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Rebuild Green Expo in Santa Rosa showcases safer, eco-friendly home options More from The Press Democrat Deputies: Lake County man arrested for carrying loaded gun while claiming to be on security detail Mueller investigation finds no Trump-Russia conspiracy Wineries with the best scenic hikes in Sonoma Valley LeBaron: Recalling contentious history as county, city explore joint quarters Geeking out on Gouda, and many other cheeses Anyone spotted the two naked mannequins stolen from Santa Rosa home? Smith: Botox banditry is a thing, a Santa Rosa plastic surgeon learned A day at the beach: hauling away a ton of trash left by the Russian River flood Man attempts to rob, then assaults Petaluma man and woman North Coast salmon fishing outlook best in years Santa Rosa police arrest three at Trowbridge Street home Has Roseland seen any changes since joining Santa Rosa in 2017? Roseland Village project: ‘Catalyst’ development faces challenges Kamala Harris calls for federal investment on teacher pay Ethiopian Airlines chief questions Max training requirements First-of-its-kind US nuclear waste dump marks 20 years Helicopters rescue Norway cruise ship passengers amid storm Police catch hit-and-run suspect after finding damaged car near Petaluma collision scene Trump, Israeli leader have mutually beneficial relationship Anti-Brexit marchers flood into London, demand new vote IS loses all territory, but its shadowy leader still at large US-allied Syrian force declares victory over Islamic State A look at Russians who became mixed up in Trump probe Firefighters rescue woman, dog from car partially submerged in Santa Rosa creek Activists wonder if California still in Trump plan for offshore oil drilling Rohnert Park construction workers detain suspected thief Coffey Park rebuild ramps up 1 dead, 2 injured in Highway 101 collision near Geyserville County mulls how to spend $14 million windfall on homeless services Local boy becomes ambassador for Down syndrome awareness Watchdog: FEMA wrongly released personal data of victims of 2017 disasters California boy, 1, fatally mauled by 2 dogs outside grandparents’ house Sanders to hold weekend rally in SF Key findings coming on Mueller report — but not quite yet Psychedelic pioneer Ralph Metzner dies in Sonoma at 82 Trump says he’s reversing North Korea sanctions because he ‘likes’ Kim New Petaluma nonprofit building English-Spanish bridges Sonoma to limit number of tasting rooms downtown ‘Brace ourselves’: Cyclone death toll tops 600 in Africa Woman killed in Hwy. 101 crash near River Road ID’d Golden Gate Bridge tolls going up Newsom declares state wildfire emergency to speed prevention efforts 3 arrested in gang-related robbery at knifepoint in Santa Rosa Sanders aims for strong showing in delegate-rich California County health program for the homeless under state scrutiny for low enrollment

Austin Murphy, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Amid booths featuring postmodern kitchen appliances and gleaming delivery systems for solar power, the table bearing the hay bales seemed a tad out of place.

Sorry, make that straw bales.

“Hay Is For Horses, Straw Is for Houses,” proclaimed the bumper sticker greeting visitors of the California Straw Building Association, one of most popular — and old school — of the 62 exhibits at Friday’s second annual Rebuild Green Expo, a showcase for all aspects of how to build “a healthy, low-carbon home.”

Another goal of the expo was to dispel myths about affordability and practicality of “rebuilding green,” said Ann Edminster, member of the Ecological Building Network, which organized the event.

The straw building association table sat in center of the exhibit hall at Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building facing the Pioneer Water Tanks station, across the aisle from the booth for Modular Lifestyles, whose 371- square-foot Tiny House on wheels was one of the event’s top crowd pleasers.

Homes built with plaster-coated straw bales apparently fared exceptionally well in the 2017 North Bay wildfires that were the impetus for this expo. The straw bales inside the plaster are so dense and compact that “it doesn’t burn very readily,” said the genial straw building associtaion rep, Jim Furness. “It would be like trying to light a telephone book on fire, if anyone remembers what a telephone book is.”

The Bay Area is a nerve center, an unofficial capitol of “the green building world,” said Bruce King, a structural engineer and the author of the book “Making Better Concrete.” After the North Bay fires, he recalled, “we were all calling each other, asking how we could influence the rebuilding that was coming.”

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9308607-181/rebuild-green-expo-in-santa

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Hemp house rises in rural Sebastopol

Danny Mueller, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Tucked away on a quiet country lane in Sebastopol, a construction crew is building a simple house with sturdy walls and large windows. The only unusual thing about the project is hidden inside the walls.

The house is being made with hempcrete, a non-load bearing material made of industrial hemp.

“I became familiar with hempcrete because I’m always looking to build in the ‘greenest,’ most sustainable way possible,” said Steve Sheldon, an architect, property developer and builder. “We’re always looking for materials that are rapidly renewable, and as carbon-neutral as possible.”

For more than four decades, Sheldon has designed homes and buildings with sustainable building materials and energy-efficient features. When a client expressed interest in building a “unique” accessory dwelling unit, Sheldon said his mind jumped to a newer version of one of the world’s oldest building materials.

Hempcrete is made by mixing the wood-like core of the hemp plant with hydraulic lime and water. The result is a sturdy, breathable building material with a lower carbon footprint than concrete and a host of other benefits.

At the construction site in Sebastopol, a work crew formed three blocks of hempcrete, each configured for a different purpose. The lightest block represents the material poured for the roof of this 1,000-square-foot house. Harder-packed hempcrete forms the walls and floor of the structure. Later, these walls will be coated with more lime to form a smooth surface.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/9204257-181/hemp-house-rises-in-rural

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California first state to mandate solar power for new homes

ASSOCIATED PRESS

California became the first state in the nation to require homes built in 2020 and later be solar powered, following a vote by the Building Standards Commission.

The unanimous action on Wednesday finalizes a previous vote by the Energy Commission and fulfills a decade-old goal to make the state reliant on cleaner energy.

“These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country,” said Kent Sasaki, a structural engineer and one of six building standards commissioners. “(It’s) the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.”

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California moves to require solar panels on all new homes
While nobody spoke Wednesday in opposition, the commission received about 300 letters opposing the mandate because of the added cost, the Orange County Register reported.

Energy officials estimated the provisions will add $10,000 to the cost of building a single-family home — about $8,400 from adding solar and about $1,500 for making homes more energy-efficient. But those costs would be offset by lower utility bills over the 30-year lifespan of the solar panels, officials said.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9041250-181/california-first-state-to-mandate

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Green rebuilding group to host Santa Rosa expo on Feb. 23

Kevin Fixler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Like many, Sarah and Bruce King watched in horror as the wildfires burned through the North Bay in October, leaving them to wonder how they might aid the recovery when the smoke cleared.

The San Rafael couple have backgrounds in sustainable construction through a two-decade-old nonprofit called Ecological Building Network, or EBNet. So they were uniquely positioned to make an immediate impact. In late October, along with green building consultant Ann Edminster of Pacifica and Sustainable North Bay executive director Oren Wool of Graton, the Kings hosted a small dinner at their home in late October and got to work.

The group formed a new organization, Rebuild Green Coalition, and decided to hold a one-day workshop in December, inviting others with expertise to the table. The idea was to brainstorm ideas for how Sonoma County and other affected areas could tap new technologies and modern home designs that reduce carbon footprint to help communities recover with greater post-fire resiliency.

“It’s one thing to build green, it’s another for how to actually do it,” said Sarah King. “With the wildland-urban interface, which is big up toward the hills, how do we make that more resistant? That’s the name of the game in a lot of areas, especially where the fires took place, and what happened here is equally applicable for Southern California.”

Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/7987771-181/green-rebuilding-group-to-host

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California wants renewable energy for half its power by 2030 

Michael R. Blood & Judy Lin, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Gov. Jerry Brown dramatically increased California’s climate-change goals, committing the state to use renewable energy for half its electricity and make existing buildings twice as energy-efficient in just 15 years.
Brown tried for an even stronger measure that also would have enforced a 50 percent drop in petroleum use by 2030, but was defeated by oil interests. He called that a short-term setback, and insisted that the world needs to wean itself off fossil fuels as quickly as possible.
“What has been the source of our prosperity now becomes the source of our ultimate destruction, if we don’t get off it. And that is so difficult,” Brown said at a signing ceremony Wednesday at the hilltop Griffith Observatory, overlooking the haze of downtown Los Angeles.
California already has some of the world’s toughest air quality standards, and set a mandate in 2006 to derive a third of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal by 2020. State regulators say they already hit 25 percent last year, as huge solar farms sprouted in the desert and towering windmills went up along mountain passes.
“It’s monumental,” said Alex Jackson, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “For an economy the size of California to commit to getting half of its power needs from renewable energy resources, I think, is a game-changer.”
Read more at: California wants renewable energy for half its power by 2030 | The State

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable LivingTags , , , , Leave a comment on Solar power for everyone: Why the rise of green energy makes utility companies nervous

Solar power for everyone: Why the rise of green energy makes utility companies nervous

Bill McKibben, THE NEW YORKER

“The utilities were always convinced that they could throttle down solar just by tuning down the rebate they were offering. What caught them off guard was when costs came down to the point where we didn’t need their rebate for solar to make sense. Suddenly, they couldn’t control the outcome anymore. And suddenly you didn’t see any more solar billboards, and suddenly they started taking a hostile approach.” Lyndon Rive, CEO of Solar City

Mark and Sara Borkowski live with their two young daughters in a century-old, fifteen-hundred-square-foot house in Rutland, Vermont. Mark drives a school bus, and Sara works as a special-ed teacher; the cost of heating and cooling their house through the year consumes a large fraction of their combined income. Last summer, however, persuaded by Green Mountain Power, the main electric utility in Vermont, the Borkowskis decided to give their home an energy makeover. In the course of several days, coördinated teams of contractors stuffed the house with new insulation, put in a heat pump for the hot water, and installed two air-source heat pumps to warm the home. They also switched all the light bulbs to L.E.D.s and put a small solar array on the slate roof of the garage.
The Borkowskis paid for the improvements, but the utility financed the charges through their electric bill, which fell the very first month. Before the makeover, from October of 2013 to January of 2014, the Borkowskis used thirty-four hundred and eleven kilowatt-hours of electricity and three hundred and twenty-five gallons of fuel oil. From October of 2014 to January of 2015, they used twenty-eight hundred and fifty-six kilowatt-hours of electricity and no oil at all. President Obama has announced that by 2025 he wants the United States to reduce its total carbon footprint by up to twenty-eight per cent of 2005 levels. The Borkowskis reduced the footprint of their house by eighty-eight per cent in a matter of days, and at no net cost.
Read more at: Solar Power for Everyone – The New Yorker

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , Leave a comment on New El Dorado Hills house recycles wash water and makes its own energy

New El Dorado Hills house recycles wash water and makes its own energy

Hudson Sangree, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
A demonstration house unveiled in El Dorado Hills last week by national builder KB Home recycles drain water for toilets and landscaping and can power itself entirely with solar panels. Its innovative systems are compact and unobtrusive, and will likely come down in price, making them viable upgrades for new home buyers in coming years, company officials said.
“These are futuristic things, but they’re systems you can do today,” said Dan Bridleman, the company’s senior vice president for technology and sustainability. The features are still relatively expensive, but Bridleman said the cost will fall sufficiently over time so that homebuyers will see a built-in water recycling unit or a house that doesn’t need to draw power from the grid as a “good value proposition.”
KB’s 2,600-square-foot “Double ZeroHouse 3.0” is located in its Fiora subdivision in Blackstone, a 990-acre master planned community along Latrobe Road. Blackstone, like other communities in El Dorado Hills, uses recycled water produced by the area’s two wastewater treatment plants to water lawns.
Water recycling has been gaining momentum in California’s historic drought. Cities including Sacramento are planning to use more of it in coming years for landscape irrigation and to cool power stations. Most recycled water is produced by large municipal wastewater plants.
The Double ZeroHouse takes water recycling to the next level by providing on-site treatment in a system developed by an Australian-American venture called Nexus eWater. The system isn’t approved for household use yet, but company officials say they expect the state to certify it within the next year.
The system gathers gray water from showers, sinks and washing machines in an underground 80-gallon reservoir that looks like a black plastic barrel. Above ground, in a locker-size treatment unit, contaminants such as hair and lint are bubbled out with soap and air, said Tom Wood, Nexus eWater’s chief technology officer.
Read more via New El Dorado Hills house recycles wash water and makes its own energy – Real Estate – The Sacramento Bee. hsangree@sacbee.com

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Brown, Thompson step in to aid PACE loan program for homeowners

Brown, Thompson step in to aid PACE loan program for homeowners

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Gov. Jerry Brown and Rep. Mike Thompson are involved in separate efforts to boost Sonoma County’s groundbreaking program to help residents pay for energy-saving improvements to their homes.

The highly touted program, which has funded more than $50 million worth of residential projects since it started in 2009, sustained a major setback in 2010 when federal housing officials said it jeopardized the nation’s major source of home mortgages.

While Thompson, D-St. Helena, is seeking to remove the federal roadblock, Brown and state Treasurer Bill Lockyer have created a $10 million fund aimed at offsetting the loan program’s potential impact on mortgages.

Thompson’s legislation went nowhere in 2010 and 2011, but may fare better this year with a new director, a former Democratic congressman from North Carolina, heading the federal agency that sets mortgage policy.

via Brown, Thompson step in to aid PACE loan program for homeowners | The Press Democrat.