Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sharpen Your Solar Skills in 2013

Student-friendly online format for convenient distance learning; Seminars and workshops for general public round off curriculum 

Dublin (Georgia), December 19, 2012.—MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY, a premiere training and education arena for the PV industry, just announced its 2013 course schedule.

Starting in January, MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY will offer some of its most popular courses in a convenient online format to accommodate busy schedules and reduce travel time. Among the first courses slated to go live online is Solar Civics; a 2 hour overview for schools, municipalities, and the general public interested in solar energy and its benefits. Following Solar Civics will be Fundamentals of Business and Technical Sales in mid February. As one of the most requested courses at MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY, this 8 hour training session on proven business practices and essential technical knowhow for the quickly expanding solar industry also qualifies for 8 CEUs with NABCEP, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. 

In March of 2013, the online version of PV Field Inspectors will be available. At the center of this course is a thorough review of the 2011 NEC code and an overview over basic PV system requirements and efficiency. Students also learn how to correctly address safety, connectivity, as well as operation issues and identify common installation mistakes. 

Besides its new online presence MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY will continue to offer key courses in a traditional classroom format. With its strong emphasis on practical hands-on training and the actual installation of an operational PV-system, SOLAR PV 101—Entry Level will be a staple again in the Academy’s 2013 curriculum. Following the successful completion of this 40 hour course in collaboration with Oconee Fall Line Technical College, participants are eligible to sit for the NABCEP Entry Level Exam. The first 2013 SOLAR PV 101 course date is April 8-12 at the MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY in Dublin, Georgia, a state-of-the-art 10,000 sq ft learning facility with vast indoor and outdoor training areas plus a solar technology park. 

Parallel to its new online format PV Field Inspectors is scheduled to meet on February 22 at MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY, following the first 2013-classroom session of Fundamentals of Business and Technical Sales on January 25. Solar Civics on March 26 will conclude the new course offerings for the first quarter in Dublin.

A month later, on April 26, Fundamentals of Business and Technical Sales will be offered as a day-long face-to-face course also, with Grounding and Bonding following on May 10. This 8-hour course is designed as in-depth review of the 2011 National Electric Code, conductor sizing applications, and sample calculations.

Amy Harrelson was recently named Head of MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY. Bringing with her over seven years of experience in higher education in addition to her PV background, she comments: “Since its opening in January of 2011 MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY has matured into a well-established and respected training arena for PV professionals and many others interested in the fast growing solar market. With the expansion into online education MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY takes the next logical step to further increase its presence. We will continually enhance our course offerings and methods of delivery so installers and others interested in learning more about solar energy can add necessary skills and knowledge on the high level they have come to expect from MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY.” 

To view a complete course schedule and register, please visit MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY or email for more information. You may also call the Academy toll-free +1 (877) 311-6243 or at +1 (478) 609-6751 directly.


MAGE SOLAR ACADEMY, located at the American corporate campus of MAGE SOLAR USA in Dublin, Georgia, is a premier educational arena for professionals of all levels and occupations in the expanding PV-market. A subsidiary of the international MAGE SOLAR GROUP, the academy boasts over 10,000 sqf of state-of-the-art educational technology, indoor/ outdoor training and simulation areas.

MAGE SOLAR – The Sun on Your Side

MAGE SOLAR USA, headquartered in Dublin, Georgia, specializes in complete solar systems and provides high-quality photovoltaic modules, intelligent mounting systems and high-performance brand inverters. As a subsidiary of the international MAGE GROUP, it uses the Group’s 40 years of know-how to develop optimally coordinated system solutions. A competent partner network guarantees profitable solar energy systems for customers throughout the Americas and in 21 more countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. In 2011, the company generated U$280 in sales with around 180 employees.                   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Energy-Efficient Garage Remodel Features LED Lighting from

Energy-Efficient Garage Remodel Features LED Lighting from

San Diego homeowners convert garage into a guest house with a focus on green remodeling and energy-efficiency, a leading source for high-quality, energy-efficient LED lighting, recently teamed up with local San Diego residents to complete a green garage remodel. The nonfunctional garage was transformed into a finished guest house, complete with LED lighting, energy-efficient windows, insulation, a tankless water heater, water conserving toilet and low-voltage heating/cooling unit.

"We wanted to incorporate sustainable, durable and energy-efficient materials into our garage remodel," said Justin Brown, homeowner. "By paying attention to the details and paying a little extra for the upgraded materials we knew that we would be adding resale value to our home."

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Remodeling Market Index (RMI) climbed to 50 in the third quarter of 2012, up from 45 in the previous quarter. The RMI is at its highest point since the third quarter of 2005, tracking the positive trends recently seen in the rest of the housing sector.

With only 840 square feet in their 1930s-era house, the additional 320 square feet that the garage added to their living space provides them with not only an additional bathroom, but also home office and family room.

"From our initial drawings and concepts, the garage has every detail we wanted down to the custom closets and fun color-changing LED lighting" said Stacy Brown, homeowner. "The lighting and appliances also help to cut down on additional costs we may see in our utility bills."

A detached garage conversion is also a perfect way for a homeowner to make a little extra money by using the space as a rental property. In this case, the homeowners also added a private gated entrance from the driveway so future owners could consider this option.

By properly insulating the garage, adding windows and also installing an energy-efficient heating and air conditioning unit in the space, the new guest house complies with local ordinances and building codes and is guaranteed to be warm in winter and cool in summer.

Why Go Green?

The National Association of Home Builders states that the top ways to increase energy efficiency are:

  • Install appropriate insulation in area to be remodeled.
  • Install high-efficiency windows instead of those that minimally meet the energy code.
  • Seal all exterior penetrations in areas being remodeled.
  • Purchase only ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances.
  • Install only low-flow water fixtures.
  • Upgrade to at least an ENERGY STAR®-rated water heater, or better yet, a tankless water heater.
  • Purchase the highest efficiency HVAC system you can afford and make sure it is correctly sized for the area you want to condition.


Energy-Efficient Lighting

LED lighting was installed in the entire guest house to help save on extra energy costs - and to add a little extra flair. The LED light bulbs in the ceiling lights are wirelessly controlled by a Lutron Pico Wireless remote synced to Lutron Maestro Wireless Electronic Low Voltage dimmers. This allows the user to turn all the lights on/off or dim them from any area in guest house at the same time.

A Lutron Pico wireless remote was also synced up to the outdoor lighting so that the homeowners can turn on the lights from inside their home before walking out to the guest house.

The built-in cabinets in the laundry and wet bar area really bring the room alive with their color-changing capabilities. RGB Double Density LED strip light was installed above and below the cabinets and are controlled with an RGB LED Touch Controller.

"Everyone that visits the house loves to play with the new color-changing LED lights," said Brown. "I can't believe how energy-efficient they are. They use less than 50 watts of power!"

The LED controller allows them to use the color wheel to select any color they desire or choose one of the 11 pre-programmed modes, which includes flipping through all the colors. White light can also be created with this strip light for standard lighting use.

View a video of the color changing LED strip lighting:

About is a leading resource for sustainable, energy-efficient LED lighting products to meet the needs of business, commercial and residential clients. Founded in 2006 by Greg and Anne Thorson, their in-house sales engineers provide expert advice in the selection and design of lighting systems, as well as technical support throughout the installation process. offers a broad spectrum of LED light bulbs, strip and rope light, under cabinet light systems, Christmas lights, dimmers, controls and necessary hardware for any lighting project.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Can gray water keep landscapes green?

UVALDE – With water resources throughout Texas becoming scarcer, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research ornamental horticulturist is working with others to determine the feasibility of using gray water to irrigate home landscapes.

"There has been interest in and discussion about the possible use of gray water for irrigating home landscapes, but so far little formal research has been done to validate its practicality," said Dr. Raul Cabrera, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Research Center in Uvalde.

Cabrera said gray water is essentially "soapy" water left after tap water has been run through a washing machine or used in a bathtub, bathroom sink or shower and does not contain serious contaminants.

He said while it is difficult to precisely estimate the statewide potential for water savings through the use of gray water and application of the technology needed, it may reduce household landscape water use by up to 50 percent, depending on the size, type of landscape plants used and geographical location.

"The average household uses as much as 50-60 percent of its water consumption for the landscape – grass, ornamental plants, trees, etc.," he said. "Considering that the average family of four produces about 90 gallons of gray water per day, if this was used to irrigate a landscape, it could represent a significant water savings."

Cabrera said this would be especially true for a large city such as nearby San Antonio, which has more than 1.3 million people in its metropolitan area.

"Implementing the use of gray water for landscape irrigation across the state could mean a tremendous water savings in terms of acre-feet of water, contributing to the water use and conservation goals of the recently released 2012 Water Plan," Cabrera said.

Using gray water is one of the easiest ways to reduce the need for potable water typically used in a home landscape, said Dr. Calvin Finch, director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center in San Antonio, which is administered by the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of the Texas A&M University System. The institute is participating in the gray water research, as well as providing funding.

Finch said the Texas 2012 Water Plan identifies more than 500 specific activities that, if implemented, would help meet the state's future water needs.

"One of the low-hanging fruit projects that is often overlooked is use of gray water from households," he said. "Research results indicate that with minimum precautions water from our showers, bathroom sinks and clothes washers could be used to meet up to 10-15 percent of our overall landscape water needs."

Gray water differs from reclaimed water in that it is not captured water from sewer drainage or storm-water systems and then run through a waste-water treatment facility, Cabrera said.

"Reclaimed or 'purple-line' water is used for irrigation by some large-acreage operations such as golf courses, sports fields and large businesses," Cabrera said. "But gray water is just potable water that has been used for fairly benign household activities and could be reused immediately or stored and used soon after its initial use.

"It is also not what is referred to as 'black' water, which is used water from a toilet or the kitchen sink, both of which have a higher potential for containing bacteria and other organisms considered hazardous for human health. In this regard, gray water poses a minimal risk, particularly if we look primarily at water generated from clothes-washing machines."

He said some southwestern U.S. states, including parts of Texas, already allow for the use of gray water under certain restrictions, such as irrigation through delivery by flooding, subsurface or drip irrigation.

"While gray water has little potential for containing hazardous organisms, such as coliform bacteria, these irrigation distribution methods are preferred to spraying in order to further ensure safety," he said.

Cabrera said collaborating entities working to evaluate the viability of gray water use include AgriLife Research, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Water Resources Institute, Water Conservation and Technology Center and Texas Center for Applied Technology.

"Here at the Uvalde AgriLife center, we will be focusing primarily on evaluating the efficacy of gray water use on ornamental plants," he said. "We will establish a display plot of conventional and water-use-efficient ornamental plants that will simulate a typical Texas landscape, so we can evaluate the short-term and long-term effects of gray water on these plants and their surrounding soil."

Cabrera said one concern about using gray water on home landscapes is possible salt content.

"Some detergents may have a high salt content in the form of sodium, chloride or boron, which could potentially 'burn' a plant," he said. "Part of our research here will involve determining the salinity and specific constituents found in gray water and their effect on plants, plus determining the efficacy and function of irrigation systems."

He said there is also the concern that some of the constituents in soapy water might plug drip irrigation systems, thus requiring additional and periodic care and maintenance.

"Additional research will address how variations in water quality, such as soft vs. hard water, may affect the salt content and chemical constitution of the produced gray water and how it affects plant growth and quality" he said.

He said the Texas Center for Applied Technology, part of Texas A&M Engineering, would "evaluate the plumbing and delivery technology needed to retrofit a household" so gray water could be used to irrigate a home landscape.

"They will evaluate the routing and, if allowed, the possible capture and short-term containment, as well as any filtration needed along with the means by which it can be delivered to the landscape," he said.

He added if essential aspects of the initial research are positive, additional involvement might include microbiologists and health officials to address any perceived health issues or concerns.

"If the totality of the research validates the use of gray water, AgriLife Extension personnel would provide educational outreach to inform water management entities and the public about its potential utilization and the water savings it could represent at the local and statewide levels," Cabrera said.

Initial gray water testing and evaluation will take from nine months to a year, he noted.

"We hope the results will support the launching and development of a statewide initiative to conserve water resources that will involve many additional partners," Cabrera said

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Historic Pennsylvania Home Gets 21st Century Roof

Historic Home Gets 21st Century Roof

             KANSAS CITY, KAN. – When Irene Darocha relaxes in her West Chester, Pa. home, she's not alone. History surrounds her. Built in 1860, her historic home sits on land deeded to the original property owner by William Penn.

             "We're really caretakers of this home," says Darocha. "We're just the fourth owners of this house in the last 150 years, so it's a responsibility as well as a blessing. We live on land that was part of the first three counties established by William Penn in 1682."

             After moving into the three-story home 20 years ago, Darocha immediately started to restore the property, including the roof overhead. "We believe there was slate on the original home, but over the years that was replaced with wood shakes," says Darocha. "When we purchased the home in 1992 we reroofed with cedar shingles, but they wore out quickly and were a maintenance hassle."

             This past summer Darocha hired Dean Mainardi with Only The Best Builder LLC to replace the worn-out cedar shingles. "I've learned a lot in the past 20 years about what I did not want on my roof," says Darocha. "After doing extensive research, I selected DaVinci's Valoré Slate polymer tiles. They return the original historic look to the home, but because they're made out of polymer they won't be as much trouble as the previous roof. This product looks authentic to the original house, but resists rot, impact, fire and insects, so it's virtually maintenance-free." 

            Mainardi and his team took extra care with replacing the roof on the historic home. "We used a man-lift with a moveable basket to work on the roof," says Mainardi, owner of Only The Best Builder LLC out of Medford, N.J. and a member of the DaVinci Masterpiece Contractor program. "Along with installing the DaVinci roofing, we also did the siding on the dormers and added in all of the copper valleys, gutters and downspouts. This was a labor of love and the finished product is outstanding."

             Darocha chose to create a custom blend of colors for the Valoré Slate roof, combining the Milano blend of dark purple plus light, medium and dark gray slate tiles with black tiles.

           "I wanted the black added in to the roof so it would gain more attention," says Darocha. "The unique mixture of the five color shades looks terrific and very historically accurate on the structure. I wanted those specific colors so they could complement the natural shading in the original serpentine stone exterior of the home that came from a local quarry 148 years ago when the original structure was built."

             Mainardi, whose company services southern New Jersey, Delaware and the Philadelphia market, found the Valoré Slate products easy to work with on the project. "This was my first time installing the DaVinci products, but it definitely won't be the last," says Mainardi. "I've already recommended these polymer tiles for other projects. Installation went very smoothly and the finished look is incredible. This was a 'win-win' for everyone involved."

             DaVinci Roofscapes has manufactured award-winning synthetic slate and shake roofing since 1999. The polymer roofing tiles are virtually maintenance free and far more cost effective than the natural product. DaVinci leads the industry in tile thickness, the tile width variety and the greatest selection of subtle earth-toned colors. Company products have a 50-year limited warranty and are 100 percent recyclable. DaVinci proudly makes its products in America and is a member of the National Association of Home Builders, the Cool Roof Rating Council and the U.S. Green Building Council. For additional information call 1-800-328-4624 or visit


PHOTOGRAPHY: Project photos courtesy of Nixon Images.



Indoor Study Lawns at Cornell

Cornell University students finding solace on indoor library lawns

Video and photos:

ITHACA, N.Y. – Students studying for finals at Cornell University are finding solace from a little piece of the outdoors that came inside this week, thanks to some creative minds at the school's Department of Design and Environmental Analysis.

Sections of turf are creating grassy oases of calm in the lobbies of Olin and Mann libraries, as well as Duffield Hall and the Physical Sciences Building. Potted plants and comfortable chairs are placed around the grass, encouraging students to lounge there during one of the most stressful times of the academic year.

Senior Ryan Allen-Parrot and junior Gilad Meron installed the projects, along with a "small army of people working with them," said Eveline Ferretti, the library's public programs and communications administrator.

"Being in touch with nature helps people be calmer, and they feel refreshed and productive," Ferretti said. "The library is the perfect place for it."

Meron first installed a lawn in Mann Library in the fall, noting that "it's great to see people willing to lay down in the grass and just relax there. The main goal is really to make people happy."

Marcia Eames-Sheavly, a senior extension associate at Cornell and director of the Garden-Based Learning program, said she understands the sod's calming lure.

"Sod furniture is thrilling, since, unlike other horticultural art, which may require a long period of time to come to life, it offers instant gratification. Students have responded to the joy of working hard and collaboratively, shoulder to shoulder, to plan and implement them, and then, to enjoy the seating, and witness others doing the same," Eames-Sheavly said. "We know from research that time spent in nature fosters diverse facets of our well-being, from cognitive function, to lower stress levels. They are easy to create, and do not require elaborate materials."

For tips on how to create your own indoor sod furniture or lawn, go to:

Association of Energy Engineers Upcoming Events

Association of Energy Engineers

AEE's industry trade shows (GLOBALCON, Energy Management Congress West, World Energy Engineering Congress) allow you to network with professionals and colleagues in the energy field, get up to speed on the latest energy management strategies and applications, and see the newest technologies first hand. AEE conference/expo events span the continental U.S., and explore innovations in energy efficient technologies for facilities, renewable and alternative energy, automated building systems, efficient HVAC and lighting systems, energy services, project financing options, and much more.

24th GLOBALCON 2013 - Energy, Power & Facility Management Strategies & Technologies

March 6-7, 2013 - Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA

Contact: Ashley Clark, 770-279-4392 /

Decision makers from business, industry and government must now seek integrated energy solutions — solutions which assure both a secure and affordable power supply, and effective management of both energy and overall operational costs. Globalcon, presented by the Association of Energy Engineers, is designed specifically to facilitate those who need to get up to speed on the latest developments in the energy field, explore promising new technologies, compare energy supply options, and learn about innovative and cost-conscious project implementation strategies.




June 19-20, 2013 - Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV

Contact: Ashley Clark, 770-279-4392 /

The Energy Management Congress West (EMC) is the largest energy conference and technology expo held on the U.S. West specifically for business, industrial and institutional energy users. It brings together the top experts in all areas of the field to help you set a clear, optimum path to energy efficiency, facility optimization and sustainability, as well as innovation solutions to improve your ROI.
You can explore promising new technologies, compare energy supply and alternative energy options, and learn about innovative project implementation strategies. The multi-track conference covers a variety of topics, many specific to the region.



September 25-26, 2013 – Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC

Contact: Ted Kurklis, 770-271-7869 /

We invite you to be a part of the nation's largest, most active buying venue for end user energy products and services – the World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC). There's no better opportunity for your sales team to directly reach thousands of top energy management decision makers from throughout the U.S. and abroad. The WEEC expo is attended each year by the nation's leading energy professionals in business, industry, and government who seek the best solutions for all aspects of today's energy cost and supply challenges.
As an exhibitor at the WEEC, you’ll meet face to face with key buyers representing the commercial, industrial, institutional, and governmental segments of the energy marketplace. There's no better opportunity for your sales team to directly reach thousands of top energy management decision-makers from throughout the U.S. and abroad.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Joins ULI Greenprint Center for Building Performance Alliance

WASHINGTON (November 27,  2012) -- The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Greenprint Center for Building Performance, a worldwide alliance of leading real estate owners, investors and financial institutions committed to reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions across the global property industry, has announced the addition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. as a new member.

"At Starwood, we believe that economic growth and the well-being of society are inextricably tied to the health of the environment," said Frits van Paasschen, chief executive officer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. "As one of the leading hospitality companies in the world, we have an obligation to be good stewards to the planet, as our guests choose our hotels both for what is on the inside as well as to experience the communities in which they exist. It is not only good for our environment, guests, associates, partners and shareholders, it also has well-proven economic rationale."

Simon Turner, president of Global Development for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, has been appointed to Greenprint's Advisory Board. "We are delighted to join forces with the ULI Greenprint Center to help advance our common goal of creating environmentally sustainable communities across the globe," Turner said. "As a company, we are committed to integrating leading environmental practices and sustainability principles into our core business strategy, and we leverage our people, brands, and global reach, while working closely with our hotel development partners and suppliers, to achieve these goals. We encourage other hotel management and ownership companies to join this effort and work with us to collectively improve the sustainability of the hotel and real estate sector around the globe."

Long known as an industry innovator, for the past five years, Starwood has reported and publicly disclosed its carbon footprint through the Carbon Disclosure Project Survey (CDP) for all its hotel and corporate office operations.  Additionally, in 2011, Starwood also began reporting critical water-related and supply chain related data to the CDP.  The company is committed to reducing the environmental impact of its business and creating a company culture committed to sustainability.  To that end, Starwood is working towards its goal of reducing energy consumption by 30% and water consumption by 20% by the year 2020.

Starwood joins existing Greenprint members Aetos Capital; AvalonBay; Beacon Capital Partners; BlackRock; Blackstone Group; CalPERS; Commonwealth Pacific; Equity Office Properties; First Washington Realty; GE Capital Real Estate; GI Partners; General Investment and Development Advisors, Inc.; GID Investment Advisors LLC, GLL Real Estate Partners; Grosvenor; Hines; Jones Lang LaSalle; LaSalle Investment Management; Miller Capital Advisory, Inc.; Paramount Group; PATRIZIA Immobilien; Prologis; Prudential Real Estate Investors; RREEF, a member of the Deutsche Bank Group; Silverstein Properties; Sonae Sierra; Thomas Properties; TIAA-CREF; Tishman Speyer, and UDR. 

About the ULI Greenprint Center for Building Performance

The ULI Greenprint Center's mission is to lead the global real estate industry towards improved environmental performance, focusing on energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. Greenprint is a member-driven organization that achieves its goals through measurement, action and education. The Greenprint Foundation, founded in 2009, was acquired by ULI in 2012 to form the ULI Greenprint Center for Building Performance.

Greenprint's flagship product is the Greenprint Performance Report™. The international scope and size of the report makes it one of the real estate industry's largest, most transparent and comprehensive environmental benchmark. The report is a consolidated view of participating properties, detailing their energy, water and waste performance by geography and asset class. For additional information, visit

About the Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute ( is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1,128 properties in nearly 100 countries and 154,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and ElementSM. The Company boasts one of the industry's leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a premier provider of world-class vacation experiences through villa-style resorts and privileged access to Starwood brands. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Green Gets Google Grant

U.S. Green Building Council Announces Grant from Google to Catalyze Transformation of Building Materials Industry and Indoor Health

Focus is on healthy building materials to promote indoor environmental quality and human health

San Francisco, Calif. (Nov. 14, 2012) - The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced today, on the main stage at its annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, a $3 million grant from Google that will catalyze the transformation of the building materials industry and accelerate the creation of healthier indoor environments.

"Healthy, non-toxic building materials are a critical component in green building," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. "Fostering awareness of the materials we put into our buildings is of paramount importance, since many materials can link to a host of environmental and health issues. Working with Google enables us to broaden our efforts in the materials industry as we prepare for the next version of the LEED green building program, LEED v4. This updated rating system will paint a more complete picture of materials and products, enabling project teams to make more informed decisions."

"The idea for this project emerged from our own work at Google, where we're committed to creating the healthiest work environments possible that help employees perform at their best," said Anthony Ravitz, Google's Green Team Lead. "USGBC has a deep background in spearheading research, developing a rating system spanning the globe and engaging with the many stakeholders in the building industry, making them the perfect partner to help spur real change on the healthy materials front."

The grant will focus on three areas that will spur the creation of healthier indoor environments and encourage market transformation in the building materials industry: supporting research on building materials and health, developing new transparency tools and engaging stakeholders from across the industry.

"Improving the indoor environment, increasing materials transparency and advancing the understanding of materials' impact on health are critical targets for the LEED program as it continues to evolve," said Scot Horst, Senior Vice President, LEED, USGBC. "Ultimately, we are looking to create overall benefit for the environment and for human health."

The new initiatives will be developed over the next two years.

About U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building certification program, robust educational offerings, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates, the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @USGBC , and Facebook at

As the most widely recognized and widely used green building program across the globe, LEED is transforming buildings, homes and communities in all 50 states and 135 countries. LEED guides the design, construction, operations and maintenance of nearly 50,000 projects worldwide, comprising 9.3 billion square feet of commercial and institutional construction space, and nearly 117,000 additional residential units. By using less energy, LEED-certified spaces save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce carbon emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community. Learn more at

About Greenbuild
The U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild International Conference & Expo convenes the industry's largest gathering of representatives from all sectors of the green building movement. Three days of extensive educational programming, workshops, a vast exhibition floor and ample networking events provide unrivaled opportunities to learn about the latest technological innovations, explore new products, and exchange ideas with other professionals. Greenbuild is the four-time recipient of IMEX Green Meetings Award and the 2012 show will be held on Nov. 14-16, in San Francisco, Calif. Last year's conference in Toronto, Ontario, drew more than 23,000 attendees and featured a sold out exhibit hall floor with more than 1,700 exhibit booths. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @Greenbuild, and Facebook at


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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies Assembles "Quiet Suite" of Door Hardware


Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies Assembles

 “Quiet Suite” of Door Hardware


Created for Hospital Patient Areas, Libraries, Classrooms, Auditoriums, Theaters, Churches, Chapels, Ballrooms and Large Conference Areas


CARMEL, Ind., October 31, 2012 – For areas that are used for sleeping, healing, study, concentration or the overall reduction of auditory disturbances, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies has brought together a suite of products that provide customers with whisper quiet latches and sound reducing exit devices. The suite includes a collection of Von Duprin products comprising push pads, latches and exit devices.

            “The right environment helps everyone do a better job and noise reduction can be a key component for many environments,” explains Joseph Vaida, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, portfolio marketing manager-mechanical.  “For these applications, the same door hardware that’s used in one place in the facility may not be appropriate for areas that need to minimize noise. Therefore, for a doorway that is not intrusive, we created this suite of Von Duprin products with quiet options.”

            The quiet suite eliminates the sounds of door hardware not noticed in standard locations. For instance, by replacing magnetic solenoids that require high voltage inrushes for traditional noisy electronic latch retraction with motor-driven latch retraction, a much quieter solution with fewer disturbances is possible. In hazardous areas where electronics are not permitted but still require quiet latch retraction, pneumatic latch retraction is ideal. 

By incorporating an innovative, mechanical damper to decelerate mechanical push pads on the push and return stroke, most of the noise associated with push pad exit devices is eliminated. Lastly, concealed vertical cable system exit devices eliminate the rattles of rods in the door and the clanking of rods on the floor. 

The quiet suite of Von Duprin door hardware is available now.  More information is available at Click Products/Exit Devices/Solutions.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Design Build Expo November 7-9

Design-build is the fastest growing project delivery method and the Design-Build Institute of America provides a forum for owners and practitioners committed to design-build done right. Over 100 private and public owners, representing every sector and every level of government are registered to attend the 2012 Design-Build Conference & Expo being held November 7-9 in New Orleans.

Monday, October 01, 2012

More Progress in Natural Gas

Genscape Completes Acquisition of Spring Rock Production 

Launches next era platform of highly accurate natural gas analytics; High value offering fuels rapid acceptance by traders, analysts & hedge funds

October 1, 2012 Houston, Texas – Genscape, the company that pioneered the placement of thousands of in-the-field energy monitors to measure energy market fundamentals in real-time, today announced the next era in natural gas analytics and reporting based on its acquisition of Spring Rock Production.

Genscape is accelerating the launch of its new Natural Gas Production Forecast service based on the high degree of consistent forecast accuracy and rapid acceptance in commercial test markets. 

This new service will deliver over 30 regional forecasts in the continental United States, 3 regional forecasts in Western Canada, a Forecast Summary report (8/year), a weekly Natural Gas Production forecast, a Rig Breakout & Actualization report (showing trends and new plays), a weekly Pipe Flow Analysis update, and a monthly report on the EIA 914 filing.

"By leveraging Genscape's network of in-the-field monitors that measure pipeline actuals to feed our fully integrated natgas production model, we will consistently and accurately tie what is expected from the supply side of the industry to market prices," said Randall Collum, CEO of Spring Rock.  "It's a great leap forward in natgas analytics."

Genscape is keen to note that with the elimination of intrastate data due to FERC 720, Genscape, with its vast network of proprietary energy monitors capturing natgas pipeline data in real-time, is now the only company capable of producing this data.

"Spring Rock has a unique approach to tying supply side natural gas economics to market prices," said Matthew Burkley, CEO of Genscape, Inc.  "Customers can now replace the supply side of their model with our measured pipeline data to test for imbalances and better inform their price strategy."

"Right now we are hiring more employees to keep pace with strong demand," adds Jon Ecker, managing director of Genscape's natural gas group.  Visit to learn more or register for a free trial.


About Genscape

Genscape is the leading global provider of energy information for commodity and financial markets.  Utilizing patented technologies and proprietary algorithms, Genscape provides accurate and timely data on capacities flow and utilization for all major energy commodities.  The product range includes the well-known real-time services for power and gas in North America and Europe.  Genscape also delivers fundamentals-based market intelligence services which market participants rely upon to better understand drivers, risks, and dynamics of regional power and gas markets.  Genscape is committed to enhancing the market activities of our clients through access to superior fundamental data and market intelligence.



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Genscape, Inc., 177 Huntington Ave. Suite 2100, Boston, MA 02115 United States

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Energy Awareness Tips

Here are some good tips for anyone living in a house – whether you own a house, rent one or are building a new home. Doors are a huge source of energy loss or, if you follow the tips below, energy savings. Enjoy!

MAUMEE, OHIO – How many times have you heard someone call out, "close the door, you're letting the cold air in!" This common refrain has been heard in households for years. Now, during October's Energy Awareness Month, experts at Therma-Tru offer tips on how to keep the cold air outside while keeping energy bills low.

"Doors are a critical part of the housing envelope, so it's important to evaluate and maintain their energy efficiency throughout the year," says Derek Fielding, senior product manager for Therma-Tru Corp. "Along with your main entry door, you have side doors, sliding and hinged doors, garage doors and doors leading from the home to the garage. That's a large number of openings that need attention to maintain energy efficiency in the home."

According to Fielding, homeowners should always purchase an ENERGY STAR® rated door for their specific geographic area. In addition, there are several ways homeowners can assure their doors are helping support the overall energy efficiency of the home, including:

Tip #1 – If you're looking for door, be sure to select one made of fiberglass. A solid fiberglass door is up to four times more energy efficient than a solid wood door, plus you get the benefits that fiberglass has to offer, including resistance to rot, rust, dings and weather. Available in an assortment of styles, Therma-Tru® Classic-Craft® doors can come with woodgrain for staining or a smooth surface that can be painted to accent any home design.

Tip #2 – If you're replacing an entry door and want one with decorative or privacy glass in the door or sidelites, take time to research your options. Try to select doorlites and sidelites that have triple paned glass, which helps make the entire door more energy efficient. If only a two-paned glass is available, request a Low E coating on the glass that can enhance the energy efficiency of the unit.

Tip #3 – Reach out and touch your door on both hot and cold days. If you feel the exterior temperatures on the inside surface, then your door may not have adequate insulation and you should consider upgrading it with a replacement that is more energy efficient and has an ENERGY STAR qualified rating for your geographic area.

Tip #4 – Inspect the weather stripping around all sides of every door in the home to make sure it has not worn out. On a bright day, stand inside near your door and look for daylight flowing through the door perimeter. If light is coming in, then so most likely, is external air and possibly moisture. That means it's time to determine if your foam-filled weatherstripping may have lost some of its compression, cracked or has flatted out and needs to be replaced. An easy way to determine what weatherstripping you may need and order on line is to visit the door replacements parts section of the Therma-Tru website at

Tip #5 – Open and close your doors --- on both dry and wet, humid days. If your door fits tightly on humid days, then it's most likely leaking air on dry days. You may want to consider a high-performance door made of fiberglass to prevent this type of swelling and add more energy efficiency to your home.

Purchasing a New Door

If your older entry door serves as a leaky energy drain on your home, then it's time to invest in a new high-performance entryway. Many homeowners in the past 25 years have embraced both the energy-efficiency and beauty of durable fiberglass doors.

According to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), fiberglass products are known for their reliability, customization aspects for style design, and energy efficiency. Fiberglass doors have an abundance of features outlined by AAMA at

Constructed as a complete system of components, Therma-Tru fiberglass doors are designed and engineered to work together for lasting performance, security and energy efficiency. Multi-point locking systems that engage a series of locks at several places on the frame, impact-rated decorative glass options, plus the adjustable security strike plate that withstands up to three times the force of a standard strike plate, are key factors in creating Therma-Tru's dependable entry door system.

Homeowners looking for durability in their doors can also rely on the Tru-Defense® Door System. This system maximizes the seal between the door and the frame to help keep out the damaging effects of wind and rain, while increasing energy efficiency. Within this optional upgrade system, the weatherstripping, corner seal pad, door bottom sweep and profiled sill all work together to provide a door system that can withstand severe weather conditions along with day-to-day family activity.

Homeowners interested in researching fiberglass door design options for their own homes can use the free "Door Designer" program (located at and the "My Saved Doors" tool (located at


About Therma-Tru

Therma-Tru is the nation's leading manufacturer and most preferred brand of entryway doors. Founded in 1962, Therma-Tru pioneered the fiberglass entry door industry, and today offers a complete portfolio of entry and patio door system solutions, including decorative glass doorlites, sidelites and transoms, and door components. The company also offers low-maintenance Fypon urethane and PVC products. Headquartered in Maumee, Ohio, Therma-Tru is part of Fortune Brands Home & Security. (NYSE: FBHS). For more information, visit, or call (800) 537-8827.

Images at:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Green Button Energy Saving Initiative Showing Promise

They say that knowledge is power, but when it comes to knowing how much electricity their home is using, most consumers are in the dark. 

In fact, the typical homeowner—on average—spends about 6 minutes per year interacting with his or her electric utility.  Because of that, they're missing out on opportunities to save some energy—and money.  That's beginning to change, however.

A year ago, the White House laid down a challenge to the nation's electric utilities: make it easy and fun for consumers to learn how much electricity they're using in their home.  A new report by IEE, an institute of the Edison Foundation, finds that they're succeeding.

Since October 2011, 20 electric utilities—representing almost 30 percent of the nation's homes—have voluntarily created, or have committed to create, a "Green Button" on their website.   Now, whenever they want, consumers can go to their utility's website, click on the Green Button, and download data about their home's energy use. 

To make consumers actually want to do so, Green Button also specified that participating utilities would have to use the same, standardized format to present the data.  This way, tech companies and software developers would have a large enough market to justify their investment in creating new energy saving apps for consumers. 

To further encourage app developers, the Department of Energy partnered with Itron and PG&E this past spring to host the Apps for Energy Challenge.  In just two months, the competition attracted over 12,000 followers and helped facilitate the development of 56 Green Button enabled energy saving apps.

Leafully won the grand prize for their app that helps consumers understand how their home's energy use affects the environment:  instead of displaying energy usage in dollars or kilowatt-hours, Leafully displays it in terms of trees needed to offset the resulting carbon dioxide.

If you would like more information about the new IEE report on the Green Button initiative, as well as its recommendations going forward, please let me know.


Keith Voight

Edison Electric Institute

Monday, September 24, 2012

I Say Set New Metrics for Green Building

This is great news but if more money and effort is being invested on lifecycle costing just so that more "output" can be achieved by businesses aren't we defeating the purpose of sustainable living?

One example I have is a developer in Costa Rica. The firm is headlining itself as a green development and many aspects of the "mini mansions" are green but who needs a 6,000 square foot vacation home? 

I say let's continue down the path of sustainability but let also start "building green" in order to "live green"….not just doing it to increase our bottom lines.

Better Metrics of Green Benefits Needed, According to New McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Executive Brief on Decision Making for Green Building Investments
New York – September 24, 2012 – McGraw-Hill Construction, part of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), today released its latest SmartMarket Executive Brief: Determining the Value of Green Building Investments: A Perspective From Industry Leaders on Triple Bottom Line Decision Making, in partnership with URS, at the White House's 2012 GreenGov Symposium. The report provides the findings of qualitative research conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction through interviews with sustainability leaders in the education, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and federal government sectors on their perspectives about decision making for green building investments.

The report reveals that in order for green building to continue to gain market share at a comparable rate to the past decade, more far-reaching benefits need to be documented and demonstrated to organizational leadership for them to increase their level of green investments. These include benefits across the spectrum of financial, environmental and social benefits—often referred to as the "triple bottom line."

"To date, owners have acted on compelling benefits from their green investments, mainly savings in energy, water, waste and lowered operating costs," said Harvey Bernstein, Vice President of Industry Insights and Alliances at McGraw-Hill Construction. "However, these are only a fraction of the advantages offered by green buildings—missing is a quantification of the full triple bottom line benefits from these investments, especially around the social benefits to human performance and well-being."

The study includes recommendations on actions needed in the industry in order to accelerate green investments across the built environment:
  • Evaluate social, environmental and financial goals together when making decisions on green building investments;
  • Create green building benchmarks through standardization and disclosure of operational building costs;
  • Compile data and case studies that establish the value of nonfinancial benefits of green building;
  • Create better tools using a more thorough, industry-consensus definition of lifecycle costing
  • based on impacts across the triple bottom line;
  • Assemble a public database of green project measures across the triple bottom line.
"The data confirm that sustainability is vital to business growth, for us and for our clients. The demand for business to demonstrate its ability to create value for all its stakeholders is paramount," said Lidia Berger, Vice President, Sustainable Practice Director – Facilities at URS. "URS understands how to design, implement and measure the value of sustainable investment. Most importantly, we can provide our clients with a measurable return on investment based on projects' economic, social, and environmental impacts."
Through in-depth interviews with sustainability leaders, the report finds that organizations are using lifecycle cost analysis of operational savings to demonstrate the ROI of green and to justify green building projects. However, most respondents report there is a need for more data about the non-financial benefits of green to encourage their organizations to increase their investment in green building. This report also reveals the need for standardized measures that can fully capture the impact of green building across the triple bottom line.

The results of the study will be presented today at 3:15 p.m. as part of the Economic Valuation session at the White House's 2012 GreenGov Symposium in Washington, DC.
For a copy of the report, visit
 # # #
About McGraw-Hill Construction:
McGraw-Hill Construction's data, analytics, and media businesses—Dodge, Sweets, Architectural Record, and Engineering News-Record—create opportunities for owners, architects, engineers, contractors, building product manufacturers, and distributors to strengthen their market position, size their markets, prioritize prospects, and target and build relationships that will win more business. McGraw-Hill Construction serves more than one million customers through its trends and forecasts, industry news, and leading platform of construction data, benchmarks, and analytics. To learn more, visit

About The McGraw-Hill Companies:
McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Dow Jones Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at
Media Contact:
Kathy Malangone, Senior Director, Marketing Communications,
McGraw-Hill Construction, +1 212-904-4376,

Friday, September 14, 2012

Clean Water Act Violations - Opinion

How many times is waste dumped from residential or commercial establishments without any penalty to the culprit? This is one example of why more whistle blowers are needed - reward them and watch how may reports will be filed when this sort of thing takes place.


(Kansas City, Kan., September 14, 2012) – Picerne Military Management, LLC, has agreed to pay a $24,900 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act at Fort Riley, Kan.

On December 20 and 21, 2011, Picerne pumped between 5,000 and 9,000 gallons of raw sewage from a crawl space beneath a townhome into a storm drain inlet. Over the course of the two days, the raw sewage was pumped into and through the stormwater drainage system and discharged into a tributary of the Republican River.

"These violations occurred in an area that drains into a residential area, greatly increasing the chance of contact with bacteria in the polluted stream," said EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks. "Proper wastewater management is a vital piece of preserving our water resources and protecting human health and the environment."

Untreated domestic wastewater contains bacteria, solids, and organic matter than can be harmful to human health and the ecosystem of the receiving waterbody. Organic matter in wastewater robs the receiving waterbody of oxygen, which is essential for the survival of aquatic life.

Picerne Military Management is a civilian development, construction, and property management company that owns and/or operates approximately 20,000 housing units on seven Army posts throughout the U.S., including Fort Riley.

By agreeing to the settlement, Picerne Military Management has certified that it is in compliance with the Clean Water Act. The consent agreement is subject to a public comment period before it becomes final. The public notice and consent agreement can be found at the following web address:

Learn more about EPA's civil enforcement of the Clean Water Act:

Connect with EPA Region 7 on Facebook:

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Planning a Sustainable Plantation for Wood Production



WASHINGTON (Sept.4, 2012) – The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today released a report, "Wood for Good: Solutions for Deforestation-Free Wood Products," analyzing tropical wood production's effect on deforestation and offering solutions for sustainable production. According to the report, governments and businesses must begin using sustainably established plantation forests to minimize the toll logging is taking on tropical forests.

Many of the products used every day by American businesses and consumers are made from tropical wood, including paper, furniture, building material and shipping supplies.

"The demand for tropical wood is growing globally, while more and more of the world's tropical forests are disappearing," said Pipa Elias, UCS consultant and the report's author. "It is 100 percent possible to harvest timber in the tropics profitably and sustainably. The main roadblock is a lack of political will. Businesses and consumers must demand responsibly manufactured products – giving governments and wood producers an incentive to expand sustainability efforts."

The report outlines a threefold solution. Firstly, wood producers and businesses should turn to responsible plantation forests to harvest wood. Plantation forests established on previously degraded lands should be used for wood production and sustainable forest management practices – such as protecting water and wildlife – should be followed. Plantations forests tend to grow faster than timber in natural forests and more of the wood can be harvested. Using already-cleared areas would help meet market demand for wood, while protecting primary forests. Secondly, the report also calls on governments to institute policies that make sustainable forest management practice attractive to businesses.

And finally, governments, businesses and consumers should demand products certified by programs such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. While these programs do not prohibit logging from old growth forests, they are the best option currently available for maintaining the profitability of the wood industry while protecting forests.

"Consumers certainly have an important role to play in safeguarding tropical forests," said Elias. "Small, everyday choices like recycling and reducing the demand for new wood absolutely help to protect tropical forests."

In addition to purchasing products that were made, packaged and transported using sustainably sourced wood, decreasing paper use at home helps reduce demand, Elias said. Consumers should buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste, swap paper towels for washcloths, pay bills electronically, and request to be removed from unwanted mailing lists.

Tropical forests are not only home to plants, animals and indigenous communities, but these habitats also purify air and water, and provide food and medicine for millions of people.

Cutting down natural forests also contributes to climate change. Tropical deforestation is responsible for about 15 percent of the world's heat-trapping emissions – more carbon pollution than the emissions from every car, truck, plane, ship and train on Earth.

"Tropical forests should be filled with the sound of howling monkeys and chirping birds, but when these resources are unmanaged, such sounds are replaced with buzzing chainsaws and falling trees," said Elias. "To reverse the damage caused by deforestation, governments and businesses must work together to integrate sustainability and profitability."


"Wood for Good" is the third installment in a UCS series of reports highlighting business, government, and consumer solutions for deforestation-free goods. The first report, "Recipes for Success," gave solutions for deforestation-free vegetable oils. The second report, "Grade A Choice?" examines solutions for deforestation-free meat.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world.  Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to

Friday, July 27, 2012

Improving Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

The results of the survey are a real eye opener. Building owners need more help finding ways to fund improving operations and maintenance efficiency. See below.

(Dallas, TX – July 27, 2012)  According to a recent industry survey that interviewed nearly 4,000 building owners and operators in 24 industry segments, business owners cite four main barriers to improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings:

•    A lack of funding to pay for improvements
•    Insufficient payback or return on investment
•    Uncertainty of savings and performance
•    Lack of technical expertise to evaluate or execute projects

Fortunately, these barriers are simple to overcome with a common-sense approach to the bigger energy savings picture, and the help of a well-trained industry expert. Here are three factors to consider when you are making energy spending decisions:

1.    Increased utility savings
Lower energy bills are the number one driver of energy efficiency spending decisions in the U.S. and Canada. Over time, simple changes such as upgrading lighting systems with energy-efficient light sources and fixtures, installing high-efficiency HVAC units or even adding solar panels to the mix can have a big impact on a company's bottom line. You'll start to save immediately on energy bills, and enjoy a greater return on investment over time, thus helping offset the upfront financial commitment.

2.    Government utility incentives and rebates
There are many incentives available to businesses that invest in energy-efficient products. Government incentives and rebates can further decrease initial costs. In some areas, reduced-rate loans for energy-efficient investments can offer another incentive to help overcome financial obstacles.

3.    Enhanced brand or customer image
Customer attention and retention are two great reasons to invest in energy efficiency. Environmentally conscious consumers take note of businesses that take measures to increase efficiency and lower their carbon footprint, often rewarding them with additional purchases and higher loyalty rates.

For more information, and to find out how Lennox® products can help building owners achieve energy-efficiency goals, visit, or contact a Lennox representative.

Source: Energy Management: "Driving Efficiency," Chain Store Age, October 2011

About Lennox Industries Inc.
A worldwide leader in residential and commercial heating and air conditioning systems, Lennox Industries Inc. is based near Dallas, Texas. Deeply committed to helping consumers and businesses reduce energy needs and lessen their environmental impact, the company offers a wide range of resources for improving efficiency, including a selection of ENERGY STAR® qualified products. Lennox Industries is a subsidiary of Lennox International Inc. and is a global leader in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration markets. Lennox International stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "LII." To learn more about Lennox International, visit To learn more about Lennox Industries, contact a Lennox sales representative or visit