The Big Picture:  Global Warming Abatement and Money Saving Solutions for Alabama

1) Laying out of cities and communities is the most wide reaching and long lasting. By combining work, housing, retail, and local food production in walkable communities that are interconnected by efficient mass transportation, we can drastically cut transportation CO2 emissions and fuel costs.  This can have implications for centuries.

Others of you can suggest resources and local projects demonstrating these concepts.

Christopher Alexander's book, A Pattern Language is useful in considering both  1) community and  2) building design.

2) Designing and constructing our buildings is the second most important.  This has implications for decades. The knowledge and the technology is available today for cost effective buildings that easily use only half the energy of conventional buildings. Making buildings that use zero net energy are very possible.  Our house is getting close to this. (We generate more power than we use and being able to send power back into the grid would make net zero achievable for us.)

2030 Climate Challenge
Architect and leading solar designer Edward Mazria points out that buildings and their construction produce roughly half of the US greenhouse emissions.  Mazria promotes the 2030 Climate Challenge to require today's new buildings and major renovations to use less than 50% the current average energy.  By 2030, net fossil fuel input for new buildings would be reduced to zero. The 2030 challenge has been endorsed by
the US Conference of Mayors
and the American Institute of Architects
An overview article on 2030 from Mazria's presentation to West Coast Green is at  (also attached to this email as a Word file)

Debra Rucker Coleman is an architect in Citronelle, Alabama, who designs passive solar homes throughout the continent.
Coleman's book, The Sun-Inspired House, House Designs Warmed and Brightened by the Sun, 2005, is a great introduction  to green and passive solar house design with ample current references.

3) Creating a statewide smart distributed power generation system utilizing on-site co-generation and renewables provides increased grid stability, security, and efficiency.  Again this has implication for decades.

Rocky Mountain Institute has done pioneering work in this area.

Denver Post - Electrical Worries Looming  - recent article in popular press.

4) Reducing wasted power and increasing appliance efficiency is cost effective and can have immediate benefits.  Extrapolating from my professional experience, I would venture that we could cut the residential (and likely the commercial) energy consumption of Alabama by 1/3 with quick pay-back measures. This has major implications for planning for the power generation system. Why build more power plants and burn fossil fuels that we could easily and much more cheaply replace through efficiency measures?

Compact fluorescent light bulbs can significantly reduce lighting costs - to one fourth the energy required by incandescents.          Compact fluorescent bulbs are now readily available in a wide variety of styles and light color tones.  Retail prices for             compact fluorescent bulbs have dropped to as low as $2 each. 
Federal requirements have resulted in very substantial improvements in efficiency of refrigerators and air conditioning systems.  Window technology has improved. 
Sealing ductwork and the building envelope is often the most cost effective action.

See attached  NCSEA06 Legisat Guide.doc 
The graph on page 8 shows electricity consumption per person  for North Carolina in relation to the US and California. In 1960, California used more electricity per person than North Carolina, in 2001, North Carolina used roughly 1 1/2 times the electricity per person used in California.  My guess is that Alabama is in a similar position to North Carolina.  The positive spin on this is that there is a lot of opportunity for improvement which can mean cost savings and local jobs.

Alabama Power has energy saving information under Energy Check Up at

Christian Science Monitor - "Saving the Earth" can mean big bucks

Christian Science Monitor - Cities vie to be Greenest