Energy Efficient Programs for Small Businesses

By Dave Hartman Did you know that Oncor offers programs to small businesses that support them in becoming more energy efficient? These targeted programs are designed to help businesses reduce monthly energy use (and cost) and to reduce energy demand during peak times during the grueling Texas summer heat. The seven programs range from a commercial energy audit, to LED Lighting, to Solar. Probably the two most interesting programs are the Commercial Energy Audit and Basic Commercial. The energy audit program provides assistance in identifying energy efficient projects, a review of the facilities operations and systems, energy benchmarking, and information…Continue Reading

Sustainable Transportation: Bicycles

By Dave Hartman More and more, cities are encouraging or even requiring new construction to be sustainable. There are many facets to sustainable design, and one is fostering an environment that is friendly to bicycles. Bicycles not only promote health and fitness, they also help to reduce the use of petroleum-based fuels as well as the CO2 produced. According to, here are a few reasons to promote and support bicycling: Most bicycles contain less than 30 pounds of metal and plastic Bicycling promotes physical and mental health as well as leaving a cleaner and quieter environment Bicycling is consistent…Continue Reading

Smart Windows

By: Dave Hartman Windows are a great way to allow natural light and fresh air into your building; they can even be used as a design element, enhancing the building’s curb appeal. Access to natural light has even been shown to improve employee health and morale. Unfortunately, in terms of energy loss, windows are basically a big hole in the wall; you might think about it like leaving the refrigerator door open. Fortunately, technological advances have allowed us to manufacture ever larger expanses of windows while at the same time reducing the energy loss through that glass. Examples of window…Continue Reading

“Green” Roofs

By: Aaron Schrag How can you save money on your building cooling costs and protect the environment? The answer is as simple as a white roof. Traditional roofs are dark colored and absorb the visible light energy of the sun. The heat energy is transferred through the building materials into your conditioned space, driving up your cooling costs. White roofs reflect most of the radiant energy, reducing building cooling loads and the urban heat island effect. A traditional dark colored roof can increase in temperature as much as 122 °F above ambient air temperature, while a white roof typically only increases…Continue Reading

Water Conservation

Go “green” with Your Green Best Practices for Water Conservation By: Dave Hartman In Texas about 25 percent of the water supply is used for landscape and garden watering. Much of this water is used to maintain traditionally high water-demanding landscapes, or it is simply applied inefficiently. One popular strategy for water reduction is Xeriscaping. Xeriscaping refers to a method of landscape design that minimizes water use. Other commonly used phrases are drought-tolerant, zeroscaping and smartscaping. Some cities have mandated the use drought-tolerant plants. Check to see if your city has such a mandate. According to the Texas Agricultural Extension…Continue Reading

Lights Out for the Incandescent Light Bulb

By: Dave Hartman Thomas Edison demonstrated the first incandescent light bulb on New Year’s Eve 1879 [1], heralding a new age of productivity and prosperity. Over a hundred years later, the incandescent technology has dimmed from favor. In 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act called for light bulbs to become 25 to 30 percent more efficient between 2012 and 2014 and up to 70% more efficient by 2020. [2] California has blazed the trail by banning all stores from restocking 100-watt incandescent bulbs. [1] So what is taking its place? Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and Compact Fluorescent (CFLs) are…Continue Reading

Unusual Building Materials

By Dave Hartman As “going green” becomes more common, it’s easier for the average consumer to find everyday products that are sustainable to some degree. However, there are a bevy of products available that are rather more unusual. Today, we’ll look at four: Straw Bale, Fly Ash, Reclaimed Wood and Recycled Newspaper (cellulose). Straw Bale Straw bale is a tightly bound rectangular bundle of straw, commonly from wheat, rice, rye or oats. The bales are stacked in a running bond formation and wrapped with a vapor barrier. The exposed surfaces can then be treated with stucco or plastered. Currently, it’s…Continue Reading