High Performance Neighborhoods: Sustainable Water Use

Posted by Gretchen Schimelpfenig on Jun 28, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Earlier this month, the New England chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Committee on the Environment held their annual leadership summit in Burlington, Vermont. As the keynote speaker, Clark Brockman – principal at SERA Architects and a leader in his field – delivered a presentation on district scale solutions for net zero energy and water in communities.

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Topics: Sustainability, Public Policy

Acting Locally After Paris Accord Withdrawal

Posted by Daniel Tuhus-Dubrow on Jun 21, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Following the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement and the abdication of responsibility at the federal level to address climate change, the action now moves to states, municipalities, businesses and individuals. Fortunately, there are a lot of exciting things happening right now in these arenas, which could go a long way toward filling the current leadership vacuum. This post will survey some of the efforts underway, with a focus on initiatives aimed at improving energy efficiency in buildings.

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Topics: Public Policy, Energy Efficiency

The Advantages of Publicly Accessible Controls Documentation

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Jun 14, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Commissioning agents do a large amount of review of other people’s work and products.  The building commissioning (Cx) process is a quality-assurance process for verifying and documenting that the performance of facilities, systems, and assemblies meet defined objective criteria[1].  Therefore, to verify facilities and systems, I need access to a product’s technical documentation.  In the commercial building space, almost all documentation is online and readily available via a quick Google search.  Notice that I said almost.

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Topics: Building Cx & Design Review

Adapting to Climate Change: Why Do It, and How to Begin?

Posted by Rachael Straub on Jun 7, 2017 10:00:00 AM

I appreciate NASA’s Global Climate Change website as a resource for scientific evidence of the existence of human-made climate change (https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/). The facts are simple, such as the rate of global sea level rise during the last two decades being nearly double that of the last century. Of course, the most telling fact is that the planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the beginning of global temperature record keeping (around 1890). Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Essentially every year is warmer than the year before and is the warmest year on record. That is, until the next year.

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Topics: Sustainability, Public Policy

The Emerging Business Model of Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS)

Posted by Eveline Killian on May 24, 2017 10:00:00 AM

I recently read an article about an emerging business model, Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS), which is a deviation from traditional power purchase agreements (PPAs) and Energy Management services.  In its basic form, “energy as a service” is the idea that an outside service company guarantees a building’s future energy costs.  If the building uses more energy than predicted, the service company is responsible for the difference.  But if the building uses less energy than contracted, the service company profits.  From the building owner’s perspective, it’s a way to manage overhead electricity costs that fluctuate by time-of-day rates and demand peaks, and fossil fuel costs that fluctuate throughout the year. For the service company, it is a way to be creative in energy supply and management, and an incentive for efficiency improvement.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency

Special Considerations for Hospital Operating Room Upgrades

Posted by Katie Mason on May 17, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Space upgrades are a necessity to ensure that older buildings remain safe, functional, and cutting-edge for the users. As part of my role as an owner’s project manager for a large hospital, one of my recent projects has been an upgrade to the finishes of several operating rooms. This post will discuss the coordination and construction effort involved for such a project, as well as some potential challenges.

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Topics: Building Performance & Technology

Community Engagement for Carbon Neutrality

Posted by Gretchen Schimelpfenig on May 10, 2017 10:00:00 AM

On Samsø Island in Denmark, Søren Hermansen led a community of 3,724 to achieve their zero-carbon goals in ten years. Today, every person on the island has a negative carbon footprint. What can cities in Vermont learn from Danish methodologies of stakeholder engagement so they can reach their carbon reduction goals?

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Topics: Sustainability, Public Policy

Beyond Band-Aids: Approaching and Fixing Building Issues Holistically

Posted by Daniel Tuhus-Dubrow on May 3, 2017 10:00:00 AM

When people ask me what I do for work, I generally tell them I’m a building systems engineer, with a big focus on making facilities more energy efficient and comfortable for occupants. One common task entails going on a building site visit to perform an energy audit or assessment. During these visits, we walk the site, inventory all energy-related equipment (including lighting, mechanical systems, building envelope, etc.) and speak with the building operator about how they run the building and any issues or concerns they have regarding maintenance, equipment that is not working properly, or comfort problems. The end result is typically a report documenting the existing building systems, with recommendations on equipment upgrades or operational changes that can be made to save energy or improve comfort. We also will provide quantification of energy and cost savings for each identified opportunity.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency

Lighting Control Systems and the Double-Edged Sword

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Apr 26, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Lighting control systems are making their way into new construction and are becoming as common place as HVAC controls.  Just like with many new building technologies, lighting control systems started small, and are now gaining more and more market penetration.  This is great news for those of us who work towards saving energy for building owners.  This new frontier of controls creates new challenges for those of us who work towards saving energy for building owners.  Why, you ask?

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Topics: Building Cx & Design Review

Adaptability for Survival in a Changing Environment

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Mar 31, 2017 8:30:00 AM

I recently finished Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon.  I highly recommend this story which is a 1999 novel about 90s era computer hackers, World War II, and encryption.  It is both technically accurate, and gives a pretty good description for the 90s era hacker culture.  The book also gives the reader a good intro to encryption concepts.  However, why I am discussing it here is because one of the main characters, Bobby Shaftoe, brought to my attention the concept of people and their ability to adapt.  A person’s adaptability is important in my opinion - in life - but also in energy efficiency. 

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Topics: Energy Efficiency

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