First a Texas related one. LEED for the Outdoors? Landscapes Get Their own Green Certification Standards:
Green-building standards like LEED and SEED help guide and spur environmentally conscious construction. But step outside the door and into the garden, the campus quad, or the street, and there’s never been one set of rules to promote sustainability. Until now.LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. From Wikipedia: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods.
The American Society of Landscape Architects and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin have been working to create a set of standards since 2005. Last week, the program they developed, The Sustainable Sites Initiative, certified the first three landscapes through its standards process. In Missouri, a corporate campus where parking lots retain storm water, a walking trail passes through restored prairie, and a garden grows vegetables earned three stars. A green space at a Texas college and a playground at a urban park in Memphis each earned one star. To earn certification, sites can earn points for features like soil restoration, water conservation, native plants, and sustainable land maintenance.
A second story that has President Obama besting the Republicans. How Clean Energy Projects on Public Land Will Power 3 Million Homes:
Not so long ago, American energy policy might have included carbon-busting endeavors like cap-and-trade. But now, politicians’ focus has turned to clean energy, which Congress isn’t exactly rushing to support. In last week’s State of the Union, President Obama pointed out that his administration was doing what it could without Congress. The Navy is committed to ramping up clean energy. And Obama had directed his administration to facilitate the development of clean energy on public lands—enough to power 3 million homes.3 years ahead of schedule.
That promise isn’t quite as ambitious as it sounds: In 2005, a Republican Congress passed a bill requiring 10,000 megawatts of clean energy to go on public lands by 2015. But the Obama administration has been hustling to meet that goal, which it moved up by three years, to the end of 2012. The Interior Department oversees public lands, and by 2009, it had approved zero megawatts of solar projects. Since then, the department has approved more than 5,500 megawatts of solar projects, plus a handful of wind and geothermal efforts. In 2012, Interior is prioritizing projects that would provide 7,000 megawatts of energy, including a gigantic wind installation in Wyoming that’s rated at 3,000 megawatts. If these projects move along on schedule, the Obama administration will meet its self-imposed deadline and the 3-million-home mark the president touted last week.
From New Orleans. House of the Rising Sun: In New Orleans, Solar Power Gives Poor Families a Boost:
The headquarters of the solar-energy company Sustainable Environmental Enterprises is a green oddity in this rough part of New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood. The butterfly-winged roof and lopsided, Lego building design, complete with a money green paint job, fits anything but neatly in this residential neighborhood where run-down shotgun-style houses are strewn amidst blighted properties.
Economic development and political power may have overlooked this community in favor of tourist magnets like the French Quarter, but SEE CEO Lea Keal, 32, and board chairman Stacey Danner, 37, see only opportunity in helping develop this community and others like it by providing access to solar power.
...Keal’s enterprise has found a way to get solar tech into residents’ hands for as low as $43 a month. Producing power from the sun and not the fossil fuel-sourced local power utility, Entergy, SEE can now replace light bills that often run $100-$200 a month with a lease payment that’s less than $50. Solar customers only pay for Entergy’s power if they use more energy than is absorbed from the sun through the panels—providing they use less energy than is produced, most customers pay only the leasing fee for the panels. And since they don’t rely on the grid, a solar-powered house will keep the lights on during a neighborhood blackout—an event not uncommon in New Orleans, especially after Katrina.
Another $5 affords customers maintenance service for the life of the system, typically 25 years. At the end of their lease agreements, anywhere from five to 15 years, they can purchase the solar panels outright for $1. It’s accepted across the solar industry that panels will last at least 25 years, but if the panels were damaged in, say, a hurricane, SEE technicians will repair not only the panels, but any damage to the roof as well.