Tag Archives: energy savings

Net zero energy for retail is possible

green energy chicago
Jason Robbins, Walgreens manager of mechanical engineering, and Jamie Meyers, manager of sustainability at Walgreens, discuss the energy-efficient technologies used in the net-zero drugstore in Evanston.

Imagine paying pennies for your utility bill. Better yet, imagine paying nothing. That’s the chimera architects, scientists, and building owners have chased for decades. “Net-zero” energy is a simple enough concept; it’s the idea that a building can produce enough renewable energy on-site to cancel out its consumption. But it has taken decades for technology to catch up with such a lofty goal. High costs and inefficient hardware created a barrier to entry that few but the most idealistic attempted to overcome. For most consumers, the return on investment wasn’t worth mainstream implementation. The economics may still be a stretch for many, but a proliferation of energy-conscious projects—several of them in Chicago—suggests we may be approaching a new dawn.

In November, Deerfield-based Walgreens became the first major US retailer on record to create a net-zero energy store, in the North Shore burg of Evanston. And it heralds the arrival of Chicago as a national leader that is breaking ground not only in the retail arena, but in the educational, residential, and farming sectors as well. “The industry as a whole considers net zero for retail impossible,” says Jason Robbins, manager of mechanical engineering for Walgreens, “until the first company does and shows that it is possible.”

In that case, consider the door blown open. Thanks to solar, wind, and geothermal technologies, the Evanston store is not only scheduled to reduce its required consumption by 50 percent, it will also produce all the energy it requires. It has even recycled 85 percent of the old site’s new materials into the construction of the new one.

walgreens chicago
Cool air is delivered to Walgreens from geothermal pipes.

Walgreens engineers project that the store will consume only 220,000 kilowatt hours per year (compared to the 450,000 kWh a normal store scarfs down), while producing up to 256,000 kWh, given optimal weather conditions. Excess energy will be sold back to the utility companies.

Eight hundred and fifty roof-mounted solar panels accomplish most of this feat by covering 95 to 100 percent of the store’s needs, while two 35-foot wind turbines chip in another 10 percent and offset emissions from an estimated 2.2 passenger vehicles. Massive geothermal pipes sunk 550 feet into the ground deliver air from deep within the earth at a year-round temperature of 54.5, which means that the air conditioning unit needs to do less work than normal to bring the indoor temperature to a comfortable 72 degrees.

So why now? “The right technology is finally available, but the push over the past seven to 10 years has revolved around companies becoming more responsible,” explains Jamie Meyers, manager of sustainability for Walgreens. For Walgreens, it was the logical next step in a company philosophy that champions sustainability in more ways than just the utility bill. “We saw this as part of the mantle of leadership,” Meyers says. “If we want to [be true to our tagline] of being ‘at the corner of happy and healthy,’ what can we do to demonstrate that living well goes beyond our products?”

walgreens chicago
Solar panels provide 95 to 100 percent of the Evanston Walgreens’ energy needs.

A TV inside the store tracks wind direction and speed; the indoor and outdoor temperatures; the amount of solar gain; and the levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases.

Part of the initiative is educating customers. With Walgreens headquartered in Deerfield, there’s no question that Chicago is on the forefront of the net-zero movement. And with its fleet of 8,200 stores growing at more than 100 per year, the key benefits of this project are sure to spread across the country. Walgreens has already advised other Chicagoland companies on how to replicate its success, though Meyers declined to reveal which ones.

But is net zero becoming a way of life? “That’s certainly where it’s heading,” Meyers says. “I don’t think we’re at a critical mass yet, but customers are discerning based on the reputation of the company, and they will demand innovation.”

Backyard Greens

the plant chicago
Leafy greens are grown in an aquaponic production system at The Plant.

On the opposite end of Chicagoland from affluent college town Evanston, a revolution is underway in the form of a very different net-zero initiative. Sprouting in the Back of the Yards is The Plant, a vertical-farming operation in the defunct meat-packing facility that used to house Peer Foods. Where men with knives once tore flesh and broke bones, horticulturists now nurture leafy green life.

The Plant was founded in 2010 when John Edel and his company, Bubbly Dynamics, bought the 93,500-square-foot building for a mere $525,000 with the aim of offering a local, sustainable alternative to wasteful food production. While a new construction might have cost them thousands of dollars per square foot, this deal had the mind-bogglingly low cost of approximately $5.50 per square foot. “It was sold as a strip-and-rip because of all the valuable materials, but what we want to do instead is continue to focus on food production and take advantage of this building’s energy efficiency,” says Abigail Lundrigan, The Plant’s education and marketing coordinator, as she leads a group of curious Chicagoans past the rickety freight elevators and through the insulated passageways of the labyrinthine brick building.

the plant chicago
One third of The Plant is dedicated to aquaponic cultivation of watercress and other plants.

A third of the building is devoted to aquaponic growth in the form of live fish (tilapia, to be exact), chard, watercress, arugula, and lettuce mix. Two thirds are set aside for a community education space, a commercial kitchen (rentable by the hour when completed), and work spaces for independent food professionals like a kombucha brewery, a beer brewery, a bakery, and more.

Thanks to The Plant’s sustainability measures, it diverts 30 tons of waste per day. Mirroring the symbiosis of nature, it works like this: Fish waste feeds the greens. A giant, 100-foot anaerobic digester turns food waste into algae for the fish and a fuel called “bio gas,” which burns with 91 percent efficiency in a generator, creating electricity for the grow lights and steam for heating and cooling. All food waste—whether it’s from the fish, the breweries, the plants, or the humans—is fed back into the digester, and all loops are closed. In the process, The Plant’s operators plans to create 125 jobs and divert 10,000 tons of food waste out of landfills each year.

More will follow, but already The Plant’s tenants include Arize Kombucha; Pleasant House Bakery; Nature’s Little Recyclers, a worm farm; Greens and Gills, a fish and farm aquaponic operation; and the Urban Canopy, an organization that aims to support agriculture in cities.

the plant chicago
Fresh bread is made at Peerless Bread & Jam (PB&J) bakery, a tenant of The Plant.

As much as Lundrigan and her team aim to develop The Plant into a producer in its own right, they hope that replication is another major byproduct. Though they’re only one-third through a five-to-seven-year process, they’ve already set a precedent of being transparent and specific about the sources of funding and regulations. “It’s unheard of, and it’s the Chicago way of doing things: Apologize later instead of begging permission,” Lundrigan says, noting that the Department of Agriculture, the inspecting agency, doesn’t really have protocols set up to deal with an urban farm.

The result: sustenance for a food desert, a resource for food entrepreneurs, a source of jobs in a distressed neighborhood, and a model for repurposing the industrial skeleton left behind as Chicago transitions from Carl Sandburg’s “tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities” into a greener place.

Conservation University

Over in McHenry County, Loyola University is developing a “Retreat and Ecology Campus” that aims to become net zero within the current decade. Wayne Magdziarz, senior vice president of capital planning, says it’s part of a much larger plan to green Loyola’s campuses and to provide a laboratory for future growth. The university has reduced about 34 percent of its consumption over the past four years, saving roughly $3 million per year. “We’ve embraced building green,” Magdziarz, says, referencing developments at both its Water Tower and Lake Shore campuses over the past decade. “We’re a Jesuit institution with a strong commitment to justice issues, and we believe we should be good stewards to the environment in order to live out our mission.”

The university retrofitted insulation, windows, and mechanical systems in existing buildings, which will reduce power demands by about 34 percent. “What’s completed to date is ‘net-zero ready,’” says Don McLauchlan, one of the principals at Elara Engineering, the firm that has overseen Loyola’s green projects for more than a decade. “That means we’ve made it as efficient as practically possible. What’s left is to add the renewable energy component.”

The plan: 91 geothermal wells driven 500 feet into the earth will handle heating and cooling, while photovoltaic panels, solar thermal cells, and wind turbines will harvest energy from the elements. There is also a biodiesel lab, which will generate 30,000 gallons of fuel from food waste across the campuses of Loyola and other institutions, including Northwestern.

“Chicago is clearly a leader,” McLauchlan says of the sustainability movement. “We’re seeing it in the private sector, too. Ask any manager of a downtown office building, and they will now know their Energy Star rating.”

The Hurdle

For all the drum banging about the admittedly impressive strides these Chicago institutions are making, we’re still years away from having compelling financial incentives for the average consumer to go net zero. “You want to be energy-efficient first, because the economics of net zero still aren’t quite there,” McLauchlan says. “Renewable energy is still very expensive, but just proving that it’s possible is a first big step.”

Karen Weigert
Karen Weigert, Chicago’s first chief sustainability officer.

Certain policies, such as President Obama’s “20 by 2020” initiative (a mandate that federal buildings generate 20 percent of their energy renewably within the next six years), provide some motivation. So does Chicago’s own Sustainable Chicago 2015 project, an aggressive plan to green the city over three years led by Chicago’s first-ever chief sustainability officer, Karen Weigert. “We should be about a third of the way done, but in a number of cases, we’re ahead,” Weigert explains, pointing to signs of progress: over 10,000 annual Divvy Bike memberships; a 65 percent increase in retrofitting activity in energy efficiency zones; 75 miles of water mains replaced; and groundbreaking on the 2.7-mile Bloomingdale Trail (the anticipated elevated trail system that will run through Bucktown, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, and Logan Square), with its first phase opening to the public this fall. So far, though, many developing net-zero projects are doing so for philosophical reasons.

“I’m designing every home at a LEED Silver base level,” says William Scholtens, principal and founder of Elements Architectural Group, a residential design firm based in Oak Park. “I don’t see clients asking for it yet; I sense that it’s us keeping the conversation going.”

William Scholtens
William Scholtens of Elements Architectural Group designs every home to LEED Silver standards.

Scholtens recently transformed an 1880s row house in Lincoln Park into a LEED Platinum gem. Like the Loyola campus, the Lincoln Park home is currently net-zero ready and is equipped for photovoltaics, which convert solar radiation into electricity. In the few years since its completion, the architect and his client have discussed the pros and cons of taking it all the way, but to add the solar-harvesting component would be too pricey. “The cost to add photovoltaics to the home is close to $100,000,” Scholtens explains. “His energy bill is currently $100 to $200 a month. That’s a 50-year payback.” For the technology to become more widely adopted, “it needs to get cheaper,” he says. “As cost goes down and efficiency goes up, we might have a shot.”

Scholtens doesn’t believe any of this diminishes Chicago’s position at the forefront of the movement, largely because the city has become a go-to national resource. “One of the things Chicago is doing that’s leading the way is the amount of green professionals we have,” Scholtens says, as he runs through a list of places—upstate New York; Cape Cod; Marin County, California; even Hawaii—all of which have net-zero residential developments that Scholtens has been involved with. “I see us as an exporter of the [net-zero] mind-set.”

In the meantime, technological advances like fusion energy and more accessible photovoltaics in the form of shingles and window panes suggest that a financially viable net-zero future may be just around the corner—and Chicago is leading the charge.

Read more at http://michiganavemag.com/living/articles/chicago-institutions-lead-the-way-with-eco-friendly-practices#ZZHAVegKWiCuMlLY.99

First Fuel software aims to make energy efficiency easier, quicker

Skyscrapers in Dubai

First Fuel aims to make it easier to boost energy efficiency in commercial buildings. Photograph: Ali Haider/EPA

Swapnil Shah doesn’t have anything against cleaner-burning fuels or renewable energy. He just thinks North American businesses – and the buildings they operate in – should be using less energy, no matter the source.

“The ability to reduce consumption in those buildings can have a huge impact”, both economically and environmentally, said Shah, the CEO of First Fuel. The young software company in Lexington, Massachusetts, was founded with exactly that goal in mind.

First Fuel is built – and named – based on the notion that those interested in making energy more environmentally friendly should look first to efficiency before seeking newer, greener fuel sources. To help make energy efficiency easier, the company has created a software system that completes a remote version of a more conventional “energy audit”, a process in which trained assessors conduct an on-site evaluation of a building to identify energy-saving opportunities.

The First Fuel system uses thousands of data points about a building’s energy usage, its physical dimensions and the weather in its location to calculate where and how the structure can cut its energy use. Clients provide their energy use data and their addresses; the rest of the information comes from public records and commercially available archives.

The advantage of a remote assessment, according to Shah, is that assessors don’t need to visit each site, a time-intensive and – as he puts it – “kind of a subjective” process.

First Fuel’s process produces a final report that identifies specific areas – heating and cooling, lighting, building operations – in which there are opportunities to improve efficiency. The analysis is completed without any on-site inspections.

Shah likens the process to the way doctors can use blood tests and MRI results to diagnose patients without ever meeting them. And it seems to work: third-party studies, including one by Pacific Gas & Electric, have concluded that the accuracy of First Fuel assessments is comparable to that of traditional audits and that the software is often able to suggest energy-saving measures missed by human inspectors.

Swapnil ShahSwapnil Shah, CEO of First Fuel. Photograph: First FuelThe high performance is the result of years of tinkering and refining, Shah says. The 45-year old native of India and his three co-founders started the company in 2010, but only brought the product to market some 18 months ago after spending a year and a half making sure the software could live up to its promise.

First Fuel’s business strategy is based on a growing movement toward energy conservation in both the commercial and government sectors. Shah co-founded three previous business-to-business software companies that were acquired or went public: mValent,WebSpective and Open Environment. He wanted his newest endeavor to combine a profitable business with an effort to improve the world, he said.

“After having spent 20 years in enterprise software, I was really looking for a different challenge, something that had a broader impact,” Shah said.

About 30 US states and Canadian provinces already have regulations aimed at reducing energy consumption in buildings, Shah noted. Meanwhile, the commercial sector is responsible for approximately 20% of total energy consumption in the United States, according to the USEnergy Information Administration. First Fuel hopes to reduce that consumption: its customer base consists of utilities, government agencies, and commercial enterprises aiming to cut costs, meet legal requirements or improve their sustainability.

Still, First Fuel faces some challenges. As interest in the field of energy efficiency explodes, perhaps the biggest obstacle is the sheer number of competitors crowding the market. In a recent report, energy services company Groom Energy identified more than 200 vendors – from big players like IBM and Honeywell to innovative start-ups – selling some form of “energy management solution”.

Additionally, there is some debate about whether the push for energy efficiency will live up to its potential. Some studies have found evidence that improving efficiency can cause what is often called a “rebound effect”: Knowing their systems are more efficient, customers may feel that they can afford to leave a light on or drive more often.

First Fuel aims to avoid this problem by finding energy-saving opportunities that don’t change building occupants’ level of comfort. If they don’t notice any changes, the logic goes, they’re unlikely to crank the heat up.

“Many of the opportunities we find are about keeping the buildings at comfort level, while still keeping the efficiency,” said Indran Ratnathicam, director of marketing and strategy for First Fuel.

Among the company’s customers is Washington DC, which is trying to reduce its energy consumption by 20% from the summer of 2013 to the end of 2014. First Fuel has already helped the district make progress toward that goal, said Sam Brooks, director of energy and sustainability for the department that manages the district’s 30m square feet of building space.

In one case, the program was used to analyze a 500,000-square-foot building. The results suggested that the building’s lighting wasn’t as efficient as it could be and that the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems were running longer than was necessary each day.

“An hour and a half right there can be worth $40,000 to $50,000 to your bill,” Brooks noted. “When you target those little pockets of operational waste, you’re really able to very rapidly get rid of that waste.”

The software-driven approach is also more scalable than traditional audits, Brooks said. With roughly 400 buildings in the district’s portfolio, on-site inspections would be cumbersome and time-consuming. First Fuel, however, enabled Brooks’ department evaluate all its buildings and identify waste much more rapidly, he said.

“There’s not much downside to efficiency,” Shah said.

Source: The Guardian 

School District Reduces Energy Use, Saves $160,000

The Fort LeBoeuf School District in northwest Pennsylvania is saving more than $160,000 annually after having SmartEdge complete a multi-phase facility enhancement program.

The first phase of the plan, implemented at a cost of $1.3 million, focused on four of the district’s five school buildings. SmartEdge completed upgrades to interior and exterior lighting, installed new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system controls, optimized boiler plant operations, retro-commissioned major HVAC equipment, rebalanced air flows and installed a new high efficiency chiller.

The second phase of SmartEdge’s plan focused on the Robison Elementary facility and improved energy efficiency as well as safety and security systems. The $3.3 million enhancements included upgrades to interior and exterior lighting, installation of a new HVAC system and associated direct digital controls, installation of new windows, upgrades to fire and security systems, and installation of a new district-wide telephone system.

The first phase of the program, completed in December 2012, has reduced annual electrical consumption by more than 965,000 kWh, about 30 percent, and annual gas consumption by over 37,000 centum cubic-feet (ccf), or 24 percent. Based on current energy costs, the reduced consumption lowers annual utility bills by $110,000 while operations and maintenance cost savings are an additional $19,000 annually.

The work at Robison Elementary will generate energy savings of 166,000 kWh of electricity and almost 8,000 ccf of natural gas. This will provide an additional utility cost savings of $22,000 and savings of $12,000 in operations and maintenance.

The improvements at Robison Elementary enabled the school to increase its EnergyStar rating from 84 to 99. Other district schools saw similar gains. The high school improved to 72 from 21, the middle school to 84 from 54, while one elementary school saw its EnergyStar rating rise from 36 to 81 and the other went from 12 all the way to 84.

Source: Energy Manager Today

A LEED Platinum house helped this home owner reduce her energy bills by nearly 1/3 this past winter

Dolores Watson stands in front of her home in Cleveland’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood. She owns the house, but the local community land trust owns the land on which it stands. She said the agreement enabled her to get a new house with green technologies. She shows the certificate certifying her house as LEED platinum, a certification which includes high energy efficiency. (Lonnie Timmons, III, The Plain Dealer)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The colonial with brick-red siding and white trim on Pear Avenue in the city’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood belongs to Dolores Watson. The land beneath it has another owner.

This may sound like the makings of a real estate horror story, but it is not. The land on which the house sits is owned by the Land Trust, a program of Neighborhood Housing Services of Cleveland, or NHS. In fact, Watson is quite pleased with the arrangement.

“My house was affordable!” she said of the home she bought in 2009 for about $125,000, which was a newly constructed environmentally green building.

A primary goal of community land trusts is to create a permanent stock of affordable and moderately priced housing. Such trusts can also play a role in preventing foreclosures. Additionally, the trusts have the power to shape land usage by supporting certain types of development, such as green housing.

There will be a local spotlight on the movement this week. The national conference of the National Community Land Trust Network, or the Network, will be held Sunday through Wednesday at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center.

The local land trust is early in its development. The NHS program retains control of the land at seven homes, including Watson’s, and has another house for sale in Shaker Heights. The trust is rehabbing four homes for sale in South Euclid. The trust also has nine rental units in Shaker Heights, primarily used by entrepreneurs in the LaunchHouse Accelerator and a four-unit apartment building in Ohio City.

One theme runs throughout most of the projects: allowing those without big budgets to benefit from green housing.

Watson’s house is LEED certified platinum. This means it has reached the highest green level for projects of its kind under the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design program. The house is in the Cleveland EcoVillage, where the focus is on environmentally friendly housing and lifestyles.

When the polar vortex hit Cleveland this past winter, Watson didn’t have to fret about having high energy bills.

“I am saving a ton of money on the gas bill,” said Watson, who works at the nonprofit Earth Day Coalition. “I have lived in an apartment, in which during a not particularly cold winter, I would routinely pay $100 or more for a gas bill. My budget billing has been dropped to $32 a month for the whole house.”

The 1,400-square-foot house doesn’t have solar panels, but derives much of its energy savings from being extremely well insulated.

Watson’s house was appraised with a market value of $160,000 when it was built more than five years ago, said David Rothstein, NHS’ director of resource development and public affairs. The land trust put in $35,000 so that the house would be in the target price point.

“We don’t actually break out land value, per se, when we price a house,” he said in an email. “We look at what will be affordable to a moderate-income buyer — about $30,000-$35,000 in household income — and then (we) raise enough subsidy to bring the cost down to that level.”

Buying a house in connection with a land trust may appear antithetical to the widely held value of homeownership representing a piece of the American Dream: Homeowners don’t own the land, they lease it for 99 years. When they sell, there are restrictions on how high the resale price may be. Gone are the notions of viewing a home as an ever-appreciating investment that can be tapped like a piggy bank.

“I didn’t have any trouble with the fact that somebody else owns the land, and I own the house,” Watson said. “I think it is a novel concept whose time has come.”

Even if Northeast Ohio’s real estate market heats up, as it did in the mid 2000s before the bust, Watson isn’t concerned that she won’t be able to cash-in on such appreciation. To her, ensuring that housing remains affordable is a more important goal.

“Sometimes you just have to be willing to pay it forward,” she said.

Melora Hiller, executive director of the Network, said community trust homes could help with neighborhood stabilization. Because homeowners have secured affordable housing, they often return to school, start businesses or pursue other goals since money isn’t being diverted into ever-increasing rents or mortgages so high that families struggle to keep pace. She said people in land trust houses generally stay in their homes longer than other homeowners.

Land trust homes can also ward off foreclosures, which have been a major driver of neighborhood destabilization in Northeast Ohio by creating large swaths of abandoned homes. In many city neighborhoods, some of the foreclosed homes had been bought with assistance from programs aimed at making homeownership more affordable. However, these homeowners refinanced mortgages for riskier products that led to them losing their homes.

Hiller said during the foreclosure crises, land trust homes had one-eighth the number of foreclosures. Owning the land meant that trusts were usually notified when homeowners tried to refinance or if they were falling behind with their mortgage.

“It is not to say that a foreclosure could never happen, but there are so many protections put in place,” Hiller said.

If a foreclosure proved inevitable, she said a land trust would usually be given the first right of refusal in acquiring the home.

Rothstein said he believes the land trust could play a role in lowering local foreclosure rates and dealing with their aftermath. In Cuyahoga County in 2013, there were 10,215 new foreclosure filings, he said. That was down from 2012, when there were 13,234.

“What we see are the total number of foreclosure filings falling, but still at historically high levels,” he said. “Programs like the Land Trust model will help communities deal with the onslaught of vacant and abandoned houses.”

Hiller said holding the conference in Cleveland is fitting because it gives an opportunity to see the range that land trusts have to offer. They can work in places like Cleveland as well as in places like Orcas Island, Washington, where property values were rising so rapidly that they were pricing out all but the wealthy. Affordable housing was needed for workers from coffee house baristas to teachers and firefighters.

“The community land trust model is a really flexible tool, so it can be used in cool housing markets as well as hot markets,” she said.

View original article here: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2014/04/homeowner_likes_happy_she_does.html


Arizona State University Student Health Services. ( Bill Timmerman / Courtesy AIA)

The AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the winners of its annual sustainability awards program. Now in its 18th year, the COTE awards celebrate green architecture, design, and technology. According to a press release, the winning projects must “make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts.”

Each of the ten winners will be officially honored at the AIA’s National Convention and Design Exhibition in Chicago later this year, but, in the meantime, here’s a closer look at the 10 winners.

Arizona State University Student Health Services (Pictured at top)
Tempe, Arizona
Lake|Flato Architects + Orcutt|Winslow

According to the AIA: “The Arizona State University (ASU) Health Services Building is an adaptive reuse project that transformed the existing sterile and inefficient clinic into a clearly organized, efficient, and welcoming facility. The design imbues the new facility with a sense of health and wellness that leverages Tempe’s natural environment and contributes to a more cohesive pedestrian oriented campus. The building’s energy performance is 49% below ASHRAE 90.1-2007, exceeding the current target of the 2030 Challenge. The facility achieved LEED Platinum certification and is one of the best energy performers on campus as evidenced by ASU’s Campus Metabolism interactive web-tool tracking real-time resource use.”

Bud Clark Commons. (Christian Columbres Photography / Courtesy AIA)

Bud Clark Commons
Portland, Oregon
Holst Architecture

According to the AIA: “As a centerpiece of Portland’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, this LEED Platinum project provides a continuum of services to help transition homeless individuals toward stable, permanent living arrangements. The architecture helps achieve this goal with a walk-in day center with public courtyard and access to support services; a 90-bed temporary shelter; and a separate and secure entrance to 130 efficient, furnished studio apartments for homeless individuals seeking permanent housing. The building’s design aims to deinstitutionalize services and housing for the most vulnerable in our population. Sustainable features include large-scale graywater recycling, zero stormwater runoff, solar hot water, and a high-performance envelope, resulting in energy savings estimated at $60,000 annually.”

5-2 portrait8

Bushwick Inlet Park
Brooklyn, New York
Kiss + Cathcart, Architects

According to the AIA: “This project is the first phase of the transformation of the Greenpoint–Williamsburg waterfront from a decaying industrial strip to a multifaceted public park. The design team integrated a program of playfields, public meeting rooms, classrooms, and park maintenance facilities, into a city-block sized site. The park building becomes a green hill on the west side, making 100% of the site usable to the public, and offering views to Manhattan. Below the green roof is a complex of building systems – ground source heat pump wells, rainwater harvest and storage, and drip irrigation. A solar trellis produces half the total energy used in the building.”

Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Building Modernization. (Nic Lehoux / Courtesy AIA)

Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) Federal Building Modernization
Portland, Oregon
SERA Architects in association with Cutler Anderson Architects

According to the AIA:  “On track to be one of the lowest energy-use buildings in the U.S., EGWW is a model for U.S. General Services Administration nationwide. The project’s goal was to transform the existing building from an aging, energy hog to one of the premiere environmentally-friendly buildings in the nation. With a unique facade of “reeds”, light shelf /sunshades designed by orientation and a roof canopy that supports a 180 kW photovoltaic array while collecting rainwater, EGWW pushes the boundaries for innovative sustainable deign strategies. In addition to the energy improvements, the design reveals the history of the building, exposing the artifacts of the original builders.”

SUNY Gateway Center. (David Lamb Photography / Courtesy AIA)

Gateway Center – SUNY-ESF College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Syracuse, NY

According to the AIA: “The SUNY-ESF College of Environmental Science & Forestry Gateway Center is a striking symbol of environmental stewardship and climate action leadership. This LEED Platinum campus center meets ESF’s goal of reducing the overall carbon footprint of the campus through net positive renewable energy production, while creating a combined heat and power plant and intensive green roof that serve as hands-on teaching and research tools. The double-ended bioclimatic form exemplifies passive solar design. Net positive energy systems integrated with the design serve four adjacent ESF buildings, providing 60% of annual campus heating needs and 20% of annual power needs.”

John & Frances Angelos Law Center. (David Matthiesen / Courtesy AIA)

John & Frances Angelos Law Center
Baltimore, Maryland
Behnisch Architekten and Ayers Saint Gross

According to the AIA: “The John and Frances Angelos Law Center is the first large-scale opportunity for the University of Baltimore to demonstrate its intent to pursue strategies that eliminate global warming emissions and achieve climate neutrality. With this in mind, the Law Center is a highly sustainable and innovative structure that strives to reduce reliance on energy and natural resources, minimizing its dependence on mechanical ventilation and artificial lighting of interiors. This is part of a larger comprehensive effort on the part of the A/E team to approach sustainability from a more holistic vantage point from the outset of the project.”

Sustainability Treehouse. (Joe Fletcher / Courtesy AIA)

Sustainability Treehouse
Glen Jean, West Virginia
Design Architect: Mithun; Executive Architect/Architect of Record: BNIM

According to the AIA: “Situated in the forest at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, this interactive, interpretive and gathering facility serves as a unique icon of scouting adventure, environmental stewardship and high performance building design. Visitors ascend indoor and outdoor platforms to experience the forest from multiple vantages and engage with educational exhibits that explore the site and ecosystem at the levels of ground, tree canopy and sky. Innovative green building systems—including a 6,450-watt photovoltaic array output, two 4,000-watt wind turbines, and a 1,000-gallon cistern and water cleansing system—combine to yield a net-zero energy and net-zero water facility that touches its site lightly.”

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Headquarters. (Jeremy Bittermann / Courtesy AIA)

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Headquarters
Los Altos, California

According to the AIA: “The David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters acts as a catalyst for broad organizational sustainability and brings staff, grantees and partners together to solve the world’s most intractable problems. The Foundation’s connection to the Los Altos community dates back to its inception in 1964. For the last two decades, as its grant making programs expanded locally and worldwide, staff and operations have been scattered in buildings throughout the city. This project enhances proximity and collaboration while renewing the Foundation’s commitment to the local community by investing in a downtown project intended to last through the end of 21st century.”

U.S. Land Port of Entry. ( Paul Crosby / Courtesy AIA)

U.S. Land Port of Entry
Warroad, Minnesota
Snow Kreilich Architects

According to the AIA: “This LEED Gold certified Land Port of Entry is the first to employ a ground source heat pump system. Sustainably harvested cedar was used on the entire exterior envelope, canopies and some interior walls and 98% of all wood on the project is FSC certified. Additionally 22% of the material content came from recycled materials and 91% of all work areas have access to daylight. Rainwater collection, reconstructed wetlands and native plantings address resource and site-specific responses. The facility proudly supports the mission-driven demands of US Customs and Border Protection while addressing the sustainable challenges of our future.”

Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse. (Kevin G. Reeves / Courtesy AIA

Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
Grand Junction, Colorado
Design Architect, Westlake Reed Leskosky and Architect of Record, The Beck Group

According to the AIA: “The LEED® Platinum renovation preserves an anchor in Grand Junction, and converts the 1918 landmark into one of the most energy efficient, sustainable historic buildings in the country. The design aims to be GSA’s first Site Net-Zero Energy facility on the National Register. Exemplifying sustainable preservation, it restores and showcases historic volumes and finishes, while sensitively incorporating innovative systems and drastically reducing energy consumption. Features include a roof canopy-mounted 123 kW photovoltaic array, variable-refrigerant flow heating and cooling systems, 32-well passive Geo-Exchange system, a thermally upgraded enclosure, energy recovery, wireless controls, fluorescent and LED lighting, and post-occupancy monitoring.”

Read original article here: http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/83578

Detroit Airport Saves $1.2M Per Year with LEDs

Eaton-Energy-ManageEaton’s Cooper Lighting division’s LED luminaires are replacing 6,050 existing parking garage fixtures at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The conversion will result in a 66 percent reduction in power consumption with an anticipated overall energy and maintenance savings of about $1.2 million annually.

Consuming 60 watts, the McGraw-Edison Valet LED fixtures are replacing 1,200 existing 210-watt, metal halide fixtures in the Blue Deck parking garage and 4,800 fixtures in McNamara Terminal Parking Structure. The Ventus LED pole-mounted fixtures are being installed on the upper open decks.

The fixtures are estimated to reduce annual energy consumption by more than 7,345,000 kWh. In addition, the LED products incorporate Cooper Lighting’s LumaWatt Outdoor Wireless Control and Monitoring System, which manages the lighting levels according to pedestrian and traffic safety needs.

Learn more here: http://www.energymanagertoday.com

Let’s Connect. Collaborate. And Partner Together! info@setpointsystems.com

Why the caulking gun (and the thermal imager) are the best weapons in the war against energy waste


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We have said it many times: sealing your house gives you the best bang for your buck. Take a tour of my house with a thermal camera for a real demonstration of what I mean. We’re planning a renovation, downsizing and subdividing our hundred year old Toronto house and don’t want to rip out the plaster and the lovely old windows, but do want to tighten it up a bit. Our contractor, Greening Homes, brought in a Flir thermal camera and the results were shocking. In the photos above, you can see that the single-glazed bathroom window isn’t too dark, 11.9 degrees (all in celsius). But look around the window casing: air is pouring out around it, with some parts of it below freezing. No wonder we get out of that bathroom fast.

Greening homes/CC BY 2.0

It’s often cool in the bay window with the piano; sometimes too cool for my wife to even practice.

Greening Homes/CC BY 2.0

You would think it is coming from the bay windows themselves, and it is true that there is quite a bit of hat loss there,

Greening Homes/CC BY 2.0

But the real killer is at the baseboards, where cold air behind the brick wall falls down the space between the lath and plaster and the floor and spills out there. It’s zero celsius, the freezing point. Inside the house.

greening homes/CC BY 2.0

The insulated steel door is doing a fairly good job of insulating, but look at what is leaking on top of the frame, it is actually blowing upward. That’s why replacing windows and doors is pointless or even counter-productive if the trades don’t do a good job of installing the frame and sealing it properly.

Greening Homes/CC BY 2.0

If this was the ceiling of the top floor, you might expect this kind of leakage around an electrical box. In fact, there is another occupied floor above this. The cold air is travelling from the brick wall at the end, between the joists, and falling through the electrical boxes.

Greening Homes/CC BY 2.0

The electric and cable outlets here might as well just be holes in the wall.

Greening Homes/CC BY 2.0

This is a great shot, you can see the cold air pouring out and oozing down between the floorboards.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Now the wind isn’t normally blowing through our house as if we were in a canvas tent; there is a giant blower putting the whole house under negative pressure. They are trying to figure out how many air changes there are per hour at 50 pascals of pressure differential. They never got there; the house was so leaky that the fan didn’t have enough punch, and it only got to 45 pascals, at which point there were18 air changes per hour.

What’s the point?

A lot of people have been convinced that there is nothing they can do to reduce their energy costs other than gut the joint and insulate everywhere, or change their windows. The fact of the matter is that most of the heat loss is through leakage, and if you can cut that down with effective use of caulk and minor repairs, you can save a bundle with an investment with a payback period that you can measure in months. This exercise with the thermal camera showed that the windows were performing almost as well as the eight inch thick brick walls!

But the biggest shocker for me was the fact that I have been ritually caulking my windows every fall for a decade, but because I didn’t have the camera, I didn’t know that the leaky window trim was a far bigger source of heat loss. If you don’t know where the heat is going, you don’t know what to fix.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

That’s why I thought the Flir One, introduced at CES, was so exciting. I don’t know how renovators and architects lived without these things.

Read more here: http://www.treehugger.com/

The Coppertree Ethos

The Coppertree Ethos

For more than 30 years CopperTree’s parent companies Delta Controls, one of the largest independent Building Automation System manufactures and ESC, one of North America’s largest building system integrators, have been at the forefront of creating SMART buildings.

This heritage means we combine an implicit understanding of the technology that controls buildings with practicalities of maintaining them – so you get a solution that delivers genuine energy savings.

CopperTree works to make a difference to our customers. Everything we do is aimed at enabling you to take control, identify and solve your issues and to help you make the most of your time, budget and your building. By making them easier to manage and eliminating inefficiency, we are doing precisely that.

Want to learn CopperTree_Corporate_Brochure_V3

Do you want to maximize your buildings potential?

Let’s Connect: info@setpointsystems.com

Seattle Adopts Plan for Saving Energy Resources in City-Owned Buildings

Seattle Skyline

Aims to Achieve 20% Energy Savings by 2020

The City of Seattle has adopted a Resource Conservation Management Plan (RCMP) that outlines how the City will reduce energy use in City-owned buildings 20% by 2020. A 20% energy use reduction by 2020 (compared to the 2008 baseline) would also result in utility cost savings of roughly $2.75 million per year after reaching the reduction goal.

The RCMP was adopted by City Council resolution 31491 on December 16. While resource conservation is not new to the City—efforts by Capital Departments have resulted in energy use reductions of approximately 1% per year since 2008—this is the first time Seattle has established a comprehensive coordinated strategy across its entire portfolio.

“As the owner of more than 650 buildings totaling approximately 10 million square feet, the City recognizes its own impact and its leadership role in addressing building energy use,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, “the RCMP demonstrates Seattle’s commitment to environmental and economic stewardship of our facilities.”

The plan’s recommendations cover the full range of effective resource conservation program activities, from capacity building to physical improvements. The plan outlines a three-part strategy that will ensure the City reduced energy use 20% by 2020: annual measurement and tracking; operations and maintenance improvements; and capital investments in energy efficiency. The City’s 2014 budget includes funding to begin implementation of the RCMP.

“Given that most of the buildings that will shape Seattle in 2050 have already been built, reducing the impact of existing buildings is a critical component in our strategy to achieve carbon neutrality,” said Jill Simmons, Director of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment. “By implementing this plan, we hope to lead by example, showing other large property owners how they can achieve deep environmental and financial savings.”

Why Smart Building Technology Is a ‘No-Brainer’

Why Smart Building Technology Is a ‘No-Brainer’ An Article by: environmentalleader.com

Pressure to manage costs, risks and energy consumption is pushing commercial building Smart Building Management owners and investors to explore how smart building technologies can help a company’s triple bottom line — people, planet, profits — according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s latest report.

The Changing Face of Smart Buildings: The Op-Ex Advantage, says five key trends are making smart buildings a “no-brainer” for commercial property owners and investors. Smart building technology boosts operational efficiency, helps buildings save water and energy, and reduces their carbon footprints, says Dan Probst, chairman of energy and sustainability services at Jones Lang LaSalle. These advantages give owners and investors a competitive edge.

The report, which details the landscape for smart building technology, identifies five major trends:

  1. Rapid return on investment (ROI). Smart building technology investments typically pay for themselves within one or two years by delivering energy savings and other operational efficiencies. Also driving the fast payback is the low cost of automated building technology, which has fallen as adaptation has increased. For example, intelligent lighting components that cost $120 four years ago today sell for $50. Procter & Gamble’s building management pilot program,  for example, generated a positive return on investment in just three months.
  2. Operating-expense (op-ex) advantage. Relative to other energy-related building upgrades, smart building technology requires little upfront capital expenditure (cap-ex), while delivering significantly reduced operational expenditures (op-ex). Using automated systems, smart buildings generally cost less to operate than buildings operating solely on legacy systems, therefore offering a long-term op-ex advantage. By combining smart building systems and data analytics with facilities management, a smart building management system can detect and resolve building issues before equipment failures and capital expenditures ensue. Additionally, operational and energy savings begin shortly after the smart building management system is implemented.
  3. Marketing mileage. As reported in JLL’s October 2012 Global Sustainability Perspective, numerous studies and surveys have demonstrated that tenants and their advisors increasingly expect smart building features such as zoned HVAC, sophisticated equipment maintenance alert systems, advanced security systems and green buildings. Like a new lobby or elevator bank, an improvement in sustainability makes an office building more desirable to tenants. These benefits can justify collecting higher rent, and can increase competitive advantage and occupancy rates. And when the building is sold, sustainable investments can be recouped in an increased sales price. A 2011 study by Eichholtz, Kok and Quigley indicated the premium for LEED certified or Energy Star labeled buildings is about 13 percent.
  4. Energy savings. Smart building technology can generate energy savings of 8 to 15 percent annually almost immediately after deployment, with the potential for incremental improvements over time. JLL cites a 2012 report that estimates that $289 billion in building efficiency investment would produce savings in excess of $1 trillion in the US alone, with every dollar invested in energy efficiency producing three dollars of operational savings.
  5. Improved corporate social responsibility profile. Redirecting energy spend to building efficiency has allowed some corporate decision-makers to gain the reputational advantages of doing the right thing by the environment while also gaining significant performance and productivity improvements. Another benefit is a smart building system’s ability to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions. Some owners feed building emissions data to multiple benchmarking organizations, such as Greenprint and GRESB, as well as to Ceres and similar third-party reporting organizations, and smart systems can roll up the information from across a portfolio.

Property owners may understand the benefits of smart buildings, but often have misconceptions that they are a lot more expensive, are the same as green buildings, or that only new buildings can become smart and industrial facilities cannot be made smart buildings. In an Energy Manager Today article,Jones Lang LaSalle’s smart building experts debunk these myths in an effort to explain that their benefits far outweigh their costs and smart buildings are applicable across all categories of buildings.