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Incentives for Green Building

Building Green – Government Incentives To Help You Get Started

There are many benefits to living in a green home, including reduced health risks, the knowledge that you’re making a difference for the environment, and reduced energy bills. However, you may not know that many state and local governments, as well as entities like utility companies are offering incentives for people to build green. This is occurring across north America, and the number of incentives keeps growing.

Some of the private and government incentives for building green include tax breaks, rebates, and more – just for adding ecologically friendly elements into your life. These incentives can help you get more ambitious green building projects off the ground.

Different states and provinces offer different incentives, as do different cities; a small number are limited to small tax breaks or other less desirable options. That means that every area is going to be a little different. Some are more favorable for green building, so it’s important to do your research.

United States
The US government offers a number of incentives and tax breaks for people who upgrade their homes in ways that increase efficiency. These incentives are offered through the Energy Policy Act of 2005. More information can be found by looking up this act.

The EPA has a number of link for sources of funding available to green builders, at state and local levels as well as nationally.  These incentives are available to homeowners, but also to people in industry or government organizations and non profit organizations.  It’s possible to get tax credits, grants, loans and more for specific projects. For more information, visit www.epa.gov

Local incentives can be found by contacting local authorities or by online search as well. The DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency) can be used to find incentives at the federal, state, and local levels, and will also help you search for utility incentives for people who use renewable energy sources or more efficient practices.  This non profit project gets its funding from the US Department of energy, via the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the North Carolina Solar Center. For more information visit: www.dsireusa.org

You can find information about federal tax credits that can be earned just for using energy efficient appliances and other products, too.  The Energy Star site, operated by the US government, tells home builders and consumers what they can get for switching to a better product.  That means you’ll not only save on your energy bill – you’ll get a tax break, too.

Canada
The Government of Canada also offers incentives for green building and making energy efficient choices within your home. Environment Canada has a couple of incentives for those of you who choose to reduce your carbon footprint. The ecoENERGY Retrofit offers up to $5000 in rebates based on the quality of energy-saving improvements made in your home. The amount of money rewarded reflects the “size’ of your upgrade. (Think electric thermostats vs. solar hot water systems…) Visit www.ec.gc.ca for more info and more rebates.

There are a lot of options out there for people interested in building green.  Government incentives, as well as benefits on the state and local level, make it easier to change your life to one that’s better for the environment.  Take a look at all your options and find out what you’ve been missing.  It could be enough to kickstart your green building project.

Clean Coal – The debate

Clean Coal: How safe is it?

Clean coal is something that you want to consider carefully when you are looking at ways to reduce your carbon emissions and live a greener life. Coal is something that has been widely contested. It is one of the most popular sources of power that we currently use – but it is something that can be very damaging to the environment and the world around you in general. Therefore, many people are turning away from coal and coal-based energy resources in order to be more green. However, another option is the clean coal option.

Some people believe that things can be done to make coal safer. However, others believe that no matter what is done to it, coal will not be a safe energy source, and therefore we should move entirely away from coal and find better and more renewable resources for our energy.

There are several ways that coal can be made into “clean” coal. The first is by washing. When coal is washed, some of the impurities are removed from the fossil fuels. This allows the coal to burn more cleanly, and greatly reduces the amount of pollution that is put out by it. However, it still means that coal is being burned, which is essentially a big cause of pollution.

Gasification is another way to create clean coal. The coal is not burned in this process. Instead, it reacts with oxygen and steam. By this process, syngas are created, which are composed of hydrogen. These are then burned in a gas turbine. This process results in a cleaner burn with less emissions.

Flue scrubbing is another way to make coal cleaner. With this, a limestone and water solution is sprayed into a flue. It reacts with sulphur dioxide, which creates gypsum. The gypsum can be used for construction purposes, and is much cleaner than the coal.

Another way to get clean coal is to use low NOx burners. The burners minimize the nitrogen oxide gas which is created. This is one of the biggest polluters, so reducing it with coal burning is actually a great way to reduce the problems that result from burning coal.

With all of these methods to clean coal, there is still the issue of carbon dioxide emissions. This is one of the biggest problems that come from burning coal in general. This is a issue that has not been fully solved to date within in the energy community.

Most people agree that clean coal is an option when coal absolutely must be burned in order to create power. However, even clean coal still has carbon dioxide emissions, and no matter how the coal itself is changed, or how clean the burning might be, these emissions are still more harmful than using other types of energies to produce power.

Using Hydro Power

Micro Hydro Energy: Can You Dig It?

A form of renewable energy that might be interesting to many people is called micro hydro energy. Simply put, this is power generated from small scale water turbines placed near your residence or land. This is an alternative to general coal or oil power. However, it is a form of power that is limited to your area. If you happen to live in a place that has an accessible, and compatible river or creek running near it, you may be able to use micro hydro electricity in order to create power.

Micro hydro electricity is based on the same electric principals that have been making dams popular for many years. With a dam, electricity is produce by water in great amounts. However, dams change the natural flow of streams and rivers, which can damage the ecosystems and create problems with them. Micro Hydro energy is different. It uses the natural flow of the river or stream, without disrupting it and without damming it up. Therefore, there is hardly any environmental impact that is caused by the micro hydro energy.

The process is quite simple. Water-wheel turbines are put into a river or stream in a place where the water flows quickly. The water flows through the turbines or over them, and moves them in order to create the energy. This does not disrupt the flow of the water, and  because the turbines are made out of environmentally clean materials, they do not damage the environment or ecosystem. There might only be some small changes made in the area where the turbines are placed, but in general the micro hydro energy does not have an environmental impact. Micro hydro energy is also a great source of energy because while solar powered panels have to store their energy for night time use, and while wind turbines are dependent on the weather, micro hydro energy is only dependent on the stream and the flow of the water. Therefore, it will run day or night, and will not be dependent on the weather at all. You can produce power no matter what.

Also, the turbines that are place into the streams use moderate water flow. This means that you can use a softly flowing river or stream, without having to worry about finding one that is flowing quickly. However, the faster that the water is flowing, the more electricity that will be produced. Either way,you will be able to benefit from the electricity that is produced by the micro hydro energy.

Like other forms of renewable energy, your electricity is then gathered and harnessed, and sent to your home. If you are off the grid, you can power your home completely on the energy, providing you have a constant water source that is churning or slowing all year round. Being on the grid will mean that you have extra energy when you need it, and also that any excess energy you make may be sold back to the electric company.

Any change you make for you, your family and the environment will be a good change. With the abundance of natural resources at our fingertips, why not try and make changes like these (if possible) to maintain the only Earth we’ve got.

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