Botetourt Hosts Environmental Expo

“Green” took on a new meaning last Friday as over 30 exhibitors showcased their environmentally-responsible practices at the first-ever Botetourt County Environmental Expo at the Greenfield Education and Training Center in Daleville.

Barry Martin of Troutville, owner of Green Home Energy Audits of Virginia, grades homes for energy savings on a scale approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For example, “insufficient insulation in the attic could cause a home to be less energy efficient,” Martin explained.

His Home Performance Energy Audit zeros in on other energy problems, such as faulty duct work, which may leak or not direct air flow properly, leaking windows and doors, water heaters that use too much energy, and appliances that use too much electricity.

He utilizes a blower door and “ductblast” testing to reach his conclusions. A blower door uses specialized diagnostic equipment to measure the air tightness of a house and duct work and to determine where air leaks may be occurring.

For an average fee of $350 for 2000 square feet of living space, Martin, who has two certifications as an Energy Auditor, can inspect a home and offer remedies that could save a homeowner $500 or more annually. He also tests for molds, combustion issues, and air safety.

The energy audit can be completed in about three hours and homeowners receive a detailed report that will highlight problems and offer remedies to increase energy efficiency.

He became an energy auditor after the economy changed. “It’s almost been a blessing that I lost my job last year,” he said. “I always had an interest in green buildings, and I want to concentrate on existing homes.” He does commercial work and new construction as well, but is particularly eager to help homeowners save money.

Pending federal legislation could make an energy audit a necessity when selling a home, Martin noted.

Titan’s Roanoke Cement, one of the county’s largest employers, showcased its efforts to increase energy efficiency in its operations. The company has received Energy Star awards from the federal Department of Energy for the last four years for its innovative energy uses. “Our main goal is to recycle as much as we can,” said Dan Babish, a Roanoke Cement spokesperson.

Sybille Nelson of Troutville visited the Expo to see what it was all about. “It is amazing to see what all is happening right here in Botetourt County,” she said, noting that Separation Technologies, LLC, a division of Roanoke Cement, is working to assist in the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. “It’s great to know that companies right here could have an impact on our greatest crisis.”

Some of the other businesses at the Expo included: the Farm Service Agency, which offers farmers matching dollars to fence cattle from streams and ponds; Ride Solutions, which operates a “Park and Ride” in Botetourt County, and is searching for additional ways to assist with transportation to and from the county; and Carmeuse Natural Chemicals (formerly James River Limestone), which is working to control stream contamination.

Residents also had the opportunity to recycle household electronics, printer cartridges, dry-cell batteries, and cell phones.

“There are many opportunities to conserve our resources and enhance our quality of life,” said Ron Smith, Public Works Manager for Botetourt County. The Environmental Expo gave the public an opportunity to see what area businesses are doing to conserve energy and to learn about actions the average homeowner can take to save energy and money.

By Anita Firebaugh
info@theroanokestar.com