Sustainable Energy News

Opportunities in the New Energy Economy

Auburn community comes together for a series of talks that will examine opportunities in the new energy economy. The talks will be held on Sunday afternoons, 3:00-4:30pm in Auburn City Meeting Room and the series will run for six weeks beginning October 4, 2009. Talks are free and open to all. Get the full list of programshere.

Pew Charitable Trusts: Green Energy in Alabama

Pew Research Center
June 15, 2009

According to a Pew Charitable Trusts Report released on May 8, 2009, "Alabama has a small but growing piece of America’s clean energy economy. The state’s number of jobs in the clean energy economy in 2007 was less than the national average of more than 15,000 jobs, but it increased slightly between 1998 and 2007 despite a lack of venture capital investments and few clean technology patents, and it exceeded the growth rate for overall jobs in Alabama during the same period. Automotive industry jobs in the state have declined, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,1 but Alabama is hoping to revive the industry by investing in alternative fuel production and infrastructure through its regional Center for Alternative Fuels and the Alabama Alternative Fuels and Research Development Fund."

Click here to download the factsheet.

Photo by Rafael G. Egües

Building green saves money and natural resources

May 30, 2009

Auburn University's new Building Science building, the Miller Gorrie Center, which was completed in October 2006, was the first building in the state of Alabama to receive LEED Gold certification. LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a building rating system awarded by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) that recognizes buildings designed and built to the highest environmental standards both during construction and throughout the building's lifetime.

Though the cost of building in a resource conscious way is coming down all the time, at the time Gorrie was constructed it cost slightly more to build it to LEED standard. It also takes effort to get LEED certification, to meet the criteria, to document compliance and to submit the paperwork. So, many people want to know, was it worth it? Was it worth the extra money and effort?

The answer is yes. Compared to nine other similar-use buildings on campus, as of January 2009, the Gorrie Center used 59.8% of the average amount of electricity used by those buildings. The nine other similar-use buildings used on average 15.93 kWh per gross sq ft per year. Over the same period, Gorrie used 9.5309 kWh per gross sq ft per year.

The building itself is not just functional, it is educational too. Many of the features that make it a resource efficient building are visible and, since the beginning of its occupancy, data has been collected on its electricity, water and HVAC use. Now we can begin to see how much less of these resources the building uses. Results on HVAC and water are not available yet, but results are in on the amount of electricity that has been saved.

If all of the nine other similar-use buildings used energy as efficiently as the Gorrie Center, the university could potentially save $405,772 in electricity costs per year. Clearly, it makes financial as well as environmental sense to build green.

Special thanks to Greg Parsons, Auburn U campus architect, for his help with this article.