Home builders attempt to clean up the air

New homes aim to cut emissions with Energy Star appliances, radiant heat barriers

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(This is the second of a two-part series on zero energy houses) "Houses are polluters and big houses pollute more," said Department of Energy Assistant Secretary David Garman in a recent interview. Elaborating on this startling piece of information, Garman said that houses are more accurately characterized as "indirect polluters." That is, they consume 36 percent of the nation's electricity, and 69 percent of that electricity is produced by fossil-fueled generating plants that collectively cause more air pollution than automobiles. Clearly a man on a mission, Garman is now leading the Department of Energy's (DOE) charge to build houses that use less electricity and therefore reduce–indirectly, of course–air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In the past, DOE has encouraged home builders to build houses that use less energy for heating, cooling and hot water, which account for about 60 percent of the total in the average house, and which can be a mixture of gas, oil an...