This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 28, 2004

Award-Winning Building Products and Projects Advance Energy Efficiency

The Des Moines Area Community College West Campus in Iowa earned special recognition on January 24th for the technical innovations in its heating and cooling system. The system distributes heated and cooled air through a 12-inch space underneath the building's raised floor, an innovation that earned a first-place technology award from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The system draws its energy from a four-acre pond on the campus, using a geothermal water-source heat pump. In areas with concrete floors, water-to-water heat pumps supply an in-floor radiant heating system. ASHRAE announced the award at its 2004 Winter Meeting, which concludes today in Anaheim, California. See the ASHRAE press release.

Advanced building technologies were also lauded at the International Builder's Show, held in mid-January in Las Vegas, Nevada. During the show, the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) named its "Top Ten Technologies," including such energy-saving innovations as tankless water heaters and pre-cast concrete panels, which are filled with batt or foam insulation to yield a well-insulated foundation. PATH also recognized wall and roof panels built around insulating cores. While Structural Insulating Panels, or SIPs, use a plywood skin, PATH notes that new panels are using skins made of steel, aluminum, concrete, and fiberglass. PATH also acknowledged new guidelines that allow heating and cooling systems to be properly sized for a home. See the PATH press release and the "Top Ten Technologies" list.

Another "top ten" list was produced by the editors of GreenSpec and Environmental Building News, who recently named their "Top-10 Green Building Products" for 2003. Among the products is a polyurethane spray-foam insulation derived in part from soy oil. Another "Top-10" product is a "smart" vapor retarder that changes permeability as the relative humidity changes: in the right climate, the material will prevent condensation in the winter but allow the building envelope to dry out during humid summers. And for those of us tired of pouring water down the drain as we wait for it to heat up, there's the Taco D'MAND System, an electronically activated water-pumping system that quickly delivers hot water to a fixture while returning water that has been sitting in the hot water pipes back to the water heater. See the list of Top-10 Green Building Products.