Energy Efficiency

Originally published on Green Building Elements By Nicholas Brown.

The US Green Building Council of Kentucky has awarded LEED Silver certification to The Nucleus building of the University Of Louisville in downtown. This is decent, as the LEED certifications are Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum (remember that certifications in general are not common).

The building, which is located at 300 E. Market St., has environmentally friendly features such as a smart Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, energy management systems, motion-sensing lights, and motion-sensing plumbing in all restrooms.

Motion-sensing plumbing saves water because people tend to leave pipes on until they have finished washing their hands. Motion-activated taps shut off while people are soaping up their hands and come back on when they put their hands back under them for rinsing, so water is only used when it is actually needed.

One of the greatest fractions of the average person’s energy usage is due to waste (especially because they didn’t remember to turn off devices such as light bulbs, TVs, air conditioners, heaters, stereos, computers, fans and much more).

A typical 16″ to 18″ fan will consume 50 to 100 watts, while a 30″-40″ tv will consume over 100 watts. Add the 60 watts your computer consumes, a few hundred watts for the light bulbs throughout the house, and you’ll see the problem.

Motion-sensing lights are activated only when people are in the room, as people tend to leave lights on when they aren’t using them. “The LEED designation for The Nucleus follows gold LEED certification for U of L’s newly completed student recreation center on the Belknap Campus. The university has eight LEED-certified buildings, according to the release, and another two are expected to receive LEED certification.”

“Responsible growth continues to be our goal at U of L,” university president James Ramsey said in the release, “and having these buildings achieve LEED certification shows the university’s commitment to long-term sustainability, carbon-footprint reduction and environmentally friendly development.”

Source: Louisville Business First.

Originally published on Green Building Elements By Nicholas Brown.

NORESCO’s Sustainability Services group guided a Green Build terminal expansion at SDIA (San Diego International Airport), earning it a LEED (Leadership In Energy And Environmental Design) Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC®), which is the highest LEED certification there is. That means that relatively speaking, this is a stupendously energy-efficient structure!

NORESCO managed Terminal 2 West during its design and construction phases. This project, which is the airport’s largest upgrade yet, comprises 10 new gates, a 460,000 square-foot expansion of Terminal 2, and an additional 1.3 million square feet of space for taxiing and aircraft apron.

Other enhancements include high-performance glazing, an efficient baggage management system, increased natural lighting which saves energy by reducing the need for electric lighting, materials selection, landfill waste reduction (from construction) in excess of 90%, a commitment to monitor energy usage, and improved views on top of their existing award-winning recycling program.

Apart from that, Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC, said, “San Diego International Airport’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership. The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and the Green Build serves as a prime example of just how much we can accomplish.”

This demonstration of leadership is proof of concept as well. Other airports are probably more likely to undergo this expansion now that it works (provided that it didn’t cost too much). Being the first to make a major investment is risky, so everyone else waits for someone else to take the risk first so they can learn from it.

SDIA proves it is possible for atypical buildings to achieve the highest levels of LEED, setting an example for the aviation industry to promote resource conservation. “Involvement in this prestigious achievement with SDIA has been extraordinary,” said Troy Walters, vice president and general manager, NORESCO Sustainability Services. “SDIA is paving the way for other airports to reach for excellence in sustainability and operational efficiency.”

The team initially aimed to exceed the LEED Silver rating, but they ended up blowing past it!

Source: Aviation Pros.

Originally published on Cleantechnica By Tina Casey.

Just in time for the 2014 Go Further With Ford auto trend conference in Dearborn, here comes news that Ford’s new super-efficient EcoBoost 1.0-liter engine has just been named International Engine of the Year for the third year in a row, and it also garnered the honor for Best Engine in the under 1.0-liter class. That’s according to a survey of 82 automotive journalists at Engine Expo 2014 in Stuttgart.

We were just talking about a bigger version of the EcoBoost, which is standard on that all new 2015 Ford Edge crossover SUV. The 1.0 version is in the Ford Fiesta available now and it will be available later this year on the 2015 Focus.

The Ford EcoBoost Engine

We happened to be visiting Dearborn (okay, so we were invited by Ford) last December and we caught a hands-on look at the Ford EcoBoost engine, so here are a few more details about the 1.0.

For starters, the three-years-in-a-row achievement is unprecedented. It brings the 1.0 EcoBoost up to 13 awards, including a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics and a Ward’s 10 Best Engines award in the three-cylinder class, which is a first for any automaker.

Performance-wise, the 1.0 liter EcoBoost has a compact turbocharger that clocks in at a maximum rpm that compares to 2014 Formula 1 engines. We don’t really know what that means in terms of the numbers but we had a chance to experience it on the road when a Ford staffer offered us an “enthusiastic” spin in a Fiesta around the high-speed track at Ford’s Dearborn facility.

For those of you in the know, we’ll admit there’s a 70 mph limit on the high-speed track but hey you can still feel the burn.

Of more interest to the clean tech angle are the efficiency refinements. Some of them relate directly to fuel efficiency, and others help enhance life cycle factors that have more to do with general resource conservation.

As Ford describes it, the 1.0 liter can fit into an airplane overhead luggage compartment, but packed into that space is a system for cooling exhaust temperatures that provides for an optimal fuel-to-air ratio.

Here’s some more green goodies:

An innovative flywheel and front pulley design delivers improved refinement compared with traditional three-cylinder engine designs.

Engine friction is reduced by specially coated pistons, low-tension piston rings, low-friction crank seals and a cam-belt-in-oil design.

A variable-displacement oil pump tailors lubrication to demand and optimizes oil pressure for improved fuel efficiency.

Engines With Benefits

As Ford describes it the 1.0-liter EcoBoost delivers “big-car benefits from a small engine.”

That goes to the heart of a conversation we’ve been having about the future of liquid fuel. While first-generation biofuel has some serious ball-and-chain issues in terms of sustainability, the emergence of next-generation sources means that gasmobiles have the potential for a sustainable supply chain far into the future, even as the electric vehicle market grows.

Efficiency enhancements like the EcoBoost series and the advent of new lightweight materials will also contribute to that trend.

Speaking of contributing, the EcoBoost is the result of an intensive collaborative effort involving more than 200 Ford engineers and designers.

Collaboration also emerged as a running theme throughout the Go Further with Ford conference, and we’ll have more details on that in a later post.

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Originally published on Green Building Elements By Nicholas Brown.

The US House of Representatives passed two energy efficiency bills, one of which is to better assist schools with energy-efficient enhancements, and the other instructs the Department of Energy to research the effect of insulation on energy and water usage on federal buildings.

The School Energy Efficiency Bill – H.R. 4092

This bill creates an office within the Department of Energy to “coordinate federal, state and local programs” which will help schools reduce their energy usage, according to The Hill. Schools struggle to keep their energy bills down because the staff and students aren’t the ones paying the bills. People unfortunately tend to be more careless at others’ expense than their own.

Students and sometimes staff members leave lights, air conditioners, computers, fans and more running all the time. Students’ parents then end up struggling to pay for this in the form of school tuition in the future. Energy is one of the highest expenses that schools have to bear, second only to wages, salaries, and other personnel costs at a whopping $6 million per year.

“Well-designed energy efficiency and renewable energy can reduce or stabilize these costs,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). True, especially the implementation of motion sensing lights, air conditioner and fan timers which switch units off after school hours.

“Members of both parties said the legislation would make it easier for schools to navigate the programs within one office, instead of across all levels of government.”, according to The Hill.

The Federal Energy Efficiency Bill – H.R. 4801

This bill directs the US DOE to research the effect of thermal insulation on energy and water usage, so the government can make more informed decisions on their energy efficiency enhancements. “This bill would ensure that the Department of Energy quantifies those potential savings so that the federal government can make commonsense energy efficiency investments,” said John Sarbanes.

Source: The Hill.

Originally published on Green Building Elements By Nicholas Brown.

There is a common concern about ventilation bringing warm air into rooms. While this is true, it still helps to keep you cool by blowing out the even warmer air inside your home, and by helping to reduce humidity which makes you feel warmer.

In many cases, it may be warmer inside your home than it is outside because your home will absorb heat from the sun and then trap it. Ventilation blows the resulting hot air outside.

How Ventilation Helps Keep Humidity Under Control

How would simply passing air through a house keep humidity under control? First of all, humidity is a measure of the quantity of water vapour in the air.

This means that the various indoor producers of water vapour will heighten your home’s humidity levels, which will likely exceed outdoor humidity because the water vapour will be trapped in your home. Ventilation blows it outside.

Causes Of Water Vapour/Humidity Increases

I could spend the entire day telling you about the contributors to your home’s humidity, but I will only list the most important ones:

  1. Your breath
  2. Perspiration
  3. Burps
  4. Glasses of water and other drinks
  5. Water spilled on the counter or floor
  6. Your dog’s water bowl
  7. Your cooking (steam)
  8. Clothing soaking in water
  9. Any other process that involves the open use of water

Summary: Ventilation is helpful because it blows hot air and water vapour outside. It also keeps the air moving, and the movement of air cools your skin by accelerating the evaporation of your skin’s fluids. This doesn’t mean that ventilation will dry out your skin. Air conditioning is even more capable of drying it out because it is constantly dehumidifying the air in the room until it becomes very dry.

Originally published on Green Building Elements By Nicholas Brown.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the bitterly cold winter is ending. However, the summer heat is going to cause discomfort all over again. Not to worry! I’m here to provide you with cheap ways to keep cool this summer, and without any expensive upgrades or purchases.

  1. Drink cold water. If you don’t have a standalone water cooler, fill a pitcher with water and keep it in the refrigerator, or put ice in your water.
  2. Use a 16″ to 20″ standing fan. This only works if you point the fan at yourself. If you find yourself moving around too frequently, set the fan to oscillate. This feature has been incredibly helpful to me. These consume an average of 40-60 watts if used all day. Air conditioner power consumption averages out to 318 watts, that is 5 times more!
  3. Ventilation keeps humidity under control (unless the air outside is terribly humid, which is uncommon in most areas). Containers of vapourizing liquids such as wash tubs, kitchen sinks, glasses of water, among other things will contribute to the accumulation of water vapour inside your home, making it feel even warmer. Opening your windows will allow the wind to blow out humid air. A ventilation fan can enhance this process.
  4. Close your window blinds if you have any. White blinds are best for this.
  5. Put up white curtains to block out sunlight, which is a major source of summer heat. These have helped me for years. Whenever mine are taken down for washing, the room becomes far hotter. Shortly after they are replaced, the room cools off!

How To Reduce Air Conditioner Power Consumption

Not everyone is ready to stop using their air conditioner. If you’re not, there are ways to make your air conditioner less of a financial burden.

  1. Don’t leave your other appliances on when they are not in use. That helps to reduce your electric bill, compensating for the air conditioners’ expense.
  2. Close your blinds/curtains, most of the summer heat is from the sun.
  3. Minimize ventilation, always close the door behind your immediately. Unfortunately, that means no chatting in the doorway.
  4. Point a 16″ to 20″ standing fan at yourself, and turn up the air conditioner’s thermostat temperature.
  5. If you happen to be shopping for an air conditioner, choosing the incorrect size will waste energy. Don’t exceed 24,000 BTU for rooms under 250 square feet.
  6. Trying to use one wall-mounted air conditioner to cool two other rooms through their open doors can be very wasteful, as whoever is in the secondary rooms will want to turn the unit up to a very high setting. This is because airflow in such scenarios is too poor for this to work efficiently.

Originally published on Green Building Elements By Nicholas Brown.

I have made numerous efficiency-enhancing suggestions to people who can’t afford air conditioning. However, they said that their homes’ designs can’t accommodate those enhancements easily. After encountering that road block so many times, I decided it was necessary to discuss it (along with potential solutions) in this article.

Major Reasons Why People Struggle To Reduce A/C Usage

Lack Of Burglar Bars/Security Bars

Why would the presence of burglar bars be so important to cooling? I’ll tell you a brief story about a time I visited my uncle and aunt in Florida. When I arrived in Florida, I was provided with a bedroom and air conditioning.

However, one night, the cooled air wasn’t getting to my room for some reason. I was tempted to open my window, then I saw that it had no burglar bars. I was worried that a burglar could climb in through that big, low-level window very easily, so I didn’t bother. I had to lay in the hot, tightly locked room for the rest of the night.

I was accustomed to living without A/C at home because I had grilles and open windows covered with burglar bars. Grilles are a great way to keep the house locked while facilitating passive ventilation (wind), and horizontal rain can be kept out by simply closing a solid door behind the grille.

This made me realize that the millions of other people living without burglar bars are struggling to keep cool just because they are afraid to open their windows (which is perfectly understandable). The solution: Get quick-release burglar bars (they are usually just called ‘security bars’, as quick-release bars area already standard in the United States. This type of burglar bar enables you to open your windows with peace of mind, and to get through them in the event of a fire.

They can be purchased for less than $100.

Security bars

'Window Security Guard' burglar bars from the Ace Hardware website. These can be opened in the event of a fire.
Image Credit: Ace Hardware.

Lack Of Grilles

Grilles serve the same purpose as burglar bars. They enable you to open the doors so you can let air in, but not criminals. Solution: Have a grille installed in front of your door. The grille also serves as an additional layer of protection, as burglars would have to try to bypass both your grille and door locks to get inside.

Bear in mind that you should switch your air conditioner off before opening the doors or windows. Air conditioners operate very inefficiently with doors and windows open, due to the warm air that periodically blows in from outside.

Originally published on Green Building Elements By Nicholas Brown.

The state of New York will provide $34 million of incentives to individuals and zero-net-energy homes (buildings which generate more energy than they consume). This works out to be $2,000 to $8,000 per household.

The Real Deal says that “A zero-net-energy building relies on, among other things, solar panels, insulation and geothermal heating and cooling systems to balance out energy consumption”. This is often the case. However, geothermal heating and cooling systems are not required for this (but they do offer great benefits).

There are multiple ways for buildings to attain zero-net-energy status, but there is a golden combination of energy-efficiency and on-site electricity generation that enables you to pull that off economically. The most economical way to achieve zero-net-energy status is to reduce energy consumption and then install a fuel-free generator such as solar panels. Why? For every watt of power that an appliance requires, 4 W (peak) of solar panels is required, or $4 to $12 of solar panels.

For example: If you upgraded to a light bulb that uses 20 watts less (on average over the course of a 24-hour period), you would save $80 to $240 off the cost of the solar panels alone (after factoring in the capacity factor of solar panels). No light bulb costs anywhere near $80! Therefore this is a no-brainer.

Bear in mind that not all appliance upgrades will save you money. For example: A refrigerator upgrade could cost you over $1,000, and likely wouldn’t save enough money to justify the upgrade. So get the most out of that old refrigerator for now.

Source: The Real Deal

Originally published on Cleantechnica By Nicholas Brown.

Cree, a manufacturer of cutting-edge LEDs has released a new LED parking lamp: The OSQ™ Area LED luminaire. This is designed and priced to replace 54 million high intensity discharge (HID) parking lights across the United States, facilitating energy savings of up to 70%.

Cree's highly efficient 100 lumen/watt LED luminaire.

The slender, 3.8" Cree OSQ™ Area outdoor LED luminaire.

The OSQ Area LED luminaire features a slender 3.8″ housing (partly due to the fact that light emitting diodes are as thin as credit cards). Other features include colour temperature options such as 3,000K, 4,000K, and 5,700K. The 3,000K colour temperature closely resembles the flattering, warm white glow of traditional incandescent light bulbs. 4,000K is not quite as warm, but its a neutral white, and finally, the 5,700K version is cool white (which resembles the average CFL).

Is It Worth It?

Cree says that it costs half as much as other LED luminaires on the market, enabling it to pay for itself in two years. Combined with a high efficiency of 100 lumens per watt, I would say this model performs decently.

According to the Cree press release:

The OSQ Area LED luminaire will soon be eligible for utility rebates to drive even greater affordability. Backed by Cree’s industry-leading 10-year warranty, the versatile OSQ Area LED luminaire is ideal for area and floodlight applications such as campuses, office and retail complexes, medical centers and municipalities.

Finally, its lifespan is rated at 100,000 hours, that is 50 to 100 times longer than the average incandescent light bulb! Now that is environmentally beneficial. We wouldn’t want to keep adding so many tungsten-containing incandescent light bulbs to landfills, would we?

These lamps are available to Canada and the United States.

Source: Cree.

Philips has released a 650-lumen LED flood lamp for $12.97 USD comprising Luxeon mid-power LEDs built by the Philips Lumiled facility in San Jose, California. It is the SlimStyle BR30.

Philips BR30 LED Flood Light

The Philips SlimStyle BR30 650-lumen, 9.5-watt LED flood lamp.

About The Philips SlimStyle LED's Energy-Efficiency

The Philips BR30 LED flood lamp consumes only 9.5 watts, and it is nearly as bright as a 60-watt incandescent light bulb or a 15-watt CFL, 650 lumens in this case). This translates to a luminous efficacy/efficiency of 68 lumens per watt, which is decent compared to the average CFL, which is  45 to 60 lumens per watt, and it much better than the average incandescent light bulbs' bottom-of-the-bottle efficiency of 12 to 18 lumens per watt.


For prospective LED buyers who want to know how this compares to other LEDs on the market, and how much it could save them. The average new LED lamp's efficiency ranges from 45 to 100 lumens per watt, although most are well under 100 (and similar to the Philips SlimStyle). So the SlimStyle lamp's efficiency is decent.

According to Philips:

'the SlimStyle BR30 bulb leverages its uniquely flat surface to conduct heat away from the LEDs' to reduce the bulb's cost and weight by eliminating the need for an aluminium heat sink.

According to the Philips press release:

'Like the original 60-watt equivalent SlimStyle bulb, the BR30 is designed to meet or exceed ENERGY STAR specifications and has already been submitted for ENERGY STAR testing. By reducing energy consumption by 85 percent, the SlimStyle BR30 offers an estimated $152 in cost savings over the life of the bulb and also offers dimming, making it an ideal replacement to the traditional 65-watt incandescent floodlight. Since the SlimStyle BR30 lasts 25 times longer than the average incandescent floodlight and is well suited for hard-to-reach ceiling fixtures often found in kitchens and living rooms, consumers can now spend less time on ladders and more time enjoying their well-lit homes.'

Want to buy one? It will be available online this July, and it will be sold in retail stores starting this August.

Sources: Philips Press Release and the DOE (Linked above).