360Chestnut is an online resource whose mission is to help consumers make their homes more energy efficient and comfortable. 360 aims to be a one-stop energy efficiency portal for homeowners, not just providing information about energy efficiency, but facilitating relationships with energy experts and building professionals who can help homeowners implement energy upgrades. Another great feature of the site is the links it provides to subsidies and incentive programs that help pay for upgrades. All of these features are presented in an appealing and easy to navigate format, making 360Chestnut an invaluable resource for consumers who want to improve the performance and comfort of their homes.
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The annual BuildingEnergy conference sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association is just around the corner. If you read my posts on last year’s conference you already know how much I value it. The NESEA website describes BE as the region’s “most established, most cross-disciplinary renewable energy and high-performance building conference and trade show.” I… continue reading ->
Our resource list contains trusted providers of goods, services, and information to help you go green at home, at work, and in your daily life. We have also created a special section called Green in Boston highlighting organizations promoting sustainability and environmental stewardship in our local community.
We are always looking to expand our list, so if you would like to suggest an addition please contact us. We’d be glad to consider it.
Wegowise is an online utility tracking and reporting tool designed for owners and property managers of multi-family buildings. But I’ve been using the system to track usage at my single-family home for several weeks now , and have found that it works really well for my purposes too.
In terms of basic functionality, WegoWise is very similar to MyEnergy (also on our resource list): both sites will automatically retrieve your utility usage data from your utility companies, display this data all together on your personalized dashboard, and compare your usage against that of like properties. But WegoWise offers users a much more finely grained picture of your building’s energy and water use than MyEnergy does, as well as more sophisticated graphing and reporting tools.
These tools are great not only for property managers with a large portfolio of buildings but also homeowner energy geeks, which I seem to have become (if you download your home’s utility data into an excel spreadsheet every month, then you are an energy geek and would probably love WegoWise).
And if you’re only tracking one building and don’t want to share your data with other users, you get all the tracking and analytical tools for free! If you own multiple properties and/or wish to share your data, you will need a Wegopro account, starting costs for which are $5/building/month. In my opinion, though, this is money well-spent.
Building Science Corporation offers a comprehensive suite of high performance building services including sustainable design, building technology consulting, building monitoring, and forensic investigations of building failures, among other things. In addition BSC has put together an online building science library of remarkable breadth and depth. From guides and manuals to case studies to published reports, there is a wealth of well-researched information and guidance available to anyone for free. There is even a section of the library geared specifically to homeowners with non-technical overviews of building performance issues such as ice dams and wet basements. Whether you are a building professional or a property owner, if your goal is to create a healthy, durable and resource efficient building, I think you’ll find BSC’s library to be an invaluable resource.
Choosing replacement windows (or new windows for that matter) can be pretty daunting. Window technology is incredible complicated, so if you want to get the most out of your investment–in terms of comfort and energy savings–you will need to master a whole host of variables including framing materials, glazing types, U-factor, solar heat gain coefficients, spacers and gas fills. It’s almost complicated enough to make you want to put up with your leaky, single paned windows for another season.
But not quite. Fortunately, there’s an online resource to help consumers wade through the options and make informed, energy-efficient choices. The Efficient Windows Collaborative includes a primer on windows, guidance for selecting windows for new construction and remodels, and a tool for calculating and comparing the costs of different window options. Whether you are shopping for windows or just want to understand how (well) your existing windows work, the site is well worth a visit.
Spring is just around the corner, which means… Hubway bikes are too. Hubway is gearing up for another season of bike sharing in Boston. The first season was wildly successful and the excitement heading into this season is palpable. While I haven’t used the system myself (I live and work in Newton, which isn’t served by Hubway–yet), I love seeing the bikes and the stations when I’m out and about in Hubway territory.
For those who aren’t familiar with Hubway here’s a quick lowdown. There are currently 60+ bike stations with 600+ bikes around Boston, and there are plans to expand to other neighborhoods and surrounding towns this year. In order to ride you need to purchase a membership–annual if you plan to ride regularly ($85); casual 24-hour ($5) or casual 3-day ($12) if your use will be short-term. Whatever plan you choose, you get an unlimited number of rides up to 30 minutes each.
The beauty of the system–and what makes it work–is that you can check a bike out from one station and return it to another. Which means that Hubway provides an alternative to walking and public transportation. It’s green, it’s healthy, it’s convenient for residents and visitors alike. It’s brilliant, if you ask me.
We all get utility bills every month, but for some reason many of us–I’d venture to say most of us–don’t have a clue how much energy we use on a monthly or yearly basis. And, of course, in theory we all want to save energy but how many of us are motivated to make the investments and behavior changes that are necessary? Utilities are trying hard to crack the motivation nut, but there is also promising work being done by social media savvy entrepreneurs to empower end users to reduce their consumption.
Enter MyEnergy: an energy software company that retrieves and tracks utility data for residential consumers (whose utilities offer an online account portal) for free. Sign up is incredibly simple: you enter your utility account information along with your login and password. And, voila, MyEnergy creates a dashboard that displays your usage, compares it to your neighbors and offers you tips to help you save. Each month you receive a usage summary by email and your dashboard automatically updates to reflect your latest usage data. MyEnergy is also working on incentives to encourage savings. Try it out and let me know what you think. Is the feedback better that what you can get from your utility?
The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, or NESEA, is the nation’s leading regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA has been around for more than 35 years and during this time has become a driving force behind the advancement of sustainable energy and green building policies and practices throughout the Northeastern United States. NESEA’s signature programs are its annual Building Energy Conference and its annual Green Buildings open house. If you are considering building or retrofitting your home for energy efficiency, you should check out these events.
Are you interested in building or renovating a green home? There are a plethora of green building programs and certifications available now, but the most widely recognized and most highly touted has always been–and continues to be–the U.S. Green Building Council LEED certifications.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and encompasses a suite of green building certifications including LEED for Homes (or LEED-H). Even if you are not interested in certification, LEED-H is a fantastic reference guide to building a home that uses energy and water efficiently, is healthy for the occupants, and treads as lightly as possible on both the local and global environment.
Not building new? Just renovating? USGBC offers another great resource specifically for home remodeling. While not a rating system, the REGREEN program provides a wealth of information–much of it in the form of case studies–that can help homeowners and professionals alike incorporate strategies, techniques and materials into a remodeling project to improve home performance and reduce environmental impacts over the long-term.
The Boston Society of Architects provides professional development for members, advocates on behalf of great design, and shares an appreciation for the built environment with the public at large.
Established in 1867, the BSA today consists of more than 3,500 members and produces a diverse array of programs and publications, including Build Boston (which we are proud to be a part of) and ArchitectureBoston. As a chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Society is a nonprofit, professional-service organization.
Looking to cut down on your waste? Check out MassRecycle: a statewide coalition of individuals, governments, businesses, institutions and non-profit organizations dedicated to promoting and realizing the vital environmental, social and economic benefits created by reducing, reusing, and recycling waste materials, and by increasing the utilization of recycled products.
MassRecycle holds a number of events throughout the year to help communities and organizations implement successful waste reduction programs. Programming highlights include an annual green office conference, recycling facilities tours, and advocacy for sound public policy around recycling and other forms of waste reduction.