Archive for January, 2011

6 Methods for Gaining LEED Compliance

While saving time and money…

1.Keep it Simple
Knowing how much documentation is necessary to satisfy the requirements can save the project team precious time, effort and therefore money. A 3rd party can help you shave your time and monetary commitments by helping to give guidance on documentation requirements. By requesting only the amount of documents required to demonstrate LEED compliance, in addition to knowing exactly what is required, helps project teams achieve certification with the least amount of effort.

2,Choose Right
Assessing which set of credits are best suited for your project requires experience and special insight. Every project is different with unique sets of circumstances that make the achievement-potential of specific credits better than for others. Identifying these opportunities is key to eliminating wasted time and effort which equates to saving project money. In addition, the cost of some credits varies significantly based on the building type, function and region-specific issues.

3.Set Goals Early
Getting started on the LEED path in the conceptual stage of the project helps reduce costs and ensures the most effective efforts will be applied, rather than scrapped or neglected due to timing.

4.Apply Common Sense
Attaining energy efficiencies using the simplest and most common sense approach can help you gain LEED points while keeping implementation costs down. We have found that going green does not have to be expensive and energy-saving equipment installations have the best returns when given the proper design and operation considerations. The process of attaining energy efficiency at a low cost does not have to be arduous.

5.Know the Scope of State and Federal Incentive Programs
Some programs can eliminate 90% of your premium costs for sustainable construction installations. This is big savings that helps one achieve a quicker return on investment. Make sure you know how to navigate the protocols and requirements of these tax incentive programs, so you can achieve your environmental and energy efficiency goals.

6.Hire Specialists
The USGBC is a great resource to locate consultants or architects who can provide the type of LEED expertise to help you begin your journey towards reaching a sustainability standard for your project. Good Luck

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Going green isn’t just for buildings anymore — the sustainability trend has also hit the industrial sector.

In 2009, the Northwest Food Processors Association and the Department of Energy announced aggressive goals to reduce energy use and carbon emissions by 25 percent over the next 10 years. This topic will be discussed at this year’s annual Energy Efficiency Summit, which is held in conjunction with the NWFPA’s annual conference in January at the Oregon Convention Center.

Industrial companies can reduce energy usage by training employees on energy efficiency, formalizing operations and maintenance plans, implementing renewable energy solutions and changing the company culture so that energy reduction is a corporate value.

Another opportunity to conserve energy is to upgrade old equipment with new, more energy-efficient technology. Many industrial companies have aging boilers, used to produce process steam, that consume large amounts of energy and are costly to maintain.

Combined Heat and Power technology has been successfully used to reduce energy usage in industrial processing facilities that utilize large amounts of process steam. Combined Heat and Power plants produce both steam and electricity from a single fuel at a facility co-located with the steam host. These systems offset some of the cost of producing process steam by generating electricity for sale or use as a part of the Combined Heat and Power process.

There are many benefits to using a Combined Heat and Power system including reducing the demand on the utility grid, increasing energy efficiency, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the property against power outages, while significantly lowering the utility costs of building operations.

Plant managers and owners may believe the cost of upgrading isn’t practical, but with the tax incentives and grants that are available for energy efficiency improvements, upgrading is more cost effective than they may realize. It allows owners to shift their investment from steam generation to improving their food processing line. It also significantly reduces their carbon footprint — something that is being required by more of their clients every year. New technology, combined with overall energy programs and practices, will help this industry achieve the goals set forth by the NWFPA and the Department of Energy.

Industrial contractors, industrial construction management professionals and equipment vendors that can assist clients in upgrading their systems, reducing energy consumption, and saving money will be present at the January trade show to meet representatives of local food processing companies.

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More than $18 million in federal stimulus funds are available to those who are eligible for energy-efficient appliance rebate programs in Texas. For residential customers, this means you can mail in a rebate and get a refund. Unclaimed rebate funds remain from the first program, run in April, along with energy efficiency funds as yet unused from the public sector, totaling about $8.5 million.

The first rebate program saw some technical difficulties, with online reservation systems and phone lines overwhelmed. The current rebate program seeks to correct these problems, so that consumers can take advantage of these rebates.

Appliances that are eligible for the rebate includes central air conditioners, heat pumps that are air source, dishwashers, clothes washers, room air-conditioners, water heaters, refrigerators, and freezers.  Contact your manufacturer to see if your recent appliance purchase quailfies.

How smart meters can help you focus on (and reduce) electric consumption

Smart meters record the amount of energy a customer uses throughout the day; retailers can use this information to better dovetail their services to their customers, but customers can also use the information to see just why they may be using so much energy. In fact, retailers may use this information to review just why one particular consumer is using double the electricity of her neighbor, and help that consumer figure out energy efficient ways to lower the electric bill.

What does this mean for the future? Electric companies could communicate directly with households and/or the household’s appliances for better efficiency. Consumers, too, may get in on the action by being able to go into an interactive website, and “remotely” program appliances at home (like the washing machine, dryer, or dishwasher) to turn on after electricity prices have dropped for the day, during “after peak usage” times.

Appliances aren’t yet ready for this type of interactivity, of course, but with smart meters in place, software systems to handle the data the smart meters provide isn’t far behind — and the appliances will soon catch up.

There will be those folks, of course, won’t be interested in “communicating” with appliances in this way so that they can save on energy, such as older folks who may not be technically savvy. However, even folks who aren’t technically savvy would still save money as older appliances are replaced with new; whether or not those appliances would “communicate” automatically to make operation most efficient is yet to be seen.

Regardless, for the vast majority of consumers, seeing their energy usage in real time can be an incentive to cut that energy back until they’ve reduced energy needs by several percentage points. Even a 10% drop in consumer usage could save the state $3 billion a year. Over time, as old and inefficient appliances get replaced, and electricity prices themselves decrease because of electricity deregulation, all consumers could see significant energy savings.

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