• 2016 SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards

    The City of San Antonio’s Office of Sustainability is excited to announce the 2nd Annual SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards, an event showcasing breakthroughs and innovations addressing the three pillars of sustainability – social, economic and environmental. Previously known as the Green Building Awards, the SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards spotlight the City of San Antonio’s SA Tomorrow initiative.

    The SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards will honor individuals, programs, projects and building structures that promote sustainability through engagement with the people who use it and the environment that surrounds it. The awards feature categories for new commercial and residential construction and retrofit projects. The City of San Antonio has expanded the timeframe of eligible projects and structures initiated or constructed between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2015.

    Nominations are now open! 

    To Apply, please choose a nomination category from the list below, download and fill out the form, and submit it no later than August 26th, 2016. Directions for how to submit and any additional information you will need are provided on the forms.

    SA Tomorrow is a three-plan approach to guide San Antonio toward smart, sustainable growth with efforts to preserve our resources and quality of life. The initiative aims to address issues of importance to the entire community including air and water quality, energy efficiency, transportation, jobs and housing through the following plans: the Comprehensive Plan, the Sustainability Plan and the Multimodal Transportation Plan.

    For more information on the SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards, contact Douglas Melnick, Office of Sustainability at (210) 207-1721 or by email at douglas.melnick@sanantonio.gov.

     

    Organizational Practitioner Nomination

    Individual Practitioner Nomination

    Project Nomination

    Bill Sinkin Solar Technology Nomination

    Sustainable Programs Nomination

  • Being Smart About Solar

    Before going solar…. consider these points

    Schools

    So…. you’re thinking of going solar. Congratulations! It’s a big step, and a worthy one.

    By embracing solar power, you help reduce the load on our local energy grid, which cuts down on air polluting emissions and helps us avoid or delay the need to build another power plant. You also offset—perhaps even eliminate—your electricity bill. In short, going solar is good for the planet, good for the community and good for you.

    Your local public electric and gas utility, CPS Energy, has approved an additional $30 million of the community’s dollars for solar rebates. Additionally, Federal government will be offering a 30% Investment Tax Credit until 2020. Being educated so you can choose the best solar option for you means that we can utilize the rebates so that more people can access solar and its myriad benefits. CPS Energy has just implemented some important measures to help protect the safety of customers in the market for solar. However, like any major investment, it’s a important to be well informed about what your options are and what you are purchasing.

    In the spirit of good stewardship, Build San Antonio Green has assembled the following considerations to help you become well-informed about solar. If you want to learn more about how solar technology works, visit the “Solar 101” section of our website, buildsagreen.org.

    1. What size system is right for me?

    Deciding what size system depends on what you would like to accomplish. If you are really into solar and want to do your part to help reduce demand for the community, you may want to have the most solar you can get. If you are looking to reduce your utility bill to save some money, then that is likely not your best option.

    For most people, an ideal solar array would produce just enough power to wipe out their electricity bill on an annual basis. Doing so can still benefit the community by not using valuable power from the grid (and delaying or avoiding the need to build more power plants), and by helping you personally to save money. Look at your electricity bill – how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) did you consume last year? That is the maximum amount of electricity your system should produce to be most efficient.

    When you consume your own solar power to zero out your bill, your local utility pays you approximately $0.098/kWh.* But when you produce excess power and sell it back to the utility, the rate drops to $0.0169/kWh. The most efficient scenario is to buy a solar array that produces just enough power to eliminate your electricity bill.

    In short, bigger is not necessarily better. Keep in mind that a bigger system always entails more upfront costs. So optimize the system size based on your goals, consumption, and budget.

    If your goal is to save some money, then it’s also a good idea to investigate getting an energy audit for your home. You can find a local energy rater who will help you determine how energy efficient your home is. The more efficient your home before you add solar, the smaller system you will need to zero out your bill. It may be more cost effective to take some measures to make your home more efficient and then add a smaller system, decreasing your upfront costs. CPS Energy even offers various rebates for energy efficiency upgrades. Check out www.cpsenergy.com to see if you qualify.

    Residential

    1.  How do I know if I have the ideal conditions for solar?

    Most smart phones have an integrated compass. Use yours to find the orientation of your rooftop. You can compare what you find with your installer and even ask your installer what the difference in production would be if you had a south-facing roof. East-west facing systems produce 12-15% less energy than south facing ones. If your installer provides a production estimate and return on investment calculation, make sure the estimate for the system is modeled according to your roof orientation and not the ideal south facing ones.

    1. Six hours of sun per day, every day is the industry standard for maximum Return on Investment (ROI.)

    Is your roof so situated that it receives six hours of sun per day, every day, every season? The peak solar window is 10am to 4pm every day all year. Does your roof have six hours of uninterrupted sun?

    If not, your production will be lower and the payback longer. Also, make sure to be aware of any shading issues your roofs might have, whether it is shading from any surrounding trees, or shading from a chimney. A quick look at satellite imagery of your home would be a good place to start. Installers have equipment that is capable of assessing shading patterns at any proposed roof site. Work with your installer so you do not place panels on any shaded areas. It would be a disservice to have a large system, but have half of it covered in shade. And it would mean that you will not meet your maximum production and ROI.

    LearnSolar

     

    1. Are high efficient (HE) panels better?

    It may seem logical to have the most highly efficient (HE) solar panels. But again, this depends on your goals. The HE panels cost more.Compare the cost increase to the production increase. Are the panels worth the extra cost? If your goal is to produce as much energy as possible and cost is not a factor, then the HE panels could be right for you. But if you are considering the upfront costs and long term ROI, then they may not offer the best long-term investment.

    As a side note, keep in mind that if you are going after the CPS rebate, all equipment chosen must be new and listed on the California Energy Commission list of approved modules and inverters, which can be found on the CPS Energy website. When you buy a new car with a V8, you can pop the hood to see the engine. How do you pop the hood on a solar project? Ask for the bill of material and check the serial numbers. Make sure you receive the equipment you were promised.

    1. How do I know if I’m getting the best price for my system?

    The solar industry, like many others, has some less-than-reputable businesses. In order to make an informed decision about which installer is right for you, do some research. Rather than going with the first installer you call or find, get several quotes from a few installers. CPS Energy keeps a list of approved installers which you can find on their website. Make sure the installers you are considering are listed.

    1. Get details on the warranties, including one for your roof.

    Installing a solar system will require that holes be drilled in your roof. It’s a good idea to ask your installer if they will guarantee that your roof, built to last 20 – 30 years, won’t be harmed or leak as a result of the installation.

    If you are planning on accessing the CPS Energy Rebate, CPS Energy has certain requirements for warranties. They require that all installed PV systems carry a five-year warranty from the installer. Solar modules must carry a 20-year warranty from the manufacturer, and inverters (the piece of necessary gear in any solar system that converts direct current from the sun to useable alternating current that can be absorbed into the grid and your home) must carry at least a five-year manufacturer’s warranty without battery back-up.

    racking

    Know your guarantees and warranties before signing any contracts, and factor them into the ROI of your system.

    The decision to go solar is exciting, and worthy, but it’s also a big financial decision. Being well-informed about your options and working with your installer to make the right choices for your situation and goals is the best way to get the most from your investment. We know you are super excited to get that solar system, but make sure you manage your expectations. Ask your installer about their process and an estimate of when your system should be online.

    *All prices estimates as of March 1, 2016.

    Contributors to this article include: Monika Maeckle, Jacob Eyer, and Kate Rodriguez 

    Solar Links

    Interested in Learning about Solar Options and Getting 3 Free Quotes? Visit our program site: BringSolarHome.com

    About How Solar Works

    CPS Energy Solar Info

    CPS Energy Rebate Info 

  • 2016 Green Home Tour

    SAT. June 11th

    11 AM to 5 PM

    About the Tour

    This June Build San Antonio Green will be holding our annual “Green Home Tour.”

    The Green Home Tour is the only exclusively “green” tour of homes in our community – each of the homes featured on the tour has been officially certified green by our award-winning green building program, joining the ranks of the over 5000 homes we have certified to date.

     

    Located throughout the central San Antonio Corridor, the homes on this year’s tour are an eclectic mix of historic, new construction, and retrofit. Guided by our mobile tour brochure, you will have the opportunity to see how beautiful design and efficient features blend seamlessly in each of these green homes.

     

    As you visit the neighborhoods of Olmos Park, Dignawitty Hill, and Lavaca, you will see energy efficient technologies and practices at work. You will have the unique opportunity to speak with the builders, developers, architects, and vendors who worked to make these homes efficient. Not only that but many of the home owners will also be present to answer questions about the performance of their home, and why the chose to build or own a green home.

     

    This year’s tour will feature between 6 and 9 homes. Builders included this year are, CVF Homes, Varga Endeavors, & PSW Homes. The tour offers more than just the opportunity to see inside these beautiful efficient homes, but the additional chance to take an up close look at the infill and revitalization efforts taking place in some of San Antonio’s oldest communities.

     

  • SAHA Ground Breaking Ceremony

    San Antonio Housing Authority ground breaking ceremony for Gailsberg Single Family Retrofit project.

  • Solar Fest

    Join us for our annual off-grid event! Solar Fest!

    Solar Fest is returning this year to a new location, Roosevelt Park and with even more to see and do. Bring the family and have fun in the HEB kids zone, learn about how to increase the efficiency of your home, not to mention all the info you need to go solar! We also plan to have tent talks including what to expect from the future of San Antonio Sustainability.

    Enjoy live music while sipping a beer and checking out some local food vendors. This year’s Solar Fest has it all!

    Stay tuned for more details but be sure to add it to your calendar!

    Interested in being a vendor or sponsor? Check out our Solar Fest Page here!

  • Green Home Tour

    Coming September 6th!

    New Construction, Historic Retro-fit, Multi-family, and Net Zero; this is the only home tour in San Antonio focused entirely on Green Building!

    Go inside to see first hand what is happening in the world of green building right now! You will have the chance to explore these energy efficient homes with the builders and vendors on hand to answer your questions about how these homes were built, and how they perform. No matter if you are interested in going green or building green this tour is for you!

    Tickets are on sale now! Follow the link below to purchase your tickets.

    www.sagreenhometour.com

    And follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates!
  • Going Green Easy Summer Projects

    Welcome to the BSAG Influencers Blog Series! This is a new series of articles from friends and colleagues from our community discussing topics relating to sustainability and green building in San Antonio. We hope that this series will help provide some perspective and insight into what’s happening on the Green Front right here at home. The articles are meant as conversational in nature and therefore do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of Build San Antonio Green or it’s staff.
    With that said, Please enjoy this very informative article by one of our good friends at Green Home Realty, Drew McCurdy!
    It’s that time of year again! It’s starting to heat up, the kids are out of school, and you are spending more time in and around your home. If you are a current homeowner or are considering purchasing a home soon, you know how important it is to implement GREEN options. But with all the demands on the budget, you likely are asking how you can afford to be GREEN, where to start investing to realize value, and how to get started. Relax! As a Realtor with GREEN Home Realty who is certified GREEN by the National Association of Realtors, I get these questions frequently from my clients and would like to share how you can easily be more GREEN.   When looking at where to start first, there are a few main areas to consider: saving electricity, conserving water, and reducing waste. One of the largest energy consumers is your central air conditioner and heater. If you are purchasing a new home, make sure you pay attention to the SEER Rating, which stands for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. According to Energy.gov, this rating essentially provides the relative amount of energy required to provide a specified amount of cooling for your home. Additionally, for newer homes built after January 26, 2006, this rating must be at minimum 13 or higher. If you are in a home with a system rated lower than 13, it may not be cost-effective to replace the system just yet unless it’s failing. In either case, it’s what controls your air conditioner that can play a huge role…your thermostat!
    nest
    Originally, many thermostats were manual. If you left it on, you may have cooled (or heated) too much. If you left it too low, then it would require more energy to get your home to a reasonable temperature. Then came programmable thermostats, which offered slightly better control.
    The challenge with programmable thermostats is that if they don’t have a flexible schedule adjustment, you could still be limited by one programmed schedule and still be wasting energy. Today, there are many more options including self-adjusting/learning thermostats. These thermostats learn your behavior and adjust accordingly. Many can be connected securely to your network for additional control away from home and through your mobile device. Consider a popular model like the Nest Thermostat. This thermostat retails for $249 and can be easily picked up locally at your Home Depot or Lowe’s. Scared of wiring? Don’t fret! Installation couldn’t be easier…even for a novice. Having personally installed myself, instructions are step-by-step. For most installations, it takes less than 15 minutes! There is even an online interactive guide to help you confirm compatibility with your system and walk you through the install process. Customer support is fantastic, should you need it. Using your thermostat is as easy as using your iPhone or Android phone. Not to mention, it looks beautiful in any home and will pay for itself in months!  
    RainBarrel
    Another big challenge in Texas is living with the heat and seemingly constant water restrictions! During the spring and summer months specifically, it can be increasingly difficult to maintain a beautiful landscape – even with drought resistant plants – when homeowners are restricted to specific days and times to water. Like most people, those schedules don’t always fit so something has to give and it usually is your landscape. Approach this differently to get your desired results. Consider a rain barrel to capture the rainfall off your roof.   As explained by epa.gov, a rain barrel is a type of system that will collect and store excess water as a reserve that would otherwise be lost as runoff. Based off epa.gov’s calculations, in as little as one rainfall you could easily fill an average-sized rain barrel of 55 gallons. This could provide enough water during the peak watering months April – October and as much as 1300 gallons of water, depending upon rainfall! Who wouldn’t want free, unrestricted water?
      Rain barrels vary in size, setup, color, and function. Basic setups, which are fine for most, start as little as $39 and sometimes less. More extravagant systems can be expanded on as budget allows. This provides flexibility to expand your savings as your landscape develops over time. I have personally purchased a few rain barrels locally from Dave The Barrel Man in San Antonio. At $69, I was able to get a 55-gallong barrel with built-in water spigot and removable screened lid – important to ensure insects cannot get to water. Service was fast and friendly and picking them up was easier than going to the grocery store. They are lightweight and I had them setup in minutes upon arriving home. And for those of you wondering if you can water from them directly…yes! Gravity allows water to flow through the spigot. Connect a simple water hose and your neighbors will be jealous as your landscape beautifies your home…not to mention you can wash your car without restriction!   Did you know that according to epa.gov for every 1/8 of an inch gap under a 36-inch door lets in as much air as a 2.4-inch hole in a wall? Now imagine those gaps and cracks around your home.
    Maybe your front door, back door, or garage door has been overlooked for a while? Perhaps around your windows or fireplace you have some gaps you’ve ignored? You don’t think about it, but those add up! Under $20, there are several options available including silicon caulk that comes in a variety of colors that will seal, flex with temperature changes, and complement your home. Door sweeps can be easily installed to begin providing enhanced sealing between your outside doors and the floor. Spray foam can insulate large crevices indoors and out. And light switch and socket plate insulators may be beneficial. All can be found at local hardware stores.
    cauck
    Thought about going solar but not ready to go all out yet? Start with something simple! For about $200, you can purchase solar attic fans to replace those squeaky turbines that are probably rusted, broken, and only spin when there is actually consistent wind. Solar attic fans provide cool air circulation in your attic using the sunlight. Imagine that, use what causes your attic to heat up to actually cool it down, save energy, and for free after your initial installation. There are many places to purchase the fans including Costco, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. There are several varieties to choose from to suit your taste. To know how many you need, you can check out a suite of calculators online that allow you to plug in your attic square footage, such as the calculator at solar-attic-fan-info.com. You can install yourself if you are comfortable making a small hole in your roof or, for a nominal fee, a licensed installer can do it for you if you’d rather not get on a ladder.
    AttackFan
    Once installed, you will notice a dramatic difference in the temperature of your attic as hot air is being expelled consistently. This in turn reduces the strain on your A/C and thus your bill as it keeps the cooled air cooler as it travels through the ducts into your home. This one potentially can have a multiple times savings impact! Add an attic tent for more!
      Several other projects exist at varying levels that include rebates which you can take advantage of by visiting cpsenergysavers.com. Currently, A/C, attic insulation, solar, and natural gas rebates exist to name a few. Visit saws.org/conservation to view a variety of indoor/outdoor rebates that exist for more projects at varying levels. Outdoor rebates currently include patioscape, landscape, irrigation design, and swimming pool filters. Indoor rebates currently include free water-efficient fixtures. It’s definitely worth checking out these rebates, especially if you are planning to do some of these projects anyways and are on a budget.   More and more, buyers are looking to purchase energy efficient homes and sellers are looking to implement GREEN enhancements for greater resale value. It’s a known fact in the real estate industry that homes with GREEN technology sell faster and closer to the list price. It’s a win-win for everyone! So if you’re looking to start some summer projects and didn’t quite know where to start, consider this information and make a list to prioritize what would be most beneficial for your specific needs and budget. Start enjoying your improvements and saving while you’re in your home and having it more marketable should you ever decide to sell or rent your home in the future. And if your looking for a home, know that these projects can be factored into an offer to make your home more efficient and enjoyable once you move in. Being GREEN doesn’t have to be about spending money, it’s about educating yourself to understand the many options you have in reducing waste and conserving. And while you’re enjoying your “green savings,” let everyone else be “green with envy.”

    Drew
     Drew McCurdy, REALTOR, GREEN, CNE of Green Home Realty, LLC

    www.greenhomerealtysa.com

    If you are interested in participating in the blog series please contact Jacob Eyer the Event & Outreach Coordinator at Jeyer@buildsagreen.org
  • 6th Annual Green Building Awards

    The City of San Antonio’s Office of Sustainability is proud to announce the sixth annual Green Building Awards, an event that showcases breakthroughs and emerging technologies in the field of green building.

    The awards will feature categories for new construction and retrofit projects, in both residential and commercial construction.  This year’s awards will feature new categories highlighting organizational practitioners, who have significantly and directly contributed to the number, square footage, or other quantifiable increase in green and sustainable projects in San Antonio, as well as a Judging Committee chosen “Preeminent Green Project” award.

    This year’s awards ceremony luncheon will be held on Friday, June 20, 2104 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in the Lonesome Dove Room and will begin at 11:30 AM.

    To purchase tickets or a table of 10 for this event please do so below. Please provide an email in the event that we need to contact you.  For questions regarding the Event or the Green Building Awards please contact Jacob Eyer, Build San Antonio Green Event & Outreach Coordinator, at jeyer@buildsagreen.org or 210-224-7278.

    Parking Information

    At this time Tickets are no longer available for this event.