Saving Energy in the Winter

The behavior of residents and building management has a big impact on energy costs. How does your building encourage energy saving behavior? A recent article in the cooperator shares some tips on how to encourage occupants to be more energy efficient. Click here to read the article. Share your tips below.

Taking Down the trash!

flickr|David Woo

flickr|David Woo

No one will argue, NYC contributes a large amount of garbage to our landfills.

But things are changing.

A recent article in The Cooperator outlines what some building owners and residents are doing to reduce the amount of trash from their buildings. And it works! However, from composting to recycling, these programs rely on building owners and managers to provide residents with the necessary access and tools to be effective.

How much trash does your building generate? Do you think any of these programs would work in your building?

For more ideas, read the full article at the Cooperator.

Robot neighbors wrap up TVA home energy efficiency study

An interesting 5 year study that compares the performance of three homes nearly identical that are inhabited by robotics that simulate actual human behavior.

The three  homes have identical floor plans, square footage, and have their broad sides facing the sun. The difference was the materials in the building envelop, the HVAC and the lighting.


What was the cost difference in construction of the three buildings?

According to David Dinse, senior program manager for technology innovation at TVA, “It cost around $30,000 more to build the high performance energy home compared to the normal build, but today it would be more like $20,000 because the cost of a lot of materials has gone down since we built these. What they started experimenting here five years ago is becoming the new standard for building.”

What was the difference in utility bills for the 5 year period?

“The build-house had a utility bill of $1,600 a year. The retrofit was $1,000. And this [high performance] was a shade over $400. Most of that difference is the solar buyback plan,” said Dinse. “It actually surprised me that the kilowatt hour basis, there was not that much difference between this house and the retrofitted house if you strip the solar off. But I think you have to cherry-pick the best things from both houses and pick the sweet spots that don’t add a whole lot of cost to come out with the optimum design.”

If the high performance building costs $20,000 more and  the savings between the build house and the high performance is $400 …That would be a 17 year payback and that is only because of the solar buyback program.  If it was based on energy savings not cost then the payback would be around 33 years.

Not such great results.

Read More.



Advanced Controls for Rooftop Units Pays Back

A year-long study conducted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of rooftop packaged HVAC equipment at malls, hospitals and other buildings in the USA found, “Commercial buildings could cut their heating and cooling electricity use by an average of 57 percent with advanced energy-efficiency controls”.

The main goal of the campaign,, is to encourage installation of advanced controls for rooftop HVAC units.  PNNL has created a table with typical HVAC unit sizes, operational characteristics and costs to help building owners “weigh the costs” of advanced controls.  For instance building owners could achieve a 3 year payback with an installation of a unit that is 15 tons or less and electricity costs are greater than or equal to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

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EPA drafts Clean Power Plan

 On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, proposed a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. According to NRDC, it is estimated that $37.4 billion in savings on electric bills by 2020, if  states use energy efficiency as the key approach to reduce carbon. Many see the plan having a positive impact on the demand for energy efficiency-related jobs; electricians, roofers, carpenters, insulation workers, heating/air conditioning installers.   The drafted rule gives states an “unprecedented flexibility to meet their obligations within an all-of-the-above set of options, tailored to each state’s needs and opportunities. A flexible approach will keep electricity affordable for American families and businesses, spark homegrown clean energy innovation that creates jobs, and increase energy efficiency to save families money”, says Ernest Moniz, US energy secretary. 

NRDC analysis of electricity bill savings if 13 states use energy-efficiency driven carbon reduction plans reveals a total savings( household, commercial and industrial) ranging from $7 million to $1 billion.

The two main objectives of the proposal according to EPA are:

  • Consistent national frameworkThe Clean Power Plan will put in place a consistent national framework that builds on work states are already doing to reduce carbon pollution – especially through programs that encourage renewable energy or energy efficiency. It will reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants while ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of power.
  • Maximizing flexibilitiesEPA’s proposal ensures that states have the flexibility to choose the best set of cost-effective reductions for them. By setting a state-specific goal and allowing states to work individually or in regional groups, EPA is making sure states have the flexibility they need to drive investment in innovation, while ensuring reliability and affordability.

Some critics of the Clean Power Plan worry that states where work is already under way to reduce carbon pollution may have do more work and spend more money to comply than those states that have made no effort to reduce carbon pollution.   Energy Secretary Len Peters and Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council have said the law would likely limit the state’s compliance flexibility.  They feel the plan is focused on carbon reduction actions at power plants, and doesn’t emphasize the importance of an EPA approved program that might include energy efficiency at homes and businesses or encouraging alternatives to coal.

As of right now, the proposal is in a 120-day public comment period and further EPA review. A final rule is expected out in one year.

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Blocked Energy-Efficiency Bill

A recent bill aimed at cutting homeowners’ energy use, utility bills and carbon footprints was shot down. The bill’s goal was to make it easier for homeowners to buy efficient equipment and to encourage  manufacturers to build energy-efficient cooling and heating systems.

What are your thoughts on why it didn’t pass?

Do you agree with the statement that the bill was “derailed by the contentious debate over the Keystone XL pipeline and President Obama’s plans to issue new climate change regulations.” ?


See the results of Senate Vote

Building Genome Project: Retroficiency

Retroficiency’s “Building Efficiency Intelligence platform enables utilities and large energy service providers to drive deeper building energy efficiency savings, while saving time and cost from traditional approaches”. Their latest project, Building Genome identified savings of $145 million dollars annually if more than 30,000 commercial buildings in New York City adjusted their thermostats just one degree upward in summer and one degree lower in winter. The project uses publicly available data such as Energy Star scores and energy-use intensity scores as well as tax assessor and benchmarked consumption data. The goal of the project is to “show opportunities on a mass scale,” said Bennett Fisher, CEO and co-founder of Retroficiency.

Read More. Greentech Media