Analyst Estimate: 150,000 iPads Pre-Ordered Already

While the number isn’t official (Apple (s aapl) isn’t exactly free and easy with its sales figures), one analyst is saying that although its early yet to tell, it looks like the iPad is on track to break some pretty significant records in terms of order volume. Amateur Apple (s aapl) analyst Daniel Tello, who regularly outguesses the pros, is now saying that around 152,000 iPads have been pre-ordered in the first 72 hours of availability.

Tello’s approach involves extrapolating Apple web order numbers. This time around, he worked with Victor Castroll, a Valcent Financial Group analyst. Together, they surveyed a sample group and found 120 orders for 137 iPads over 58 hours beginning at 8:30 A.M. Friday morning.

From there, Tello applied a formula that subtracts non-iPad orders on Apple’s site and multiplies the resulting number by an average of 1.125 iPads per order. Finally, he added in 2,000 units for late-night hours during which time they had no data. In the end, the total arrived at was 152,000 ending at midnight on Sunday. The number doesn’t factor in iPads reserved for in-store pickup. Read More about Analyst Estimate: 150,000 iPads Pre-Ordered Already

“Building Star” Proposed in Senate: $6B for Retrofits of Larger Building

Home Star, the White House-backed plan to provide billions of dollars in incentives for home energy retrofits, now has a sibling — this one focused on larger buildings. Two U.S. senators introduced a bill yesterday that would provide up to $6 billion in rebates and tax incentives for a broad range of energy-saving features added to existing commercial and multi-family buildings.
The bill, dubbed “Building Star” and  playing off the name of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, would cover about 30 percent of the cost of energy-related equipment and services including energy audits, building envelope insulation, mechanical equipment upgrades, lighting and energy management and monitoring equipment. If passed, the program is expected to save building owners more than $3 billion on their energy bills annually by reducing enough peak electricity demand to avoid the need for nearly three dozen 300 MW power plants, according to a statement by Sen. Jeff Merkley, a cosponsor of the bill.
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Building Green Homes Breaks Into the Mainstream in Northern Cali

Green buildings are still far from typical across the U.S., but signs are mounting that mainstream homebuilders are starting to take energy efficiency and other green features a lot more seriously. The latest evidence came earlier this week when KB Home (s KBH), one of the top five U.S. homebuilders, announced that all of its new developments in Northern California would be built to GreenPoint Rated standards, a green building rating system developed by Berkeley, Calif.-based Build It Green that grades homes based on energy efficiency, water and resource conservation, indoor air quality and more. “The early adopters were custom builders who championed the [GreenPoint Rated] standard,” David Myers, Build It Green’s communications and development manager, told us. “Now we’re seeing it move into the mainstream.”
The announcement marks the first commitment by a major homebuilder to construct all its homes in a region to the GreenPoint Rated standard, an important validation for the nonprofit that was established in 2004 (so far more than 10,000 single- and multi-family homes in California and Nevada have been or are being built to meet Build It Green’s green building criteria). But more importantly, the move shows that giant homebuilders are beginning to believe that there are enough mainstream buyers interested in green to warrant a shift toward building homes with features like highly insulated windows and walls and the use of recycled materials.
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Home Energy Efficiency to Get Its Day in the Sun by 2014

Tools and services for improving a home’s energy efficiency — things like Energy Star appliances, home energy audits and green roofing materials — often lack the glitz and gadget-appeal of solar panels and other highly visible signs that a homeowner has “gone green.” But according to a new report out today from Pike Research, energy efficiency retrofits, products and services for the residential building market are poised to see a wave of growth as the U.S. pulls out of recession over the next five years.

In particular, Pike forecasts that the home energy auditing market will nearly triple to $23 billion by 2014, up from $8.1 billion last year. The market for efficiency improvements along the lines of roofing and window replacements and upgrades for HVAC systems and appliances will increase to $50.2 billion by 2014, up from $38.3 billion in 2009, the firm predicts. And Energy Star refrigerators and clothes washers could generate revenues of $21.9 billion to $33.2 billion between 2009 and 2014.
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e2e Materials Taps $3M for Greener Particleboard

If you spend any time reading about indoor air quality and green building materials, you quickly encounter concerns about particleboard — the pressed wood products that the Environmental Protection Agency says are the most significant source of formaldehyde in homes. Startup e2e Materials, a spinout from Cornell University that according to a regulatory filing has just raised about $3 million of a planned $4.5 million round, has come up with an alternative.

Rather than using wood chips and shavings and an adhesive that contains urea-formaldehyde, e2e produces a similar composite material — lightweight, durable and low-cost — using fast-growing plant fibers like jute, flax and kenaf, along with a resin made from soy proteins. The resulting material can be used for applications such as floors, walls, furniture and vehicle interiors. So far, customers have included the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems, as well as skateboard maker Comet Skateboards.
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Cali Adopts Nation’s First Green Building Code, Not Everyone’s Happy

Just two weeks into the new year, California government authorities are helping to bolster one of our four green building trends to watch in 2010: the tightening of green building regulations. Earlier this week, a California state commission voted unanimously to approve the nation’s first mandatory statewide green building code that, according to a statement by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, “lays the foundation for the move to greener buildings constructed with environmentally advanced building practices.” The move sends a signal that the state is serious about green building, even if some groups worry it might cause confusion in the market around rating systems.

Building codes have long been an effective stick for governments to push the construction industry toward higher standards, for example to make structures safer in the event of a fire or earthquake. The new regulations announced this week, dubbed CalGreen and taking effect Jan. 1, 2011, tackle the environmental impact of buildings. They require builders of new residential and commercial structures in California to install plumbing fixtures that reduce indoor water use by 20 percent over current standards, to recycle half of their construction waste, and to use low-pollutant options for interior finish materials like paints, carpet and vinyl flooring. Read More about Cali Adopts Nation’s First Green Building Code, Not Everyone’s Happy

More Cash for Smart Windows: Switch Materials Takes $7.5M

Do makers of low-cost, energy saving windows with high-tech smarts have well, a window of opportunity? A growing number of startups and investors seem to think so. Switch Materials, a developer of energy saving windows based in Burnaby, British Columbia, has just raised $7.5 million in second-round financing. Led by BDC Venture Capital, the round comes as the latest influx of cash for “smart” windows — tech that allows dynamic control of how much light and heat passes through in an effort to reduce energy consumption.

Smart windows are based on a simple idea: decrease the amount of heat taken up from the sun, and you can rely less on energy intensive air conditioning. But it’s executed with sophisticated technology. Switch, which plans to use its new funding for research, development and product commercialization, says it’s developing new materials based on “organic molecules that ’switch’ optical properties on command.” Read More about More Cash for Smart Windows: Switch Materials Takes $7.5M

4 Green Building Trends to Watch in 2010

The market for new construction is still struggling to pick itself up, but the growing trend of green building promises a sort of renaissance for the centuries-old industry. That’s the hope, anyways, and if you believe (as we do, though with a healthy pinch of skepticism) the mountain of reports and data pointing to the growth of the green building industry, then 2010 looks to be a pivotal year for transitioning the built environment into one that consumes significantly less energy, water and other resources.

Below we present four of the most important trends that we see shaping the industry in 2010. Since energy use, at least so far, has been the primary focus of innovators and investors, we’ve largely limited our view into the green building crystal ball to that slice of the industry.
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Commercial Buildings + Energy Management = $6.8B-a-Year Market

While the debate over how — or if — consumers will want to manage their home energy consumption makes a lot of headlines, commercial buildings suck up 18 percent of the total energy consumption in the U.S. and represent one of the biggest opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and carbon reduction. According to Pike Research, the market for energy management systems — stuff like wireless sensor networks, lighting controls, and heating and cooling management in buildings — will turn into a $6.8 billion-a-year market by 2020 and will generate investment of $67.6 billion between 2010 and 2020.
Startups know those metrics pretty well already. Lucid Design Group, for example, has been selling its energy management system for years to the commercial sector, as well as governments and universities. But while the company has always discussed plans to eventually work in the residential market, Lucid Design has yet to make a big push into homes. As Michael Murray, Lucid Design’s CEO, has maintained in conversations with me over the past couple of years, the energy management market for large commercial buildings is much more accessible compared to energy management in homes.
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The Green Building Sector Is Ripe for Water-Saving Innovation, Report Says

681px-Water1Water scarcity is becoming a hot-button issue in the U.S. (and globally), with water managers in 36 states saying they expect freshwater shortages hitting their states by early in the next decade. But the coming shortages could present opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors to develop new water-saving technologies. One ripe area for innovation is the building sector, according to a report, titled “Green Buildings + Water Performance,” released this week by publisher Building Design+Construction.
Buildings account for about 12 percent of water use in the country, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and green building ratings systems like the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED encourage more efficient use of water, such as through low-flow toilets, drip irrigation and on-site water reuse. Typically more water is consumed outside commercial buildings and homes (see charts below taken from the report) — for landscape irrigation and cooling towers — than is used inside by things like toilets, faucets and showers, according to the report. With that in mind, we’ve summarized the three areas in green building design noted in the report as the most promising for reducing water use outside buildings:
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