I thought about installing a solar fan in my roof to draw the hot air out. Anybody have any experince with them?
I often wonder when all the people building/buying homes in the 300k-500k range will clue in to how much they can save going forward by building green and more energy efficient. There are many ways to do so at very little upcharge over 2x4 stick building. When I look at all the "stuff" going up around is in the past 2 years here, I just shake my head.
We built a 3000 sq ft, 1.5 storey, ICF home last year, as well as used sprayed foam insulation, a metal, heat reflective roof (doesn't heat load all day long like ashphalt-based shingles), extra low-E, wood-framed windows, tankless hot water heater (way less metal to throw out when it fails too), and 3 foot roof overhangs to stop summer sun intrusion thru the windows.
Low VOC paint is readily available at very little more than regular (Sherwin-Williams) as is low VOC, water-based finishes for hardwoods. Using organic, clay-based earth plaster on interior walls saves petroleum-based resources and looks a lot better too.
Not only is the house almost eerily quiet because the walls are 11" thick (6" concrete w/ 2.5" EPS foam on either side), but there is zero heat conduction or air leakage like you get with any stick framing. You can down-size your HVAC and save there too. The only thing we didn't do, but will rectify this winter with special paint, is use a radiant barrier in the smaller portion of the house with an open attic.
For example, for the period 6/27-7/27, where the avg. daytime temp was 97F, we used just 1580 kWh and our bill was $234. And, because the systems run not nearly as often, there is less wear & tear, enabling longer life for the equipment -- thus less crap to throw away over the house's lifetime.
Can't get much better than that unless you start moving into geothermal heating and cooling!
I thought about installing a solar fan in my roof to draw the hot air out. Anybody have any experince with them?
Don't do it!
You are going to do two things:
1) Burn electricity doing something that is better accomplished by adding more (passive) soffit venting and whirlybirds or a ridge vent.
2) You will very likely produce an negative pressure environment in the attic. The negative pressure has to be balanced somehow. It's balanced by drawing conditioned air into the attic from the conditioned space below, via such places as ceiling light cans, outlets and HVAC vent boots in the ceiling that are not sealed well. As a result, you end up running your A/C longer to cool new air entering the house down below to replace the conditioned air migrating faster to the attic... all because of the attic fan.
In old gable houses such a fan is also a bigger waste when attached to the gable vent-face. If it's not accomplishing what I stated above, it's simply sucking air across the ceiling of the attic from the nearest other gable vent... the path of least resistance is what air follows... and doing nothing to expel the hot air everywhere else in the attic below that level or in any corners. Additionally, when they are not running, they are effectively blocking most all the available passive venting via that gable vent they are covering. A complete waste of energy too.
If you look at the typical shrouded attic fans sold at HD or Lowes that many people put up in the old Tudors around here (including my former one till I pulled it!), you can see in the installation sheet that they specifically recommend against gable installs.
Passive venting, and applying a painted radiant barrier from a reputable source (Sherwin-Willimas has one) will do for more for you in reducing attic temps. ESPECIALLY the radiant barrier in an older home.
If you Google "attic fan venting" you can come across numerous articles/studies explaining in more detail what a waste of time and electricity it is. It's a holdover from northern climes, in the winter.
Last edited by KBilly; 02 August 2006 at 02:59 PM.
^Thanks for the info, I will do some additional research. However, this particular vent is solar powered so there was no electrical connection.
Sorry... missed that. You'll still have the "sucking your conditioned air into the attic" issues unless you are sealed tight as a drum. Few non-spray foamed attic floor houses, with the new airtight cans, are anywhere close.Originally Posted by Tnekster
^There have been stories in the news that the McMansion craze has peaked. A major contributing factor is that people are really starting to think about the cost of utilities for a 5k-7k sq ft house. I don't know that we see this in DFW, but in some markets in California and the Northeast, this is evidently becoming an important issue for buyers.
People are struggling to sell their McMansions, not only because the real estate market is cooling, but also because they are more interested in the on-going cost of ownership; utility prices are going to go higher before they get cheaper, so this trend may be with us for a while.
Where would a painted radiant barrier go? Would this be painted onto the interior ceiling? Is it just a radiant paint applied to existing materials?Originally Posted by KBilly
Also, do you know the relative cost of a metal roof for a typical 1800sqft single story house? Do you know if additional support structures are required when replacing a traditional shingle roof with a metal one? I have to replace a roof overlay and I would love to replace the layers of wood and asphault with a more efficient metal roof...if it is cost effective of course.
I have non-airtight cans so am sure I would be losing a/c that way. Thanks for the heads up. Maybe the radiant barrier is the way to go. I will have to look into that. I need to get my west windows shaded as well. I turn my a/c up during the day and it doesn't run until afternoon when the sun comes in.Originally Posted by KBilly
It sounds counterintuitive, but a radiant barrier goes on the underside of the attic roof, facing the space below. At original install, it is generally a downward facing, foil-faced subfloor panel that shingles or other roof material are then applied to on the outside. After the fact, a radiant barrier can be stapled in, but that is a lot of work and still does not cover the studs. Thus, radiant barrier paint was developed.Originally Posted by LakeRidge
It is sprayed or rollered and brushed on. It must have an air space below it in order to work. It stops radiated heat from passing into the space. Thus, all the attic floor and and ductwork or HVAC equipment up there, stay cooler. So, there is less heat transfer to the room below thru less than adequate insulation or uncovered cans, etc. Google on "radiant barrier paint" and "radiant barriers."
Sorry, I don't know the cost. It was 12k for our new house, but roof slope and design all come into account. It is applied to the roof's subfloor. They will last "forever" and generally come with 50 yr warranties. They will result in a 20-25% reduction in your homeowner's policy in Texas, if they are applied by a licensed installer -- that's key. Nothing extra is required, but you must remove the old shingles first in order to get the benefits and the discount. It weighs less than a shingle roof. We used Mueller's AP panels. www.muellerinc.com They will give estimates.
Also, I should have been clearer above on heat loading in the sun. They will obviously get just as hot as shingles (unless you have one with radiant barrier coating, which is very rare still). But, and it's a BIG BUT, they offload heat very quickly once the sun goes down. That means less overall time for said high heat to conductively radiate into your attic each night.
You can get radiant barrier "crystals" to add to any paint from most paint stores. For example, adding a small bag of crystals to some primer would do the trick for painting the underside of your roof. The cost is minimal.
Man this is a great thread and really a lot of help! My house was built in 1963 and is a "contemporary" home - meaning it has no real attic. The roof line is pitched in keeping with the vaulted ceilings below. I have two hatches that leads to small crawlspaces in the "attic" on either side of my house. Unfortunately, only a hobbit can fit in this crawlspace! There is no way to apply radiant barrier to the underside and I am even suspect of the ability to get additional insulation blown/spread out up there. I currently have only 6" of blown insulation. My last electric bill for my 1840 sq.ft. home was $280! Since I bought the house I have put in new windows, added 4 "whirley-bird" attic fans and installed a new HVAC system. I can't really tell if this has helped since the electric prices have gone up more than I was supposed to save! Any of you guys have advice on the best way to fix this attic problem? Many thanks if you can help or point me in the right direction!
Lava... I had a pretty extended reply for you, but the crash lost it. I'll try and find time this week to repeat.
Meantime, go to http://www.hvac-talk.com/vbb/forumdisplay.php?forumid=1 and learn all you can about HVAC.
And search on 'radiant barrier' as there's 3 really good threads.
Update: you really need to investigate more attic insulation and ventilation. Whirlybirds do not do a good job of removong hot air unless there is some air flow to begin with. Look at adding more soffit vents around the perimeter of your roof -- the more the better.
Williams Insulation is reputable compnay for blown-in cellulose and you would be surprised the spaces they can work with. Call them for an estimate/advice.
Last edited by KBilly; 15 August 2006 at 11:14 AM.
Luckily, I read - and printed - your reply before the crash. Again, much thanks for pointing me in the right direction! - Tony
“We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”
This is freakin' unbelieveable. Take a look at the list of top water users in Highland Park at the bottom of this editorial. Between Harlan and Trammell Crow, they use 3 Million Gallons of water per month?? Holy crap.
Drowning in Dollars: Being able to afford it doesn't make it right
07:58 AM CDT on Thursday, August 17, 2006
Some wealthy homeowners spend money like water – even on water.
Highland Park, home to many of our richest neighbors, went public this week with a list of big spenders who, despite the drought conditions, are committed to making sure their grass really is greener.
At the top: real estate investor Harlan Crow, who apparently needs 1.8 million gallons of water each month – almost enough to fill three Olympic-size swimming pools – to keep his 7.7-acre estate pristine.
We suspect a $5,859 monthly water bill is but a drop in the bucket for someone like Mr. Crow. But his freewheeling watering habits are a drain on a precious resource.
Highland Park has the right idea to stigmatize overzealous sprinklers. If a historic drought doesn't compel Mr. Crow and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to limit their lawn care, perhaps public pressure will help change their minds.
Other North Texas cities should follow suit and reveal their biggest water users and abusers. Admonishing those at the top of the list sends the message that conservation isn't only for the cash-strapped. Just because you can afford to pay the bill doesn't mean Texas' water supplies can support your habit, as anyone who has seen the shriveling lake levels at Grapevine or Lavon can attest.
Dallas and some of its suburban neighbors have done an effective job detailing water-saving measures and suggesting landscaping alternatives. These are important reminders for residents.
But when the carrot isn't working, cities may need to turn to the stick. Frisco has.
The Collin County suburb doesn't kid around about water restrictions. Violators find red signs planted in their yards – a scarlet letter for their oversprinkling. And the city cuts off the offending sprinkler system until the homeowner pays a fee.
With water demands growing and supplies dwindling, other cities should consider similar measures to rein in consumption. Many local governments already have implemented stair-stepped water rates to encourage conservation. We might need steeper stairs in the future.
But regardless of how high water rates climb, a privileged few will foot the bill without batting an eye. We can only remind them that to whom much is given, much is required.
To Mr. Crow, Mr. Jones and others: We hope you'll do your part to conserve in the future.
Name -- Acres -- Gallons per month
1. Harlan Crow -- 7.7 -- 1,805,000
2. Trammell Crow -- 6.1 -- 1,111,000
3. Dallas Country Club -- 56.1 -- 913,000
4. Edwin Cox -- 6.6 -- 883,000
5. Jerry Jones -- 4.7 -- 512,000
6. Highland Park United Methodist Church -- 4.3 -- 460,000
7. Crestpark Inc. -- 3.5 -- 418,000
8. Flippen Park (town of Highland Park) -- 1.8 -- 378,000
9. William Duvall -- 0.7 -- 331,000
10. Bradfield Elementary School -- 5.7 -- 326,000
SOURCE: Town of Highland Park
You do realize there is no water crisis or even a need to conserve water in DFW, right?
The water crisis is false in regards to supply. The issue is the poedunk suburbs who lack the infrastructure to deliver water to their residents. The water is not a problem, it's the ability to supply the water via the water mains and lines.
The City of Dallas is one of the richest cities in the nation when it comes to a freshwater supply. We have tons and tons and tons. And tons!
Don't let the media tell you that there is a crisis of any sort in regards to Dallas running out of water.
:firegrin: :firegrin:Originally Posted by Insidetheloop
I can hardly wait to see what happens next here...
Seems like I have heard some stories about Frisco having a problem with this but I don't remember the details. But it did have something to do with the inadequate infrastructure. But it was serious enough that it might impact some of the development plans for the future.Originally Posted by Insidetheloop
Newspaper Column: No good can come from this water shortage
08:45 AM CDT on Thursday, August 17, 2006
By GORDON KEITH
The drought is taking a heavy toll. The topsoil fissures fan out from my lawn like cracked glass, and my trees have shed their leaves.
Newspaper Column Animals move slowly, and mosquitoes have abandoned the bone-dry bathhouses where they once exchanged West Nile freely. The ground is hungry for any kind of moisture. Last week in my back yard, the earth opened up and took my neighbor. Immediately afterward, I saw a sunflower put a gun to its head. It's bad.
But not for everyone.
Whereas the average Dallas household uses 8,300 gallons of water a month, the average Highland Park home gulps down 27,000 gallons. Why the disparity? My theory is that the extra water is used to keep their privates squeaky clean so wife-swapping remains palatable. But authorities say the difference is from excessive sprinkler usage.
Highland Parkasites will have green lawns no matter how many lakes must be drained. And I am being literal. Trammell Crow opened his sprinklers in July and boat hulls hit bottom in Texoma.
I know it is popular to stoke class jealousy between Dallasites (animals) and Park Cities people (sons of Zeus), but it is fun and easy. Park Cities people don't even die. They just inject botulism and marry younger.
But let's help them out on this and think on their level. What are more practical water sources for Park Cities residents? Why don't they water their lawns with angel tears or unicorn tinkle? Just brainstorming. Maybe they would get more rain if they opened the bubble. Can't they install sprinklers in heaven directly above the Park Cities, or did they eminent domain that for Jerry Jones' Pegasus stable? See? The drought is turning us against one another.
Maybe there is no solution. We North Texans want our green grass, and we love our sprinklers. Hell, my fondest childhood memories are of summer days playing in the rainbow sprinkler in the front yard with my brothers and sisters. For hours, we would feel the sting on our legs as we jumped through the jets like circus lions, cutting a Norman Rockwell figure in the prism mist. My least fond memory is my dad ramming my head into the quarter panel of our Olds for turning his lawn into a mud pit. In Highland Park, of course, you don't find sprinklers, you find sprinkler systems. Massive, complex, zoned things that could keep a rain forest going. And the kids don't play in them. They are too busy waiting to meet their new stepmom, who is in the shower having beautiful servants scrub her naughty bits with sea sponges dipped in fairy-wing dust. I don't even know what I am talking about. So thirsty. ...
Just so everyone is clear on why the northerly neighbors are suffering, and Dallas is not, it's very simple -- Lake Lavon is drying up. They, unlike Dallas, get their water from there via the North Texas Municipal Water District.
See here: http://www.plano.gov/News/Top+Storie...06_drought.htm
"As of June 2, 2006 the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Reservoir Control Office reports Lavon’s elevation at 482.85 feet. The conservation pool (normal elevation) is set at 492.0 feet with the flood pool at 503.5 feet. A state of emergency (Drought Stage 4) would be declared if the lake elevation fell to 475 feet."
City bans new landscaping
02:09 PM CDT on Thursday, August 17, 2006
By MARY ANN RAZZUK / WFAA-TV
Mary Ann Razzuk reports
Patrick Murphy had a unique idea when he found out his new home would have to go without landscaping until water restrictions are lifted in the city of Prosper.
“Concrete the whole thing,” Murphy said, laughing.
He's allergic to grass anyway, so he can deal with the delay - but not everyone is smiling about a new mandate that prohibits new landscaping or modifications during the ongoing drought in North Texas.
Red Price of Preston Trail Stone and Garden Center in Prosper said contractors and landscapers are feeling the heat from drought restrictions.
“It's hurting the lawn services and our people who do the mulch and the beds and things of that nature," said Price. "The ones that are down there are just saying it's slow. We're not getting anything there because of new ordinances - what we're doing, we're finishing and moving south.”
Fast-paced growth and construction brought contractors to Prosper, and the increased water demand is among the reasons for the crackdown.
"There is an end to, or some limits to, our existing supply, so we want to preserve our supply," said town administrator Doug Mousel.
New homeowners and businesses will have to wait for lush landscaping until restrictions are lifted - or face the possibility of fines.
Patrick Murphy said he sees a positive side to the ban.
"When you have a lawn you have to maintain (it) - the upkeep, the water bill for it, have to conform to the homeowners association rules," he said. "When you have concrete? Just sweep it off."
Frisco, Prosper and McKinney etc, have gone the cheap-o route on almost everything they have done in the past 10 years. Pick any municipal city project and they always pick the cheapest, least expensive and cheesy route. Whether it be the roads which will be largely toll driven in the future, school district buildings that use the bare minimum in generally accepted construction practices or in the case of utilities, MUD's.Originally Posted by Tnekster
There is alot of blame to go around between home builders, developers, city officials. I just really wish that someone could correct the media in their approach to scaring people into water conservation. The problem is not the water supply. Even if Lavon ran dry, there would still be plenty of water left.
One of the awesome parts about living in North Texas is that we have a near inexhaustable water supply and near inexhaustable supply of natural gas. It's a shame that certain utility companies and water authorities are trying to cripple the residents of the metroplex by trying to maximize their profits.
Oil is to Saudi Arabia as Water and Natural Gas are to the Metroplex. We have a buttload of it.
You seem to know all things Dallas. So why are they looking to build yet another supply of water way out in east texas? I have heard about this huge water supply that we have for years but yet they want to build in more supply.Originally Posted by Insidetheloop
You must be thinking of the Fastrill Reservoir. I have some family just west of Nacogdoches and they are opposed to the proposed lake. It would be a big 'un. That lake wont be built till 2030 or 2040? I forget. Long way off.Originally Posted by Tnekster
It seems like Dallas owns the water rights to almost every lake in East Texas.
You can never have too much of a good thing.
Yea... esp. when the "good thing" is the total hogwash spouted here.Originally Posted by Insidetheloop
You are whistling in the wind about natural gas being "unlimited" in Texas and it has nothing to do with the cost of NG-fired electricity at TXU-- it's a country-wide pricing issue. TXU, due to Texas stupidity, gets to set its 'price to beat' based on the cost of NG, even though the majority of its power is non-NG generated.
Secondly, we do not have unlimited water in North Texas. Let me start yiou here, since it's new: Hard Truth, Dry Times
After you read that, and after you Google the NG supply and it's US pricing and how the price to beat is ascertained in TX, let me know. I can then provide you with more about "unlimited water" too.
Gotta run... time to refill the pool...
From your article:Originally Posted by KBilly
“They want a whole lot more water than even they show the demand for,” says TCONR executive director Bezanson of the DALLAS plan. “Even if planning for a high population, they’re still not putting any reasonable conservation in there.” She says that the projected numbers for demand and supply are skewed and that the various public hearings have been little more than “smoke and mirrors.”
The metroplex has plenty of water. Don't sweat it.
A few years ago the DFW area had such a monumental surplus of natural gas, that Dallas County installed a natural gas powered generator next to the county jail. They used it to produce ultra-cheap power which they sold back to TU Electric(now TXU). It's still there. Mothballed.
Reminder=the scarcity and high price of natural gas is fake. A bubble. Fueled by 25 year old porsche driving speculators in NYC.
Look, I know about that generator and it was a boondoggle, fer sher!
There is no scarcity and high price of natural gas right now, so why do you say it? I've been working with the NG biz off and on for 25 years now. There is a scarcity of transport methods to get supply where it's needed. Transportation networks -- from the wellhead to the distribution head -- need expansion. Liquified NG needs offloading points on our coasts.
The cost of gas has dropped substantially since last summer. But TXU rates (price to beat) have risen 24% since last summer. That's because of the stupid Texas board that approves increases, but has no mechanism in this phony de-regulated market to make them decrease. So, now that gas has dropped, TXU still charges 24% more for power and that power is produced more from other sources than gas. Can you say "screwing the customer?"
As to water, like I said, that was one new article. IMO I think it's hogwash to say we have all the water we need in North TX -- if Lavon starts sucking mud then other sources have to follow up. Have you been to Eagle Mountain and Lake Bridgeport over the past year? When Eagle Mountain starts to raise its level to meet demand, Bridgeport drops A LOT. I have friends with Bridgeport beachfront property that have a dock sitting 4 feet above the mud for a year now.
Other places are the same in this drought. Here's some reading about the drought plan for the water district I cited above for everyone north of Dallas. Pretty sobering stuff (warning - PDF file): http://courses.washington.edu/cee576...roughtPlan.pdf
Here's a very good primer on the TX drought and water condtions: http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/data/dro...rought_toc.asp
There's approx. 115 (of 126 total) water systems under mandatory watch (stage 3) in north-central, east and central Texas as of Aug 1st. There's approx. another another 20 (of 71 total) under voluntary watch. That's a big problem. If you have some other things I/we can read, then please post, because I for one would like to see that we do not have a looming problem. It won't stop me conserving water, but it would make me less concerned.
Last edited by KBilly; 18 August 2006 at 02:01 PM.
Conserving water also conserves energy. All the plumbed water that is piped into our homes has been treated in a water treatment plant. These water treatment plants use electricity to power the equipment that treats water. Because most of the electricy we produce results in polution to our environment I feel that it is important to conserve water, thereby conserving electricity and reducing pollution, regardless of our water supply.
Hey guys - An entire forum has been setup to discuss Green issues around the DFW area and what you can do.
Topics include transportation, ethanol, biodiesel, organic gardening, recycling, home improvements, solar and wind power, energy reduction, carbon credits pollution and much more.
That discussion on the radiant barriers a few posts back was very informative and I would like to include it over there.
DMN: TXU pitches pollution-fighting coal tactics
02:39 PM CDT on Tuesday, August 29, 2006
By ELIZABETH SOUDER / The Dallas Morning News
TXU Corp. plans to spend up to $2 billion to develop technology to make electricity without pumping so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Doing so could put TXU in a profitable position, if the U.S. government limits industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, which contribute to global warming.
Some TXU executives have expressed doubt that the U.S. government will do so anytime soon. But more recently, as the company faces scrutiny over pollution, executives have talked about setting up a consulting practice to help companies cut emissions.
"We see this as a great business opportunity," Mike McCall, chief executive of TXU Wholesale, told a group of elected officials during a luncheon TXU threw on Monday.
The luncheon and the description of plans to develop carbon dioxide technology come at a time when TXU is trying to get permits to build 11 traditional coal-fired power plants by 2010.
The technology wouldn't be ready in time for those plants, which will boost the company's carbon dioxide emissions by around 40 percent.
That's why Dallas Mayor Laura Miller asked TXU executives to slow down during a question-and-answer session at Monday's luncheon.
"The carbon dioxide is a huge, huge issue for us," Ms. Miller said. "I think we would all be delighted if we could build those plants slower."
Ms. Miller has said a coalition of Texas cities, led by Dallas and Houston, plans to formally intervene in the permitting process for the new power plants.
In a hearing on the Oak Grove Plant – the first of the 11 plants to seek a permit – judges assigned by the State Office of Administrative Hearings recommended that state environmental regulators deny the permit.
Last April, TXU announced plans to spend $10 billion to build the traditional coal-fired plants, mostly in rural areas of East Texas.
The company pledged to cut its total emissions of regulated pollutants by 20 percent, but carbon dioxide, which isn't regulated, isn't included in that promise.
The company also mentioned at the time that it would spend $2 billion more on the "next horizon" of cleaner power plants, offering no details.
On Monday, that plan became a bit more clear.
Shawn Glacken, vice president of environmental policy for TXU Power, said the company had assigned eight scientists to comb the globe for technology to cut carbon dioxide emissions in power plants.
TXU will spend between $1.5 billion and $2 billion on the project.
She said the technology could include coal gasification, nuclear power or other ideas. And she wants to draw on scientists in parts of the world that are building lots of power plants, such as India.
TXU also is meeting with some U.S. companies with pollution-control technology. For example, TXU officials visited with Jupiter Oxygen Corp., which offers technology that can retrofit a plant to burn coal with oxygen rather than air, thus reducing some emissions, Jupiter spokesman Harold Green said.
To this point, TXU's carbon dioxide strategy has been to build the plants and retrofit them later if carbon regulations materialize.
This strategy also allows TXU to boost emissions ahead of any carbon regulation and maximize the carbon credits it might get under a carbon-trading scheme.
Some experts speculate that if the government can ever come up with a consensus on carbon dioxide, the result could be a cap-and-trade system, like that in Europe.
Under a cap-and-trade system, the government sets a cap on total emissions and gives companies permits to emit at certain levels to meet the cap.
Often, the amount a company may emit is based on how much it emitted before the regulations.
But TXU chief executive John Wilder said in May that it's doubtful Congress will regulate carbon dioxide anytime soon.
Since then, media reports on the environmental effect of carbon dioxide, and TXU's plans to boost its greenhouse gas emissions, have stirred concern among consumer, environmental and political groups.
On the last quarterly conference call earlier this month, TXU executives described plans to develop expertise in carbon dioxide control technology and to offer expertise.
Mr. Wilder said on that conference call: "It's going to be a horse race of what technology wins in a carbon-constrained world."
TXU plans to build nuclear plants in Texas
10:22 AM CDT on Thursday, August 31, 2006
By ELIZABETH SOUDER / The Dallas Morning News
TXU Corp. announced Thursday plans to build up to three nuclear power plants in Texas.
The Dallas power company said in a press release that it will apply for licenses for the plants in 2008 and will probably finish building them around 2015 to 2020.
TXU didn’t say how much it would spend to build up to six gigawatts of nuclear power capacity it’s planning, but said the idea is to come up with a design and construction process that shaves up to 40 percent off of the average cost.
TXU said the average cost to build a nuclear plant is $2,100 per kilowatt. So TXU’s plans could cost around $8 billion.
The company said it would work with other companies to share the risk and investment. The company is in preliminary discussions with the Lower Colorado River Authority and the City of San Antonio’s CPS Energy.
TXU also didn’t say exactly where it might build the nuclear plants. The company’s Comanche Peak nuclear facility is the last one built in the U.S. and could be a site for growth.
The company would consider adding nuclear plants at other sites it already owns.
Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...xu.3ac4d3.html
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09
Group denounces TXU nuclear power plan
Dallas Business Journal - 2:48 PM CDT Thursday
A consumer advocacy group has blasted a plan by TXU Corp. to build nuclear power generators at one to three sites in Texas.
Washington, D.C.-based Public Citizen, which has an office in Austin, says the plan could add to Texans' out of control electric bills.
"This is part of TXU's master plan to drive out competition in the Texas market, which will result in higher bills for all of its customers," said Tom "Smitty" Smith, director of Public Citizen's Texas office.
The group claims that, although TXU (NYSE: TXU) says nuclear reactors could provide lower-priced sources of power, the previous nuclear reactor TXU built was more than $11 billion over budget, resulting in large rate increases for customers.
Dallas Business Journal - 12:12 PM CDT Thursday
The "Texas Cities for Clean Air Coalition," a group of mayors representing 17 Texas cities and led by Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and Houston Mayor Bill White, held a press conference Thursday to announce the legal team enlisted to represent the coalition in its fight against proposed coal-fired utility plants in Texas.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality currently is reviewing permit requests for 17 new coal-fired plants proposed to be built in Texas by seven different utility companies. Dallas-based TXU Corp. is proposing 11 of those.
The coalition's legal team will be led by Houston-based law firm Susman Godfrey L.L.P. and Stephen Susman; Debra L. Baker, founding partner of Houston-based Connelly, Baker, Maston, Wotring, Jackson L.L.P. -- which focuses on complex environmental cases -- and David Frederick of Loweree and Frederick, an Austin-based law firm known for its work representing local governments and others facing environmental threats.
"We know that the utility companies need to provide more electricity for people," Miller said, "and we know that they need to build more power plants to do that. But there are companies outside Texas that are using more modern, cleaner technologies than the proposed method of coal-burning to do it.
"We would simply like to research this thoroughly and present all the alternatives for consideration."
Most of the proposed coal plants are in East and Central Texas, near Dallas-Fort Worth. It's predicted they could add tons of pollution annually to North Texas, which is already losing a long-running battle to meet federal clean air standards.
In a letter Miller previously sent to all the mayors in the state asking for $10,000 from each city to help hire a law firm to intervene before the TCEQ, she cites figures that the new plants each year would spew: 30,000 tons of smog-producing nitrogen oxide, or NOx; more than 115 million tons of carbon dioxide, or CO2, which contributes to global warming; and nearly 4,000 pounds of toxic mercury.
Cities making up the coalition are Arlington, Cedar Hill, Coppell, Dallas, DeSoto, Duncanville, El Paso, Fort Worth, Frisco, Hillsboro, Houston, Irving, Lancaster, McKinney, Plano, Rockwall and Wylie. The coalition says it expects other cities to join in the next few months.
"Currently, air quality in North Texas is in poor shape," said Irving Mayor Herbert Gears. "Using cleaner and more efficient methods that currently exist, power can be produced and distributed in a less harmful way. As leaders in our communities, we must hold the power industry accountable to produce power quickly without compromising environmental standards."
Miller said an account will be opened soon to receive donations from the public to the Texas Cities for Clean Air Coalition.
I certainly welcome the oversight of Public Citizen, as well as that of the environmental groups that will surely add their 2c soon. But the concern about the budget may be misplaced. Comanche Peak was one of the last two nuclear plants built in this country. Construction started in 1974, at a time when there were serious environmental concerns about nuclear energy in general, and the incidents at Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986) did nothing to allay public fears. As a result, it took almost two decades to build the plant. Time is money, and 19 years is probably about $11 billion worth.Originally Posted by Tnekster
And speaking of time... the second unit came on line in 1993, 16 years ago. That means that the Comanche Peak design is over 30 years old, and there have been a lot of improvements in reactor technology since then. New designs -- if done right -- should be the equivalent of upgrading from a Boeing 747 to a brand-new 777.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09
^Just a point of interest, Boeing has a new design for the 747 based on 787 technology. Pretty cool looking plane.
^hope the nuke plants fare better than the 747-8. Those don't seem to be selling too well
Dallas Business Journal - September 1, 2006
Three major sponsors of a contest to ease Metroplex pollution are themselves considered major sources of Dallas-Fort Worth pollution.
The contest, called "The Commuter Challenge," encourages telecommuting, car-pooling and public transportation.
Giant cement makers Texas Industries Inc. of Dallas and Michigan-based Holcim U.S. Inc. are offering portable DVD players and a $500 Best Buy gift card to winners. The kilns, for years, have fought clean air advocates that have urged cleaner technology, but plant owners say they've recently taken steps to start testing the technology.
The contest is hosted by the North Texas Clean Air Coalition. See www.tryparkingit.com. The coalition's major sponsor is TXU Corp., which is embroiled in a controversial drive to build 11 new coal plants in Texas.
-- Margaret Allen
Should tell you all you need to know about who actually does the most damage to the environment.Originally Posted by RobertB
It ain't free individuals, of course.
"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain
Carrollton Kroger to open E85 pump
Dallas Business Journal - 4:39 PM CDT Tuesday
A Kroger store in Carrollton is the first in the area to offer ethanol-based E85 fuel.
The Kroger, at 4038 Old Denton Road, opens its first E85 pump Wednesday. The store will price the ethanol fuel lower than regular, unleaded gasoline.
E85 ethanol, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, is an alternative fuel to gasoline. It is a domestically-produced renewable fuel made from corn and other grain products.
The pump in Carrollton will be one of 18 planned Kroger fuel stations that will offer the E85 fuel throughout Dallas and Houston.
The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) is a Cincinnati-based grocery store chain.
Web site: www.kroger.com
An Ethanol Kroger station in Irving on MacArthur is already open selling E85. Currently Ethanol is selling at $2.113.
I took pictures of it yesterday.
I wonder how many people are using it?
I'm making plans to build a home that includes "Green" techiques. It won't be 100% but it will include some items that will save energy. Probably will be 2,500-3,000 SF. It won't start for a few months... still looking for the right lot.
I'll post pics when the time comes.
I was out at SMU tonight. There was a ribbon cutting for SMU's new engineering building, which is LEED certified. Here's an article from a few months ago. Good stuff.
SMU Embrey Engineering Building
By Liz Moucka
It is very appropriate, but not accidental, that Southern Methodist University's schools of Mechanical Engineering and Environmental and Civil Engineering will be housed in the university's first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified structure.
The new Embrey Engineering Building was funded primarily by Mr. and Mrs. J. Lindsay Embrey Jr. Mr. Embrey, who died this past November, was a civil engineering major from SMU's class of 1945. He was the chairman of First Continental Enterprises Inc., a construction and development company engaged in commercial and industrial building operation, apartment building operation, and subdividing and development. In the mid-1950s, Embrey and George Underwood Jr. began developing the Richardson Heights area and later developed a major portion of the city of Richardson.
The three-story Embrey Engineering Building is located at the corner of Airline Road and Dyer Street in Dallas. Forming SMU's new East Quadrangle, the area will serve as the new east entryway to the campus. Other facilities in the new quad will include the Junkins Engineering Building, completed about a year ago by Mahattan Construction; the Laura Lee Blanton Student Services Building, and the recently completed Collins Executive Education Building, both built by Centex.
SMU uses Collegiate Georgian architecture exclusively in their buildings, and the Embrey Engineering Building will be no exception. Collegiate Georgian architecture is characterized by small narrow windows, cast stone and masonry exteriors, and a slate roof. Retaining these aesthetic features while incorporating sustainable fixtures and practices created particular challenges for the design team from Hahnfeld, Hoffer, & Stanford.
"The small windows do not allow sufficient daylight to achieve a LEED point, and skylights cannot be installed in slate roofs," explained Robert Ayers of Hahnfeld, Hoffer, & Stanford.
Instead, a three-story light column was designed to pump light throughout the interior, according to Dean Geoffrey Orsak, SMU dean of Engineering. "Many studies show that people work and learn better in settings that have natural sunlight. That will be the ultimate benefit of this building — to enhance the learning capability of our students."
The channeling of natural daylight does not extend into the basement labs, where laser and controlled light experiments will be conducted, Ayers said. "Motion detectors will be incorporated into the lighting system in order to save electricity. High reflective pavers, a precast WAUSAU product containing marble chips, will reflect heat away from the building, making it easier to cool in the summer.
"Rainwater will be captured and transferred to a holding tank across the street in the Peterson Building," Ayers described other green features. "Gray water will also be captured in a sump under the Embrey Building and piped to a holding tank. This water will be used to water plants that are drought tolerant."
SMU engineering design students also became involved in the building's design, developing a student-led initiative to make the Embrey Building a showpiece that will highlight and teach what LEED is all about.
"LEED's innovation points are open to interpretation," explained Orsak. "Our student design team, all seniors, looked at conservation issues and made a presentation to the construction and design team. They designed new models for how we would collect paper and other recyclables with containers in the basement. Landscaping will utilize natural pesticides instead of poisons."
According to Dean Orsak, a vital aspect of this project is that "this entire building will be a learning lab for our engineering and environmental engineering students as well as for visitors. Our students will go through the math to quantify into engineering terminology how much material was kept out of landfills by using carpets made with a high percentage of recycled materials, for instance, or how much water the waterless urinals will save." An information kiosk will serve as a "sustainable building" educational center and provide real-time information about the temperature and power usage within the building.
SMU's excitement about sustainable building began many months before the first shovel of dirt was turned. "We have a number of advisory boards, and a few were talking about LEED certification. We had a sense that it would become a significant initiative and perfectly aligned with what we stand for," said Dean Orsak. "We found that it was feasible in terms of limited initial investment and unlimited future investment."
"The LEED certification process has to start way back prior to the builders arriving for construction," said Bob Gaston, project manager for Turner Construction, general contractor for the project. "That's what a lot of people don't realize." The choice of building site can gain or lose an owner points in the LEED process, and the project must be registered with the U.S. Green Building Council.
At this stage of construction, the contractor is concerned with two particular aspects of the LEED process: recycling waste materials and locating materials within 500 miles, with as many as possible being "green." Green materials are those that are produced with a high percentage of recycled materials, those that emit low VOC vapors, or that minimize the use of water or fossil fuels.
Lumber used in this project has come complete with "Chain of Custody Certificates," proving it was grown in certified forests, according to Joe Dudas, Turner project engineer.
In order to meet LEED requirements, stated Mike Shook, Turner Construction project executive, "We have an aggressive waste management/recycling program and subcontractors are locating local materials."
"As general contractor, Turner is primarily overseeing the process," said Dudas. "It's the responsibility of the subcontractor to find the specified materials and fixtures."
The building contractors involved also contend with the logistics of limited space and virtually no staging area on the actual job site. The jobsite trailer and staging area have been located adjacent to the site, and they rely on "just-in-time" delivery schedules.
"We were able to get our materials ordered before prices began to escalate after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but we are having to monitor delivery," said Shook. "The storms have affected delivery schedules."
At approximately 54,000 square feet of space, construction of the Embrey Building will require an estimated 200 tons of structural steel, supplied and erected by Bratton Steel, and 2,250 cubic yards of concrete, which is being supplied by TXI and placed by Sizelove Construction.
Below it all, in the substructure, a 6-foot by 8-foot utility tunnel that contains campus electric and plumbing lines runs at basement depth across the west side of the Embrey Building. Hahnfeld, Hoffer, & Stanford designed the building substructure to bridge over the utility tunnel. Shoring was used in conjunction with excavation of the basement on the east side of the building due to its close proximity to the street and public utilities.
In order to excavate a tunnel walkway joining the Embrey and Junkins Buildings, support for the Junkins side portico was rebuilt. Two new piers were drilled and poured so that the existing center support column under the porch could be removed, and the through tunnel excavated.
"A decade from now, I can't imagine constructing a building that doesn't include at least some aspects of LEED," Dean Orsak commented. "Once you've built one, you will want all of your buildings to be LEED certified."
Dallas homebuilders in talks with FW on green program
Dallas Business Journal - September 8, 2006by Holli E. EstridgeStaff Writer
The Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas is seeking buy-in from peers in Tarrant County and the region for its new green building program.
In March, the Greater Dallas contingency quietly launched the program, which includes a basic set of green building guidelines covering issues such as site management and water recycling, water efficiency, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, materials and homeowner education.
An ad hoc committee of the association fashioned the local guidelines from the National Association of Home Builders' green home building guidelines.
"The National Association of Home Builders began to come around to the idea that green building was not just a fad," said Dan Fette of Dan Fette Builders Inc. Fette is building Nevada Court in Denton, the first subdivision the Greater Dallas association certified under the new standards.
"When they queried their members, they found out that they were hungry for information about green building. They saw it as the coming wave," Fette said.
Since the program's inception, it has attracted 34 participating builders and six supporter members, mostly with ties to the home construction industry. The participating builders consist of custom home builders located throughout the Metroplex.
"We tried to put a program together that the big guys would respond to, also," Fette said. "Really, we see this becoming a regional program with enormous impact."
The association, whose coverage area includes Denton County, is in talks with peer associations in Tarrant County and others to expand the program's reach.
Scott Morrison of National Autotech inc. is promoting the use of synthetic auto lubricants
Dallas Business Journal - September 8, 2006by Margaret AllenStaff Writer
As a young child, North Texas businessman Scott Morrison remembers his dad and grandpa taking him camping. They always told him, "Leave the campsite better than you found it."
Morrison, a founding partner and owner of National Autotech Inc. and its 16 City Garage automotive service and repair shops in the Metroplex, has always followed that advice -- even in his business.
That became especially obvious a couple months ago, when City Garage launched a "Go green" campaign. The company describes it as a total environmentally friendly approach to car care by using man-made, synthetic fluids, as well as nitrogen to inflate tires.
The promotion hasn't been a marketing revolution, nor is it breaking sales records for the 13-year-old retailer, Morrison said. But he didn't expect it to. In fact, it's actually added some costs. He believes City Garage will ultimately recoup some of that.
Morrison cautions he's no naturalist like Yule Gibbons, nor is he a member of the Sierra Club. But all his life he's liked to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors.
"It's more of a mindset," he said. "I'm concerned about the quality of our environment for the future because I have young kids, and I want them to be able to enjoy the outdoors like I have."
So "turn your car into a green machine," urge the marketing materials. Besides cable TV, radio, outdoor, special event marketing, sports marketing and print ads, City Garage has mailed a newsletter to customers in the past couple of months. It also has launched its citygaragegreen.com Web site, placed point-of-sale materials in its shops and encouraged its service writers to educate customers.
"Some people don't want to hear it; they say 'I just want an oil change,' " Morrison said. "Some people do want to hear about it."
The materials explain that instead of only petroleum-based lubricants, City Garage also now offers synthetic motor oil, along with synthetic transmission, power steering and differential fluids. Not only do synthetics improve mileage and reduce service cycles, goes the pitch, they also conserve natural resources and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
While a typical fossil-fuel oil change runs $29, the synthetic change costs $39. But customers can nearly double the service interval, Morrison said. About 30% of oil changes at City Garage are now synthetic, he said.
As demand increases, the cost differential is steadily declining. Morrison originally bought his synthetics in individual bottles by the case, with costly packaging -- the only way it was available from his supplier, Valvoline.
"I wanted to offer a reasonably priced, full-synthetic oil change," he said. "But the only way (to do that) is to get it in truckloads. ... Fortunately I had sales guys very active in the Valvoline market and they went back and convinced their management that I would buy enough." Now his supplier brings a monthly truckload of about 275 gallons that is shared among the 16 garages.
The City Garage approach with synthetics is probably unique, according to Kevin Jackson, who, as territory business manager for Valvoline, has the account.
"I think the whole industry is headed that way," Jackson said. "But City Garage's usage is way ahead of the curve."
In 2005, synthetics represented about 13% of the dollar value of the motor-oil market sold in the United States for all distributors. In recent months, the national average has more than doubled, Jackson said.
City Garage didn't stop with lubricants. The 13-year-old retail chain also is encouraging customers to air tires with nitrogen -- at $5 a tire -- rather than use free, conventional compressed air. Properly inflated tires are the easiest way to improve gas mileage, Morrison said, and, because nitrogen molecules don't leak like the oxygen molecules in compressed air, tires stay inflated longer.
"I've got a lot of positive response from consumers," said Morrison of "Go green." "Some say they appreciate the concern and say they want to do business with a green company."
Better way to go
NAME: National Autotech Inc.
BUSINESS: Automotive service and repair retailer
HEADQUARTERS: 1190 Explorer St., Duncanville 75137
TOP EXECUTIVE: Scott Morrison, president and CEO
ANNUAL REVENUE: $14 million (Projected, 2006)
WEB: www.city-garage.com and www.citygaragegreen.com
firstname.lastname@example.org | 214-706-7119
Rail commissioner visits biodiesel plant
11:57 PM CDT on Friday, September 8, 2006
By Monty Miller Jr. / Staff Writer
Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams traveled to Denton earlier this week to tour the globally recognized Denton biodiesel facility, which provides cleaner-burning fuel for diesel-powered vehicles. “Our goal is to break or solve the petroleum paradox,” Williams said. “It’s very important for me to learn and to see what innovative techniques are available.”
The uniqueness of the Denton facility, which opened in March 2005, is that it extracts biogas (methane) from refuse at the municipal landfill to heat large holding tanks that turn vegetable oil into the environmentally friendly biodiesel fuel.
Although experts say the biodiesel could run a diesel engine by itself, the plant uses a mixture called B20, which consists of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. “We found that you get much cleaner air if you run five vehicles at 20 percent rather than running one at 100 percent,” said Charles Fiedler, the vice president of operations for Biodiesel Industries of Greater Dallas-Fort Worth LLC.
Using a mixture is also a more feasible option because its production could not match the consumption levels of diesel fuel in the United States today. “This will never replace diesel fuel but the hope is that this will provide a bridge to the future,” Fiedler said.
The goal of the plant is to produce three million gallons of biodiesel per year, which has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 78 percent compared to 100 percent petroleum diesel.
The city of Denton, which uses the B20 mix to fuel its entire diesel vehicle fleet, including buses and garbage trucks, has seen visible improvements in air quality. And now Denton County is looking into using the B20 mix for its much smaller fleet of diesel vehicles.
“We want to take a proactive approach to clean air,” said County Judge Mary Horn, who accompanied Williams on the tour of the plant. “The county has made a commitment to finding alternative fuels.”
The biodiesel plant, in its year of existence, already has received prestigious environmental awards, as well as high praise for its pioneering techniques from members of both political parties and community leaders throughout the state, country and world.
“We need less reliance on foreign crude,” Williams said. “We should be using less and less from places like Saudia Arabia, Venezuela and Iran.”
MONTY MILLER JR. can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Last edited by dfwcre8tive; 11 September 2006 at 02:09 PM.
^The City of Dallas and The Texas Enterprise Fund needs to incent Biodiesel plants in South Dallas County.
^The Enterprise Fund does not fund projects like this. TEF is just a deal signing package for relocating companies into Texas. The Emerging Technology Fund might be a better candidate for something like this if they could get the local board to sign off on a proposal but I still don't think it is really what they want to see. They seem more interested in Bio/Nano technology proposals up here. It might be worth it for someone to submit a proposal to the Houston office since that office would more likely deal with energy/refining/petrochem related proposals.
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