It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand how to make a building more energy efficient. Perhaps a Nobel Prize winning physicist, yes. That's why when the folks at the Energy Coordinating Agency (the Philly green jobs training center) announced last month that Energy Secretary Steven Chu would be dropping in for a visit, everyone in the local sustainability sphere was ecstatic.
The US Department of Energy, and specifically Dr. Chu's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, EERE, has spawned several critical projects nationwide to assist homeowners and residents combat the alarming challenges of utility rate hikes and to fight continued adverse effects on the environment and depletion of our natural resources.
|Secretary Chu with the President.|
While many advanced environmentalists are allured by exciting new developments in green-building such as green-roofing, solar power, and other alternative energy sources, it should be noted that the key to moving toward a net-zero home and sustainable housing is in energy efficiency and sealing the "envelope of the home." And that all starts with the home energy audit.
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Through a vast array of specialized diagnostic tools and imagery equipment, energy auditors and analysts are able to detect issues such as heating and cooling loss through air leaks, reduced efficiency of existing heat appliances due to incomplete combustion in the furnace, and problems with proper disbursement of home distribution systems. They also are knowledgeable in efficiency ratings of various household appliances and possess an overall expert understanding of the physics of energy and airflow in buildings.
|Diagram showing performance testing for oil furnace|
The Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook has the home energy auditor listed as one of the fastest growing careers in an otherwise sluggish economy, especially compared to other occupations in the home-building trades. Much funding is being invested in this field in both public and private sectors. Programs for energy auditors, renewable energy installers, building retrofit experts, and more are in place throughout the nation. Yet many people know little about this.
|Energy Coordinating Agency|
There are many distractions in our culture that often limit advocacy for such programs.
At a recent town hall forum at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, titled Media and Sustainability, an expert panel discussed issues such as how decreasing coverage in the media of science and technology stories has left the public unaware of important discoveries. MIT graduate and scientist Chris Mooney, author of New York Times best seller The Republican War on Science, acknowledged that there is a fundamental problem getting the word out about science related news - whether it's information on innovative new science related careers or significant scientific discoveries. Much of this is due to financial restraints, he says, but a lot seems to be political, and much of it on the right.
It's no surprise that climate change dissenters are at an all time high. The BBC reported today that the public's belief in climate change in the UK is at 29 percent, while at the same time, concern for it in the scientific community has escalated. Similarly, according to Chris Mooney's research, recent studies also indicate that 46 percent of Americans now reject Darwin's theory of evolution!
It's quite possible that the green jobs revolution will not be televised. However, it will appear on blog-sites such as this... Stay tuned for more--D.A DeMers.
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