Webster financial and Green Building

For the first time since the boom started, the electricity generated by all of the world’s installed solar photovoltaic (PV) panels last year probably surpassed the amount of energy going into fabricating more modules, according to Michael Dale, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Global Climate & Energy Project (GCEP). With continued technological advances, the global PV industry is poised to pay off its debt of energy as early as 2015, and no later than 2020.

“This analysis shows that the industry is making positive strides, ” said Dale, who developed a novel way of assessing the industry’s progress globally in a study published in the current edition of Environmental Science & Technology. “Despite its fantastically fast growth rate, PV is producing – or just about to start producing – a net energy benefit to society.”

The achievement is largely due to steadily declining energy inputs required to manufacture and install PV systems, according to co-author Sally Benson, GCEP’s director. The new study, Benson said, indicates that the amount of energy going into the industry should continue to decline, while the issue remains an important focus of research.

“GCEP is focused on developing game-changing energy technologies that can be deployed broadly. If we can continue to drive down the energy inputs, we will derive greater benefits from PV, ” she said. “Developing new technologies with lower energy requirements will allow us to grow the industry at a faster rate.”

The energy used to produce solar panels is intense. The initial step in producing the silicon at the heart of most panels is to melt silica rock at 3, 000 degrees Fahrenheit using electricity, commonly from coal-fired power plants.

Brian Webster (left) and Mario Richard install photovoltaic (PV) modules on an Englewood, Colo., home. Manufacturing and installing solar panels require large amounts of electricity. But Stanford scientists have found that the global PV industry likely produces more electricity than it consumes. Credit: Dennis Schroeder/NREL
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Q&A

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What other green building certifications exist besided USGBC / LEED?

There are other certification programs, but they tend to be regional. For instance here in the Seattle area, the Master Builders have a “Built Green” certification program. In the Portland area, a similar program is called “Earth Advantage”. Maybe you should check with your local builders group to see if they have established their own program. Built Green does not require all levels to be third party verified, just FYI.

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A neighborhood property ownners association is asking me to remove a green house i build inside of my property as well as

Your question is not easy to answer as the information that is necessary is not included in your request. You mention a property owner's association, so that would seem to involve a declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions that are usually recorded against the property in a subdivision. These CC&Rs set the rules that all property owners have to live by. I do not know but can only assume from your comments that your neighbor took pictures and turned you in for an alleged violation of the CC&Rs. You need to sit down with a real estate attorney with a copy of your CC&Rs or o…