The theme of this month’s issue of The Municipal could be a little nebulous. Energy topics encompass an inἀnite number of forms and methods of delivery. The commercial ones are buzzed about incessantly.
Today’s energy catchwords are “wind,” “solar,” “renewable ” and “sustainable.” You can also throw “clean” in there, if you can argure out exactly what that is. I dare you to come up with a universally-accepted deἀnition.
Not too many people argue with the precept that moving away from reliance on fossil fuels and diversifying both our energy and building resources with wind, solar and other renewable sources is better for the environment, national economic stability and even jobs. How many of our diversifying energy sources continue to be viable and economical over generations remains to be proven, though.
According to an article by Thomas Frank in USA TODAY newspaper that appeared on Christmas Eve, there’s another good question that hasn’t been satisfactorily answered about many of the renew-able/sustainable/“green” initiatives: How much money are they saving your department, really? We presume that it’s enough to warrant the eᴀort and expense of installing windmills or converting vehicles. But Frank, looking at green building initiatives in particular, points out that very little has come forward in the way of proof. In fact, he notes, “Researchers and USA TODAY have found numerous green buildings that use far more energy than projected.” See the article here: http://usat.ly/RNaJgo.
Publicly-funded sustainable energy and building initiatives should include the measurement and comparison of results. Even in the handful of situations where it’s required, building evaluations are sometimes not done or actual energy and water use is not analyzed.
Despite the time that such measurement and reporting takes, it’s not only the responsible thing to do, it will also identify the ideas and methods you should replicate.
How else will we know we’re on the right track?