One of the well-worn tools of home energy auditors is thermal imaging cameras that show where buildings are poorly insulated. But how do you bring these pictures to thousands or even millions of homes? Two Boston-area startups think they have the answer.
Sagewell and Essses have effectively brought the idea of Google Street View, where a camera-equipped car drives through neighborhoods, to thermal imaging. Both companies have developed business models to provide consumers thermal images of their homes and to make money on referrals.
Taisei Corporation is using its Ecological Reproduction System (Tecorep) to gradually lower the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka, and bemused passersby have already witnessed the 140m-high (about 460 feet) tower quietly shrink to 110m (about 360 feet). It’s a far more elegant method when compared with the much-unchanged tack of getting something big and heavy and smashing it into a building, or the presumably fun but incredibly messy process of blowing it up. Buildings are of course dismantled using cranes already, but only from the exterior and for towers under 100m — and they’re far from green. Having investigated new methods since 2008, Taisei is suggesting that for buildings over 100m we need to adopt a new approach.
NYC's recently released energy efficiency ratings are full of surprises: 1930s landmarks such as the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings outperformed later mid-century structures, as well as contemporary LEED-rated designs.
"Older buildings tend to have higher Energy Star scores because they have thicker walls, fewer windows and less ventilation — superior 'thermal envelopes,' as a report [PDF] on the early results puts it. They are also less suited to energy-gobbling activities like computer data crunching, the downfall of some youthful but middling performers."
Once the algae have matured, in a matter of days, it can be harvested and processed into biomass. The resulting biomass, with roughly the same energy potential as coal, can be used to power the building without the environmental side effects. As an added benefit, the system effectively acts as insulation for the building, again reducing its energy consumption.
Hans De Keulenaer's insight:
Sounds almost too good to be true, but will be great news if it works. The building still needs to be constructed. After this, we need a couple of years of experience to operate. Let's see in 2017 what happened.
The number of LEED-certified federal building projects is projected to more than double this year: 821 projects received certification in the first 8 months of 2012 alone, up from 544 projects total in 2011, as reported in the Federal Times...
"This increase in LEED certified federal buildings comes in the midst of a full-fledged attack against the use of LEED from the timber and chemical industries, who have been lobbying against the use of the LEED rating system in federal buildings (see this letter to GSA as an example)."
Energy Management System controls direct gas-fired heaters. - Cambridge Engineering, Inc.
"The Cambridge Wi-Fi Energy Management System saves energy and is an ideal temperature control system for warehouse energy retrofits and industrial LEED/green building projects. Intelligent night setback recovery, flexible 7-day programming, 365-day scheduling, summer ventilation mode and remote computer monitoring on a web-based EMS portal saves energy and operating costs."
The Valatie Free Library is a small library with plans to make a big difference. The threshold for defining a “small library” in the United States, according to LJ’s Best Small Library in America Award, is a library serving fewer than 25,000 people. The Valatie Free Library serves just over 4300 people and currently does so in a 750 square foot library building. Now that’s small!
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, buildings account for approximately 40 percent of worldwide energy use and are responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. They also play an important role in the health and wellbeing of those who inhabit them each day.
The mass of information about what makes a building green tends to concentrate on new and innovative designs that create beautiful photo spreads. While such examples are inspiring, they make up a very small percentage of all buildings in operation.
Green Buildings Alive is an environmental initiative aimed at collecting and sharing data on existing buildings between 10 and 60 years old. The data is collected from office towers in Australian Central Business Districts (CBDs) and shared on a public website.
For more on this innovative, environmental initiative that provides interactive visualizations of building-performance data to help understand the complexities and relationships among sustainability, health, and energy, read the complete article
Insulating cavity walls, upgrading double glazing, and putting solar panels on the roof could increase the value of some properties by 14 per cent, while others could rise by as much as 38 per cent, it claims.
Seattle’s Bullitt Center, opened on Earth Day, is being hailed the world’s “greenest” commercial building. Not only does it have a rooftop array of photovoltaic panels that will produce an estimated 230,000 kilowatt-hours per year and composting toilets, it also has strict energy-usage limits for its tenants - and no onsite parking.
The debate around energy in the U.S. is focused on building out more production to encourage greater economic growth. Efficiency, given a courteous nod, is often seen as something extra that we deploy on top of new production.
But a new report concludes just the opposite: our economy is more closely tied to efficiency improvements than actual production of energy.
With several states adopting new energy codes at a time when cash-strapped building departments are already spread thin, there’s concern that lack of funding for training and enforcement could cause compliance to lag.
Meanwhile, many utilities are looking for new ways to spend ratepayer conservation dollars — and meet mandatory energy efficiency goals, which are increasing in some states just as the savings utilities can claim from lighting programs is shrinking.
Perhaps you’ve heard the term “commissioning” associated with new buildings such as data centers. When the building is complete and all systems are up and running, the building gets commissioned and is ready for use. But one of the courses in Schneider Electric’s free online education program Energy University makes it clear that’s only one instance.
The course, “Commissioning for Energy Efficiency,” explains that in addition to new construction commissioning, the process can also be used periodically, such as after a renovation or retrofit, to ensure a building is operating as intended. Some companies use a process called “continuous commissioning” to ensure optimal energy use, comfort levels and to resolve operating problems. In short, you can conduct the building commissioning process anytime
Some would have us believe that construction regulations are new. Have you ever heard of the Code of Hammurabi? It’s the very first code of laws known in history, dating back to 1750 BC. And guess what? Building codes were already included! 6 out of 282 laws regulated construction safety, including penalties for builders of non-compliant homes.
Hans De Keulenaer's insight:
The architectural solutions for cooling homes have been around for a while.
Through reducing its energy consumption HEI Hotels & Resorts is saving an estimated US$5 million annually. Vice president of facilities and Total Facilities 2012 speaker, BOB HOLESKO shares how his team accomplished this feat and how it is further enhancing installed programs.
Looking back at where HEI Hotels & Resorts’ (HEI) energy conservation program began, compared to what it has become, I realise that I became part of the ‘perfect storm’ for hotel energy conservation. ‘Perfect storm’ is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances come together, resulting in an event of unusual magnitude. HEI’s rare combination of events included:
Hans De Keulenaer's insight:
For hotels, energy management makes so much sense. I can imagine very quick learning cycles when doing the second or third audit.
Some of us may have romantic visions of giant crackling fires beneath ornate mantels to warm our homes once the chilly days have settled in for their stay. But alas, given the inefficient heating of open fires and the general lack of Citizen Kane-ish fireplaces these days, some of us may find ourselves huddling around a space heater instead.
Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It used to be that electric space heaters were, aside from being hideous to look at, an expensive way to heat since electricity is one of the costliest ways to warm up the house. But new models incorporate features that make them much more energy-efficient (like thermostats and timers, for starters). And for people who choose to heat only one room, or supplement in an area if the whole house is being kept cooler, space heaters can have a great impact on energy usage.
In fact, most building system sensors can be expected to go out of calibration often enough to need replacement every few years, according to John Pitcher, a building controls expert and founder of Scientific Conservation, the building energy efficiency startup now called SCIenergy.
Earlier this year, Pitcher became CEO of Weber Sensors, a main-line German industrial sensor company, with the goal of bringing a new line of self-calibrating sensors to market to help solve this problem. Weber has filed patents on technology to recalibrate so-called calimetric flow and temperature sensors, and is working on patents for humidity sensors as well, he told me in an interview last month.
Digging geothermal wells can be expensive and difficult, and the systems have been slow to catch on in New York City, but the benefits may eventually outweigh the costs.
"Advocates for geothermal energy say that the path of destruction cut by Hurricane Sandy, which unearthed fuel tanks, ravaged cooling towers and battered air-conditioners, has already persuaded some building owners to switch to geothermal systems that use underground pipes to harness the earth’s energy for heating and cooling buildings. "
"Installing a geothermal system can significantly reduce a building’s carbon footprint, and over the last decade, the number of geothermal heat pump systems in the city has grown steadily. More geothermal systems are installed in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania than anywhere else in the United States. "
Energy usage plays an important role in most building-sector companies’ investment decisions, and is a major factor for 63 percent of survey respondents, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit report.
Energy efficiency and energy savings: a view from the building sector, also found the majority of companies are replacing inefficient lighting (57 percent), HVAC systems (50 percent) and building insulation (50 percent) with more energy-efficient products. Four in 10 are taking this a step further and rethinking their buildings’ design to maximize natural light.