every night and throw them away. Reusable dishes reduce your trash flow and landfill space, but increase your water usage. Paper dishes reduce your water usage while taking up more landfill space. Which one is greener? It truly depends on the unique user. Maybe you live in an area that has severe droughts every summer, in which case paper products would help your area conserve water during drought season. Or perhaps your local landfill is out of room; reusable plates would probably be the better option for your environment.

Green forestThere are many home building products that are made from natural materials and there are many more that are made from synthetic materials. Natural materials may conserve energy, but deplete resources like forests. Synthetic materials may preserve forests while depleting other natural resources like oil and producing harmful emissions. So which is the better choice? That is up to your customers to decide. What is important for you to know as a building product manufacturer is that your green products present different benefits to different people. Know your customers and what aspects of going green are important to them… and which they are willing to sacrifice. By correctly targeting your green products to the right audience, you can make the tradeoff decision much easier for your customer.

Homes of the Future Tour: Part 3

Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on Homes of the Future Tour

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is home to SmartHome Cleveland, our third concept house for the future.

SmartHome Cleveland was built using the Passive House methodology that emphasizes energy efficiency. The home has three key features that make it a Passive House.

  • exterior view of SmartHome ClevelandEighteen inch thick walls provide high levels of insulation. The house is so insulated that it is meant to operate without a furnace.
  • The home was constructed to minimize air leakage and maximize air quality – the ventilator system transfers heat from outgoing air to incoming air.
  • The windows are highly energy efficient with three panes of glass.

The Passive House concept is popular in German construction. Thousands of homes in Germany are furnace-free, but only 15 such buildings exist in the United States. The home in Cleveland uses 90% less energy than a regular Cleveland home. And while the cost for construction is higher than a regular home, builders of SmartHome believe the monthly cost savings are worth it. As the technologies available in European countries (who have far stricter energy efficiency standards than we do) become more readily available in the U.S., the cost for these extremely efficient homes will decrease dramatically.

Will Passive Home methodology someday be the norm of home building?

Check back soon for the next stop on our Homes of the Future tour! In the meantime, if you missed our previous futuristic concept homes, read up on the Smart Home in Chicago and Earthships.

Homes of the Future Tour: Part 2

Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on Homes of the Future Tour

The next stop on our tour of homes that might hold the key to the future of the home building industry is Taos, New Mexico. Here, the Earthship World Headquarters are producing plans for homes that can be completely self-sustainable and off the grid.

exterior of an Earthship homeEarthships are built in the Biotecture construction fashion. These homes are made from recycled and natural materials – starting with the walls. All load bearing walls of the home are made from tires packed with Earth and cement and covered with stucco. Interior and non-load bearing walls are made from honeycombed recycled cans and bottles also covered in stucco. The walls and roof are so thick they provide excellent insulation and regulate the home’s temperature year round using the sun’s energy and Earth’s thermal properties.

Rainwater is collected, cleaned, and stored and then used four times in the home. Grey water is recycled through indoor planters of vegetables and is then used to flush the toilet. Sewage is collected and treated in exterior botanical cells for later use in food production, never entering or polluting aquifers. Electricity is collected from the sun and wind and stored in batteries. The home’s interior and exterior planters and gardens not only provide an ample supply of food, but the plants also filter the air and produce oxygen.

bathroom in an earthship home showing walls made from recycled bottlesAnd don’t be fooled – Earthships are also pleasing to the eye. Bottles used in the walls create one-of-a-kind “stained glass” art and lets in ample sunlight. The use of recycled materials makes for unique and interesting designs that integrate into the natural landscape.

Earthships have been built in many parts of the U.S. and around the world including Haiti, Africa and China.

A completely self-sustaining home. Will we all be living in Earthships someday?

Check back soon for the next stop on our Homes of the Future tour! In the meantime, if you missed our first futuristic concept home, read up on the Smart Home in Chicago.