For the past couple of decades, interest in the environment and "greening" of residential buildings has been creeping into our daily lexicon; nowadays, the theories have become practice, and renewable or "green" power is now more accessible than ever before. With planning and guidance, just about any building can inject a little environmentally friendly, money-saving green into its daily operations.General interest in green power usually falls into one of three categories: A consumer has heard about green power, but now, with instability in the Middle East and rising fuel prices, they're really interested in using green power in their home.
The second group is made up of managers and directors whose building energy costs are becoming so unpredictable, their energy budget falls apart by mid-year. These administrators need to present a price stability strategy to their board and shareholders for, at minimum, the company's annual electricity cost. Finally, there's the building that wants to attract a new breed of co-op or condo buyers - those motivated by environmental issues like clean air, and less pollution. These individuals and boards want to build a green image and create a green marketing campaign for their property.
Regardless of the reason for one's interest in green power, some important background information should come first. Green power is electricity that is generated by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar photovoltaics, biomass (using plant compost or waste as fuel), low-impact hydro, geothermal, and ocean power. "Renewable" means sustainable, or regenerating - as opposed to the fossil fuels that are being depleted and are not renewable. Green power from renewable generators is available to New Yorkers and to over 50 percent of retail customers nationwide. As more consumers buy green power, more renewable generation is developed.
A question that commonly surfaces in discussions of green power is, can we get enough green power to support this market? If we look at wind generation only, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) claims that with the existing infrastructure and U.S. wind resources, 20 percent of our electricity could be generated by wind. And, if intense wind areas like North Dakota get transmission improvements, wind could generate more than 33 percent of our country's electricity - and that's just wind alone.