Energy efficiency at this year’s fair

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President, Illinois Renewable Energy Association

According to the Sustainable Energy Network, the energy sector of the American economy has tripled in size since 1970 with 75 percent of the new energy coming from efficiency. Existing energy efficiency standards now cover 55 categories of products, including appliances, lighting and other equipment. New standards and updates to existing standards will continue to cut the amount of energy needed to achieve the desired services.

Several presentations at this year’s Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair Aug. 11-12 at Ogle County Fairgrounds in Oregon, Ill., will focus on efficiency. Jim Lamb will discuss how to use solar energy, conservation and sustainability for maximum payback with minimal environmental impact and explain how people may evaluate their energy profile for the best solar system, conservation measure and lifestyle. Mitchell Heldt will explain how low energy systems can be used for growing hydroponic food.

Energy efficiency features are increasingly common in new homes, as builders and remodelers report customers request greener homes to lower their utility bills. The green-homes share of the construction market reached 17 percent in 2011 and is expected to exceed 29 percent by 2016.

Efficiency in home construction will also be addressed. Dave Kozlowski will present a primer about reducing energy losses in the home with discussions and demonstrations about how to evaluate leakage issues and prevent moisture problems. Rick McCanse of McCanse Builders will do a talk and Q&A about prioritizing your remodeling dollars with an eye toward energy conservation. Matthew Walling will present his work with Rockford East High School students in constructing a Swedish-style energy-efficient home.

In 2011, net U.S. electrical production from renewable energy sources exceeded 12 percent. Solar power is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the economy. Solar now exceeds 3,600 megawatts, sufficient to power 730,000 homes. More than 100,000 Americans work in the industry, and the vast majority of jobs are small businesses.

Clean Line Energy Partners will explain the development of their 500-mile transmission line designed to transfer up to 3,500 megawatts of wind power from northwest Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota to communities in Illinois and other eastern states. The high-voltage, direct-current transmission line is more efficient and needs a smaller right of way than traditional power lines.

Biodiesel and ethanol production continue to increase. Over the past decade, biodiesel consumption increased from 10 million gallons to more than 772 billion by 2011. As domestic ethanol production approaches 14 billion gallons, total production now exceeds the amount of oil imported from Saudi Arabia.

The Midwest Aviation Biofuels Initiative covers the 12-state region in central United States. They report that more than 1,500 passenger flights have been flown using biofuels.

According to a recent poll by Yale and George Mason universities, 92 percent of Americans think developing clean energy should be a priority for the president and Congress.

Since this is an election year, the presence of Democrats and Libertarians, along with the issues advocacy of the Woodstock Unitarian Church, should provide lively discussions about a range of perspectives regarding desired energy policies. If the Republicans and Greens choose to be present, the conversation could be still livelier.

The 11th Annual Illinois Renewable Energy & Sustainable Lifesytle Fair will be Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 11-12, at Ogle County Fairgrounds, 1440 N. Limekiln Road, Oregon, Ill.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. E-mail

From the July 4-10, 2012, issue

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