Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lecture - Health, Architecture and Sustainability by Karen Lee, Deputy Director, NYC Dept. of Health

Lecture - Health, Architecture and Sustainability by Karen Lee, Deputy Director, NYC Dept. of Health 7:00pm Lecture, Thursday January 24, 2008, University of Miami, Whitten Learning Center 120

Last month, I wrote a post titled: What can dieting teach us about Environmental Consciousness...??? where I related dieting to sustainability. This lecture will present a variation of what I wrote on. See how the summary below compares to my post.

In NYC, the Department of Health is currently working with the American Institute of Architects, NY Chapter, to promote physical activity through design. Physical inactivity and poor diets are second only to tobacco as the major causes of premature deaths, and chronic diseases such as diabetes/heart disease/cancer now account for over 70% of our deaths. Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese and 1/3 are obese. Just as design and infrastructure interventions have helped us to address previous infectious disease epidemics (e.g. clean water supply, building infrastructure requiring potable water/sanitation/light and air, etc), design and infrastructure interventions have an important role to play in helping society combat our current epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases. Furthermore, there are synergies to be had between interventions that promote physical activity and interventions that can help to address our current environmental crisis: biking/walking/public transportation rather than cars, stair use rather than elevator and escalator use, active recreation rather than TV viewing. There is now a good body of scientific evidence that specific types of design interventions can be used to increase active modes of transportation, stair use and active recreation.

For those unfamiliar with the University of Miami Campus parking may be found in the lots off of Pisano Avenue. Please refer to the Campus Map found at for further information.This event is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by The University of Miami and The South Florida Emerging Green Builders

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tropical Green Festival

Tropical Green Festival features lectures and exhibits on green living. Come listen to lectures and see exhibits about green living, eco-friendly products, saving energy, saving money, saving the environment, and organic foods. It is free, so bring the whole family! Here's the info:

8 a.m.-4 p.m
Coral Gables Youth Center
405 University Dr.
Coral Gables


Coral Gables City Hall
405 Biltmore Way
Coral Gables

Questions? Call: (305) 325-0045.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Home Energy Audits

A home energy audit is often the first step in making your home more efficient. An audit can help you assess how much energy your home uses -- or wastes. It also evaluates what measures you can take to improve efficiency (usually about 20% - 70%). But remember, audits alone don't save energy. You need to implement the recommended improvements. ENERGY STAR provides extensive information about home improvement projects to enhance energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and increase comfort.

You can perform a simple energy audit yourself, or have a professional energy auditor perform a more thorough audit. However, be cautious of who you hire. Make sure the person performing the energy audit is a licensed Home Energy Rater. This Wall Street Journal article, Energy-Tuning Your Home, has more information on this.

Do-It-Yourself Audits

If you have five minutes and your last 12 months of utility bills, use the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick to compare your home's energy efficiency to similar homes across the country and get recommendations for energy-saving home improvements from ENERGY STAR. You will also need to enter some basic information about your home (such as zip code, age, square footage, and number of occupants). If you don't have your bills, contact your utility for a 12-month summary.

Hire a Professional Home Energy Auditor

If you are interested in getting specific recommendations for improving the efficiency of your home, consider contacting a professional Home Energy Auditor. A professional auditor can use a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of your home. Thorough audits often use equipment such as blower doors, which measure the extent of leaks in the building envelope, and infrared cameras, which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation.

You can hire a home energy professional, such as a certified Home Energy Rater, to evaluate your home's energy efficiency.

To find a Home Energy Rater, visit the ENERGY STAR for Homes Partner Locator, RESNET Certified Rater Directory or FSEC's Energy Gauge Certified Building Energy Raters Directory.

Veterans Energy Solutions, LLC is a State of Florida Certified Home Energy Rater. Help us change the world, one home at a time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Repair or Replace? YOU DECIDE.

It's a common dilemma in any home when televisions, computers, and other household appliances begin to show their age. Should you repair or replace them? The same goes for your heating and cooling system. When it breaks down, it's tempting to go the quick route and pay for repairs to get it up and running again. That quick-fix may seem the least expensive route now, but it may not offer the most value in the long haul.

Determining when it's time to call for repairs or replace equipment can be difficult. There's a lot to consider: the system's age, overall condition, efficiency, and energy and repair costs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR program offers a few tips to help you determine if you should junk your equipment or try to squeeze more life out of it with repairs. If two or more items apply to you in the Replace column, then it's probably time to consider making the investment of an ENERGY STAR qualified replacement system.

Sometimes, it's not so clear that your system is in trouble. Noisy cooling equipment unevenly heated or cooled rooms, excessive dust, or frequent cycling on and off—all of these may indicate an inefficient heating and cooling system. In this case, you'd want to call a professional contractor to review the value and comfort features of new ENERGY STAR qualified equipment.

Repair or replace. It's your decision. One thing is for certain: if you decide to make a change in your heating and cooling system, make sure a professional contractor does the complete job. Only proper installation of your equipment will ensure that it operates at peak efficiency and delivers all the benefits you expect and paid for.

For complete information on keeping your home comfortable year-round, get the ENERGY STAR Guide to Energy-Efficient Cooling and Heating or contact Veterans Energy Solutions, LLC at 305-593-9191 or

Should you repair or replace your air conditioner, heat pump, furnace, or boiler?

Continue to repair if:

1. Under 10 years old (under 15 years for a furnace or boiler)
2. Good service record
3. Major repairs made recently; only minor repair needed
4. On/off cycling is not excessive
5. Performing up to expectations
6. Moving soon

Time to replace if:

1. Over 10 years old (over 15 years for a furnace or boiler)
2. Has had repeat problems
3. Extensive or costly repairs needed
4. On/off cycling seems excessive
5. Not performing up to expectations
6. Staying in the home for a long period