my attempt to submit an idea to change.gov
I know many of us noticed but, just in case you missed out, the Obama administration had a submit your idea button on the change.gov site for a few weeks. I decided to write one of those, I got lost crafting my idea, trying to distill it down into something not so verbose. I didn't get on the list. But, it kept me busy, for a few days.
"Over 125,000 users submitted over 44,000 ideas and cast over 1.4 million votes. The best rated ideas will be gathered into a Citizen's Briefing Book to be delivered to President Obama after he is sworn in." 1-20-09.
As any idea that is good, is bound to be "in the air", there were some ideas similar to the idea I attempted to draft up like - Incentives For ON-SITE Energy Production - I think this is so great, that not only do we live in a country with "We the People" as words of promise, but maybe for the first time in world history , we the people have a government that really wants to listen and get ideas from all citizens. I believe our forefathers would be very proud.
For some really boring laughs here is my attempt to submit an idea to chang.gov --
National Home Energy Act for development of sustainable housing for all climate regions in the US.
America needs a to build a sustainable future free of non-rewable and polluting fuel dependencies and I believe one of the best places to construct this goal is in our housing -- We need to seize this opportunity, this time of economic and ideological transition to build real physical value directly into the American dream by rebuilding our homes so the next generation has sustainable warm dry shelter, clean water and a smog free sky to inherit.
America needs a National Home Energy Act: to bring many new green innovation into public view in at least 50 local sustainable housing development neighborhoods, to get every state's building codes and zoning laws up to date with contemporary energy efficient housing designs, technology and materials , to educate and inform the public across the country that we can do more to our homes to further reduce our household energy dependance, utility bills and carbon footprint.
"Yes we can" -- do more then just change our light bulbs & instal expensive solar / electric panels on our roofs. Yes we can bring the green revolution to our homes, redesign and rebuild our housing, and by doing, we can literally rebuild our economy. Rebuild America with large scale direct to the public market testing and distribution, to bring the best, safest, energy efficient designs to a level of manufacture that will bring down their production costs, while maintaining quality and environmental standards. And we need to do so with materials, parts and appliances, manufactured for our sustainable homes in local American companies.
The need for sustainable energy housing has been expressed by many people, The popped mortgage bubble and the banks pushing of unregulated paper from bank to bank had been blamed, at least in part for our current state of economic colapse. So rather then empty refinance in paper only, with our nations bail out money, maybe the Federal government should invest in actual brick and mortar innovations and development to improve the return value of the over inflated real estate. In some areas hardest hit by the mortgage bubble, the sustainable energy research neighborhoods could be developed in the foreclosed or unfinished unsold homes now owned by the Federal government.
We need to build the housing research neighborhoods in every state and climate region to empower inventors and small innovative companies, And bring sustainable energy ideas to market via our already existing institutions: our free market, our higher education system (both State and private colleges, our local regulatory government, and information technology.
There are many environmental organizational branched of our government and green companies, but they do not represent a unified effort, and many of the innovations and products have yet to reach the public. (1. NREL)(2. NESEA)(3. DOE) If every climate zone had a market and industry based designated showcase and experimental neighborhood, engineers could use the neighborhood to test patents, and safety and design ergonomics. And companies could use the neighborhoods to compete, to produce and build the best designs, and hire the emerging architects, engineers and designers. The housing research neighborhood in each state could also function for training and certification of trades people : plumbers, electricians, roofers, and construction crews trained to work with the new materials and designs.
The commercial sector manufacturers will often establish safety and quality standards higher then the required government regulations in order to best compete within the market. Environmental design has been trapped in an expensive prototype stage of development for too long. The cost of solar panels outlives many of the buyers. Sustainable energy housing doesn't mean just solar and wind power turned into electricity. Direct use of the solar energy for heating and lighting is far more efficient and cost effective (it is often far less expensive to plan and build solar water or heating systems then most electric solar panel systems), Most of the potential energy collected by the sun in solar electric panels is lost in the conversion to electricity, then you have to push the electricity to where it is going to be used and/or store it in batteries. For many of the Northern states, sustainable home design is more about thermal and convection designs to preheat air and water to keep the home warm and dry then it is about using the suns energy to produce electricity.
Also we recognize that many colleges both State and private. have parts of this idea for sustainable home / campus energy experiments already in practice.(4.DOE - DS) But, the scale and availability to public of these programs is not proportional to the environmental housing needs of the nation at this time of rising energy costs. Especially as we are potentially using up the Earth's oil.
For example instead of only one Solar Decathlon, that 20 college teams attend every few years. Or a list of a few colleges that earn a 'B' on their sustainable college "report card".(5. SC) Every state college in the nation that teaches any curriculum related to housing architecture, urban planning, engineering or design should build permanent educational experimental sustainable energy housing, The students who are studying engineering and architecture design etc.. should build and live in this housing, constantly improving designs and adding to their campus with their thesis projects.
Every city in the United States has home building codes in place to protect her citizens. The regulations in most states are not keeping pace with modern energy efficient architectural design, home plumbing innovations, heating and cooling engineering and home appliance inventions. Often the budgets for local government responsible for issuing building permits and zoning regulations are understaffed. The regulatory government personnel could use the testing of designs in the research neighborhoods to to keep informed about what new sustainable energy innovations are safe and what ideas do not meet the needs of the housing in their area.
In many states to build an off the grid or passive energy home, the home owner has to build in violation of current local building codes. (6. GW) "It used to be a nightmare to get a building permit for earthships here in the U.S. Now it's getting easier." Michael Reynolds) Those who went ahead with their dream home in the past 8 or 10 years did so knowing they would not be able to get a loan to fund the construction of their ideas and were forced to accept the fact that once completed their new home was not insurable. In some states this meant that green homes or off the grid housing was only legal in certain zones, often these zones are in counties with low population density. Further hindering the building of energy independent homes is the often limited manufacture and high cost of the best energy efficient designed materials/pannels, plumbing, appliances and lighting alternatives. All of this is our recent past, the time to rebuild better sustainable housing is now.
Last but not least important we need region by region interactive web platform for each local neighborhood, to educate and inform the public of good ideas in their climate region and get feed back and wish lists from the people in each region to local designers. Most of the current sustainable home energy web sites are very one sided representing only one energy or product line, or they represent good ideas and companies that are not local or feature designs of houses that do not relate to all climates regions.
A definite benefit of designs in the public view is competition , the best innovators could win prizes, instead of 'Town and Country' best luxury car of the year, it could be 'Home and Garden's best Best automated grey-water yard watering system' or Wired's best solar battery-bank computer entertainment charging system etc..
Also some of the best energy conservation ideas are as "old as houses", so there should be more open source resources for everyone interested in housing that illustrate home improvements like proper insulation, building basics like orientation of homes towards or away from sunlight and seasonal storm winds, efficient window placement for the location a home is built in, and deciduous shade plants around sun porches, etc... These good old design ideas greatly minimize the energy used to heat and cool our homes, add to these grand old houses, new mini-computer sensors that open and close vents, new materials, new windows and plumbing systems and we can take that efficient house and make it completely warm and dry passively with no non-renewable energy consumed. (7. green near zero energy home)
Also we should never take for granted people power. Conserved energy is free energy. Interaction with the public about city planning for bike and walking paths. Making sure the best people powered tool are available to be used in our neighborhoods like push lawn-mowers, brooms and rakes instead of noise polluting leaf blowers, It is my belief that people powered machines are as cold and safe as cold fusion is ever likely to get.
Many American's are discouraged and embarrassed by our rate of non-renewable energy use (8.) and oil consumptions in comparison to other industrial nations. (9.) Home energy independence is an excellent place to change those statistics. If we reduce the nonrenewable fuel we use in our housing with good design to almost nothing, we can use the electricity we already produce for urban transportation, trains and cars, and natural gas for truck, buses and larger weight long haul vehicles. And post oil use the bio-desel for non-oil based machine part lubricants and plastics in the medical and technology sectors, And not be in the "dark and the cold" of a world battered by storms as our oceans rise because of polar ice melts. And for the next generation if our housing is sustainable we will be much better prepared for the inevitable rapidly approaching global post oil era.
This is not a simple idea, we can't continue to just throw money, bank loans, credit, insurance etc.. at the current construction and manufacture industries and expect the design innovations needed, to perfect and maintain sustainable energy housing to happen entropically. America needs green energy efficient building to become the status quo as rapidly as possible -- as in yesterday. We must proceed purposefully, with a well structured multilateral plan, in every state of the nation - to take into full account the best renewable resource we have -- the innovative and creative ideas of our people, in this idea built directly into our homes and the American dream.
sites noted :
(1. NREL) http://www.nrel.gov/orgchart/
(3. DOE) http://www.energy.gov/energysources/bioenergy.htm
(4.DOE - DS) U.S. Department of Energy, Solar Decathlon October 9-18, 2009.
(5. SC) http://earthfirst.com/tag/sustainable-colleges/
(6. GW) Michael Reynolds, http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/Garbage-Warrior-Turns-Trash-Into-Houses.html