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Gore greens his Tennessee home

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The subject of countless unjustified attacks on his environmentalism, Nobel Prize winner Al Gore has finished greening up his house.

al-gore-solar-home.jpg

The U.S. Green Building Council gave Gore’s home house “its second-highest rating for sustainable design.” How did he do it?

The former vice president has installed solar panels, a rainwater-collection system and geothermal heating. He also replaced all incandescent lights with compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode bulbs — even on his Christmas tree.

… his natural gas use has dropped 93 percent in the three months since the geothermal pump was activated.

Gore has also said he invests in renewable energy such as solar and wind power to balance 100 percent of his electricity usage.

Kudos to the former Veep!

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27 Responses to Gore greens his Tennessee home

  1. Ronald says:

    I was hoping he would do something like that, although a few years earlier would have been helpful. I had only read and heard of the attacks against Gore in the MSM and none of the retractions. And I was looking for the retractions and the more favorable reporting to Gore, but I didn’t see it.

    Good to mention the energy efficient lights, efficiency is the first place to look for cost and energy savings, especially with what’s now a display house. No mention on any upgrade in appliances, which are also high on the energy saving, cost saving list. I wonder if he’s got a clothes line in the back.
    I’ve always been impressed with what the Rocky Mountain Institute did with its building and in 1984.

  2. Hal Levin says:

    Size does matter!

    The first rule of green is build only what you need.’ Build it as small as possibly can meet your needs. High sq footage and low EUI per sq ft is not as sustainable as low sq footage and higher EUI where the products (sq ft x btu/sq ft/yr) are equal because of the amount of material required. The better indicator of green is btu/sq ft/yr/person hours of occupancy.

    I admire and appreciate what Gore has accomplished in terms of moving climate change to the main stage.

    But… big house, lots of energy consumption, lots of PVs. If the goal is to support the German or Japanese PV and inverter manufacturers, then buying a bigger PV system to support that excessively large house is great. But there is no reason two people need such a big house regardless of who they are. Think about.

    House sizes (average) have nearly doubled in the last 40 years while household size has diminished by ~1/4. Gore’s house is a McMansion.

    Rich folks greening their big houses with three or four bedrooms (or more) and an equal number of bathrooms for two empty-nester adults is not green. It’s greed!

  3. Namtillaku says:

    House sizes (average) have nearly doubled in the last 40 years while household size has diminished by ~1/4. Gore’s house is a McMansion.

    Rich folks greening their big houses with three or four bedrooms (or more) and an equal number of bathrooms for two empty-nester adults is not green. It’s greed!

    Pretty sad state of affairs when people like you are critical of the best friend the environment, and you, have. It never ceases to amaze me, the criticism directed at Al Gore, it’s reminiscent of the criticism of Bill Clinton. Simply mention the name, and many people go nuts. It’s blind and dumb. Now that Mr. Gore has finished ‘greening’ up his home, you criticize the fact that the house is big, and that he’s rich. Your comments are petty and destructive.

    Right now we are at a crux, where inaction could well mean the collapse of our ecosystems and in the end, humanity. It makes me sad to see your comments, especially because of their source (http://www.buildingecology.com/). The single most important thing that we can do to save the planet is UNITE.

  4. Namtillaku says:

    “House sizes (average) have nearly doubled in the last 40 years while household size has diminished by ~1/4. Gore’s house is a McMansion.

    Rich folks greening their big houses with three or four bedrooms (or more) and an equal number of bathrooms for two empty-nester adults is not green. It’s greed!”

    Pretty sad state of affairs when people like you are critical of the best friend the environment, and you, have. It never ceases to amaze me, the criticism directed at Al Gore, it’s reminiscent of the criticism of Bill Clinton. Simply mention the name, and many people go nuts. It’s blind and dumb. Now that Mr. Gore has finished ‘greening’ up his home, you criticize the fact that the house is big, and that he’s rich. Your comments are petty and destructive.

    Right now we are at a crux, where inaction could well mean the collapse of our ecosystems and in the end, humanity. It makes me sad to see your comments, especially because of their source (http://www.buildingecology.com/). The single most important thing that we can do to save the planet is UNITE.

  5. Vigilante says:

    Why bitch about the size of Al Gore’s home office? By all rights, he should be the occupant of the White House.

  6. LindainSFNM says:

    Al Gore is making environmentalists and tree huggers smile with pride over the latest news that Al Gore not only talks a great talk, but has the walk of a GREEN walk.

    The Gore family purchased an 80 year old 10,000 square foot home in 2002, that also houses offices for both, Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, in which they started making a series of steps in energy and environmental improvements.

    We all remember when the Right Wing groups (TCPR, AEI) tried attacking the Gores on energy use, making false claims on the amount the home used, trying to claim it was a higher amount and that he didn’t practice wise energy and environmental standards, which all actual reports showed to be incorrect claims. That the Gores actually used less than the average Tennessee home and that 100 percent energy used was all from Renewable resources. But the timing was interesting. The Gore’s had been remodelling the home all along. Ripping out floors and putting in radiant heating, replacing all the windows, lightbulbs and installing geothermal heating, but it was when they finally got their Association to change their position on Solar Panels, that the Gore’s were finally able to add Solar Paneling to the home and they would be nearing the completed remodel when the Right Wing groups made this claim.

    So it really was pretty funny when the News Networks all around, from CNN’s Headline News to The Daily Buzz tv, tried to give credit to the February attacks of TCPR for the remodel job the Gore’s completed this year.

    The Gore’s home previously had already used less than average energy,
    ” (Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi), the average is 15,447 kwh per household and 19.83 kwh per square foot. Gore’s consumption is 19.43 kwh per square foot, which is less than the average.”
    , and the energy that was used, was from 100 percent renewable resources.

    But now that they have made these successful renovations, they have decreased their energy use even more.

    Gore’s improvements cut the home’s summer electrical consumption by 11 percent compared with a year ago, according to utility records reviewed by The Associated Press. Most Nashville homes used 20 percent to 30 percent more electricity during the same period because of a record heat wave.

    Electricity usage at the home remains well above regional averages, but Gore’s power consumption decreased by 6,890 kilowatt hours, or 11 percent, between June and August, despite the heat wave.

    Gore’s electric use increased again after he had to take his solar panels off-line in August so his new geothermal system could be integrated into the system. But his natural gas use has dropped 93 percent in the three months since the geothermal pump was activated.

    A hat tip to you sir.

    So it seemed fitting to applaud Gore’s completed renovations on his Tennessee mansion – we talked about his plans here. What’s new is that Gore has gotten LEED gold certification from the Green Building Council – the 10,000-square-foot home is one of only 14 in the U.S. to achieve this rating, and the only home in Tennessee that’s gotten any certification at all, according to the Associated Press. (There is also a platinum standard) Solar panels, solar roof fans, a rainwater collection system, and geothermal heating were all installed at the house. All incandescent lights – including those on the Christmas tree! – were replaced with either compact fluorescents or light-emitting diodes.

  7. Namtillaku says:

    Sorry for the double posting :(

  8. Hal Levin says:

    Talk about “blind” and “going nuts.”

    Namtillaku: talk about the house size comment, the main thrust of my comment. It is not criticism of Gore per se. It is using the case of the greening of a huge house as something less admirable than the greening of a small one more appropriate for the number of occupants and the time spent there.

    Vigilante: Is his house size OK because the election was taken from him by the Supreme Court?

    The rule is demand reduction first, conservation second, energy efficiency third.

    The comment that instigated your knee jerk responses is about the unnecessary size of houses. 10 to 20% of life cycle carbon emissions are attributable to “embodied energy,” the energy it takes to extract, process, transport, and install/construct the materials in a house.

    The comment is not a “bitch” about the size of Al Gore’s house. It’s about McMansions in general and the mistaken identity of an excessively large house with one that is “good” for the environment. It is a comment about the meaningless use of the term “green” and the idea that size does not matter, that the houses of rich folks who put some PVs on their roof are OK.

    We have plenty of hard work to do without fighting with each other. Read the comment carefully. Read it again: “I admire and appreciate what Gore has accomplished in terms of moving climate change to the main stage.”

    Comment on the substance, not on your mistaken interpretation of an ad hominem attack on Gore. Of course Gore is to be respected and praised for what he has accomplished. That is an unambiguous comment in the post that inspired your uninspired reactions.

  9. Ken Cannon says:

    These are interesting comments here, and Mr. Levin is correct to condemn large homes, at least new ones. But what are we to do with existing large homes? It is better to have some responsible rich people remodel them for energy efficiency than to have some irresponsible rich people keep them as they are.

    We have already begun to eliminate new construction of large homes. Maybe we should go so far as to put some efficiency requirements on existing larger homes.

  10. Hal Levin says:

    Thanks, Ken. Yes, limits on large homes, at least on their energy consumption, are appropriate — the polluter pays. I have heard (but cannot confirm) that Marin County, California, requires homes over a certain size — I think 4,000 sq ft — to reduce their impact with PV or other renewable energy measures. This is approach that should be considered. An approach that would reflect equity considerations would also be based on number of occupants and occupant-hours. Certainly there is no simple way to do this since hours of occupancy may not be proportional to number of occupants. But some way to reign in the excessive consumption of large homes that are not energy efficient is worth pursuing.

  11. David says:

    “What’s new is that Gore has gotten LEED gold certification from the Green Building Council – the 10,000-square-foot home is one of only 14 in the U.S. to achieve this rating, and the only home in Tennessee that’s gotten any certification at all, according to the Associated Press.”

    So, exactly how many homes in the U.S. and Tennessee has the Green Building Council evaluated? I don’t ever remember them visiting my home.

  12. It should be understood that Gore’s home has some unusual equiptment and has some unusual uses. Gore has a security staff, and you had better believe he has up do date security electronics. Gore and his wife Tipper have offices in their home. It is not clear to what extent Gore’s support staff also have offices in the Gore home. Gore would also frequently have guests, family members, business friends and associates, people involved in the causes Gore espouses, visiting dignitaries, and other people with whom Gore shares interests.

    Gore must employ domestic help, Frequent visitors would require maids, a large kitchen with cooks and kitchen help. Thus the Gore home is hardly a humble retirement home. Its size and energy needs would reflect Gore’s life.

  13. Michael says:

    Yes, smaller homes CAN use less energy. But a large home can be designed to be close to zero net energy with sufficient investment. And as the last poster notes, I am assuming Gore’s home is also his and Tipper’s and others’ workplace. While it would probably be a Gandhi-esque statement for a man like Gore to have a smaller house, there are plenty rich people of good will who are interested in greening their large (often already existing) houses. To green them would provide an important market for green technologies that can then be used to help green smaller more modest homes. We need to create a mass market for geothermal heat pumps, for one, and the place to start is to get all mildly concerned rich people to retrofit their large houses with geothermal (in most climate zones).

    One of the fundamental mistakes of the environmental movement of the 1970′s was to become overly moralistic and to come across as puritanical. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the 1970′s.

  14. Namtillaku says:

    Mr. Levin. I read, and I reread your comments, and I’ll let my comments stand. This is an article about Al Gore greening up his house, and he deserves ONLY praise.

    You have an extremely short sentence saying you admire him, but in the very next paragraph your first word is ‘but’.

    Comment on your substance? Here’s some of your substance, “Rich folks greening their big houses with three or four bedrooms (or more) and an equal number of bathrooms for two empty-nester adults is not green. It’s greed!”

    First off your ‘but’ negates your supposed admiration, and you go on to make this quoted comment. An attack is an attack, I don’t see it any differently now than when I first read it. Al Gore is to be praised for retrofitting/greening his house, yours is a tepid and qualified admiration.

  15. DocHolliday says:

    I agree, Namtillaku. Al Gore should be praised. Like my grandpappy always used to say, “If you talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk” and now Al can say he does both.

    I must admit, it was a little off-putting to hear his plans to tax gasoline until I wouldn’t be able to drive to work — just so he could hand a fat stack of cash to his friends at Archer Daniels Midland. And all that talk about doubling my electric bills by forcing ConEd to buld windmills was a little unsettling too. Especially since, when you look at it, Al Gore and his buds spend more time jammin around in private jets than I have to spend at home with my kids. It takes two jobs for me to pay my electric bill as it is.

    Anyway, for seven years all we’ve heard from the wingnuts is “Al Gore is a shameless huckster,” “That bloated, fat pig is a just liar and a hypocrite,” and “Cheese and rice, Al Gore’s carbon footprint is bigger than some Third World countries.” Well no more! Al Gore has solar panels now, and geothermal. It makes me proud to be an American.

    Believe me, I won’t forget that Bali speech when he told the world how all of the greedy bastards back home were the problem. As soon as I heard that, I said, “Heck, I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution,” and I turned my TV right off.

    I can’t help but wonder how different this country would have been if Gore would have won in ’00. I’m sure it would have been mighty different indeed.

    So here’s a big cheer for Mr. Al Gore. Like Namtillaku says, he is to be praised.

  16. Hal Levin says:

    I join in the chorus of cheers for Gore. I’m sorry my message conveyed anything else.

    What Namtillaku seems unable to read in my original comment is that it was about big houses, not about Gore. I simply used the occasion to make the point about one of my pet peeves, green McMansions. It appears to have been a mistake, and I apologize for the time and bandwidth and upset I have triggered.

    Perhaps it was misplaced because it came in response to Joe Romm’s post about Gore’s greening of his home. I am sorry if I misled people into thinking I was criticizing Gore and stimulated a lot of wasted bandwidth to discuss Gore and HIS house.

    I simply wanted to make the point that size matters, as the first line in my comment said — “size does matter.” I stand by the comment. I extend an apology to all of you (and silent others) who have spent time in this thread because I misjudged the impact or interpretation that might follow my comment.

    I love what Gore has done to raise consciousness about climate change. The world needed someone clever and respectable to market the IPCC’s findings. He has done it well. I drooled over his graphics, very elegant versions of graphics I and others have been showing for a while to try to accomplish what he has accomplished very effectively. I have met otherwise relatively un-engaged people who have found his movie persuasive. Did he change any minds? Maybe a few, probably not many. But the unengaged and fence sitters he has persuaded have begun a groundwell that while long overdue, is now beginning to gain real momentum. The U.S. may even actually behave like a global citizen… at least, after the next election. Let’s all hope so anyway.

    His speech in Bali nearly brought me to tears!

    Hail to the should-have-been-Chief! Thank you Al.

  17. Ron says:

    ” … his natural gas use has dropped 93 percent in the three months since the geothermal pump was activated.

    Gore has also said he invests in renewable energy such as solar and wind power to balance 100 percent of his electricity usage.

    Kudos to the former Veep!”

    ——————————————————
    He invests in his own company and writes of the cost of doing so as an investment expense.

    I am surprised that he took so long to green up a little..
    For a long time all he did was buy Carbon Offsets from his own company “Generation Investement Management”
    and continue to consume without worring about it..
    I guess that the public outcry about his energy consumption being ten times that of the average US
    house was too much to bear..

    It would not surprise me if he had his own company pay to install the alternative energy sources and “Manage” them for him..

    There are companies that will put in wind and PV systems
    to run the house and backfeed into the grid whenever there is a surplus being generated.
    They do this at the same cost as what the homeowner was paying for his gas and electric utilites before
    he reduced the consumption..
    For all we know, Gore spent NOTHING on his ground source heating and AC and PV cells if he enlisted such a reseller to manage his energy usage.

    Enquiring minds want to know..

  18. Ipat G. Luna says:

    So what if Gore is benefitting from doing good things for the environment? That, in fact is the point and if everyone COULD do that, we will have no problems with the world. He’s being a model for doing things that are right AND benefitting from those. I think considering how unconcerned most people are, that is the right formula to save the world. As the original email implies, even George Bush, who for a long time thought climate change was a myth, went for geothermal heating to save on costs. If Gore had an alternative energy company, and it installed and managed his energy sources at home, then he is walking his talk!

    And how do you know he didn’t worry about his energy consumption?

  19. sean says:

    i think people are missing the point.it is not the energy savings put inot the house but the energy used to build such a large house.yes i know it is 80 years old and was upgraded but the issue is people are still building large houses which uses a lot of energy which produces more greenhouse gases and then to spend more energy and greenhouse gases to make it more energy sustainable makes no sense.also another point is joe average with 1500 square foot home earning 25,000 a year could never afford these type of upgrades to his home like gore as done.also people forget that is was under al gores watch as v.p. of the usa that the united states did not sign the kyoto accord.

  20. Al Gore would have been stupid not to have made the changes. But he only did it after there was a lot of publicity about his energy use. It would have been more convincing and appropriate had he done it before all the news about his house came out. Granted he may need an office and his wife may need an office and in their position they probably do need extra room for visitors.
    Still it looks as though he had to be shamed into doing what we wanted others to do.

  21. j b cox says:

    seems as though you hard line republicans need to worry about the task at hand , and that is the issue that george w is putting on yhis nation . talk about fuel consumption . you are always worried about someone else and never face the real problems. thank you very much

  22. Glenn Morris says:

    Oooops!!

    Looks like Mr. Greensleeves missed the mark.

    “Energy Guzzled by Al Gore’s Home in Past Year Could Power 232 U.S. Homes for a Month
    Gore’s personal electricity consumption up 10%, despite “energy-efficient” home renovations

    NASHVILLE – In the year since Al Gore took steps to make his home more energy-efficient, the former Vice President’s home energy use surged more than 10%, according to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. ”

    http://www.tennesseepolicy.org/main/article.php?article_id=764

    Oh, well, the Green Building Council, the group that touts his home as “one of only 14 homes” qualified for their great honorifics, miscalculated his worthiness by a smidgeon – or are they merely another sham outfit established by “Many Carb” Gore to present him with another certificate to hang on his wall? Consider the energy required to build and assemble all his “greening” wonders, the carbon generated by the workers traveling to and from his little bungalow, the energy consumed and carbon generated in their activities on his property, while his electricity usage INCREASED 10%, and where is he truly eliminating any of the vile elements he professes to detest – yet embraces fully, in order to sell his “carbon offsets” scam?

    Barnum said, “there’s a sucker born every minute.” Gore capitalizes on that simple fact.

  23. Simon says:

    Gore misleads the American people, especially the people who can least afford to be misled.

    Come on Democrats: EDUCATE YOURSELVES.

    If Democrats [still] tolerate [and remain willing to consider] compelling information that challenges [and raises serious questions about] Democrats’ socialist agenda, misleading propaganda, and uncompromising positions, then there might [yet] be hope for humankind and Western civilization.

    Based on considerable firsthand experience, Democrats refuse to and will never tolerate opposing viewpoints or any information that challenges Democrats’ stubbornly held positions. Democrats’ comments on this post, and Democrats’ responses to this comment will, demonstrate Democrats’ intolerance and diminish the above mentioned hope.

    Will Democrats ever consider the downsides of Democrats’ policies?

  24. Earl Killian says:

    Simon, change every occurrence of Democrat to Republican and every occurrence of Gore to Bush in your rant, and you might then have actually said something close to the truth.

  25. Pratap says:

    First of all, I am thankful to this site where i have found a lot of information about the same topic. Finally i have found a good enough information containing link “http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/13/gore.home.ap/index.html”.Go through this link and you can find a lot of information.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Pratap

    Addiction Recovery Tennessee

  26. LAO says:

    I would like to point out that the National Historic Trust has determined that it typically takes 40 to 65 years for any true energy savings to occur when an existing building is torn down and replaced with a more efficient one. There is a certain amount of energy-intensive recycling of building materials that can occur, but not nearly enough to compensate for the loss of the energy invested in constructing the original building and the substantial energy consumed to produce the new building.

    In other words, by preserving, improving the efficiency, and utilizing an 80-year-old house, rather than allowing it to be torn down and replaced, Al Gore has saved a tremendous amount of energy. If it could not be saved by anyone but a man of means, then I am grateful that he was able and willing to do it and not leave it to the tear-down madness that has been sweeping the country.

    Thank you to the commenter above for providing the age of the house. As many details of Al Gore’s energy consumption that I have heard reported, I am sad to say that I never before encountered the information, nor did I ever hear about the efficiency improvements. I keep looking for the notorious left-wing media, but I just can’t find them.

    Thanks for producing this column. I have only recently learned of the site.

  27. t china says:

    Yeah, but did he get rid of his polluting jet and start flying first class?
    Al G(wh)ore is the consumate neo-cheating hypocrate. He’s a thimble-brained ‘more on’ and I am certainly glad that he wasn’t elected because we’d probably have already had numerous terrorist attacks on the rest of us.

    Thank GOD for George W. Bush. Because of him, we haven’t seen any terrorism in the last 8 years.

    This (N)obama knee-grow will probably ‘roll over’ to these insurgents and let them kill numerous U.S. Citizens. This ass-hole is an idiot with absolutely NO EXPERIENCE RUNNING ANYTHING! What the hell were you thinking – voting into power someone with NO EXPERIENCE?

    I’d like to advocate that the terrorists FIRST ELIMINATE all U.S. KNEE-GROWS to get the ‘chickens to come home to roost’. Can I pay to make that happen? Just think of how much we would save in taxes (via welfare and other confiscatory programs)?