The Green Movement Conservation and Savings for Residential Buildings

Americans today are moving toward a more well-developed awareness of their environment, and what it takes to protect and preserve earth’s natural resources. City dwellers and suburbanites alike typically recycle paper, plastic, and glass strive to conserve energy wherever possible. Some even garden and compost.

The “green movement” didn’t start with this enlightened generation however, or even a generation or two back. In one form or another, various groups and organizations have been advocating for greener, more environmentally conscious living for nearly two centuries. 

Back In the Day….

The American environmental movement first began to take shape in the early 1830’s when Henry David Thoreau authored his novel, Maine Woods, calling for conservation of and respect for nature, along with federal preservation of virgin forest. By the 1860’s the United States government had already began to create parks and to set aside wild lands for public good.  Yosemite became the first national park in 1872, the same year the Audubon Society was founded. The Sierra Club was formed in 1892, and the Forest Reserve Act was ratified before the century was out. President Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt visited Yosemite in 1903 and publicized and popularized conservation; by1916 the National Park Service was established and Americans were embracing environmental concerns.

The Rise of the Green Movement

The national parks movement lost some steam as the 20th century wore on. With two world wars and the Great Depression to contend with, environmentalism as we know it did not remain a concern for most Americans or the federal government during the first half of the 1900s.  It would take a freak event in Pennsylvania in 1948 to prompt a national outcry and fuel new concerns for more personal issues like clean air. 

In October of 1948, a lethal “fog” formed over the town of Donora, Pennsylvania when weather conditions trapped a haze of dangerous chemicals from American Steel & Wire and Donora Zinc Works over the town. By the time rain dispersed the fog, 20 people were dead and 7,000 were ill or otherwise affected; the ghastly event raised public awareness nationwide, and once again Americans were focused on environmentalism. 


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  • New Rule 111d A new proposed federal rule regulating CO2 emissions from existing electric power plants will take effect in 2020, establishing new state goals that will cut nationwide power-related CO2 emissions 30 percent by 2030. That’s a big cut, and pundits and utilities warn it means power rates will go up significantly. But that does not have to be the case. The new rule is an opportunity to actually reduce rates [1] while building a more resilient, flexible and efficient grid. How so? The average electric power plant turns just one-third of its input energy into useful power. The rest is squandered, dumped into the air or into lakes, bays and rivers as waste heat. But most of that excess heat is valuable thermal energy that can be captured and used to provide real services such as heating or cooling buildings, powering industrial processes, or meeting domestic hot water needs. The technology to do this is neither new nor experimental. Combined heat and power (CHP) and district energy (DE) systems have helped cities, communities and facilities in all regions of the country reduce their emissions, improve local resiliency and stimulate economic development for more than a century. They’re complementary technologies that can exist separately, but when combined together they offer states and utilities a unique set of tools to meet CO2 requirements while providing substantial additional benefits, including a more reliable heat and power supply, the chance to utilize local and renewable fuel sources, and reduced energy costs. Category 10 MW CHP 10 MW PV 10 MW Wind Annual Capacity Factor 85% 22% 34% Annual Useful Heat 103417 MWht None None Footprint Required 6,000 sq ft 1,740,000 sq ft 76,000 sq ft Capital Cost $20 million $60.5 million $24.4 million Annual Energy Savings 308,100 MMBtu 196,462 MMBtu 303,623 MMBtu Annual CO2 Savings 42,751 Tons 17,887 Tons 27,644 Tons Annual NOx Savings 59.4 Tons 16.2 Tons 24.9 Tons