Environmentally Responsible Development
As a real estate developer, The James Group has a tremendous responsibility to the environment and the local community. The policies and decisions made by a developer can have a significant impact on the environment for many years. The James Group is committed to supporting our local community. The Bay Area is where we work, live, and raise our families. We make every effort possible to make decisions that will benefit the community and the environment for years to come.
An example of responsible development is our focus on development of land that is considered “infill” or adjacent to existing developed land. This minimizes the impact of new development on the environment and limits “urban sprawl”. Infill land parcels have been skipped over in previous development or have been under developed. Development of infill parcels has minimal impact on the local environment and typically increases the value of the adjacent parcels.
Other examples of responsible development are mixed-use development and transit-oriented development (TOD). Mixed-use development means combining different types of uses together such as residential and retail or residential and office. The benefits of mixed-use development are more efficient use of a given amount of land and reducing the total number of automobile trips. If residents can live, work and shop without getting into their cars, then this can help reduce traffic and greenhouse emissions. TOD is a similar concept, where development is centered around a public transportation system such as a rail station. TOD can significantly reduce the use of automobiles and the related negative environmental impact.
The James Group partners with environmentally conscious builders. There are many things that builders can do to minimize the environmental impact of new construction. Just a few examples are the use of water-conserving fixtures, engineered wood products, high-efficiency, pilotless furnaces, dual pane, insulated windows, water-conserving landscaping and the use of the solar electric power systems.
There are several organizations that provide programs and rating systems for environmentally-friendly buildings. Two of these organizations are the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The US EPA program is called Energy Star. The USGBC program is called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The James Group supports these programs and partners with builders that endorse these standards.
Solar Electrical Systems
The idea of using solar energy to generate electricity (known as “photovoltaics”) has been around since the 1800s. Photovoltaic systems did not become economically viable until the 1980s when advancements in semiconductors made them smaller, more efficient, and less expensive. But even in the 1980s, solar electric power generation was considered expensive and exotic. The systems were large and bulky and rarely used.
Recently, solar electric power generation for residential and commercial buildings has become much more common and financially attractive. Advances in photovoltaic technology and manufacturing technology have significantly reduced the price and size of these systems and have increased the overall efficiency. These advances combined with the ever increasing cost of conventional energy and government incentives have made solar electric power systems very popular today.
Solar Electrical System FAQs
What is a Solar Electrical System?
A Solar Electrical System is a device that generates electricity when exposed to the sunlight. It literally spins the electric meter backwards, providing you free solar electricity day and night!
How does solar power work?
Silicon wafers laminated under non-reflective glass in solar panels collect photons from the sun, and turn this into DC electrical power. This power then flows to an inverter, which converts and transforms it into usable voltage and AC electrical power. What happens at night or when it is cloudy?
When sunlight is available, most solar power systems are generating more power than is needed in the home. When this happens, your meter will run backwards and the excess power is fed into the PG&E power grid. PG&E is essentially buying this excess power back from you by running your meter backwards.
When sunlight is not available at night, you are consuming power back from the PG&E power grid. Most customers will use “net metering”. Your meter keeps track of the power that you take from the power grid and the power that you feed into the grid. You only pay for the difference or “net” after you subtract the power that you generated from the power that you consumed.
How long do these systems last?
Photovoltaic systems have been around for about 30 years and the original systems are still working just fine. Accelerated testing has shown that the systems should last for 40-42 years with a 2% per decrease throughout the systems life
What is the maintenance on these systems?
These systems require little to no maintenance. Because there are no moving parts in a solar power system, there is nothing to go wrong. Basically, make sure the modules are clear of bird droppings and dirt and trees aren’t shading the system. Also, make sure the system is putting out its proper power during the year by glancing at the metering system from time to time. Other than that… keep smiling every time you see the sun and knowing it is working for you all day long.