Green Building Perspectives: Whirlpool

Continuing our blog series Green Building Perspectives, posts dedicated to highlighting our esteemed partners here at Green Life Smart Life, this week we feature Whirlpool Corporation.  Whirlpool will be providing the project with the latest in ENERGY STAR® rated appliances such as the refridgerator, washer and dryer and dishwasher. 

Whirlpool Brand Logo - for webWhat do you think of the Green Life Smart Life Project to date? What interested Whirlpool about participating in the project?

Green Life Smart Life is certainly a unique project, and Whirlpool is excited to be a part of it, especially since we have similar goals. Much like Green Life Smart Life, Whirlpool seeks to help families green their lifestyles with simple tips to help them be more efficient in the kitchen and laundry room. In a recent survey that Whirlpool conducted with Harris Interactive, 84 percent of consumers said that energy efficiency is most important to them in regards to appliances. And while Whirlpool manufactures energy-efficient appliances, the company also looks to help people use the products more efficiently, and aligning with this project is a great way to do so.

Where does Whirlpool see green living going in the next 5 years?  

Whirlpool always strives to develop products to meet consumer needs and consumers continue to clamor for eco-efficient products that can save money while making their daily lives just a little bit easier. The next step in this process is going to be smart grid technology. Whirlpool announced in May that all of the electronically controlled appliances the company manufactures will be smart grid compatible by 2015. This will enable two-way communication between appliances and the utility grid resulting in real-time monitoring, leading to a more efficient system. Whirlpool is continuing to form public-private partnerships to keep this initiative moving.

How is your company evolving to address green living and energy efficiency?

Our evolution can be seen in the products themselves. Whirlpool seeks to bring energy efficiency to products which match any lifestyle or value. For example, top-load laundry is still the preferred configuration among consumers, so Whirlpool developed the high-efficiency (HE) Cabrio washer so that they could also enjoy HE benefits. Similarly, conventional top-loading machines from Whirlpool are now ENERGY-STAR rated. Whirlpool is also developing products with enhanced design and features that are also some of the most efficient products on the market. For example, the Whirlpool brand Resource Saver refrigerator uses less energy than a 60-watt lightbulb making it the most energy efficient side-by-side refrigerator on the market. The best part about it is that it through advancements in technology; it is efficient and functional without sacrificing performance or capacity.

 What challenges do you see Whirlpool facing in the evolution of green living?

Whirlpool is constantly seeking new ways to help educate consumers about the latest energy-efficient laundry and kitchen products to help them save money, but it can be challenging. For example, in a recent survey, about 40 percent of consumers said they do not understand what high efficiency means with regards to laundry appliances. Additionally, few people realize that HE benefits are available in both front-load and top-load laundry configurations. Therefore, we find it essential to keep efficiency at the forefront of our conversations with consumers.

The same type of education is needed in the kitchen as well. For example, today’s ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators use 60 percent less energy than non ENERGY STAR models made just 10 years ago. That is a tremendous advancement, but in a recent survey, more than 50 percent of consumers still labeled the refrigerator as the appliance which uses the most energy on a day to day basis. Additionally, 20 percent of consumers revealed they own a refrigerator that is 10+ years old..

Do you think “green” will ever dominate your business?

Eco-efficiency is a significant focus for Whirlpool. In a recent survey, more than 80 percent of consumers said that energy is most important to them when it comes to appliance efficiency which tells us we’re on the right track. Whirlpool always keeps consumer insights in mind when developing new products, so we are constantly looking to develop products that will reduce energy bills and save consumers money. 

Anything else you would like to add about the green living market or the Green Life Smart Life project?

While it is important for consumers to take advantage of energy-efficient appliances, they need to keep in mind that lifestyle changes are essential as well. For example, consumers should remember that pre-rinsing dishes before loading the dishwasher can use up to 20 gallons of water. Instead of using that water, they should just scrape food off the dishes and load the dishwasher. Moreover, running the dishwasher late at night can avoid peak hours andlower utility bills. Whether it’s only washing a load of laundry while the washing machine is full, or making sure pans fit the burners on a range to efficiently utilize heat, there are numerous, simple ways that consumers can reduce their impact. Green Life Smart Life can certainly encourage these practices, and Whirlpool is excited to be a part of it.

Green Building Perspectives: Control4

For this week’s green building perspectives post, we spoked with Control4, a leader in affordable, IP-based home control and entertainment Control4-RGB - 300 dpisystems.  Control4 technology is at the heart of the Green Life Smart Life project, managing all the pieces of home control, entertainment and energy management. Control4 develops and delivers award-winning control software and hardware for virtually any room, home or building from anywhere at any time. Control4 is the affordable, easy to use, and easy to install solution for digital living.

1. What do you think of the Green Life Smart Life Project? What interested Control4 in the GLSL project?

Green Life Smart Life is an excellent project to reinforce Control4’s ongoing commitment to bring residential energy management for the home to the mainstream consumer industry. By bringing the latest technology and sustainability together under one roof, Green Life Smart Life showcases the Control4 system as the perfect solution to meet the needs of a LEED-H certified home while maintaining a digital, connected lifestyle. Using a home automation platform, the Control4 system will provide the homeowners with information and control through energy management, lighting, HVAC, security and entertainment to achieve a sustainable, eco-friendly smart home. Green Life Smart Life will provide the opportunity for consumers to learn about Control4’s Operating System and how it is integrated into any home to make life easier by providing a seamless platform that enables all of the home’s products and systems to work together.

2. Where does Control4 see green building going in the next 5 years?

More and more people are becoming increasingly aware of their energy usage and finding ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their family as well as their home. Now, Smart Grid initiatives are providing the ability for 2-way communication between utility providers and end users. New products like smart meters and energy monitoring software are available to better manage energy consumption by allowing users to see real time energy use, and ultimately measurable savings as this information affects their behaviors and consumption. This movement will undoubtedly send ripple-effect of green building initiatives across residential and commercial markets in the coming years.

3. How do you see your business evolving to address green building?

Control4’s automation and control systems for homes and commercial applications provide significant reductions in energy consumption without a compromise in lifestyle. We have been and will continue to be committed to this space by making greater strides in product development and strategic partnerships to benefit green building and its consumers. Going forward, Control4’s product portfolio will include more energy efficient products. Our energy efficient product additions will allow customers to not only have more on-demand information about their energy usage, but also let them take control of their usage through Control4’s system solutions. With the announcement of our new AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) division (this could link to article), Control4 has recently secured funding to begin business and product development as well as partnerships with utility companies. We hope that through smart meters and residential energy management, home automation will assist with allowing homeowners to build and live more sustainably.

4. What challenges do you see your company facing in the evolution?

The largest hurdle will be how quickly the utility providers’ solutions are introduced to the market. We have seen slow, yet steady, progress in the past year and a greater investment more recently which is encouraging. It will take a number of years for the Smart Grid system to spread across the nation, but commitment and support from the utility companies is imperative.

5. Do you think green practices/manufacturing will ever dominate your business/organization?

No, it will not dominate our business per se, but it will definitely influence our product design and manufacturing processes going forward. Our energy management initiatives will become an integral part of our business model and support are already thriving home automation and entertainment platform.

6. What do you think custom CE installers need to do or prepare to do to take full advantage of the green movement?

First and foremost, custom CE installers need education. Installers interact with end users daily and we need to better educate them on the green evolution we see happening in the industry and ensure that they have the proper product offering to meet the demand of these customers. It is also important that they listen to customers that are interested in a more sustainable lifestyle and energy savings. This story is an important one and can ultimately become it a profitable one. Control4 provides solutions that fit the user’s lifestyle by offering the homeowner the convenience, and energy and cost savings of a home automation system, while providing a profitable home control platform for Control4 system integrators.

Green Building Perspectives: Consumer Electronics Association

PrintFor this week’s Green Building Perspectives, we spoke with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $173 billion U.S. consumer technology industry through legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA represents more than 2,200 corporate members involved in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution and integration of audio, video, mobile electronics, wireless and landline communications, information technology, home networking, multimedia and accessory products, as well as related services that are sold through consumer channels. The CEA TechHome division will be launching their new TechHome Rating System, which is being created to provide a model and associated rating program that will allow builders, integrators and consumers to demonstrate what technology products can be installed in a home. With a focus on energy management, whole-home connectivity and entertainment, the Green Life Smart Life project will be the first case study of the program.

 1. What do you think of the Green Life Smart Life Project? What interested CEA in the GLSL project?
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is excited to support the Green Life Smart Life program as platinum sponsor to highlight how installed home technologies and consumer electronics can help homeowners become more environmentally sustainable. CEA is committed to increasing awareness of environmentally-friendly products and programs within the consumer electronics industry, as well as working with lawmakers and government officials to develop public policy solutions that protect innovation and consumer choice while promoting energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. The GLSL project gives CEA a great platform to show that you can live a high-tech and energy efficient lifestyle without having to sacrifice any of the design and entertainment features of a high-tech home.

The Green Life Smart Life demonstrates not only to consumers, but Electronic Systems Contractors (ESC), builders and architects how installed home technologies can help minimize a home’s environmental impact through smart home design that incorporates technology. Through CEA’s involvement with GLSL, we hope to spur the building community into thinking about how they can incorporate consumer electronics into their projects to help homeowners become better environmental stewards. 

The Green Life Smart is one of the first homes in the country to use CEA’s TechHome Rating System (THRS), a nationally-recognized build-to specification for residential technology infrastructure. THRS removes the complexity of adding home technology by explaining at a glance the level of structured wiring that is present or needed within a home. In addition to providing the infrastructure needed for entertainment features like Multi-Room Audio, THRS can enhance a home’s green lifestyle by providing for the infrastructure needed for energy monitoring, energy management and home control systems. 

2. Where does your company/organization see green building going in the next 5 years?  
As green building grows, so will the number of technology offerings included in those projects. CEA has several member companies that are on the forefront of energy efficient and energy management technology.  Consumers are looking to make informed decision about their home energy consumption. Home automation systems that help manage and control energy consumption will give them those resources. It is not just homeowners looking to make more informed decisions. Utility companies are building Smart Grids to have a better handle on how energy is being distributed and used. By using these grids to show peak load times and reducing demand through time of day pricing, utilities companies will give homeowners even more tools to better understand their energy consumption. The Obama administration’s commitment to building Smart Grids will only help build consumer’s understanding of installed home technology that tracks a home’s energy use. ESC will need to take a leading role in educating consumers about the options available to them and can be instrumental in incorporating those options into homes.

3. Do you think green practices/manufacturing will ever dominate the CE industry?
Yes. The environment is increasingly taken into account as CE companies make materials and components, design, manufacture and distribute produces, and sell them in retail stores and online. CE companies are changing their design process to create products that need less packaging, contain fewer harmful chemicals and allow for reusability and recycling. CEA recently examined the environmental data from the largest CE companies and found that most were looking for ways to reduce waste, conserve resources and shrink product size (CEA’s Environmental Sustainability and Innovation in the Consumer Electronics Industry, October 2008).

Highlights of the study include:      

  • Decreased electricity use: Among companies that reported reduced electricity consumption, electricity usage declined by as much as 25 percent during the past three to four years. 
  • Relative greenhouse gas reduction: Among the major CE companies that reported greenhouse gas emissions from 2004-2007, seven of the 10 have achieved a reduction per one million dollars revenue.
  • Strong recycling commitment Among 64 electronics companies surveyed, more than two-thirds — 69 percent — report that they are actively recycling electronic products and components, and 38 percent report reuse of the electronics products they make or use. Together, these actions have helped to recycle nearly 800,000 tons of electronic waste.
  • Improved energy efficiency: Continuous improvement across the industry in nearly every product. The widespread shift from CRT to LCD monitors that occurred earlier this decade reduced average energy use per monitor by about 30 percent.

 4. What do you think custom CE installers need to do or prepare to do to take full advantage of the green movement?
Join CEA! Becoming an active participant in CEA helps custom installers stay up-to-date on key industry trends and gives them a variety of opportunities to hear from other ESCs and manufactures about what is happening in the market place. Belonging to a trade association like CEA supplies you the relevant tools needed to help you succeed in the custom integration channel.  

 If you’re looking for a way to become more involved within CEA while learning more about how you can incorporate sustainability practices into you business, consider joining the new CEA-CEDIA Green Certification Work Group. CEA and CEDIA have joined forces to compile a reference guide of green certifications relevant to the custom installation industry. This new CEA-CEDIA work group is looking for custom installers to share their knowledge. Get more information or participate on this work group!

Green Building Perspectives: NuVo Technologies

NuVo Logo 6

In this week’s Green Building Perspectives, we sat down with David Rodarte, President and COO of NuVo Technologies. NuVo will be supporting the home’s whole home audio system with its revolutionary Essentia E6G, the first system of its kind to earn the coveted ENERGY STAR rating for its low energy consumption. As a company, NuVo has been at the forefront of the green movement in the consumer electronics space.  

What do you think of the Green Life Smart Life Project? What interested your company in the GLSL project?

We were highly intrigued by Green Life Smart Life from the minute we heard about it. In particular, the project appealed to us because it was focused on showing and proving that green-conscious lifestyles and consumer electronics usage weren’t mutually exclusive concepts.

NuVo has long been a proponent of the greening of electronics. In 2007, we debuted the first whole home audio system to earn the ENERGY STAR: our Essentia E6G system, which has been incredibly well-received not only for its energy efficiency but also for its performance and value. Our use of digital amplification throughout our line greatly reduces the heat that our whole home audio products once generated, and thus further reduces our systems’ energy consumption. Our OLED Control Pads consume less energy (and look better) than the LCD controllers used by other players in our category.

We’re even about to introduce a whole home audio system called Renovia that uses the existing electrical wiring in a home to deliver audio and associated metadata throughout the house. Traditionally, you need to pull new wire all over a home to get quality whole home audio to each room; with Renovia, your audio uses wiring that’s already there. Not only will Renovia give whole home audio an attractive appeal to existing homeowners, but it also eliminates the need for installers to run a lot of fresh copper wiring.

Green Life Smart Life is a great rallying point for our industry in terms of rethinking how we do business. We want to support that effort, because the custom installation industry needs to stay relevant and in step with the times and with social mores. At NuVo, we’ve been thinking about how we can become greener for years. We have aggressively moved to rethink and reduce our use of hazardous materials, to rethink and reduce our packaging, to rethink and reduce our manufacturing waste. We instituted a company-wide recycling program. A lot of that sounds like common sense and, to be frank, a lot of it IS common sense. But just because things make sense doesn’t mean a company will commit and follow through on them. It takes an organizational will, a direction, and the dedication of the people who work for the company. We’re so fortunate that, as a company, we employ people who want to make a positive difference.

Where does your company see green building going in the next five years?   

Obviously, new construction will become greener over the coming years. Projects like Green Life Smart Life will help to educate the consumer on housing choices they can make that are smart and responsible. There are proactive efforts by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) that are providing leadership for both builders and electronics manufacturers to offer energy-smart products and lead to good practice standards. Not only is this trend encouraging for the planet, but it’s also encouraging for our nation’s economic recovery. Innovation like green building is going drive this recovery, and products like ours that support energy-efficient, environmentally responsible lifestyles will only become more attractive to home buyers over time.

NuVo Essentia E6GSystem

NuVo Essentia E6G System

We view green building really as more of an opportunity than a challenge. In many ways, taking green building, energy efficiency and environmental consciousness into account helps us become more efficient as a manufacturer. By thinking through smart decisions to reduce materials, you ultimately reduce your expenses as a manufacturer. A traditional power supply for an audio system can weigh two or more pounds; a more energy-efficient digital power supply is weighed in ounces. You use less copper, you reduce the size of the amplifier box, you incur less shipping expense in terms of weight and size, you produce less material to recycle or reuse at the end of the product’s life cycle. It all adds up to a better value for the consumer, for the manufacturer, and for the planet. 

Do you think green practices/manufacturing will ever dominate your business? 

I believe the consumer electronics industry will be proactive in best practices and that manufacturers will be responsive to consumer preferences for green products. It will become a standard way of doing business for our industry to practice green standards. NuVo will remain at the forefront of this effort.

What do you think installers need to do, or prepare to do, to take full advantage of the green movement? 

Installers need to become educated and aware about green. Good green practice presents many opportunities that can make a difference in an installer’s bottom line. The installer can reduce material usage, such as copper cabling. The installer can implement smart designs that utilize low-energy-consumption appliances, or provide controls that shut down electronics when not in use. The installer can manipulate a home to be most efficient in general power consumption, utilize lighting control to reduce light output to an optimum level instead of just “on”,  control HVAC temperature  cycling. The list just goes on and on. A green-aware installer can truly make a difference… and profit from it as well.

Green Building Perspectives: DaVinci Roofscapes

davincilogoBased in the Philadelphia suburb of Horsham, Pa., Benjamin Obdyke Inc. has been an innovator in the design and provision of residential building products since 1868, and today is best known as a leading provider of high-quality residential roof and wall building solutions. The company says its roof material and wall system products enhance the building system to maximize the performance, durability and value of a building’s critical outer structure. As the company’s motto goes, “When you ‘build better’ with Benjamin Obdyke, you build to last.”

Benjamin Obdkye is outfitting the Green Life Smart LifeTM home with its Home Slicker® product. Home Slicker provides a continuous space for drainage and drying, a thermal break and pressure equalization. These technologies will work in concert to eliminate the threat of trapped moisture within the exterior walls of the home. By installing Home Slicker underneath the cedar shingles on the Green Life Smart Life home, the life of the shingle will be prolonged; we won’t need to refinish or replace it due to excess moisture.

We spoke with Julian DeLuca, associate product manager with Benjamin Obdyke, about the green building market and about the company’s enthusiastic support for the Green Life Smart Life project.

What do you think of the Green Life Smart Life Project to date? What interested Benjamin Obdyke about the project?

There are plenty of green building projects going on across the country, but Green Life Smart Life is the only one I am aware of that has successfully created such an extensive online community surrounding the daily activities of the project. I think such an undertaking immediately gains one credibility, and that’s why Benjamin Obdyke has agreed to participate in the project.           

Where does Benjamin Obdyke see green building going in the next five years?

To be honest, I think it’s going to go away…but I mean this in a good way. I believe that the mainstream interest and acceptance in green building has built so much momentum over the past two to three years that green building will just become part of standard building practice by 2015. Speaking from my experience as a building product manufacturer, just as recently as two years ago, “green” was considered to be a nice-to-have feature that could help a company better position their product offerings against the competition. Nowadays, you would be hard-pressed to find a segment of the building product industry where being green wasn’t a prerequisite to compete in the marketplace.

How is your company evolving to address green building?

At Benjamin Obdyke, I think we have done a good job of incorporating green and sustainable building into much of our overall marketing message without making it seem like we’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. We have excelled at reviewing our complete product line and grading the sustainability of each individual product. When we come across a product that doesn’t make the grade, we openly admit that it doesn’t make the grade, and immediately we look at making product improvements or changing the product composition in order to help end-users achieve points with either of the two biggest green building programs: LEED for Homes and the NAHB Green Building Guidelines.

What challenges do you see Benjamin Obdyke facing in the evolution of green building?

Ultimately I think the biggest challenge Benjamin Obdyke will face as it relates to green building is aligning ourselves with the right programs, projects and experts in the field of green building. The one negative thing I see with green building is that there are so many people out there claiming to be “green building experts” that it’s hard to figure out who really knows their stuff and who is just in this for the money. Long term, the more we can align ourselves with projects, organizations and people who can clearly delineate what being green or sustainable means, the better we can mitigate the risk of associating ourselves with the wrong people. Green Life Smart Life is an excellent example of the type of project we would like to align ourselves with.

Do you think green building will ever dominate your business?

I think it already does. We seldom go a day without hearing from a customer who has a question regarding green building and how one of our products fits in. We hear much of the same when we are at tradeshows, or when our salespeople are out in the field.

Anything else you would like to add about the green building market or the Green Life Smart Life project?

It’s a great project being led by a great group of people, and Benjamin Obdyke couldn’t be more proud to participate. We anxiously look forward to the completion of the project, but in the interim we’re just as happy following the progress via the construction dashboard and the blog.