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That Smarts: A Bumpy Beginning for Smart Meters in NYC

Submetering and smart meters are very good ideas, and ones whose potential takes the implicit promise of much that we write about here at gbNYC and make it explicit. That is, the idea of arming people with valuable information and incentives for smarter behavior could condition positive change in both our built environment and how we live in it. In time, submetered energy will probably replace old-style flat-rate pricing just as thoroughly and just as deservingly as broadband internet is replacing dial-up. The problem is that no one has successfully explained this stuff to consumers, and that it’s work — making changes in one’s behavior, reading a complicated energy bill, actually turning on one’s brain and responding to market incentives — and that humans by their nature kind of abhor that sort of thing.

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It Takes A Village? Checking In On Slate’s Collective-Intelligence Home Efficiency Experiment

For awhile, Slate was satisfied just to be one of the more consistently engaging/occasionally enraging sites on the Internet — well, satisfied to be that and to run dazzling features from one of the finest young writers of his generation. But in recent years, they’ve done a lot of innovating. Yes, there’s still a lot of “what you think is bad is actually good” feature-ing, but there are also a ton of new spin-off blogs and aggregations and videos and such. Apps, presumably. (The young people are always talking about the apps). One such new addition to Slate is The Hive, in which Slate’s readership’s collective intelligence is brought to bear on a particular problem. This is made all the more interesting, and gbNYC-relevant, by the fact that the first subject The Hive is tackling is the greening of Slate writer Daniel Gross’ Connecticut home.

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Go Hamptons: Southampton Raises Bar To Energy Star-Level On Commercial Buildings

The Hamptons: beautiful and still comparatively unspoiled in parts and near enough to Amagansett’s “Lunch” restaurant and the great St. Peter’s Catch Fish Store and Channing Daughters winery and a bunch of other cool things that it’s hard not to like it. While neither Stephen nor I spends much time in the Hamptons (you’ve probably guessed that I’ve logged some off-season time in Montauk), we have spent some time on Southampton at gbNYC, thanks to some extraordinary green buildings and a solar-powered pool and a forward-thinking bit of legislation from last year that held all new construction residential buildings in Southampton to Energy Star standards. Which is pretty great for a bunch of reasons, and is made that much greater by the announcement that they’re now mandating the same standard for commercial buildings. In the Southampton News, Jessica DiNapoli reports on the discussion leading up to the writing of the amendment back in early February, and finds things surprisingly civil, logical and forward-thinking.

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Cool Waves: A Look at Agilewaves’ New Integrated Building Optimization System

Agilewaves is an angel-funded company founded by a pair of ex-NASA engineers, and the Building Optimization System and Resource Monitor is its signature product. The Agilewaves BOS, like those of the other bigs in this field, monitors electric, water and gas usage per unit and then integrates and packages that information. The novel part of Agilewaves’ BOS approach is that it monitors usage without having to rely on utilities for data, delivering utility-quality accuracy in real time through an easy-to-read dashboard (and even to wireless devices, if you’re into that sort of thing) (if you are, we’d both salute you and urge you to consult that pictured reference).

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The Halfway Point: Venture Capital Study Predicts Huge Green Retrofit Surge

Anyone predicting the emergence of a large and lucrative market at our nation’s present economic ebb is going to get attention, but Greg Kats deserves more attention than, say, Larry Kudlow or the clowns who wrote Dow Eleventy Zillion. A former member of Bill Clinton’s Department of Energy, Kats is now the senior director of the New York-based venture capital firm Good Energies Inc., and he recently issued the results of a two-year, independently-financed report in a book called Greening Our Built World. To call Kats’ conclusions bullish is, frankly, kind of an insult to bulls. But while Kats’ projection that 50 percent of the non-residential building stock in the U.S. will qualify as “green” by 2015 is dramatic — especially since the current figure is 15 percent — it’s not exactly James Glassman and Kevin Hassett predicting that the Dow will hit infinity by 2002 as long as we repeal the Glass-Steagall Act. That is to say, Kats actually makes it seem possible.

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National Institute of Building Sciences Identifies Risk & Policy Problems Flowing from Green Building Rating Systems

In September of 2008, the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Building Sciences (“NIBS”) assembled a Task Group of design professionals, builders, and its own staff members to review third-party building performance rating systems and associated individual accreditation programs currently in use across the United States. The Task Group identified twenty systems and programs and interviewed representatives from AIA, ASHRAE, BOMA, GBI, NAHB, EPA, USGBC, and Victor O. Schinnerer & Co.. among others, in compiling its “Report on Building Rating and Certification in the U.S. Building Community,” which was released last month.

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