Mother Earth Living

Energy Innovations: Architecture 2030, Smart Grid and Energy Star Updates

Learn the latest in the world of energy technology with rundowns of these three innovations.
By Jessica Kellner
January/February 2011
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A smarter electrical grid uses technologies to improve efficiency and response to power demand, manage outages, better integrate renewable energy, and improve electricity storage.

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Architecture 2030 

What is it? Architect Edward Mazria’s nonprofit organization aims to turn the building sector from being a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to being part of the solution by changing the way buildings and developments are planned, designed and constructed.
What’s the big deal? The 2030 Challenge asks builders to create entirely carbon-neutral buildings by 2030 using innovative design strategies and renewable power. To date, the 2030 Challenge has been adopted by the U.S. Green Building Council; the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers; the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada; the Congress for the New Urbanism; the American Solar Energy Society; the Society of Building Science Educators; the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture; the National Wildlife Federation; the American Society of Interior Designers; and numerous universities, businesses and organizations nationwide. The U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act requires that all new federal buildings and major renovations meet the 2030 Challenge’s energy-performance standards. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 also contains national building energy code language shaped by the 2030 Challenge.

How can I learn more? Visit

Smart Grid 

What is it? The electrical grid is the network that delivers electricity from power plants to consumers. A smarter grid uses technologies to improve efficiency and response to power demand, manage outages, better integrate renewable energy, and improve electricity storage. The government is working to create a smarter grid through investment grants, demonstration programs, workforce training and more. By partnering with India, Japan, Korea, Australia, Ireland and Canada in the Global Smart Grid Federation, the United States will help to promote Smart Grid development around the world.

What’s the big deal? The smart grid will allow homeowners and businesses to calculate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and make it easier for many small, renewable energy sources to feed into the main grid. Other benefits include reduced operations and management costs for utilities and consumers.

How can I learn more? Visit

Energy Star updates 

What is it? As of this year, Energy Star requires all manufacturers of products seeking its label to submit test results from an approved, accredited lab. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also raised 2011 Energy Star home requirements.

What’s the big deal? Enhanced Energy Star requirements ensure the label indicates energy-saving, environmentally responsible products. Energy Star products must be among the top 25 percent most efficient models, according to the EPA. The new Energy Star home guidelines, effective in January, will make qualified new homes at least 20 percent more efficient than homes built to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code.

How can I learn more? Visit

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