After radon was recognized as the culprit causing high rates of lung cancer in miners, most folks in the construction, realty, and engineering industries came to realize radon gas-a radioactive substance–is not our friend when it comes to indoor living. Still, the grim stats on radon-induced lung cancer deaths and the public’s poor understanding of the problem recently left our Indoor Air Quality experts at BPE, quite frankly, exasperated.
No matter how your day is going, we can all use a bit of good news. Even better, we all want to know that the work we do in the clean energy business is paying off. The 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook can kick your day up a notch on both fronts. Produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the Factbook provides up-to-date, accurate market information on strides made in energy efficiency, natural gas, and renewable energy. Here are a few snippets to depict progress in 2016 as well as put a little pep in your step:
What is it?: PACE or Property Assessed Clean Energy is an initiative to finance up to 100% of the cost for energy-related improvement projects on commercial, non-profit, and residential properties. Without the dread of upfront, out-of-pocket expenses that can be a deal-breaker for pursuing upgrades, property owners enjoy a payback period of up to 20 years, plus annual energy savings that typically exceed assessment payments. Ultimately, participants reap higher-value buildings with improvements that lower the cost of doing business.
Fresh Air Fundamentals: Fresh air being key to good health, it’s a shame we cannot rely on the supply and quality of our indoor air these days. Thanks to technology, our building envelopes—the physical separation between the interior and exterior of a structure-have grown significantly tighter. One hundred years ago people enjoyed generous amounts of OA (Outside Air) flowing through gaps in doors, windows, joints, and cracks. A cool draft through an old building was typical and necessary for a good ghost story. However, the cost of energy and technology has changed our perspective on drafts as well as mechanically cooled or heated air.
Home automation is far from a new concept, but it sure has taken its time becoming standard in homes. That’s about to change: In a world where we practically run our lives through mobile devices, the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) is the next trend upon us. It is estimated that by 2022, the average home could house up to 500 smart devices. We’re talking everything from temperature and air quality sensors to lighting systems, coffee makers, televisions, stoves, blinds, etc. Your home will learn how to wake you up, usher you out the door, and welcome you home as programmed by you.
Earlier in this series on radon, we discussed the dangers of this radioactive gas and how ventilation can mitigate indoor build-up. But where exactly does radon come from, why does it become concentrated indoors, and how does it damage lungs enough to cause cancer?
Origins: Radon is the result of the natural breakdown of radium, an element created as Uranium and Thorium break down. While this radioactive decay sounds every bit as lethal as it can be to human health, the process is essential to life on Earth.