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 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

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

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

Heat Pumps Catered to Colder Climates; Will Increased U.S. Adoption Continue?

Posted by Gretchen Schimelpfenig on Feb 22, 2017 10:00:00 AM

The origin stories for heat pump technology are economic. Applying Lord Kelvin’s theory that disputed the concept that heat could only flow ‘downhill’, Peter von Rittinger turned an expensive wood-based salt processing enterprise into a money maker by using heat pumps to desiccate salt brine. In the 1970s during the oil embargo, modern heat pump sales increased by 500% as heating and cooling costs squeezed homeowners. The innovation of ductless heat pumps in Asia created an alternative to costly kerosene space heaters and PTAC units. The energy efficiency of heat pumps directly translates into financial savings; why does the U.S. market still pale in comparison to the rest of the globe (Figure 1)?

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Topics: Sustainability, Energy Efficiency

More Issues with the Energy Code – Lighting is Running Rampant

Posted by Jennifer Chiodo on Jan 18, 2017 10:00:00 AM

I’ve been writing for a few years about the deficiencies in current energy codes regarding commercial and industrial (C&I) lighting efficiency requirements.  The problem isn’t fixed, even though I hear people decrying how the code is so stringent, they won’t be able to design buildings that exceed it. 

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Topics: Standards and Metrics, Energy Efficiency

Optimizing Air Handling Units for Healthcare

Posted by Walker Calderwood on Jan 11, 2017 10:00:00 AM

As I discussed in a previous post, “Optimizing Air Handling Units for Energy Savings or Improved Comfort,” energy savings can be realized by adjusting the amount of outside air that is introduced to an air handling unit during normal operation.  In that article I referenced ASHRAE 62.1 to determine what the correct amount of outside air an air handling unit should mix with the return air stream.  This same principle applies to air handlers in healthcare, and in many cases, there is an even greater opportunity for savings in healthcare applications.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency, healthcare

Football Stadiums and Energy Efficiency. Fantasy?

Posted by Katie Mason on Dec 21, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Given that we're solidly into football season, we thought it was a good time to revisit this post by Katie from last year about stadium energy efficiency. Enjoy.


Originally Posted November 12, 2015

After recently attending a New England Patriot’s football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, I was overwhelmed by the size of both the structure and the population density served during the four plus hours that the game is taking place. The relatively new Gillette Stadium is also a completely open configuration located in a cold climate. Unsurprisingly, my thoughts immediately turned to energy consumption and sustainability.

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Topics: Sustainability, Energy Efficiency

Rethinking Server Room and Small Data Center Configurations

Posted by Eveline Killian on Dec 14, 2016 10:00:00 AM

With the growth of the Internet and our undeniable dependence on electronic data, comes the reality that data centers are estimated to consume 1.5% of the total world power – and this continues to rise rapidly. Large data centers are certainly the drivers behind these numbers, but most small companies have server rooms or small data centers that, collectively, contribute to a significant portion of this country’s costs and environmental footprint. Outside the IT opportunities of virtualization and server consolidation, there are few things the facilities department and management of a business can do to reduce this overhead and environmental cost. But as with many things, if we all do a small part it will end up making a big difference.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency

LED Lighting as the Future of Demand Management

Posted by Jennifer Chiodo on Nov 30, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I had hoped to share my recent sci-fi story about future decisions that might need to be made around a demand-constrained grid in the era of extreme heat waves and self-driving electric vehicles.  But, fiction is not the point of this blog.  If you want to receive a copy of the story, feel free to request it – we monitor comments.  In this post, I’ll discuss a little of the back-and-forth we’ve been having regarding the New England Grid [PDF] and demand constraints. 

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Topics: Sustainability, Energy Efficiency

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