Environmental Site Assessment

environmental site assessment, green electricity, cheap electricity, green power

Environmental Site Assessment - Site Selection Criteria

If you are looking for a home site, be sure you know about these environmental site analysis tools to get the most out of your green design.

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Environmental Site Assessment:

If you are considering building a new home and you will be incorporating green design concepts into the home, it would be a wise move to do an environmental site assessment of the site(s) you are considering purchasing.

The reason for this is there are many facets in the green design arena that are affected by not only what is available to you from your utility companies, and local governments, there are passive conditions that relate directly to the site, which can greatly compliment the efficiencies of one site over another.

We will discuss many of these site features under what I like to call an Environmental Site Assessment.

Green Electricity

Environmental Site Assessment: Systems Review

Environmental Site Assessment - Check Local Codes and Ordinances:

If you are looking in a developed neighborhood association, you will often have to deal with Covenant Codes and Regulations or C C & R's for short.

These are usually written documents, restrictions or rules that have been drafted by the local homeowner's association to protect the existing homeowner's from new homes being constructed in non-compliance with these laws.

You will have to submit a site plan and building plans of your home the association the a design committee for approval and or input.

Here are a few red flags local associations will struggle with:

Tower heights for wind turbines. (if allowed at all)
Noise of Wind Turbines.
The Wind Turbine affecting view planes from adjacent neighbors.
Appearance of roof mounted solar collectors. (if allowed at all)
Appearance of PV arrays either roof mounted or ground mounted. (if allowed at all)

Photovoltaic Panels

Environmental Site Assessment: Photovoltaic Panels (PV)

My experience is if they prohibit such obstructions, views encumberances etc. you will be hard pressed to get a varience from them.

It is possible, but the association has to have an open mind and be receptive to green energy concepts. Do not purchase a lot in an association assuming you will get the variance.

You may find yourself stuck with a piece of property where you cannot invest in green electricity.

Environmental Site Assessment - Geographic Latitude of Your Site:

This plays less significance if your search is within one localized area. The latitude comes into play with solar radiance or the potential solar energy output from the site.

Here is a great source for Solar Radiance Maps, which will give you a starting point to work from.

Organic Vegetables

Environmental Site Assessment - Wind Energy Analysis:

Environmental Site Assessment - Wind Energy Analysis:

Even though certain areas of the country tend to me much better than others for potential wind energy production, there are a lot of nuances involved with site locations within the same locale.

For instance, you may find a site that is on top of a rise, a hill or mountain provides much more wind potential that a site located within a stand of trees.

Also a site that is wide open on a plane without many structural obstructions be produce much better than a site located in an urban setting.

Research the Wind Maps and first, find a good producing area of the country. If your locale is not in a good producing area, you may be better off putting your green energy money to work in other areas, such as solar power.

Here is a great site to get wind analysis information and Wind Maps.

Organic Vegetables

Environmental Site Assessment: Solar Energy Analysis

Environmental Site Assessment: Solar Energy Analysis

This often goes hand-in-hand with the Wind Energy Analysis.

There are Solar Radiance Maps available that will give you good direction as to what the potential os solar electricity productions is across the entire country.

Also, the amount of solar energy available depends on obstructions on or adjacent to the site, latitude of the site and weather patterns, such as the amount of avarage cloud cover the site will get.

If for instance, your site is located on the leaward side of a large body of water, you can bet that you will be dealing with a lot of cloud cover and the solar energy production will be quite low. Wind Energy on the other hand may be better in this location.

Here is a site where you can get potential Solar Radiance Energy Production for your solar design.

NREL Solar maps.

Fuel Cells

Environmental Site Assessment: Net Metering Availability:

Environmental Site Assessment: Net Metering Availability:

Net metering is utility company provision that allows you to connect your green electrical energy producing system directly up to the electrical grid and run your electrical meter backwards, thus backing off any electrical useuage you have made during the month.

It is very convenient, saves a lot of money in equipment costs, such as battery storage systems and with a properly designed green electrical system it will allow you to more easly get to the magic 'zero' electrical energy usage.

Usually the utility company will pay you for any electricity you produet that goes over and above your actual usage. Most often these are minimal amounts of money and you are much better off designing your system to more accurately reflect your actual electrical needs.

Smart Home Technology

Environmental Site Assessment - Utility Company Rates:

Environmental Site Assessment - Utility Company Rates:

Obtain the cost per kwh, including taxes, fees and all other costs for your site.

There may be instances were one site may be served by two or even three different utility companies and you should research their rates, net metering and energy buying policies.

I moved from a community with an electrical rate of $0.48/kwh hour to an area with $0.08/kwh. What a difference that makes in systems selection, efficiencies and equipment costs.

Building Small Doesn't Mean Cramped

Environmental Site Assessment - Tax Incentives:

Environmental Site Assessment - Tax Incentives:

Federal or even State level tax incentives are quite clear and will affect your site or design in an equal way in the same locale.

Local tax incentives and utility company incentives can be a much different matters. Certain utility companies will give you credit for using solar water heaters or a wind turbine.

You should investigate what is available to you in your area and find out if it would be a determining factor that would sway your decision to one site or another.

For more information on Federal Tax Incentives, go to our Energy Tax Credits page.