Category Archives for "Green Home"

Standing Seam Metal Roof with Solar Panels

A metal roof with built-in solar panels is the most energy efficient and longest lasting solar roofing solution. A metal roof will usually last in excess of 50 years, and solar PV panels usually last 30+ years with minimal loss of efficiency or or electric power production. The combination of the two creates a one-time green roofing investment that will pay for itself over time, and then it will produce free electricity. Such a smart combination eliminates the chance of roof leaks, since there are no roof penetrations, and gives a homeowner piece of mind and confidence in their green metal roof.

Why go with a metal roof, instead of asphalt shingles:

Why would you want to install PV solar panels with a metal roof, instead of installing it on the existing asphalt shingle roof? The answer is very simple; asphalt shingles last an average of 15 years, while your solar panels should last at least 30 years. That means that even if you install your solar panels over a brand new asphalt shingles roof, you will have to remove the whole solar system in 15 years, replace the roof, and then put the solar panels back onto the roof. With the installation costs of a solar PV system being about $2 per watt, and an average solar system size of 3 KW, you will have to pay an extra $6000 (in today’s dollars, before any inflation is calculated) to reinstall your solar panels, and another $1500-2000 to
remove the panels, so that the roof can be replaced. With today’s average solar system price of $9-11 including solar panels, inverter, all wiring, rack-mounting system, permits, installation, etc.), the removal and re-installation price amounts to about 25% of the total solar system cost.

A properly installed standing seam metal roof will easily outlast any asphalt shingles roof by 3 time or more, and it will also outlast a warranty period on any solar panels. When your solar panels get old, and start producing less electricity than what they were designed for, you will have an option to either keep the old solar panels or install the new ones (as a side-note – average efficiency loss of a solar panel is 0.5% per year or 10% over a 20 year warranty period). All your infrastructure will already be in place, and you can simply swap the old solar panels for the new ones. You may also have to swap the charge controller / inverter. In 20 or 30 years, as technology progresses, the efficiency of solar panels and inverters will be much higher, and the cost per watt will be considerably lower. At the same time you will still have your metal roof, performing at 100% efficiency – being leak free and beautiful, that is.

Installing solar panels on a standing seam metal roof

Solar panels can be attached to a standing seam metal roof in two different ways. One is to use a thin film Solar PV panel laminated inside the pan of a standing seam metal roof – a so called solar metal roofing concept, when solar panels are integrated with the roofing material. The limitations of solar metal roofing include lower efficiency (per sq. foot or sq. meter) of the solar PV laminates. Therefore you would need double the roof area to get the same number of kW of a solar system. Also the size limitation of each solar PV laminate (18 feet long panels) make it impossible to install them on roofs with a roof run of less than 18.5 feet.

A better way to install solar panels onto a metal roof is to use S-5 clips or mounting brackets, specially designed to add adequate strength and support of rack-mounting systems installed on standing seam metal roofs. S-5 clops are made of cast aluminum blocks, with stainless steel tightening screws. S-5 clips are attached to the ribs or locks of a standing seam panel, and provide great pullout ratio, meeting and exceeding Miami-Dade county building code requirements for wind uplift.

S-5 Solar Panel mounting clamps allow for a quick and inexpensive installation of the solar rack-mounting system. Solar panels can be attached directly to the clamps, or to horizontal / vertical rails. The overall cost of such solar racking system is reduced from about $1 per watt, to about 50 cents per watt, or less. Also, you do not have to worry about any roof leaks, as there are no roof penetrations, and all mounting hardware is attached to the ribs of the metal roof panels.

You can also get a double tax credit for your solar roofing installation – Your first tax credit would be a 30% tax credit for solar panels, and and another one – up to $1500 cool roof tax credit. An average cost of metal roofing materials will exceed $5000 per roof, so you will be able to get a full 30% cool roof tax credit. With today’s metal roofing prices for steel standing seam ranging from $15000-20000, a $1500 tax credit will save you about 7-10% off your lifetime metal roof.

The Benefits of Compact Fluorescent Lighting

CFLs have several advantages over incandescent light bulbs: they last from 8-10 times longer, use about 75% less energy, and produce 90% less heat while delivering more light per Watt. For example, a 25 Watt CFL provides about 1800 lumens, compared to 1750 lumens from a 100 Watt incandescent lamp.

CFLs have come a long way since their introduction. They provide a flicker-free, soft-white light and come in a variety of styles. The traditional “twist” bulb is the most popular, but if you need a more stylish version, consider the household style. This bulb is similar in design to a standard incandescent bulb but uses significantly less energy. The 3-way CFL is perfect for reading lamps or conversation areas where ambience is a factor. The globe style is designed for bathroom fixtures.

Here’s a groovy advantage – CFLs save you money! One 20 Watt CFL (replaces a 75 Watt incandescent bulb) will save you $66 dollars over the life of the bulb (based on $.12 KWH). Replace one 100 Watt incandescent bulb with a 25 Watt CFL and save a whopping $74 dollars over the life of the bulb (hey – that’s 21 extra Mocha Latte’s).

Not only are CFLs the smart choice – they’re hip too. The EPA reports that CFLs are the environmentally responsible choice. Replacing one incandescent light bulb with an energy saving CFL bulb reduced carbon monoxide emission to the atmosphere by 1,000 pounds.

According to the Department of Energy, as a nation we spend about one-quarter of our electricity budget on lighting, or more than $37 billion annually. And while traditional incandescent light bulbs are less expensive to purchase, they are much more expensive to operate. Incandescents aren’t such a bright idea after all (sorry – couldn’t resist).

Residential Green Roof Guide

Residential green roof refers to the space created right on top of the household’s roof for the purpose of vegetation and plants.  These vegetation and plants provide an all natural insulation as well as shield the roof from direct sunlight, thus cutting down the use of air conditioning and ensuring the durability of the roof.  Couple this fact with the over 100° temperature reduction that the residential green roof can impact on your home, it is an effective utility bill buster.


The money-saving nature of residential green roof can never be overlooked.  Factors such as the type of vegetation you plant, weather condition and size of your roof will all decide on the exact amount you will be able to save.  Authorities in Switzerland, Austria, France and Germany have long endorsed and encouraged the building of residential green roofs.


Recently it has also been recognized as an important factor in storm water management.  Its ability to hold water prevents water (and pollution) from overflowing into the city areas and reduces the effect of city heat island effect — a situation created by new urban planning with houses being built close to one another — through the process of evapotranspiration (water evaporation from the plants to atmosphere) and shading.


Heat Island Group which is based in Los Angeles estimated that rooftop-cooling can bring about an annual savings of $16 million on your energy bills to both businesses and residences.  According to the United States Department of Energy, green roofs and other reflective roof types,  are capable of cooling New York City by 3.6°F.  Not all buildings are ideal for residential green roofs; those with inadequate load factor (which means the roofs are not able to carry the weight of the vegetation on top), steeply sloped roofs as well as certain homes designs may be unsuitable for such implementation.  It is important to consider factors like how much sunlight your roof is exposed to and the type of vegetation to plant.


Make it a necessary step to discuss with both a landscape designer and structural engineer before any architectural plans are developed.  A structural engineer can advise you on how the piping runs and what waterproofing approach to take.


The cost of a green roof implementation can vary a lot depending on your existing roof, and the size and scope of your intended green roof.  Typically material and labor contribute quite a significant portion of the budget.
Cool Roofs


Because lighter shades (versus the darker shades) are more adept to reflect sunlight away, it may be desirable to choose a lighter color scheme for your roof.  And your choice may help to reduce the effect of urban heat island — whereby simultaneous heating of hot roofs in an overly congested urban area will bring the temperature up a few notches.


White roofs can be used to more effectively cool steeply sloped roofs and reflect sun heat away.  It is simply a coating not unlike any thick white paint but it will stay for 20 years.  Application cost varies based on scope of job as well as the condition of your roof.


Certain utility companies offer discount for cool roof installation, make sure you check that out.

How To Create a Roof Top Garden

If you live in an urban area and only have a small rooftop you can still create a magical lush garden. Here’s how to do it:

#1 – Check with your local planning office to ensure you can add the garden to your home. If your home is rented obviously this is another point to consider with your landlord. You’ll also want to check that your rooftop is structurally safe to take the extra weight.

#2 – Think about safety. Your planning office should set these regulations into place and advice you regarding safety, but it’s worth noting. If you have young children especially, you’ll need a barrier that is high enough so that they cannot climb on it. Also keep items away from the sides of the rooftop which children can use to climb on and look over the railing. A good idea may be to place a screen of different heights (to avoid blocking the wind completely) around the edge of the garden and planting lots of plants in front of the screen. This way the edge can’t be accessed easily.

#3 – Once you’re ready to build your garden concentrate on the structural parts of it first. The rooftop will be windier than a standard garden and you’ll need to install windbreakers. You can add bamboo screens or wooden trellises but leave several sections as they are. This way you disrupt the force of the wind cycle rather than abruptly stopping it. This means that your trellises and screens are more likely to stay up than get blown away.

#4 – Think about water. Will you have a separate tap installed for the garden or do you have a nearby source of water? Rooftop gardens can be a lot of sun and certain plants may need to be watered regularly. To be a little more green with your watering habits install a water collector to one side of the garden. This way you can use rainwater for the plants. You can also plant certain tropical or plants native to your area which will need little water – palms are great for shade, can act as a windbreaker and need little water even in very hot sun.

#5 – Think green and lush. A very green and super lush rooftop garden can be a magical place. The goal should be to block out some of the sunlight and give you an almost jungle-like sanctuary to retreat to from your urban surroundings. Do this by planting plants with lots of green foliage such as palms, fatsia and ferns. Keep the ferns underneath shady areas as they don’t do very well in direct sunlight.

Once you’ve filled the garden with lots of green structural foliage add a dash or two of color with bright accent plants in pots. Hot pink and/or purple always work well against green. You can also try a deep plum burgundy shade or bright orange.

Finally add a natural accent or two. A set of wicker loungers or chairs are fantastic for relaxing on. A small wooden or steel table with a few chairs make a great place to eat. And don’t forget to add tea candles and lanterns for a magical feel. A string of solar bulbs hung around the rooftop can be a nice natural source of light too.

20 Electricity Saving Tips For Your Home

Whether a homeowner is interested in lowering their monthly utility bill or doing their part to help the environment, here are a number of quick and simple ways to save electricity in your home. Collectively, following these energy savings tips adds up.

  1. Create an “Out of Home” Temperature Set Point – Since a home does not need to be at an optimal temperature when it’s unoccupied, set the thermostat a bit higher during cooling seasons and lower during heating seasons. This way, the air conditioner or heating system won’t have to work overtime when no one is around.
  2. Clean Out the Lint – Many household appliances have air filters, including dryers and vacuum cleaners. When these devices are left with dirty filters, they have to work extra hard to perform the same job, which ultimately wastes considerable amounts of energy. Clean out the lint and debris from dryers and vacuums before using them.
  3. Turn If Off When It’s Not In Use – We were all told as children to turn off the lights when we leave a room. This sage advice holds true today. Turn off all electrical devices in a room, including things like lights and fans, when it’s unoccupied.
  4. Beware of Vampire Loads – Vampire loads are when certain electrical devices continue to draw power from the socket even then they are turned off. Good examples are computers, TVs and video game consoles. Consider unplugging these devices from the socket to ensure electricity isn’t consumed when they’re not in use.
  5. Use Smart Power Strips – An electricity saving alternative to unplugging vampire load devices is to use a energy saving surge protector smart power strip that monitors power usage and cuts it off at the socket automatically when a device is not in use.
  6. Use Specialized Cooking Devices – Rather than crank up the oven or burners to heat something up, use a microwave or toaster when it makes sense. These specialized devices have much lower energy intensities than ovens and stoves.
  7. Resist the Urge to Sneak a Peak – It’s tempting to check on the turkey when it’s roasting in the oven, but resist the urge. Opening the oven door results in heat loss, which means the oven works double-time to resume heating at the set temperature level.
  8. Purchase Energy Star Appliances – The Environmental Protection Agency labels various appliances, like refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, and ovens that produce the same results as their counterparts using less energy. When making an upgrade, consider going with the more efficiency Energy Star model.
  9. Reduce the Heat After Boiling – It’s fine to turn up the range to initially bring water to a boil quickly, but once it’s in a boiling state, turn the heat down a bit. Water can sustain its temperature in the boiling phase on a lower heat.
  10. Use Passive Solar – Passive solar involves using the sunlight to naturally heat or cool a home. For instance, during hot summer days close the blinds to reduce radiant heat entering a home. Similarly, during colder months, let the sunlight in to naturally heat a home.
  11. Weatherize Your Home – Sealing leaks and adding insulation to a home is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce heat and cold air loss from your home, which can save you money all year round.
  12. Use Efficient Light Bulbs – CFLs are much more efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs. Similarly, look for LED models when purchasing specialty lighting, like track lighting and holiday bulbs. Not only will these models use considerably less electricity, but they will also last many years longer than regular lighting.
  1. Use the Dishwasher Wisely – To get the most bang for the buck, fill the dishwasher efficiently and run it on a lower, less energy intensive cycle.
  2. Close the Windows With AC – Leaving doors and windows open when the AC is running results in significant loss of cool air, which in turn necessitates the AC to use that much more energy to keep the house cool. Be sure to close all windows and doors when the AC is running.
  3. Keep the AC Unit In Shape – Similarly, air conditioners also have filters that must be changed out at least twice a year to ensure that your system is running at the optimum efficiency.
  4. Don’t Let the Water Run – Moving water through pumps take electricity, so letting the faucet run means water and power is wasted. Be sure to minimize the amount of water less to cut down on energy costs.
  5. Vacuum Refrigerator Coils – A lot of debris can collect on a refrigerator’s coils, thereby reducing the efficiency with which it uses energy. Every few months or so, be sure to dust or vacuum out the areas around the refrigerator’s coils to ensure it’s working optimally.
  6. Air Dry Clothes – While it might not be an option all year round, during warmer summer months air drying clothes can save considerable amounts of electricity.
  7. Use Fans – Fans are much less energy intensive than air conditioners, so consider using a fan or some or all of the day to save energy.
  8. Buy Low-Flow – Since water uses energy, invest in low-flow shower heads and low-flow toilets to reduce energy waste used to move water through the pipes.