Category Archives: energy retrofitting

How to Strengthen Your Home Against Earthquakes

In the greater San Diego area, the Rose Canyon Fault runs through the heart of the city and along the ocean, presenting a major seismic hazard to the region. The San Diego area’s large population, coupled with the seismic vulnerability of its older homes, buildings and infrastructure systems, put the region at risk of significant damage from earthquakes.

Older homes, especially those built before 1980, are more susceptible to earthquake damage because they were constructed before modern seismic building codes were put in place. According to U.S. Census data, more than 53 percent of the housing units in San Diego County fall into that category of being built before 1980 and could be in need of retrofitting.

With a 99 percent chance of at least one major earthquake striking anywhere in California in the next 30 years, there has never been a better time to take action to strengthen your home against earthquake damage. As renowned seismologist Lucy Jones once said on CNN, “The earthquake is inevitable, but the disaster is not. The disaster is what the earthquake does to human structures. We change those human structures, we can eliminate the disaster.”

For many homeowners, the value of their property and the equity they have in it represent the lion’s share of their savings and retirement nest egg. A simple, relatively inexpensive seismic retrofit can significantly reduce the chances of an older home falling completely off its foundation — perhaps resulting in a total loss — even in a moderate earthquake.

One of the key self-help elements in strengthening your home is seismic retrofitting, a process which can be straightforward and often not as expensive as homeowners might think. Depending on the type of retrofit needed, the work can usually be done in a couple of days, with costs ranging from $3,000 to $7,000. And importantly, as we continue the practice of social distancing, homeowners can remain inside their dwelling as workers do the job without entering the residence.

Read more at: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/commentary/story/2021-06-24/opinion-how-to-strengthen-your-home-against-earthquakes

Spain is turning leftover oranges into electricity

In spring, the air in Seville is sweet with the scent of azahar, orange blossom, but the 5.7m kilos of bitter fruit the city’s 48,000 trees deposit on the streets in winter are a hazard for pedestrians and a headache for the city’s cleaning department.

Now a scheme has been launched to produce an entirely different kind of juice from the unwanted oranges: electricity. The southern Spanish city has begun a pilot scheme to use the methane produced as the fruit ferments to generate clean electricity.

The initial scheme launched by Emasesa, the municipal water company, will use 35 tonnes of fruit to generate clean energy to run one of the city’s water purification plants. The oranges will go into an existing facility that already generates electricity from organic matter. As the oranges ferment, the methane captured will be used to drive the generator.

“We hope that soon we will be able to recycle all the city’s oranges,” said Benigno López, the head of Emasesa’s environmental department. To achieve this, he estimates the city would need to invest about €250,000.

“The juice is fructose made up of very short carbon chains and the energetic performance of these carbon chains during the fermentation process is very high,” he said. “It’s not just about saving money. The oranges are a problem for the city and we’re producing added value from waste.”

read more at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/23/how-seville-is-turning-leftover-oranges-into-electricity

Save Your Home from a Texas-Sized Disaster

Maybe it’s time to invest in some upgrades to our homes.

Home renovation has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy during the pandemic, with homeowners splashing out on home offices, new patios, even family theaters — and sending lumber prices soaring. But with more extreme weather on the way, more homeowners should be thinking about the home improvements you don’t see: insulation and power generation.

If you’re willing to do a wholesale renovation,  tons of stuff can be done to improve a home’s energy efficiency. But most of us aren’t eager to start tearing down walls. So I called our old neighbor and asked him how he’d upgrade a house for extreme weather without making too much of a mess in the process.

Robillard says the easiest place to start is at the top: Insulate your attic. Homeowners tend to focus on walls and windows, but most heat is lost through the roof, because heat rises (duh). “This is definitely where you’ll get the most bang for your buck,” he says.

And before  insulating the attic, check for air leaks. If there are holes drilled in the wall for power lines, or leaks around the chimney, seal those first, then insulate. Hire a professional or rent an infrared imaging camera from the local big box hardware store for about $50; on a cold day, the air leaks should be immediately obvious.

In addition to saving on heating and cooling costs, these modest insulation improvements can often net tax savings, rebates or other government-subsidized savings.

read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-02-20/protect-your-house-from-a-texas-size-disaster