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Forum looks at economic benefits of green building and renewable energy

By Paul Konove
Posted Thursday, March 16, 2006

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Pittsboro, NC - On Thursday March 30th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., at the Horton Middle School Multi-Purpose Room on U.S. 15-501 South in Pittsboro, the Chatham Alliance for Sustainable Energy (CASE) will be conducting a free public forum to create countywide understanding and support for economic development strategies and policies that promote the implementation of green building and renewable energy production. The forum is seeking to involve county decision-makers, professional staff, citizen-advocacy groups, and citizens at large.

The forum topics include: High performance schools and institutional buildings; green home/development building programs; and local renewable energy production opportunities.

Larry Shirley, the Director of the NC State Energy Office, will speak on how state and local governments can promote energy efficiency and the use of sustainable energy sources. Other speakers will include day-lighting architect Alicia Ravetto, renewables advocate and solar home designer/ builder Paul Konove. Following the presentations there will be a facilitated dialogue with participants and attendees to explore the community's next steps toward promoting implementation of the strategies discussed.

"Communities that have chosen to implement green building strategies have found that 'high performance' sustainable institutional buildings provide significant energy savings and other benefits, " said Ravetto. "In addition, green buildings provide enhanced indoor air and light quality, which has been shown to improve attendance and work performance, and minimize building impact on the environment through smart water and rainwater usage. These improvements are often achieved for the same cost as conventional buildings when an integrated whole building design approach is in place."

Encouraging or requiring these standards in private non-residential construction (such as office and commercial buildings) could also cut operating costs for local business.

"Across the nation builders and developers are just beginning to become involved in green building," said local custom builder Konove. "Providing incentives for these professionals to incorporate these strategies more quickly will benefit homeowners. Homes can be built to be 30 percent more efficient than code with minimal extra cost, resulting in more affordable home ownership, which is important to the present and future members of our community. Improving the energy efficiency and water use of existing homes would also provide savings for the county's residents."

Large scale renewable electricity production in Chatham County is also a real possibility "said Liz Cullington, a CASE member. "Other states are developing large solar thermal production facilities, and using new systems for the HVAC and electricity requirements for large buildings. Solargenix Energy, the company doing this work is based here in North Carolina. This technology could produce tremendous quantities of electricity safely while simultaneously creating jobs and enabling the local economy to grow."

The Chatham Alliance for Sustainable Energy was formed to work for a new positive vision of the energy future of Chatham County.

The goals of this forum -- to increase awareness of sustainable energy opportunities and green building, and to stimulate a pubic dialog about their economic and social benefits for the county -- have been endorsed by a wide cross section of the community including the Town of Pittsboro Board of Commissioners, the Chatham County Democratic Party, the Friends of the Rocky River, Chatham Citizens for Effective Communities, the Haw River Assembly, Chatham County Democratic Women, NC WARN (NC Waste Awareness Reduction Network) , the Chatham County Green Party, Growing Healthy Communities Inc., Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA), Chatham Marketplace, and Chatham County Commissioner candidates Carl Thompson, George Lucier and Tom Vanderbeck.

CASE is encouraging local government officials and business leaders from across the county to participate in the forum.

Background information on speakers
The NC State Energy Office is North Carolina's lead agency for energy programs and services and serves as the official source for energy information and assistance for consumers, commuters, businesses, government agencies, community colleges and schools and the residential, commercial and industrial, and transportation sectors.

Alicia Ravetto is an AIA architect who lives in Chatham County, with over 10 years experience in the design of energy efficient homes, commercial buildings and additions or renovations. The focus of Alicia's work is on a design approach that integrates advanced building technologies with renewable energy to achieve more comfortable, durable, affordable and environmentally sound buildings. She is a LEEDT 2.0 Accredited Professional, Energy Star Partner and a national instructor of Energy 10, High Performance Schools, Daylighting and Green Building Design and Construction.

Paul Konove is the owner and founder of Carolina Country Builders of Chatham County Inc. (CCBCCI) which has been building environmentally friendly homes in NC since 1985. Nearly all of his firm's construction has been passive solar in design, and since the early 90's the company has expanded to include all aspects of green building in its work. In 2005 Carolina Country Builders became a Silver winner in the NAHB Research Center Energy Value Award program.

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