Google isn’t the only one with lots of solar panels. Microsoft has a 480kW installation in Mountain View

Photo of Microsoft solar installation courtesy of Flickr.

We’ve written about Google’s impressive 1,600 kilowatt solar panel project for the Googleplex in Mountain View.

But did you know that Microsoft has a very large solar panel installation too?

It turns out that Microsoft installed their solar panels first and were the largest solar installation in Silicon Valley until Google outdid them by creating a system that is approximately three times as big.

Microsoft’s solar panel project is still impressive though, generating enough solar power at peak capacity that could power 500 homes.

Does anyone know of any other Silicon Valley companies that have a lot of installed solar power? Leave a comment.

Green is Sexy?

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Green is Sexy is an interesting website with tips and some very practical info for those looking for ways to improve the environment. But what’s up with the “sexy?” Well, let’s hear it from the site’s authors:

Green is sexy came about when three friends realized that exchanging quips & tips on ways to make an impact on the environment was becoming daily conversation. They decided that, with a little bit of research and some help from their friends, they could spread the word to all sorts of people and really make a difference. green is sexy is about tiny changes, big impact. Why sexy? Because being informed is sexy. Being responsible is sexy. Being eco-friendly is sexy. Making a difference is sexy. Green is sexy. We invite you to become part of the green is sexy community by helping us change the world one day at a time.

For the frugal environmentalist, they have an interesting set of tips called “Money Savers” which I found to be quite handy.

Enjoy, you sexy beasts!


Businesses get wise about energy efficiency

Energy efficiency isn’t just a feel good story about “helping the planet.” It’s also all about saving money and reducing expenses. Who doesn’t like that?

Indeed, businesses are learning how increasing energy efficiency can cut costs and help the bottom line, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal.

Now, with oil, gas and electricity prices soaring, companies are beginning to realize that saving energy can translate into dramatically lower costs. And that means higher profits and happier shareholders — not to mention a cleaner planet.

Even companies with longstanding energy-saving programs are redoubling their efforts in light of rising fuel costs and greater pressure from the public to address global warming. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. — which by some measures is the world’s second-largest energy purchaser after the U.S. government — has undertaken a multiyear campaign to retrofit older stores with new lighting and air-conditioning systems. Company officials boast that many of these energy projects pay for themselves within two years.

The potential savings from such projects are enormous. A recent study from the International Energy Agency showed that energy use in heavy industry could be reduced by 18% to 26% just by applying best practices and available technologies. That savings is equivalent to about one to one-and-a-half times Japan’s annual energy needs, the agency said.

Light industries, like retailing and the food sector, could cut energy use by an even greater percentage — up to 50% — because they haven’t always made efficiency a priority, says Paul Waide, an energy-efficiency analyst at the Paris-based IEA.

The article also included this short video clip about carbon offsets, which really isn’t the main subject of the story.

China, the industrial revolution so big that it’s shattering all pollution records

 Photo courtesy of Flickr.


If you want to read a depressing account of China and the environment, look no further than this long, comprehensive New York Times article about the toll that China’s industrialization is taking.

There are so many astounding facts that it’s hard to choose what to quote from the story, so I’ll just make a bullet point list of quoted facts from the article.

Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says.

Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union.

For air quality, a major culprit is coal, on which China relies for about two-thirds of its energy needs.

Chinese industry uses 4 to 10 times more water per unit of production than the average in industrialized nations, according to the World Bank.

Chinese steel makers, on average, use one-fifth more energy per ton than the international average. Cement manufacturers need 45 percent more power, and ethylene producers need 70 percent more than producers elsewhere, the World Bank says.

Chinese buildings rarely have thermal insulation. They require, on average, twice as much energy to heat and cool as those in similar climates in the United States and Europe, according to the World Bank.

All these new buildings require China to build power plants, which it has been doing prodigiously. In 2005 alone, China added 66 gigawatts of electricity to its power grid, about as much power as Britain generates in a year. Last year, it added an additional 102 gigawatts, as much as France.

Cool your attic while you heat your pool

I love gadgets that do two or more practical and environmental things at once. Thus, I present to you a gadget that cools your home while it heats your pool. News.com reports,

SolarAttic sells a system–the Pool Convection System 2–that sucks hot air out of the attic of your house and pumps it into a heat exchanger to heat your pool. In the summertime, the temperature in your attic can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, says SolarAttic vice president James Kantorowicz.

“It also helps cool down the house by transferring that heat out of the attic,” he said.

Check out the SolarAttic website for more info on this innovative product.


Toyota delays switching next generation hybrid cars to lithium ion batteries over safety concerns

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that Toyota has announced that it will delay switching its next generation hybrid cars from nickel-metal-hydride batteries that it currently uses to lithium-ion batteries, because of safety concerns. Lithium-ion batteries can heat up, catch on fire or explode if not designed and used correctly.

Until recently, Toyota was preparing to roll out a dozen new and redesigned hybrids using new lithium-ion battery technology in the U.S. between 2008 and 2010. Its hybrids now use nickel-metal-hydride batteries. But safety concerns with the lithium-ion technology have forced Toyota to back away from that timetable, people familiar with the company’s strategy say.

The rollout — critical to Toyota’s goal of selling 600,000 hybrids a year in the U.S. by early next decade, up from nearly 200,000 last year — is on hold, according to Toyota executives knowledgeable about the company’s hybrid-product plans for the U.S. market.

Toyota also postponed plans for hybrid versions of its big and fuel-thirsty Tundra pickup and its Sequoia sport-utility vehicle, though the executives added there is a chance Toyota would revive big-truck hybrids and come out with them by 2013 or 2014. GM and Chrysler LLC, owned by Cerberus Capital Management LLP, plan to launch hybrid large SUVs next year, using a system developed jointly by GM, Chrysler, DaimlerChrysler AG and BMW AG.

The batteries Toyota is trying to develop use particles of lithium cobalt oxide. But such batteries have shown a tendency to overheat, catch fire or even explode. Tomomi Imai, a Toyota spokesman in Tokyo, declined to comment. But, according to Toyota executives, similar problems with lithium-ion batteries for laptops made by Japan’s Sony Corp. sounded an alarm because the chemistry of the Sony batteries was similar to batteries Toyota was trying to use for future hybrids.

Aside from the planned lithium-ion Prius wagon, Toyota now plans to launch as many as nine other lithium-ion-battery hybrids in the 2011-2012 period. Among them are a new wagon-style crossover with three rows of seating and a wagon derivative of the Camry.

I wonder how this will affect Toyota releasing a plug-in hybrid? Doesn’t a plug-in hybrid design require lithium-ion batteries?

Prius Plug In Hybrid gets 100 plus miles per gallon

 Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Today’s “Eyes on the Road” automotive column in the Wall Street Journal covers a Toyota Prius that has been converted into a plug in hybrid with extra batteries that allows it to go 20 to 40 miles on electric power alone, and gets 100 plus miles to the gallon.

As I dodged fellow citizens in their last-century gas-only SUVs, I snuck glances at the Prius’s information screen, which displayed my fuel consumption and the flow of power from the batteries and the gasoline engine. For most of my roughly 20-mile trip to the office, I appeared to be on electric-only power. Accelerating to merge with traffic, and avoid becoming a high-tech oil spot under a semi, I engaged the gasoline motor. But cruising was all-electric — and according to the Prius’s on board fuel consumption computer, I was cruising at 100 miles to the gallon. The only awareness I had of the power generation hand-offs between the gas engine and the lithium-ion batteries, or the lithium-ion batteries and the Prius’s factory-installed nickel-metal hydride battery system was the videogame display in the dashboard screen.

My reaction to this experience, drawing on 20 years of covering the auto business, was: “Wow! Who wouldn’t want this?”

It’s the questions that come next that have been a problem for the auto industry: What does it really cost? Is it reliable? What about the warranty? (Toyota’s stance on that last question is that anyone who modifies the Prius into a plug-in voids the warranty.)

Challenges of curbing CO2 output from coal


Photo by OZinOH, courtesty of Flickr.

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a front page story about the challenges of curbing CO2 output facing some of the big coal burning electric plants.

It mentions the American Electric Power Company as the largest single CO2 emitter in the United States.

Each year the U.S. electricity industry collectively emits 2.5 billion tons of CO2, which plays a starring role in climate change. That’s about a third of the U.S. total.

Like most other utilities, AEP wasn’t spending much on carbon-dioxide reduction until recently. Utilities were too busy dealing with federal restrictions on nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury. AEP, which produces three-quarters of its electricity from coal-fired plants, has earmarked $4.2 billion between 2004 and 2009 to control these other pollutants.

Congress has yet to mandate any reductions in CO2, although it’s mulling global-warming legislation. Some proposals seek to reduce emissions by 50% to 80% compared with 1990 levels by 2050. State regulators, awaiting federal action, have generally left it vague whether spending on CO2 cuts could be recouped via rate increases. Rather than focus on the science, Mr. Morris, the CEO, says executives like him now focus on the “political science” of what Congress intends to do.

In a recent study, the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., found that even if the U.S. power industry boosted nuclear-power production by 60%, doubled wind and solar power, and developed viable carbon-capturing technology, it would still take until 2025 or 2030 to get the industry back to the 1990 emissions level. Although some congressional proposals call for reducing emissions by half or more over the next few decades, the institute concluded “much of the technology needed isn’t available yet.” The institute is independent but receives some funds from the power industry.

“You have to throw up your hands a little bit because there’s so much that needs to be done,” laments Bruce Braine, vice president of strategic policy analysis at AEP. Curbing emissions requires “completely remaking the electric industry,” says Jim Dooley, senior staff scientist at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.

Building a Greener Computer

I’m no techie, but given the fact that computers are like t.v.s these days (every family seems to have at least one, or two, or three!), I figured I’d address the issue of green computers. Especially given that I just came across this excellent article on PlayGreen.org about making your personal computer greener. The article has tips on building a green PC, as well as a list of Greenpeace’s April 2007 leading mobile and PC manufacturers ratings for eco-friendly computers.

The winners, by the way (top 5):

-8/10 Lenovo – Progress on all criteria but loses points for not having products free of the worst chemicals on the market yet.

-7.3/10 Nokia – Good on all criteria, but needs clear timeline for PVC phase out for all applications. Needs to better report on how many discarded mobiles it recycles.

-7/10 Sony Ericsson – The first to set 2008 as its deadline to put on the market products free of the worst chemicals. Some products are already greener, but needs better take-back reporting.

-7/10 Dell – Still among the top but loses points for not having models free of the worst chemicals. Strong support for take-back.

-6.3/10 Samsung – Moving up the rank and gaining points for take-back policies. But its take back system is not yet global and needs improvement.

Read the complete list here.


10 Ways to “Green” Your Kitchen

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If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, you owe it to yourself to check out Chow.com’s list of 10 ways to make your kitchen eco-friendly. A surprising thing on their list is to buy a dishwasher, which apparently can save you big time on your water bill. (37% according to the California Energy Commission).

Let me clarify, they say to buy a dishwater that is less than ten years old. If you’ve got an old clunker, then forget it. Also, avoid using the heat dry option, and run your dishwasher full.

I’ve been washing my dishes by hand for years, thinking I was saving water. I just soak them a bit, turn off the water, wash them all without using extra water, and rinse! Am I really using 37% more than if I were using a dishwasher? Something to ponder….

In general, their list has some great tips on it.

Some other things I would add to the list by the way are composting your kitchen scraps, and use natural citrus oils for kitchen pest control.


People Making a Difference: An Interview with Andy Kruse of Southwest Windpower

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For this installment of our series on People Making a Difference, we are very pleased to present an interview with Andy Kruse, the co-founder and Executive Vice President of Southwest Windpower. Southwest Windpower is the World’s leading manufacturer of personal size wind energy systems. Southwest Windpower makes the Skystream 3.7, which is a small wind generator designed specifically for the grid-connected residential market.

Mr. Kruse has been involved in renewable energy since 1986. He has worked in over 70 countries promoting wind energy. He has a background in Management and International Marketing.

Kruse is the author of various articles about renewable energy and has won several awards for export development. He also sits on several advisory boards for renewable energy.

We thank Mr. Kruse for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do the interview!

1. First of all, tell us about yourself and how you began working in the alternative energy industry.

I don’t really like writing about myself so we will leave that part to an interview. : ) I got into the renewable energy business just over 20 years ago. I was living on a ranch in Northern Arizona that had no access to grid electricity. I thought there must be a better way than rebuilding the Ranch’s diesel generator every couple of years. At that time, we were spending as much as $300 a month in fuel. I then decided to build a small solar PV system to supplement the generator. I also thought it would be great to have a small wind generator that could charge the battery bank. After trying and failing to build one myself, I learned about a neighbor that live several miles to the north who had built several machines for friends. His name is David Calley. I inquired about his machines. After having seen his invention, I thought this would make a terrific business opportunity. The ranching business never proved profitable so after leaving that life, David and I built Southwest Windpower.

2. People have a lot of misconceptions about wind power. What would you like to share with our readers about the benefits and potential issues associated with this technology?

Continue reading “People Making a Difference: An Interview with Andy Kruse of Southwest Windpower”

Popular Mechanics Covers the Energy Bill

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Check out Popular Mechanics magazine’s special report on the new energy bill. They’re focusing on the following issues:

“4 Ways Detroit Can Hit New MPG Laws” and “7 Steps Senators Missed on Our Clean Coal.”

Here’s the basics of what happened with the bill to catch you up:

After contentious debate on Capitol Hill and lobbying from the industry, new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards will jump to 35 mpg for all cars and SUVs by 2020, up from the current 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.5 mpg for trucks.

I won’t be able to afford a new car for years to come, like many people in the U.S., so it’s still going to take several years to get thousands of gas hogs off the streets unfortunately…


In the Future: Houses Made of ‘Shrooms?

Eben Bayer, the son of a Vermont Farmer and a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been working to create an organic and eco-friendly insulation for your home out of mushrooms! With the help of Gavin McIntyre, Bayer has patented a unique green building material known as “Greensulate.” The ingredients for this organic fire-retardant insulation are water, flour, oyster mushroom spores and perlite. Here’s some more information on the effectiveness of the product:

A 1-inch-thick sample of the perlite-mushroom composite had a 2.9 R-value, the measure of a substance’s ability to resist heat flow. Commercially produced fiberglass insulation typically has an R-value between 2.7 and 3.7 per inch of thickness, according to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

The first thing that I started wondering while reading this article about Greensulate is how much it will cost. The last time I went to the supermarket, oyster mushrooms weren’t exactly cheap! The product is about a year away or more from hitting the market. So if there’s demand for it, lets hope it’s reasonably priced!


Update: Al Gore goes green at home with a LEED renovation and solar roof

We’ve previously mentioned the weird irony of the sustainable design of the George W Bush house in Crawford, compared to Al Gore’s giant mansion in Tennessee.

But Treehugger.com and ENN.com report that Gore is almost finished with renovations that will make his house in Nashville a true green home. He is going for LEED certification, which is a recognized US standard for green building in the United States. (We’re working on a LEED renovation ourselves!)

Evidently, zoning issues in his neighborhood were preventing him from going solar sooner.

Here’s the Associated Press interview about his renovation.

Earlier this year, a conservative group criticized Gore, citing electric bills that were far more than the typical Nashville home. Utility records showed the Gore family paid an average monthly electric bill of about $1,200 last year for its 10,000-square-foot home.

Gore’s renovation project, which he said has been in the works for months, seeks to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Once his upscale neighborhood changed zoning laws earlier this year, Gore was able to place solar panels on his roof, and he’s now preparing to install a geothermal system that will, among other things, drastically reduce the cost of heating his pool.

Gore is also upgrading windows and ductwork, installing more energy-efficient light bulbs and creating a rainwater collection system for irrigation and water management.

Congratulations on the new renovation. I’m glad to hear there is an explanation of why Gore’s house wasn’t greener in the first place.


Earthtoys.com June Ezine is Up!

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As always, the new edition Earthtoys.com ezine is reason for excitement. The June version features some great info about the world of alternative energy.

It also has lots of in-depth articles on earth-friendly technologies. For example, this time around there are some interesting articles on Algae.

“WHY AREN’T ALGAE GETTING THE ATTENTION THEY DESERVE?”

“MICRO-ALGAE PRODUCES OMEGA-3 BIO-LIPID OIL”

Are two articles that you can enjoy if you love that green stuff! There’s also some cost comparisons with different photovoltaics, and a guide to practical solar energy for the home if you like the sunshine.

And as always, you’ll find articles on alternative fuels and transportation.

Enjoy!


Power of Wind

I just got an interesting email from a reader who wrote to tell us about a new website called PowerofWind.com. The website allows people to take action to promote alternative energies like wind power. PowerofWind.com is the creation of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Our reader says,

“This Web site is designed to motivate visitors to take action on behalf of renewable energy sources like wind. In a few days, the U.S. Senate is going to vote on a step toward combating global warming: the Bingaman renewable energy standard. Powerofwind.com visitors can support renewable energy by writing a letter to their Senator to urge him or her to vote “yes” to the Bingaman amendment.”

Thanks to Kate for this great tip!


Closer look: First Zero Energy home in Frisco, Texas (near Dallas)

Zero Energy Home

I noticed last week that the first Zero Energy home built up in Frisco, Texas (an exurb / suburb north of Dallas) was on the market. So over the Memorial Day weekend, I went up to take a look at it and see what I could learn about green building techniques.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my company is doing a green renovation project with an existing commercial building, so I have been looking around the Dallas area to see what other people and companies are doing to see what we can learn from it and implement ourselves.

A zero energy home is designed so that it theoretically uses close to no energy from the utilities over the course of a whole year. It’s still hooked up to the electric grid just like every other house. But it also has solar panels and an extremely well insulated and efficient design that uses the amount of electricity of a house a third of its size. When you factor in the energy that the solar power generates and the the efficiency of the house, you end up with a net energy cost of running the house that is near zero dollars over a year.

The builder of this house has a web site that explains the concept in more detail.

You could write a book about all the features of this home, so I’m just going to cover some of the features that I thought were cool.

Solar panels, rainwater cisterns

This photo was shot from an upstairs window, looking down into the back yard. You can see one of the solar panels on the roof, and you can also see one of three giant water tanks that collect rainwater for the irrigation system of the home. The home uses native and Texas-friendly landscaping that does well with low amounts of water. And then, the house uses ultra efficient drip irrigation to keep it watered. See a photo of the irrigation below.

Drip irrigation setup

One of the issues that most homes out in Frisco have to deal with is the oppressive Texas heat in the summer, combined with the fact that there aren’t many trees that are old enough and big enough to provide shade to the houses out there. You combine this with the typical high ceiling design, the 4,000 plus square foot footprints of a Frisco home, and some of the highest electric rates in the country, and you can imagine the monster electric bills that most Frisco residents face.

Since there were no existing trees on the lot of the zero energy home, the architect and builder designed the home in a way to take advantage of the solar orientation and the natural breezes. There is a totally awesome shaded, screened porch that would be a really nice place to spend time.

Overhangs to shade windows

But you can also see how the builder created a lot of roof overhangs that shade the windows of the home from direct summer sunlight, while still allowing plenty of natural winter light to light up the home and keep it from looking like a cave inside.

This house is currently for sale for $750,000. It is a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom, 3,800 square feet home.

One last thing. This isn’t really related to zero energy at all, but I can’t mention Frisco real estate without mentioning my friend Geoff Davis, the Frisco mortgage broker who has helped me out several times. He works all over the Texas area, as well as covering several other states. He’s helped me finance the last four homes I have bought in Dallas, so I figure he deserves a mention.


Wind Power in the News Plus Jay Leno’s Wind (Power)!

The U.S. seems to me to underuse wind power. Wind power has become a very important source of renewable energy throughout the world. So why doesn’t it “fly” here in the States?

Popular Mechanics covers the controversy with a list of the three biggest causes of the lack of investment and possible solutions to help us get on board. You can read this story on PopularMechanics.com.

Popular Mechanics is also working with Tonight Show host Jay Leno, who is going to to install a state-of-the-art turbine on top of his “green garage shop.” That gas guzzling car crazy junkie better do something green!

You can see more about Jay’s wind power projects on the Popular Mechanics website as well.


Green building renovation update. Insulation!

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We’re still working diligently on the new Clean Air Gardening building, getting it ready for a move in in August or September. You might have seen our previous post about renovating the building for LEED and Energy Star certification.

 Here’s an insulation product that we are looking at for the ceiling of the building. Does anyone out there have any opinions about this, or suggestions about similar products that are similarly priced and available in Dallas?

I am drawn to this product because it offers LEED credits in several different ways, including “recycled content.”

Monoglass Spray-On Insulation

Monoglass® Spray-On Insulation is a combination of elongated, recycled-cullet glass fibers and water-based, nontoxic adhesives that can be spray-applied to virtually any surface or configuration. Without additional support, Monoglass can be applied overhead to a maximum of 5″ (R-20) and applied vertically to 7″ (R-28). Monoglass is white in color, noncombustible, and can be applied over fireproofing. Monoglass contains no formaldehyde and does not support fungal growth or encourage infestation by pests.

LEED Credits:

EA Prerequisite 2 – Minimum Energy Performance

EA Credit 1 – Optimize Energy Performance

MR Credit 4 – Recycled Content

Our architect says:

R values are additive, so what you have there now gets better and better with each inch of insulation. Remember, in this part of Texas, 90% of the solar heat load is on the roof. I guess that is a long way of saying I think you should do as much insulting as budget and deadload permit.

FYI, I discovered this product by buying a subscription to BuildingGreen.com, which is totally worth the money.

And as long as I’m giving credit where credit is due, I discovered BuildingGreen.com in the book I recently purchased, The Lazy Environmentalist. Note that the link goes through to the main page of the free blog. Here’s the page about the book.

Want to know the coolest thing about the book, in my opinion? Clean Air Gardening is actually mentioned on page 188! Woo hoo!

As always, please share in the comments if you have experience with this type of insulation, or if you have other ideas for insulation for a large commercial building that will generate LEED credits.

Don’t limit yourself to insulation issues though! Get creative and go to our original building renovation post and leave us some suggestions on making our building green.


Need your help! Which environmentally friendly features should our new building have?

Readers, I’d like your help!

Clean Air Gardening has purchased a 13,000 square foot building in Dallas. We are renovating it before we move in to attempt to make it LEED certified, Energy Star certified, or both.

We’ve already hired an architect for the interior layout of the building, who has planned out the showroom, offices and warehouse space.

The building was built in the early 1960s. It’s basically just a big cinderblock shell that is sandwiched between a whole block of buildings exactly like it.

Our budget for the renovations is approximately $50,000.

We are planning to use a large part of that money to frame up some office space inside the building. (Still getting quotes on that from our contractor, so I can’t be more specific yet.)

We are looking for ideas for insulating the ceiling better. Something that is cost effective, and has the highest R value for the money. Anyone familiar with specific products or types of insulation that are available in Dallas?

We are knocking out that glass door / bay window that you see in the photo and replacing it with a dock door again.

We’ve signed up with Green Mountain Energy for our electricity.

We’ve found a highly insulated metal door that they typically use in refrigerated warehouses that we are going to put in. (In the space we are leasing now, we have a non-insulated metal dock door, and you can literally feel the heat coming from it like an oven when the sun shines on it. So we wanted to avoid that for sure.)

We are considering adding efficient skylights like this Solatube brand. Natural light is easier on the eyes, gets you some LEED points, and is free when the sun is shining. Anyone have any experience with this brand, or a different brand?

We are going to use low VOC paint for anything that needs painting. (I just tried some out at my home, and had great results with it. The lack-of-strong-smell alone is reason enough to buy this stuff if you are painting!)

We are replacing the old toilets for the two small restrooms with dual flush toilets. Any brand or model suggestions? I am partial to Toto, but I have read reviews that their dual flush model doesn’t stay very clean, so I am hoping for a different brand suggestion.

We are considering installing a water cistern to the big downspout on the right side of the photo. We would use that water for a raised bed garden, and to water some kind of vertical climbing vine that we plan to grow on the front of the building to make it “greener” literally and give the building some life.

We are considering adding some solar panels or a wind generator, but we’re not sure if it is financially realistic or not, and whether or not the city allows a windmill. Anyone out there know of any wind or solar dealers who work in Dallas that they would recommend talking to?

One thing that probably isn’t realistic for now:

A green roof. (The current roof has at least five to 10 years of life left, and it would blow our whole budget and then some to reroof with even a regular roof.)

Some of the AC on top of the building is getting to the end of its useful life, so we are going to have to replace some units in the next year or so. The AC doesn’t figure in as part of the budget I mentioned, because we will spend money on this separately, and hopefully a bit later.

Any ideas for energy efficient AC options?

Please leave a comment with any suggestions you might have for ways that we can make our building more environmentally friendly within our price range.

We are looking for:

1. Things that will give us the biggest bang for our buck.

2. Things that will give us LEED points.

3. Specific products or types of products that are available now in the Dallas area.

4. General suggestions.

Thanks!