Friday, October 28, 2011

New vehicle label starting with model year 2013

An improved fuel economy label will be used on all new passenger cars and trucks in the USA in a few years.  Read this article to learn more about how this label will let shoppers compare conventional gasoline-powered vehicles with "next generation" car types such as plug-in, hybrid, or electric:  
Watch a short video about the label here:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shedding light on the subject of bulbs

What's the latest in light bulb news?  Are CFLs safe?  Do LEDs live up to the hype?  Read the 2011 Consumer Reports guide to light bulbs and find out...

Here's a brief summary:

CFLs use about 75% less energy and last seven to ten times longer than regular incandescent bulbs. Consumer Reports tested 60-watt CFLs and LEDs for this report.

CFLs save money faster (one year) than LEDs (four to ten years). They also contain less mercury (<1mg), although CR notes that they should be recycled at stores like Home Depot, Ikea, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, or other participating programs... but you were already recycling your light bulbs, right?

LEDs meet most of their claims (brightness, low energy use, no mercury, dimming capability, long lifespan) but can be suboptimal in light distribution, not all are as bright as promised, and they are still more expensive than CFLs.

What you should look for when shopping for light bulbs:

Lumens measure brightness better than wattage does. This article suggests a lumens equivalent for several common bulb types.

Brightness and color are not created equal.

Read the Lighting Facts label to check brightness, energy use, estimated energy cost, expected lifespan.

Check for rebates and coupons at or  or your local utility company.

Want more?

Read the full article and check bulb ratings here:

Visit the Consumer Reports page on Facebook to get access to free reports like this without becoming a subscriber.  
CR Facebook:
CR main website:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ACEEE state energy efficiency scorecards released


WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 20, 2011): A sour U.S. economy, tight state budgets, and a failure by Congress to adopt a comprehensive energy strategy have not slowed the growing momentum among U.S. states toward increased energy efficiency, according to the fifth edition of the annual ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) during a National Press Club news conference.

Available online at , the ACEEE Scorecard shows that the top 10 states are: Massachusetts (taking the #1 position for the first time); California (slipping from the top spot it held for the first four editions of the ACEEE Scorecard); New York State; Oregon; Vermont; Washington State; Rhode Island; Minnesota, Connecticut; and Maryland (making its first appearance in the top 10 and also one of the six most improved states in the 2011 ACEEE Scorecard).

The 10 states most in need of improvement (from dead last to #42) are: North Dakota; Wyoming; Mississippi; Kansas; Oklahoma; South Carolina; West Virginia; Missouri; Alabama (also one of the top six most improved states); and South Dakota.

The six most improved states include Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Alabama, Maryland, and Tennessee.

"Energy efficiency is America's abundant, untapped energy resource and the states continue to press forward to reap its economic and environmental benefits," said ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel. "The message here is that energy efficiency is a pragmatic, bipartisan solution that political leaders from both sides of the aisle can support. As they have over the past decades, states continue to provide the leadership needed to forge an energy-efficient economy, which reduces energy costs, spurs job growth, and benefits the environment."

"Thanks to our investments in innovation and infrastructure, Massachusetts is now leading the nation in energy efficiency," said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. "Through our Green Communities Act, we set aggressive goals and laid the foundation for greater investment in energy efficiency -- and now we are proud to be a model for the nation and world."

"I am thrilled that Maryland is being recognized as one of the top ten states and one of the most improved states for energy efficiency," said Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration. "As a result of Governor O'Malley's vision in establishing one of the nation's most aggressive energy efficiency goals, Marylanders have already saved over 700,000 MWh of electricity and over $91 million dollars since 2009, and our peak demand program has helped us avoid major blackouts during our record-setting summer heat wave."

"Illinois is a purposeful leader in the area of sustainability, investing more than $600 million in energy efficiency projects over the last four years alone," Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Warren Ribley said. "By supporting aggressive policies including the state's energy efficiency portfolio standard and advanced building industry training and education, we are creating jobs, building more sustainable communities and securing our place in the new energy economy."

"We are excited that Michigan's positive action on energy efficiency is being recognized nationally," said Valerie Brader, the chief energy policy officer for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The ACEEE report observed that Michigan's improvement is particularly due to the implementation of energy efficiency programs advanced in state legislation P.A. 295.

The fifth edition of the ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard presents a comprehensive ranking of the states based on an array of metrics that capture best practices and recognize leadership in energy efficiency policy and program implementation. The Scorecard benchmarks progress and provides a roadmap for states to advance energy efficiency in the residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors. A new, diverse set of states has followed a group of leading states by adopting significant energy efficiency policies, which will lead to innovative and effective programs. Tremendous potential remains for energy efficiency savings in all of the states should motivate decision-makers to advance energy efficiency.

"Clearly, 2011 has not been kind to our economy, but energy efficiency remains a growth sector that attracts investment and creates jobs," said Michael Sciortino, ACEEE senior policy analyst and the report's lead author. "With even higher energy savings possible, we expect leading states to continue pushing the envelope next year and inspire those at the bottom of the rankings to embrace energy efficiency as a core strategy to gain a competitive advantage by generating cost-savings, promoting technological innovation, and stimulating growth."


Facing uncertain economic times, states are continuing to use energy efficiency as a key strategy to generate cost-savings, promote technological innovation, and stimulate growth. The ACEEE Scorecard documents the following trends:

• Total budgets for electricity efficiency programs increased to $4.5 billion in 2010, up from $3.4 billion in 2009. Combined with natural gas program budgets of about $1 billion, total energy efficiency budgets in 2010 equal about $5.5 billion. Given the increasing regulatory commitments to energy efficiency, this growth will likely continue over the next decade.

• Twenty-nine (29) states have either adopted or have made significant progress toward the adoption of the latest energy-saving building codes for homes and commercial properties - up from twenty in 2010 and ten in 2009.

• Twenty-four (24) states have adopted an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS), which sets long-term energy savings targets and drives utility-sector investments in energy efficiency programs. States that adopted EERS policies in 2007 and 2008 are now realizing significant energy savings and moving ahead in the Scorecard rankings.

• States continue to improve policies to reduce financial, technical, and regulatory barriers to adoption and deployment of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, which generate electricity and thermal energy in an integrated system. Tremendous potential remains for CHP, particularly in states with heavy industrial and manufacturing bases.

• A group of leading states remains ahead of the curve in adopting policies to reduce vehicle miles traveled and promote the purchase and manufacture of efficient vehicles. A major gap exists, however, as over half the states have minimal or no policies to encourage efficiency in the transportation sector.


This ACEEE Scorecard provides a comprehensive assessment of policy and programs that improve energy efficiency in our homes, businesses, industry, and transportation sectors. The Scorecard examines six state energy efficiency policy areas and presents these results in six chapters: (1) utility and public benefits programs and policies; (2) transportation policies; (3) building energy codes; (4) combined heat and power; (5) state government initiatives; and (6) appliance efficiency standards. States can earn up to 50 possible points in these six policy areas combined, with the maximum possible points in each area weighted by the magnitude of its potential energy savings impact.


The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell at (703) 276-3266 or 

EDITOR'S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of the news event will be available at , an electronic copy of the ACEEE 2011 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard report and a high-resolution image of the ACEEE "logo" will be made available upon request on October 20, 2011.

Garlic goodness

Tis the season for planting garlic!  My CSA has been sending giant cloves from a mysterious hardneck variety that I'd love to plant in my garden... if I hadn't already eaten them all.

What you need to know about growing garlic in Maryland:
or anywhere:

How to plant it in containers:

One good recipe to put it in:
Fresh tomato soup, from Simply In Season

8 medium tomatoes, peeled/seeded/chopped
4+ cloves garlic, minced

Combine in saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until tomatoes are soft.

3 cups water or vegetable juice
2 chicken or veg bouillon cubes
1 tsp sugar
2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped

Add, bring to boil, simmer 5 minutes and serve.

(photo credit

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fire In The Wind: book signing tonight at Inner Harbor

Local author and Delegate Dana Stein to discuss his book Fire In The Wind tonight at Barnes & Noble Inner Harbor tonight 6-8pm, sponsored by Maryland's US Green Building Council chapter.

Dana Stein, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, will appear at the Barnes & Noble Power Plant on Thursday, October 13 from 6 pm to 8 pm, for readings and discussion of his novel Fire In The Wind.

The book signing is being sponsored by the Maryland Chapter of the United States Green Building Council as part of its Local Author Series. The book store is located at 601 E. Pratt Street in Baltimore City.

Set in the year 2036, this short novel describes the efforts of the United States to deal with the negative effects of climate change, including coastal flooding, the loss of farmland and the uprooting of families. The central characters of the fictional piece involve a displaced farmer, a member of the National Security Council and a college professor.

More information on the book is available at

Stein is the Executive Director and founder of Civic Works and sits on the Environmental Matters Committee of the House of Delegates.

The Maryland Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council is comprised of local businesses, organizations and individuals that offer educational programs and organize lobbying efforts to advance the development and operation of sustainable and environmentally-conscious office and industrial buildings, retail centers and related structures.