Tag Archives: green

Solar Bridge in London Completed and Operational


Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on new Blackfriars bridge

Blackfriar’s Bridge, which is the largest solar bridge in the world and part of London’s Blackfriar’s railway station, is finally finished. Work on the structure started in 2009 as part of the worldwide energy conservation efforts. The bridge crosses the river Thames and the solar panels that now cover it were installed by the firm Solarcentury.

Blackfriar’s Bridge was fitted with 4,400 photovoltaic panels, more specifically Panasonic 250 Wp panels, which cover the total area of the bridge namely 19,685 square feet. The maximum output of the panels should reach 1.1 MWp (megawatt peak) and is expected to generate 900,000 kWh of electricity per year. This is expected to offset over 50% of the energy needed to power the railway station. The solar panels are fixed and south-facing. The setup will also offset CO2 emissions by an estimated 563 tons annually.


Turning Blackfriar’s Bridge into a solar bridge was also part of a larger refurbishment of the railway station, which was enlarged with several new platforms. To offset the power required for this expansion, the designers decided on the solar bridge to help with the energy needs. Installing the PV array was very difficult, however, since the builders had to installed them on an old, Victorian era bridge, with the railway operating as usual and the river Thames below them. They were faced with many unexpected setbacks, such as corrosion on the arches and being forced to strengthen the existing bridge before they could install the solar panels.

In addition to the overwhelming energy producing benefits of using solar panels, they also have design and architectural benefits. Since the solar arrays are generally unobtrusive, they blend well with the existing architecture. Another great advantage of solar panels, according to the company that completed the work on Blackfriar’s Bridge, is the fact that they can be fitted into even the most complex engineering projects, while they can also be installed over a construction site or a functioning railroad.

During the renovations, the railway station was also fitted with other energy saving measures such as a rain harvesting system and sun pipes that will provide natural lighting throughout the building.

By Christine Walsh on Apr. 18, 2014

Source: Jetson Green

9 storey eco-friendly Melbourne apartment building goes up in 5 days

See a slideshow of this project under construction here.

After writing about how construction on what will be the world’s tallest modular building had slowed to a crawl, I got a tweet from Australia: “Whilst progress stalls on NYC modular tower, 9-storey Melbourne building goes up in 5 days”

It is the One9 apartment tower, “A boutique city fringe development comprising 34 one and two bedroom apartments over 9 levels, the Hickory manufactured apartments offer light filled and functional spaces for everyday living.”

It was constructed using the Hickory Group’s UB (Unitized Building) system, developed by architect Nonda Katsalidis, and it is not the first; there are quite a few slick modern buildings here. There are all the usual benefits of modular construction, (less time, waste, disruption) but they don’t call it modular, as they have no fixed module size. While nine storeys is the highest they have gone, they claim that it “has no theoretical height limitation and is currently being specified on buildings up to 70 storeys.”

© Hickory Group

There is the old line that the prefab salesmen use: “You wouldn’t build your car in a driveway, why would you build your house in a field?” Most prefab factories are more like assembly lines than construction sites, but with Hickory, there is an additional factor that may give them a real advantage. Marketing Manager Nadia Salajic explains:

We have also been fortunate to hire many ex-auto manufacturing workers in our ex-situ construction facility. In Australia our manufacturing sector is facing a major crises, with Toyota, [GM subsidiary] Holden and Ford all scaling back operations, leaving hundreds out of work. Our business has been bolstered by the hire of several of these workers, as they possess the vital skills that are necessary to manufacturing and not as common to the conventional construction process. These being design and 3D modelling upfront, procurement upfront, warehousing and material reuse.

With the support of architects, developers and banks willing to back this new type of project delivery, there is a real opportunity to create a viable new industry and new hybrid-worker that is skilled across both the building and manufacturing disciplines, and provide alternative employment for these displaced auto-workers.

That is an approach that could work in North America too. More at Hickory Group, who have left North American builders in their dust.

See a slideshow of the project under construction here.

© Hickory Group

Source: Tree Hugger

LEED v4 Offers More Stringent Acoustical Standards

Typically, the term indoor environmental quality (IEQ) evokes considerations of healthy indoor air along with visual and thermal comfort. Adequate ventilation, indoor pollution source control, equitable controllability of lighting systems, and access to daylight and views appropriately draw focus as key concepts for design teams endeavoring for optimal indoor environments. However, the high-performance design community is now beginning to recognize the importance of acoustical comfort as an important sensory influence in assessing IEQ. As part of that recognition, the new LEED v4 offers more stringent acoustical standards.

Loud sounds and ambient environmental noise can be detrimental to the experience of a space, but recent research is going beyond anecdotal evidence to prove just how vital acoustical performance can be for the success of a project — especially schools and healthcare facilities.

Performance And Health

When noise levels in a classroom are too high, students and teachers lose the ability to intelligibly understand each other. According to the United States General Accounting Office (GAO), more than 28 percent of elementary and secondary schools exhibit unsatisfactory environmental noise conditions. In a GAO study of 21,900 schools, concern over acoustics was rated higher than ventilation (27.1 percent), physical security (24.2 percent), indoor air quality (19.2 percent), heating (18.9 percent), or lighting (15.6 percent).

The detrimental effects of poor acoustical environments spread beyond learning environments. Another study, published in the British Journal of Psychology, asked workers to perform two tasks: 1) memorize and then recall a piece of prose; 2) undertake simple mental arithmetic. During the test period, workers were subjected to recordings of general office noise. The research found that the accuracy of the subjects’ work was reduced by approximately 67 percent when exposed to the recorded office. A later study found that 57 percent of workers in an office environment have their concentration negatively affected by nearby sounds and background noise.

Beyond annoyance or decreased productivity, the effect of poor acoustical environments may also impact health.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) examined evidence from large-scale epidemiological studies linking the population’s exposure to environmental noise with adverse health effects and established a link between road traffic noise and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including myocardial infarction. In fact, an emerging body of work is beginning to establish a link between exposures to environmental noise and sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment in children, and Tinnitus, among other human health concerns. A facility’s acoustic performance matters for reasons of comfort, occupant performance, and human health.

Tips For Success

Acoustics have been a niche concern for so long that many are uncomfortable with the topic. The following considerations will help achieve good acoustic performance:

Engage an expert: An acoustician can prove very helpful in achieving specific acoustic performance criteria. Alternatively, a mechanical engineer with a specialized knowledge in acoustics can be effective. This acoustic expert should work with the project team to help conduct a site analysis, implement strategies, perform calculations, and take field measurements.

Identify referenced standards: LEED v4 permits a reasonable degree of flexibility within the acoustic performance credit framework. Referenced standards can be bypassed in lieu of local equivalents. Teams should determine the appropriate standards early in a project and commit to them.

Define the criteria early: Teams will be most successful if acoustics are planned for early in the design process. Different user groups have unique requirements that need to be carefully documented. Teams should match appropriate strategies to specific criteria.

HVAC background noise: Determine specific acoustic and HVAC needs, then assign and coordinate design and performance criteria. This will affect what mechanical equipment is selected.

Sound isolation: Complete the calculations during the design phase. Identify or calculate STCc ratings for all assemblies. Verify calculations after substantial completion of construction. Measure the Noise Isolation Class (NIC) for all assemblies.

Reverberation time: A metric heavily influenced by design specifications, criteria should be identified and coordinated. The entire team should have a general understanding of spaces with sensitive or otherwise atypical reverberation time requirements.

Thanks to our friends at Facilities.net for this article!

How Bundling Energy Efficiency Projects Helps Justify Large Capital Upgrades

A key step in justifying many large capital upgrades is to bundle them with other work that has a quick payback. There are a wide range of quick win strategies to bundle in with more complex endeavors. Low-cost or no-cost projects can be implemented by facility managers in conjunction with standard operations and maintenance procedures. For example, the facility manager can ensure that the outside air dampers for the air handling units are operational during peak cooling and heating conditions. If the dampers are not functioning properly and remain fully open during the winter months, the result would be an increase in energy use. The HVAC system would be trying to maintain the heating set point based on a lower mixed air temperature, due to the increased amount of colder outdoor air added to the warmer return air. If the dampers are functioning properly, the temperature rise would be much less and require significantly less energy.

Revisiting the applicable ventilation air requirements is another easy way to save energy. If a space previously used as a lab or a classroom is now an office, the amount of required outdoor air changes, i.e., the damper set points, could be altered. Also, changes made in space use often do not include HVAC system rebalancing. A space is often repurposed without any modifications to the HVAC system.

In a bundling strategy, the next step up from no- or very low-cost energy efficiency measures involves relatively small projects that may require an engineering design or additional evaluation. One example is the installation of variable frequency drives on motors. For example, a 20 horsepower pump operating 24 hours per day for a quarter of the year (91 days) with $0.08/kWh electrical cost will incur an electrical charge of $2,890 per year, assuming a motor efficiency of 90 percent.

The installation of a variable frequency drive will allow the pump to operate at decreased flow and pressure throughout the year. The flow will decrease at the same rate the motor speed decreases. The energy costs decrease as the cube of the flow (motor speed) decreases. If the installation of the variable frequency drive reduces the flow by 25 percent, then the resultant reduction in energy use is 58 percent. However, the reality is that approximately 50 percent energy savings will be obtained. The savings for this project is approximately $1,450 per year. Based upon RS Means, the average installed cost for a 20 horsepower pump is approximately $4,000 to $5,000 depending on location. The simple payback for this energy conservation measure is approximately 2.7 to 3.5 years.

All analyses of energy conservation project paybacks should of course be based on actual power rates paid by the facility. The impact on demand charges should also be considered.

Let’s Connect. Collaborate. And Partner Together! Let’s maximize your energy efficiency investments together: info@setpointsystems.com

Building Code Revision Launches In California Toward Zero Net Energy Buildings

Building Code Revision Launches In California Toward Zero Net Energy Buildings Article By: Bill Roth at Triple Pundit

Starting in 2014, California is implementing a tsunami of building code revisions called Title Zero Net Energy Buildings24. These revised building codes will move California’s residential and commercial buildings toward Zero Net Energy (ZNE). In a ZNE building, the annual energy consumption is equal to its annual production of renewable energy. Under Title 24, all new residential construction is to be ZNE by 2020 with all new commercial buildings achieving this ZNE goal by 2030.

Title 24 moves building design toward “comprehensive building solutions.” This building design approach first focuses upon reducing energy consumption through the integration of smart and energy efficient technologies. The final design step after reducing the building’s energy consumption is to install onsite renewable energy generation like solar panels.

Existing California buildings heading toward ZNE, too

As these new codes are being analyzed by the construction and real estate industries, there is a growing realization that Title 24 will apply to existing buildings that implement threshold-sized remodeling or repurposing construction projects. In addition, California’s Governor Jerry Brown has authorized through an executive order that state agencies shall take measures towards achieving ZNE for 50 percent of the square footage of existing state-owned buildings by 2025.

Major shift in utility financial incentives

In coordination with these code revisions, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) is revising the financial incentives offered through utilities to encourage energy efficiency investments by building owners. The CPUC is reducing or eliminating past financial incentives for energy efficiency investments that are now mandated by Title 24. In 2014, a new set of financial incentives are being launched that support comprehensive building solutions.

Title 24′s increased focus on plug-in controls

Plug-in loads like computers, mobile phones, tablets, TVs, refrigerators, lamps, etc. have grown to represent at least one-third of the electricity consumption in a commercial or residential building. To address the growth in plug-in loads, Title 24 will require that all 120-volt receptacles be controlled. This will enable electrical loads like computers and printers to be truly turned off at the receptacle. Turning power off at the receptacle will reduce “phantom power consumption” where electronics continue to draw power even when their users have turned them “off.” These control systems will also enable smarter building operations that will allow for demand reduction actions during critical-peak electricity supply time periods.

Title 24′s lighting revolution

Title 24 will also accelerate deployment of more efficient lighting technologies and their integration into a smart building. Title 24 codifies the integration of electric lighting and natural lighting as a comprehensive (and lower energy consumption) building solution. For example, Title 24 mandates automated daylighting. Automated daylighting uses sensors to measure the amount of natural light available in a monitored space and then uses this data to adjust electric lighting to achieve a targeted cumulative illumination level. The obvious benefit is lower electric bills by reducing electric lighting use in spaces that are adequately lit by daylighting. The other key benefit is reduced greenhouse gas emissions if the building’s lighting is supplied from fossil-fueled generators.

Another significant Title 24 lighting change is the requirement that non-residential buildings over 10,000 sq. ft. have automated demand response lighting systems. These demand response lighting systems will receive signals from utility smart meters or similar communication sources when the electricity grid is reaching a critical peak supply period. Under Title 24, when the automated demand response lighting system receives a critical peak signal, it will initiate pre-programmed reductions of at least 15 percent.

Click here for a summary of key links to government agencies and more information on Title 24.

For trade professionals, this is a valuable link to itemized details on code revisions, related building lighting, building envelop, mechanical, process loads and solar.

California’s big bet on smart, clean and renewable technologies

Title 24 is yet another big bet being placed by California that smarter, cleaner and renewable technologies will be the business winners of the 21st century. Unlike most other states, California does offer reduced taxes and direct financial incentives to win the relocation or new construction of manufacturing or industrial plants. California’s economic development strategy uses the State’s massive buying power as the ninth largest economy in the world to create a market demand for technology innovations that have produced successes like Google, Twitter and Solar City.

For example, California’s A Million Solar Roofs program that offered financial incentives for the installation of rooftop solar systems has accelerated economies of scale that have driven solar panel prices below $1 per watt. The result is solar power prices that are increasingly competitive with grid-supplied electricity and, in most cases, will lower electric bills for consumers that install rooftop solar systems. California used this same strategy to generate sales for hybrid cars like the Prius and is using this strategy to drive the sales growth of electric-hybrid and electric cars including the Tesla manufactured in Fremont California.

Title 24 is California’s strategy for growing the economies of scale for energy efficiency technologies to drive down their price to consumers. If Title 24 does create economies of scale for smart and energy efficiency technologies, then California will have sparked a building technology revolution on the same scale as the revolutions now taking place in information technologies, solar power and hybrid/electric cars. The benefits to California will be lower electric bills for consumers and sales growth for the California companies that were on the cutting edge of Title 24′s mass market adoption of ZNE-enabling technologies.

Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017

This summary draws from Bill Roth’s coaching program for trade professionals entitled “How To Grow Sales From Title 24 Code Revisions” that was conducted on November 5, 2013 at the San Diego Gas & ElectricEnergy Innovation Center