Category Archives: Business Government and Society

What do Hybrid Cars and Metal Roofing have in common?

Is there ever any sort of healthy co-existence between making money and preserving our environment? It is true that everybody always cares about money, but it does not mean that the environment has to suffer. Oftentimes, unfortunately it seems to be the case, but it does not have to be that way. One is not mutually exclusive of the other.

My point of contention is that we can combine the economic prosperity with the betterment of our environment. – This is where some real green living awareness on an individual level can make a difference.

Allow me to illustrate my point with two examples that are very concurrent and relevant to understanding the current state of affairs in the U.S and learning from the mistakes of the not so distant past.

Death of the electric vehicle or GM kills the electric vehicle… Why?

Whose fault was it that GM was to0 busy worrying about the price of its stock, and making money by producing fuel hungry cars and SUVs, and suing the state of California, while Toyota and Honda were developing energy efficient hybrids vehicles.

And what happened when the electric vehicle program, although expensive at the time proved to be a success? What did GM do? They decided to kill the electric vehicle program altogether, although there were many people willing to buy those electric cars in the state of California. That was wrong on the part of GM, and displays a clear lock of corporate social responsibility. Not to mention, their greed and obsession with price of the stock is responsible for the current state of affairs of auto-making industry in the U.S today. I am not even going to mention their current stock situation, and the governmental bailouts that we are paying for?


So was it excessive corporate greed, lack of foresight, or a little bit of both?

Now GM is losing all the money because of its greed and lack of foresight, in the past. Toyota and Honda on the other hand, are ripping the benefits for investing and building the hybrid vehicles. Toyota and Honda are making money, but also helping the environment by propagating the idea of clean air, ultra low emissions, reduced carbon footprint, low fuel consumption and energy efficiency. It is a win win example of money working to better the environment.

Connection between Crude oil, Environment and, Surprisingly, Roofs over our heads

It is not just about ultra low emission cars. In fact, it is about something as mundane as residential building materials that go into the houses we live in. For instance, asphalt shingle roofs are petroleum based products that are heavily marketed by money hungry asphalt shingle roofing manufacturers. Asphalt shingle roof averages a lifespan of only 17 years, then comes the inevitable demise when it gets torn off and dumped into our landfills.

So what is the alternative you may ask, or is there any alternative? Yes there is, and it has been here all along!

Using the types of roofing materials that are environmentally friendly. Tamko, a heavy weight asphalt shingles roofing manufacturer, has made a switch by buying out Metal Works, a specialty manufacturer of steel shingles roofing, which is an energy efficient and environmentally safe building material. Metal roofing is fully recyclable, and lasts three times as long as asphalt shingle roofs.

Certainteed roofing, another heavy weight of the roofing industry, on the other hand keeps pushing its line of asphalt shingle roofing products despite the fact that they are bad for the environment. And who is there to rebuke them? Who is doing public education and spreading sustainable building awareness?

The U.S green building council is a not-profit body committed to sustainable building design and green construction practices, but how come their scope of influence is limited to mostly commercial construction? Why do we not hear more about it? What about EPA, and Energy Star? Why aren’t they doing public education campaigns to influence the corporate giants? Somebody has to do it. A lot of it is about awareness, and PR pressures, so spread the awareness and understanding, really. Can you do your part? Sure can, do not buy asphalt shingle roofs, nor fuel hungry SUVs. Think green and act upon it!  Somebody’s quote comes to mind here… Yes we can! …. So can we really?

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Construction Costs – State of the Remodeling Industry

From the point of view of construction and remodeling industry the biggest irony of the housing bubble collapse and economic downturn that followed it, is that both commercial construction and residential remodeling companies which used to rip great profits during the housing boom, suffered immensely once the housing market collapsed. “The recent remodeling downturn was the most severe in the last 25 years, with a 12.5% decline in remodeling spending from 2007 to 2009”. (Citation: http://www.remodeling.hw.net/economic-conditions/state-of-the-nations-housing-remodeling-industry-poised-for-growth.aspx)

While it is true that every segment of the industry has suffered the consequences of the economic recession, commercial construction companies and businesses that are dependent upon the overall health of the construction and remodeling industry (Building material suppliers, and manufacturers) were among the ones most affected by the turmoil of global recession and global economic downturn.


Cost-to-Value, Remodeling Costs Recouped as a percentage of resale value

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Solar Panels are Not Just for the Sunny States!

In-spite all the rage amongst Eco-friendly architects, solar panels have become increasingly more popular with the average homeowner over the last decade. In the past, solar panels have often been used to make a statement of innovation and sustainability for an organization to which it mattered, rather than being a true utilitarian measure employed for obtaining a cost-effective electricity in a clean and sustainable way.

Nowadays, we are witnessing a turn around trend, and with solar panels becoming more affordable, we are starting to see far more companies and individuals investing in solar panels for their private uses. This change is by and large motivated by the actual cost savings that individuals and companies can derive through the use of solar panels that generate electricity.

How do Solar Panels work?

The solar panels can often be mounted on top of the roof of a building, where they are angled towards the sun so that they can get the maximum exposure to collect solar UV rays and transform the solar energy into electricity. Here is how the process works; Solar energy gets collected by the Solar panels that generate electricity, which passes through the inverter after which it can be used to power home appliances, and supply electricity for the building. The excess electricity can be stored in the accumulator type batteries, or it can be sold back to the Electric grid for electric credits.

Solar Panels mounted on a Roof


Why are solar panels considered sustainable and green form of energy?

Solar panels generate electricity from solar energy, which constitutes a sustainable energy source, one that is carbon and emissions free. Thus, electricity derived through harnessing of solar energy is considered green and environmentally friendly.

Do solar panels require direct sunlight?

One common misconception of solar panels – that you need direct sunlight, and lots of it, to collect enough energy to make the investment worth it. The simple answer: absolutely not. Solar panels are not just for the sunny states, and work almost anywhere in the United States, even in the typically windy, gloomy cities of the Midwest. Solar energy involves UV rays much more than actual sunlight, and these rays are transmitted and captured even on cloudy days. With further technological advancements, solar panels should have no problem collecting solar UV rays and generating electricity even when it is cloudy, rainy, or cold.

Homeowners in the Midwest and North East need not cite a lack of sunlight outside of summer as a reason not to invest in solar panels. Another reason to consider investing in solar panels is the fact that they are rapidly becoming much more cost effective, and worth a long-term investment due to rapidly improving technology.

In the 1980s, the cost of capturing energy from the Sun was about $100 per watt, or literally one hundred times more expensive than the going rate of electricity. By the 1999, technology had reduced that figure to $4 per watt, and it has been declining steadily since, at an average rate of 5% a year.

Using solar panel derived electricity, can help reduce your regular electricity bill. In order for solar panels to pay for themselves, they need to be in operation for some 10-15 years, while solar hot water panels require some 8 to 12 of operation to cover the initial cost of investment. Thus solar panels are a long-term investment, which can be a great opportunity for the homeowners not looking to change their place of residence anytime soon. Over time, solar panels can really prove to be a solid investment in your home, and a cool one too.


Warranty

Most solar panels come with a 20-25 year warranty, so you will see a return on your investment before they needs to be replaced again.

Solar Incentives and State rebates

Many states, especially California, are investing heavily in solar energy and see it as a means to harness sustainable, and affordable energy. Currently, some 35 US states offer rebates for home and small business owners who invest in solar panels, which helps make them even more cost effective. The government also provides tax breaks and other benefits for those who want to use solar energy and other types of alternative energy sources for their home or business.

Solar energy is the way of the future, but it can also be an affordable and solid investment today. You do not have to live in a sunny state to reap the benefits of solar energy. Solar UV rays can be harvested in gloomier states, and still provide a significant benefit to the environment, and to your utility bill.