Posts Tagged ‘energy efficiency’

I’ve written before about the NAVY and how, with some of the best scientists and innovators, in addition to some weighty responsibilities, the organization is managing to pave the way with algae-based fuels and other sustainable technologies. Well, just in time for Earth Day this year, NASA unveiled their newest building, a LEED Platinum Sustainability Base that is the greenest federal building in existence.

Designed by William McDonough + Partners with integrated engineering by AECOM, the building generates more energy than it consumes using a photovoltaic array, a small wind turbine, and a Bloom Energy Box fuel cell. The building also utilizes a grey water recycling system, originally designed for the international space station, that has resulted in 90% less water consumption than a traditional building.  Through sensors, the building “smartly” monitors temperature and lighting needs and adjusts using abundant skylights and windows accordingly – reducing related energy costs and improving interior climate quality. All materials within the base (desks, bookshelves, etc.) are recycled and/or recyclable and are nontoxic.

The Sustainability Base is located at Moffet Field in Mountain View, California and integrates nicely into the surrounding landscape. Native and drought-resistant California plants were utilized to landscape the site, and the building’s unique exoskeleton makes it capable of withstanding seismic activity. McDonough describes the building as native to place, as it was built to suit the site, maximize efficiency, and create a positive impact on the environment.

Ultimately, the new NASA site provides an amazing example of how careful design, engineering and innovation can combine to create a building that is in complete harmony with the environment surrounding it and the people that work within it. To learn more and see detailed pictures, visit here.

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Today, author of http://fmarquitv.tumblr.com and private contractor out of the East Hamptons, Sam Marquit dives into issues of sustainability by introducing a couple building materials that not only help improve the value of your home, but certainly reduce costs as well. To connect with Sam, follow him @fmarquitv. Thanks for your great post, Sam!

As a private contractor, I’ve worked on many New York City Apartments, as well as Hamptons rentals/homes, and know first-hand how much utility bills can cost with less efficient forms of heating and cooling materials. If you are someone who lives in the Hamptons, or has any real estate interest in the northeast, then you should know that installing tankless water heaters and radiant roof sheathing (barriers) could benefit you immensely.

Although somewhat costly up front, both of these products are highly energy efficient and have been known to improve the performance of the cooling and heating systems in your house, without increasing your energy bills.  If you’re in the process of remodeling or building, perhaps you’ll want to first explore the possibility of using radiant barriers.

Radiant Roof Sheathing

I had the opportunity to help people in the Hamptons take care of their cooling and heating needs and I have seen that houses which used the radiant roof sheathing were not only cooler; homeowners were also able to cut down on their energy bills or costs. The barriers used in this system, which are made from high quality aluminum sheeting, are mostly placed within the roof. They effectively lower the temperature of the roof by reducing the amount of heat absorbed by it. As a result, the load of work required from air conditioners is dramatically reduced.

I have frequently recommended the use of these roof sheathings to all house owners. Those who have implemented the sheathings have benefitted from using them. These barriers can go a long way in regulating home temperatures so that the overall energy consumption is dramatically reduced.

Tankless Water Heaters

Here’s one more energy efficient tool, which is highly recommended. I have noticed that the houses that use these heaters not only save money on energy costs, but they also benefit from using fresh and healthy water. In traditional heaters, the water is first stored in a tank and then heated for people to use. This process of heating uses higher amounts of energy and the water is not fresh, as it remains stored in the tank for a while. With tankless heaters, the water is heated as it is needed and so remains fresh. Moreover, there is no heat loss, so the system is much more energy efficient.

You’d need to spend some extra cash for the initial installation of these heaters but in the long run, you will save a handsome amount of money on energy bills.
If you want to improve your home and make it energy efficient, then investing in radiant roof sheathing and tankless water heaters is worth some further exploration.

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It may be the lack of daylight or the somewhat frantic pace of this work week but I fear that abstraction is beyond me today. Maybe you too? Instead, I’ve decided to share some interesting links to various sustainability-related articles that I found interesting. Feel free to share your own links in the comments!

After the closure of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Tokyo, and the resulting concerns over nuclear power, only 17 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are in use. All over the country, Japanese citizens are taking steps to limit energy use, despite high summer temperatures. A national “Super Cool Biz” campaign encourages businesses to ease their dress code rules  in order to allow for cooler clothing (like polo shirts) to be worn in sparsely air conditioned buildings.  Citizens are given daily reports on energy availability predictions and individuals who opt to subscribe can receive government alerts to their cell phones during peak power use – both initiatives have the the intent of helping citizens to curb their energy use when it is most essential.

While these initiatives in Japan have become a necessary part of life after the recent earthquake and nuclear meltdown, it is interesting to think about how similar initiatives could easily become a part of everyday life, in non-emergency situations, in countries all over the world.

“Smart grids” (electricity distribution systems that enable the flow of information to and from individual electric meters) have the power to support personal and business energy-saving initiatives like those currently underway in Japan by fostering improved consumer awareness.  Smart grid initiatives have become a large part of America’s push to invest in improved electricity delivery and energy reliability; it is estimated that by 2012, 6 million American households will be utilizing smart meters.

Whether or not you have access to a smart meter, it is useful to think about how each one of us can make changes to our energy consumption just by becoming more aware of peak energy use times as well as by monitoring and reducing our use of energy-sucking appliances and devices.

In a recent (albeit satirical) article from The Guardian titled “Americans Don’t Know Jack about Saving Energy,” author Jonathan Hiskes points out, amidst some well-aimed low blows, some energy saving truths that are worth mentioning here. The following list is inspired (with the most honorable of intentions) from Hiskes’ article.

Energy-Saving Truths, And, An American’s Ignorance Prevention Guide

  • Window air conditioning units utilize, on average, 1/3 the amount of energy that central air conditioning systems utilize.
  • While it is important to shut off lights and appliances while not in use, the transition to lights and appliances that are themselves more efficient (LED and EnergyStar, for example) makes a much bigger difference in the long run.
  • Similarly, the act of switching to more sustainable building elements (windows, insulation, heating, cooling, water heater, doors) has a greater positive impact on the environment and stands to save home- and building-owners substantial amounts of money.
  • In fact: The recent Home Star Energy Retrofit Act is an initiative that gives homeowners rebates for integrating energy-saving technologies into their homes.  The goal is to not only reduce homeowner bills and energy use, the legislation is aimed at creating jobs and boosting the economy as well.
  • While high gas mileage cars and trucks are ideal, there are several other ways to cut down on the energy use associated with your vehicle, including: Proper tire pressure, regular tune-ups, non-aggressive driving (Americans? Aggressive drivers?), and carpooling or public transit use.
  • Conservation refers to using less, as in, turning the lights off, the heat down and taking shorter, cooler showers.
  • Efficiency refers to using resources in the most effective manner so as to get what you want and need without over-consuming or wasting those resources.

Let’s hope this list is just the beginning in our journey to “know Jack.” Additions to this list are most welcomed: How do you reduce your energy use? How does your workplace reduce energy use?

LEED is a well recognized certification system which verifies that buildings were designed to utilize energy and water efficiently, to reduce emissions, to improve indoor air quality, and to utilize resources in a way that is sensitive to the environment. Up until 2004, LEED was used solely for new buildings.  However, at that time, a LEED strategy for existing buildings was developed which offers guidelines regarding how buildings can discover waste in current operations; reduce the use of electricity water, and other finite resources; and boost the quality of the interior environment.

Read the full report here: LEED Strategies for Existing Buildings

To learn more about this and other sustainable business topics, set up a free Sustainability Watch trial here.

Indoor climate control is often an energy intensive and necessary part of any business or household. As the summer months and high temperatures are upon us, it serves as a good time to review the options and tools that are available for increasing efficiencies, reducing emissions and ensuring occupant comfort. From airtight windows and doors to geothermal heating and cooling, the ways to achieve optimal indoor climate control are varied and numerous.

Read the full report here: Heating and Cooling

To learn more about this and other sustainable business topics, set up a free Sustainability Watch trial here.

As the demand for computational power increases on a daily basis, the need for improved energy management systems within the data center also grows.  Studies have shown that the money spent to power and cool data centers is nearly double the original cost of equipment. This, combined with the large contributions that data centers make to greenhouse gas emissions, means that executives should be prepared to efficiently design and manage their companies’ data centers.

Read our full report here: Data Center Energy Efficiency

To learn more about this and other sustainable business topics, set up a free Sustainability Watch trial here.

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