New codes, new economy — not new nukes

What would allow our North Carolina legislators to fulfill their campaign promises to create jobs [and] protect homeowners and the environment without new nuclear plants? They have a win-win opportunity if they adopt the new 2012 Energy Conservation Code, which would increase energy efficiency by 15 percent in new residential and 30 percent in commercial construction.

Codes are minimum standards for the efficiency of lighting and the “building envelope,” which refers to the air-tightness of a building. The industry is rapidly transitioning to green-design construction, which far exceeds these minimum standards.

According to Jeff Tiller, a professor at Appalachian State University, the estimated cost for compliance with the new 2012 Energy Code is approximately $6 to $8 a month, or between $1,000 to $1,500 per 1,800-square-foot starter home. But the savings from lower utility costs would immediately result in saving between $15 to $20 a month, which puts money in your pocket, every month, from day one. That gives homeowners a tax-free, risk-free, 53 to 56 percent rate of return for their investment.

A few months ago, Asheville made national news when it received the designation as the fourth worst city in the United States to find a job. Tiller points out that the requirements of the new code involve labor-intensive improvements, which would add 400 to 500 green jobs in North Carolina over the next three years. Our state’s supply chain also includes window and insulation manufacturers, so increased demand could increase both sales and the sustainability of buildings through locally sourced materials.

The legislature has been debating utility-rate increases for new power plants, but the new codes would reduce cooling loads from 85 to 100 megawatts, reducing the need for new plants. In fact, a 30 percent improvement in building efficiency nationwide would eliminate the need for 80 new nuclear power plants over the next 20 years, according to Mathis Consulting.

Adopting improved efficiency codes would immediately reduce global warming, without requiring any new technology, infrastructure improvements, lifestyle or behavioral changes.

Regardless of your views on global warming, better codes just make economic sense. Sounds like a win-win situation for North Carolina economy — and the planet.

— Laura Piraino

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5 thoughts on “New codes, new economy — not new nukes

  1. sidneynemms

    This argument is based on blind, ignorant fear of nuclear power…it’s science, not hocus pocus!

    About 20-30% of YOUR home’s electricity comes from nuclear power.

    The NEWEST operating nuclear power plant in the U.S. came online in 1996. Construction began in 1973….which means the design was from the 60’s.

    There has never been a death attributable directly to commercial nuclear power in the U.S., aside from non-nuclear related industrial accidents–falls, crushings, electrocutions, etc…well, actually one guy did get crushed by a radiation monitor, which wouldn’t have been there if it weren’t a nuclear plant, so maybe you’ll want to count that.

    Do your really think we should fear building new nuclear plants? Do you think there haven’t been any improvements in designed safety and efficiency in 50 years? For all this nuclear fear, I would expect to see more dead bodies…but there are none.

    Anyone who claims not to support nuclear power should shut off their home’s main breaker for ten consecutive days every month, or keep the inane arguments against nukes to themselves.


  2. ta33

    No, the author’s argument is based on common sense and reason. There are no downsides, economically or environmentally, and numerous upsides, as pointed out by the author, so adopting the new codes seems like a no-brainer.

    Your “arguments”, on the other hand, are nothing but straw men and ad hominems; nowhere does the author discuss the number of deaths related to nuclear power plants. If you’re going to disagree, please articulate the grounds on which you object to the author’s recommendation of adopting the proposed conservation code, which is the subject at hand. Otherwise, write your own op-ed letter about the subject matter.

  3. sidneynemms

    Sense and reason? From a new statute??? Seems unlikely

    But, ta33, first, I must thank you for leading me to re-educate myself on the meaning of ‘ad hominem,’ but I think you got me wrong. Ms.Piraino did take an anti-nuclear power stance (though I admit was more swayed by the headline than the text, as I reread it). I think I’m justified in writing a pro-nuke response IN AN INFORMAL ONLINE DISCUSSION FORUM!

    And there is no ‘straw man’ here. I used facts…but I do love the Lou Reed song. I could base a religion on that tune.

    You and the author seem distracted– arguing estimated percentages while the population increases exponentially multiplied by exponentially increasing PER CAPITA (latin back at ya’) energy appetites. A few low-wattage lightbulbs and ‘high-efficiency’ HVAC units just isn’t the solution.

    The ‘New Codes’ argument is like the EPA pollution standard for automobiles (disclaimer: this is an anology,not an ad hominem) …the industry reacted by throwing belt-driven smog pumps and calalytic convers on cars. Yes the PPM (parts per million) pollution from exhaust decreased, but (because these devices were horsepower-robbers) the overall M’s increased, so the P’s increased. And what about all the factories and transportation,etc. involve in producing all those smog pumps and converters?…but i digress.

    I can save the planet with 1)exclusively nuclear powered elecrical production 2)reasonable electric cars for daily commuting, and 3)a sensible, culturally-driven (i.e. not government mandated) drastic reduction in human procreation. I’m not the only one who thinks this…see ‘BLIND SPOT’ It’s about the best peak oil/population overload film I’ve seen–none of the sky-is-falling stuff, just sensible discussion of obvious truths.

  4. sidneynemms

    But, to better quantify my disagreement, I’ll take near zero-emmission nuclear power over a (questionably derived) 15-30% reduction in filthy coal-powered electricity.

  5. ta33

    Sure, you can write whatever you want in an informal online discussion forum, but that doesn’t make it any more germane to the topic at hand. You’re bringing up all kinds of subjects that are tangential to the author’s particular point, which is that the new codes are better than the old ones, for economic and environmental reasons. Of course, that action alone is not enough to “save the planet”, but that’s not the point. That would be another straw man argument.

    While we may agree (or disagree) about some of these other issues, you seem to be looking for THE SOLUTION, which is not the focus of the article. In the meantime, people need to go about the business of actually *doing things*, however seemingly small, that help rather than hurt.

    It doesn’t sound like the author holds any delusions about the new codes “saving the planet”, and you really haven’t refuted any of her claims that mandating that builders build more energy-efficient homes is a good thing.

    I’m sure there is a case to be made that it isn’t; but you really haven’t presented one.

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