Enabling Renewable Power With Battery Storage Systems

Renewable energy has dramatically advanced in the US in recent years, progressing against the established energy base because of technological advances, the easy accessibility of raw materials, and government mandates and financial incentives. Not only are solar panels affordable and profitable for many home owners, but conditions are right to build solar farms for large-scale electricity generation. And there are many news stories about wind farms and plans to build massive off-shore wind farms. Many states have ambitious, yet achievable goals for a certain percentage of power coming from renewables. But the “elephant in the room” is that most renewable energy sources are intermittent and, therefore, limiting in terms of reliable integrating into a utility grid, such as at night or cloudy days or when the wind is not blowing. When conditions are “right”, these sources can produce a large amount of power, but when not, they produce little or none. It is hard to manage an electrical grid for a city or community this way.

The answer is to be able to store large quantities of excess power production above the demand of the moment, to be utilized during periods when power cannot be produced. Heavy research into larger and better utility-sized batteries or storage systems is proceeding. Whatever the form of such storage will become economical and prevalent, there will likely be land use, permitting and environmental issues to contend with.

Energy storage technologies do exist. Pumping water to higher ground at night to be used to generate electricity during peak demand is used. The main research these days is on lithium ion-based battery systems, which many believe offer the prerequisites for a viable utility-based system, such as reliability, fast response times, ease to implement, and large scale for residential and commercial applications.

In anticipation of the growth of utility-scale battery storage projects, several states have passed rules with goals for certain gigawatt storage capabilities state- or community-wide (CA, OR, WA, MA). However, to achieve this, it is likely that significant land must be available to install and operate such systems and infrastructure and operations be present, as well, to transmit the stored power into the grid for rapid transmittance during peak demand. This may result in critical issues that must be addressed, such as land use, noise, truck traffic, storage and transportation of potentially hazardous materials, permitting, and environmental. It is likely that such energy storage projects would be placed where power is needed in or near urban areas where space is tighter and more people reside or work. States and localities with old infrastructure or in greatest need of reliable power during peak periods would be warned to anticipate and address such issues sooner rather than later, before systems are potentially chosen and designed.

CCES has the experts to help your company become both more energy efficient and to implement renewable power to maximize financial benefits and promote flexibility with a minimum of disruption for your employees. Join the wave of a more efficient and cleaner energy future and maximize the benefits. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Overlooked Way To Reduce Electricity Usage: Power Factor Correction

This blog has produced many articles on how to save electricity and other energy usage through energy efficiency or use of renewable power. All good. But an additional way to save electricity usage is to optimize the way electricity comes into your building and is managed, called Power Factor Correction. According to this excellent article in FacilityExecutive.com, Power Factor Correction can reduce energy use by 10% or more. (https://facilityexecutive.com/2017/02/paying-attention-power-factor/)

The article describes two kinds of power used in AC operations: active energy and reactive energy. Active power is more conducive to perform mechanical work. Therefore, ways to increase the relative proportion of active power to reactive power will lead to greater electricity savings. The article uses a beer analogy to describe this. Think of the beer mug as total electricity. The beer is composed of the liquid beer (active power) and the foam (reactive power). While the foam has some taste, you are clearly getting more of your money’s worth having more liquid in the mug and less foam.

The power factor (PF) is the ratio of the active to total electricity. A PF of 90% or greater is optimal. PF can be affected by two areas. If a motor is oversized for the application, this can lower PF. More power is needed initially to overcome greater viscosity during mixing compared to the middle of the operation. This can be corrected and efficiency improved with a variable frequency drive (VFD), which adjusts the motor output based on need. Another option to save electricity is to use a smaller motor, but perform the mixing for a longer period.

Another fine article (http://ecmweb.com/electrical-testing/how-s-your-power-factor-these-days) discusses well correcting PF at the load which for large motors can produce significant energy savings. Power factor correction introduces capacitor banks or energy compensators into the facility electrical infrastructure. Implementing these tools reduces energy loss, increases energy efficiency, and reduces equipment costs.

Power factor correction can be enhanced by adopting certain measures:

• Automatic capacitor banks provide economic benefit for low voltage loads

• Installing automatic low voltage capacitor banks allows for full compensations without risk of overcompensation.

• To better manage large sites with multiple transformers, facility managers should consider devices for capacitor bank monitoring and control with built-in communications capabilities.

While power factor correction is not as glitzy as solar panels or LED light arrays, it should be considered as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce energy usage and costs. Make sure a qualified, experienced electrical firm performs the measurements of PF, as well as designs and installs the strategies to improve efficiency.

CCES has the experts to help you by performing an energy audit to help you maximize financial benefits by minimizing your energy usage and peak demand. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Natural Gas Generated from Wastewater Treatment Plant Operations

Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) do the unheralded work of taking sanitary waste and treating it so it can be safely managed. Over a hundred years ago, cholera and other diseases of exposure to crude sanitary waste were commonplace in the US. But quietly, because of well-run WWTPs we have few cases any more.

While treating the solid waste portion of sanitary waste, bacteria digest the solids anaerobically to form digester gas, a gas that contains methane and has combustion capabilities. However, digester gas is more dilute, in terms of methane – than natural gas, and, therefore, is not very useful. Many WWTPs have purchased generators that can combust digester gas for supplemental power, but otherwise, there has been little interest in using digester gas for energy, particularly outside the WWTP.

A new process has been developed to convert digester gas to natural gas. This is often called RNG or renewable natural gas to differentiate it from natural gas that comes from the Earth and is mined, a fossil fuel. A large Phoenix WWTP is currently implementing this new process to turn digester gas into RNG and to place it in the city’s natural gas pipeline to use as a transportation fuel for its bus lines, making it the largest in the U.S.

This illustrates an opportunity for governments to take an asset it has (digester gas) and turn it into something useful for a different, large function (providing fuel for a bus fleet), saving much costs. It is also possible that governments could market and sell RNG to private entities, making such municipal functions money-makers. Of course, using RNG to displace fossil natural gas or diesel fuel has environmental benefits, as well, and can be part of an effort to make the municipality more sustainable. The project is expected to initially generate $1.2 million in annual revenue. While the cost of the project is high and the payback may not be strong, this is a useful endeavor for the Phoenix area and give leaders flexibility in terms of how to power their plants and fleets.

CCES can help your firm evaluate your energy sources and provide you with cost savings and greater flexibility of future use. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

New Leadership at the USEPA and Its Impacts

Scott Pruitt has been confirmed and is now the Administrator of the USEPA. His history and stated opinions about environmental compliance are different from probably every previous Administrator. What are the implications for us environmental professionals?

During the campaign, Donald Trump spoke robustly about his disdain for environmental regulations, probably because of the costs and delays he had to endure as a real estate developer. He clearly believes in removing barriers to short-term business growth and that complying with environmental regulations is one example. He has also stated a belief in using whatever source of energy is most convenient, cheaper, and home-grown, and not concerned about whether it is cleaner or not. Finally, President Trump has expressed strong skepticism about the science of climate change, although he has moderated his stance more recently. Scott Pruitt appears to mirror these beliefs of the President, and has shown to perform actions to argue against environmental laws to help industry produce more, faster, with less to clean up.

Therefore, we can expect to see an attempt to boost production of US-produced coal, natural gas and oil. While Pruitt may attempt to remove environmental barriers to business and energy growth, there are other factors at play, such as a nation with an oversupply of cheap oil from domestic producers looking for markets and foreign companies needing the revenues. Plus, we already have an excess of natural gas due to fracking. Even if environmental rules are relaxed, coal may well be the source of energy left out because of the large cost to mine and process it and to combust it.

As this is written, it appears to be a certainty that President Trump will issue executive orders to keep older coal plants competitive and to repeal (or never put in place) the Clean Power Plan, meant to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Clean Power Plan was written and signed into law by President Obama as the US’s response to the Paris Climate Conference to reduce GHG emissions significantly.

Administrator Pruitt has written that he believes that it should be more the states and less the federal USEPA that make most environmental decisions as they are closer to the impacted populations than a Washington bureaucracy. The problem with this is that pollutants know no borders and can drift and impact the health of people in other states.

Ultimately, President Trump and Administrator Pruitt value business growth and the American jobs that will come from them more than cleaner air, a more stable climate, etc. They believe that this is a zero-sum game and that you cannot have good business growth while respecting the environment. This despite the calls of hundreds of major American companies to retain many current federal environmental rules and of a growing number of Republicans to introduce a carbon tax with the proceeds returned to the public to reduce GHG emissions. Even major oil industries, which are big in Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma, have put out statements in favor of a carbon tax to replace the patchwork of international climate change rules. They well may favor this, too, because many also produce and sell natural gas and many are investing in renewable energy.

Another concern for all of us in the industry is the research and development function of the USEPA. There is talk that Administrator Pruitt will end or greatly reduce the research funding that the USEPA provides, research into alternative ways to treat contaminated air, soil, etc. and cleaner energy, not to mention the communication of such advances. All to reduce the budget deficit. Some Republicans have said that it is not right to “bet” public money on certain technologies. On the other hand, that little upfront funding has resulted in breakthrough technologies that are cheaper than older ones. There is a long history of federal funding of new technologies, such as through NASA. It is almost certain that Administrator Pruitt will cut some R&D; how much is the question. Might there be enough private money to continue such research, such as sponsored by Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and others?

Perhaps the biggest concern about the new administration of the nation and energy and environmental policy is whether it will be taken over and impacted by idealogues or whether some practicality and stability will remain. There has been talk about eliminating an agency; the Dept of Energy is now being headed by Rick Perry, someone who called for its elimination a short time ago. It is not likely to happen because Energy oversees nuclear weapons and the public would not allow scenes that are in the news recently of people in China, India, Poland, and other countries having to walk around with masks on during routine walks and travel. It is likely that the new administration will cut down on regulations and their enforcement, but keep enough on the books to save companies compliance fees, but not cause a catastrophic deterioration of quality of life. Of course, if they miscalculate and an accident happens, the tide can turn. Also, it is certainly important and proven that being energy efficient and conserving the environment makes good economic sense to all businesses.

It is unlikely that even repealing many existing rules and paring back the operations of the agencies will impact us in the long-term. Energy and environmental issues will not go away; neither will ignoring climate change. In fact, more private businesses – in a competitive field – understand good environmental policy is good business. And we professionals will be needed to implement the best science to move forward.

CCES has the experts to keep you abreast of changes in environmental and energy rules and their impacts to your operations. We can perform the technical assessments for you to determine compliance and recommend appropriate, cost-effective technical strategies. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

How Many Engineers Does It Takes to Change a Lightbulb?

Kelly Blount
Mintek Corporation

The question is silly, yes, but it could help determine if your facility spends too many labor hours on an asset that doesn’t need such attention, perenially saving you costs.

Lighting plays a crucial rule in any organization. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the percentage of electricity usage due to lighting rose from 38% of total electricity draw in 1979 to 55% in 2003, more than that for space heating, cooling, ventilation, office equipment, and computers combined.

Some facility owners take for granted that LED lighting saves cost over fluorescents or incandescent lighting for their organizations. The question then becomes: what other benefits are there and how much could you save in labor costs by switching to LEDs?
LED lighting can reduce electric costs in your facility by 20% to 50% or more depending on which current light sources are being replaced.
The life of a LED replacement lamp or module in dedicated fixtures is much longer than incandescent, halogen, or T12 or T8 fluorescent tubes. Therefore, they don’t require replacing as often as conventional light bulbs.

The average lifespan of one LED bulb is about 50,000 hours where a conventional incandescent bulb lasts about 1,000 hours. So, you will change a conventional bulb 50-labor consuming times before you change an LED once.

There are a few variables that can affect labor savings when using LEDs. Facility managers should consider the distance maintenance personnel must travel to retrieve the bulb, transportation method, height/accessibility of the bulb, and other factors contributing to labor hours. Assuming an average bulb-changing time of 15 minutes, an average labor cost of $12/hour, replacing one bulb will cost- $3.00
But, during the lifetime of a single LED, you will have changed the incandescent bulb in the same fixture 50 times which brings the total labor changing cost to $3.00 for 1 LED vs. $150 for incandescents. And this is the cost to replace just 1 bulb. Assume your facility uses 200 bulbs, total replacement labor cost for the LEDs would be $600 vs $30,000 (200 x $150) for conventional bulbs!

Facilities can also save on ballast installation for fluorescent tubes; there is a labor cost associated with the installation of replacement ballasts which is avoided when upgrading to LEDs. Ballasts for fluorescent bulbs adds additional electricity use, too.

Maintenance expenses in the lighting world manifest themselves in three primary ways:
1. Cost of replacement lamps and fixtures
2. Cost of labor to replace said lamps or damaged fixtures
3. Warranty protection and duration
Therefore, in many situations, the substantial maintenance savings can nearly double overall project savings. LED is smart business when it comes to return on investment.

LEDs, like any other asset, are also best paired with an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software in a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). This allows technicians to keep records of all maintenance done on the bulbs to show proper cost savings and retrieve asset history, demonstrating that LEDs are the smart move.
Hospitality Equipped With LEDs

The hospitality industry is just one of many industries/businesses that could save on labor and maintenance cost by switching to LEDs. According to Lumenistics.com, “a hotel in Las Vegas reportedly replaced inefficient metal halide lights on the building’s facade with LED lighting; this move saved the facility about $41,000/annually.”

In the same article, there was a casino in Wisconsin that was expected to save “more than $221,000 in electric costs the first year the building’s new LED lights are in use, and $120,000 in maintenance costs over the next six years.”

Switching to LED bulbs give facilities more time to focus on other labor costs, maintenance situations, asset management, and less time focusing on an asset that can basically take care of itself and save you money.
Wouldn’t you want more options like that for your facility?

Mintek is a turn-key solutions developer for the telecommunications, lodging, and public utilities industries. Mintek’s EAM/CMMS software, Transcendent, provides access to customer, employee, and asset information beyond the traditional office. We allow facility managers to “run their business from their phone.” Our premise is that our technology must provide a rapid verifiable return on the investment.

Link: www.mintek.com
Mintek Mobile Data Solutions
Contact: Kelly Blount
Phone #: 800-789-7226

Green Buildings and Perceived Risk

“Green” or “Smart” building is becoming all the rage as developers, owners, building managers, and tenants all see the short- and long-term financial benefits of buildings with greater efficiencies, reduced environmental impacts, and improved quality of life. However, the means to achieve these goals often include purchasing, installing, training in, and operating new or different technologies. This involves complications and risks, particularly in the implementation of smart technologies.

Whether it is getting more points in LEED or wanting to maximize benefits, implementing high-tech equipment or performing more comprehensive commissioning means all of those responsible need to work a little harder to ensure that the strategies work and are implemented properly. Few people really want to work harder than they have to and it is a part of many business cultures to build, “flip” the property, and maximize short-term profit. Therefore, while intentions are good, many factors work against the true implementation of green upgrades in a building in the real world. This can be overcome and risk minimized with good preparation and a little education.

One issue with a “green” upgrade is cost overruns and delays in completing the upgrade. Added costs take away from the long-term savings. Having to delay the scheduled occupancy by tenants makes for unhappy customers, something no business wants to endure. Therefore, there is a temptation to “cut corners” and change away from some “green” upgrades designed into the project. Contractors (who also want to complete a project quickly to get paid quicker) have been known to approach building owners to lobby to squelch some “green” upgrades, such as by substituting less “green” material that the contractor can install quicker, luring the owner by saying it will save upfront cost and allow quicker occupancy. Therefore, it is important that the “green” consultant not just design a “green” building, but be involved in the construction management to ensure all of the upgrades are properly implemented and to provide professional advice countering arguments against “green” upgrades by a contractor. Also, some want to save a little upfront by reducing or eliminating training and proper O&M, which are necessary to operate the high-tech equipment properly. The owner should understand that these efforts will save money and avoid lots of headaches later.

In fact, owners should be made to understand the benefits of these approaches. A BMS (building management system) and BIM (building information modeling) can provide a deep understanding of the functional characteristics of building systems (and their cost savings) and provide a maintenance plan to manage buildings more effectively.

Another issue is that by implementing new “smart” technologies the owner is introducing new risks of performance failure and difficulty to fix functionality issues. The reality is that newer technologies tend to be built to last longer and need fewer future upgrades, reducing delays and O&M in the long-term. If there is a concern that a critical functional failure may result in loss of rental revenue, then insurance specific for “green” technology can be obtained.

CCES can help you develop approaches, design and implement a “green” upgrade of your building in order to modernize, reduce costs, and attract more tenants in a professional, non-intrusive way. We can help you implement new technologies to minimize future risk. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Despite New Administration, Regional, State Climate Change Rules Progress

While the Trump Administration has stated its skepticism about climate change and actions to combat it, a number of states are planning to continue existing programs to address climate change issues and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). These programs also help in encouraging energy conservation and reducing the need for infrastructure upgrades, resulting in greater reliability of the electric grid and significant cost savings for businesses and consumers.

On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, Jan. 20, 2017, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a draft Scoping Plan to reduce state GHGs. Under the state’s climate change law, Assembly Bill (AB) 32, CARB is required to produce a scoping plan every 5 years. The proposed plan may result in changes to the state’s GHG emission rules and cap and trade program in order to meet California’s enacted goals to reduce GHGs by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. The proposed plan would extend the state’s cap-and-trade program out to 2030. CARB auctions off remaining emission allowances to sources of GHG emissions as the cap declines to the long-term reduction goal. The proposed plan would also require oil refineries to reduce their GHG emissions by 20%. CARB plans to issue a final Scoping Plan by the spring of this year.

The proposed plan makes no change to the state’s current Renewable Portfolio Standard of 50% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. It adds a goal of reducing methane and hydrofluorocarbon emissions by 40% from 2013 levels by 2030.

CARB’s grand 40% GHG emission reduction goal was planned to be met mainly by the cap and trade program with enactment of some mandatory GHG emission reductions by certain industries. However, because there is litigation against the program (that the state does not have the legal authority to manage a mandatory cap and trade program) the proposed scoping document looks into alternative strategies for CARB to pursue, including additional industry-specific GHG emission reduction rules, a carbon tax, or a “cap and tax” system, which would consist of a more flexible cap and trade system together with a carbon tax for each ton of GHG emitted.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) composed of 9 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states’ cap and trade program for utilities continues to progress well. The 2016 RGGI adjusted cap was 64.6 million short tons, decreasing 2.5% each year until 2020. The average price of CO2 allowances at the latest auction was about $3.55/ton. An estimated $4 billion in funds over the length of the program has been returned to the 9 states to implement energy efficiency programs.

While these are rules pertaining directly to climate change, there are myriad more rules that many states, cities, etc. are enacting and enforcing that will result in reducing GHG emissions. These include many energy benchmarking and conservation rules. New ones appear to be coming up “every day”. (For example, St. Louis just finalized an energy benchmarking rule.)

CCES has the experts to help you assess your GHG emissions and help you reduce it to maximize your financial benefits whether you are in a GHG program or not. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com

Little-Known Federal Appliance Standards Rank as #2 Energy-Saving Tool

There is much concern as the new Trump Administration must now administer such well-publicized environmental standards, such as Clean Power Plan, Paris Climate Treaty, new vehicle fuel efficiency standards and more that it has inherited. The Trump Administration has been open about their disdain for many new environmental programs and their desire to abrogate or weaken them.

However, a couple of other existing USEPA and DOE programs have quietly been quite effective in reducing toxic air emissions, energy usage, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: the corporate average fuel economy or CAFÉ standards and the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA).

According to a recent study, CAFE standards for cars and trucks saved more energy in the US in 2014 (7.3 quadrillion BTUs) with US appliance standards coming in second at 5.3 quadrillion BTUs of energy saved in 2014.

While abandoning the US’s pledge for the Paris Climate Treaty (26-28% reduction in CO2e emissions by 2025) and repealing the Clean Power Plan (cutting CO2e emissions by about 220 million metric tons by 2030) will not be positive for energy savings and GHG emission reductions, there is certainly a movement among US consumers to save energy, and, thus, GHG emissions, as the cost of excess energy usage comes from their pockets.

Current CAFÉ standards were finalized in August 2012, highlighted by an agreement with 13 large automakers to increase fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025. Even the immediate improvement in fuel economy for limited models has resulted in the great energy and GHG emission savings noted above. These savings will increase more rapidly as the years go on as the standards increase and more models hit the road.

Quietly, though, national appliance standards have also effectively reduced energy use and GHG emissions. The original National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 (NAECA) was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. It created uniform federal standards in response to complaints by the industry that it was difficult to keep track and comply with a myriad of different state standards. It contains minimum efficiency standards for a variety of appliances. It also prohibits manufacturers from advertising a product as meeting their energy efficiency standard unless it performed testing under federal guidelines that confirms this and that the testing is available to the public.

National appliance standards have been estimated to save the average US household about $500 per year on utility bills. In 2015, the appliance standards has been estimated to avoid 300 million tons of CO2e emissions.

The DOE has periodically updated the NAECA standards, mainly as part of the Energy Act of 2005. Over 50 consumer products are now covered by these standards. Despite being called an “Appliance” standard, NAECA covers other consumer, home-based products found in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, such as battery chargers, pool heaters, and furnace fans. See http://www.appliance-standards.org/national. Some products have minimum energy standards found only at the state level. California, Connecticut, and Oregon have been the most aggressive, with minimum standards for televisions, DVD players, and game consoles.

Energy savings due to the NAECA has grown to 13% of electricity consumption in 2015 and 4% of natural gas consumption. And these energy savings are achieved without the consumer doing anything or investing in anything. And there is no risk of failure as the appliances will meet the standards of lower energy usage.

These savings are expected to grow in the future as future, more stringent standards will come in line for new or existing products. The USDOE has issued new standards for rooftop air conditioners and commercial warm air furnaces that are predicted to reduce energy usage by an additional estimated 5.8 quadrillion Btus over 30 years.

So while other prominent energy and environmental accords and rules have garnered a lot of publicity and have the risk of being eliminated or curtailed, the NAECA is an act that has quietly been successful in reducing a significant amount of energy for people in the residential and manufacturing areas with no loss of availability or function with no hassle or bureaucracy for the end-user. And with little or no complaint from the appliance industry. There appears no talk that it will be streamlined in the new administration. And let’s hope that the CAFE standards, the most successful government act in reducing energy usage, does not materially change, although there is some talk about that.

CCES can help you evaluate the energy usage of your building, whether it be commercial, industrial, or residential and determine many ways to reduce energy usage and peak demand, saving you money, creating other financial benefits, and with minimal risk or disruption. Join the many who have used CCES to save money in the short- and long-term. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

More Multifamily Buildings See the Value in Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency has taken over in commercial and industrial buildings. It is simple to administer, as the entire building can be evaluated and the owner pays the upfront costs, but also reaps the benefits of energy cost savings and longer lasting equipment.

It is a different story for residential multifamily buildings, however. Energy is used in many different ways in a multifamily and is controlled by many different elements, not just the owner. Residents control much of the energy use of the building, such as lighting, AC, plug load, and how they are operated. For each resident to swap out more efficient lights, TVs, etc. for their current ones is not cost-effective, and doing so as a unit can lead to disputes. Similarly, building owners who wish to become more energy efficient on common energy sources, such as boiler, pipes, hall and lobby lights, elevators, and laundry equipment, are discouraged by coop or condo boards and by distribution of monetary benefits (savings go toward owner’s profits or be given to renters or unit owners in reduced rent or maintenance). And then there is building maintenance staff (“supers”), who have no training or knowledge of energy efficiency.

Therefore, multifamily buildings rarely undergo energy upgrades and tend to have older, less efficient equipment than in commercial or industrial buildings, even though they can be larger in size. This is too bad as multifamilies offer great potential for savings.

One new item that is changing the equation and encouraging investment in energy efficiency in multifamily buildings are the new energy benchmarking rules in effect in about a dozen major US cities currently. Renters and buyers now have information and can and will use such data to determine where they prefer to live. For the owner of a relatively efficient building, they have proof their property is more desirable and enables them to charge higher rents or maintenance fees. For buildings said to be relatively inefficient, it provides the confirmation needed to tackle problems and that there are many other buildings to try to emulate. There is hope out there.

Energy efficiency data, virtually completely absent from real estate evaluations 5 years ago, is now more accessible, and the appraisal community is beginning to integrate such data into their value equations. This should result in relative right-sizing the value of efficient and less efficient buildings, and encourage investment in buildings which may have many things going for it, but are inefficient energy-wise.

This is beginning to real results to conserve energy use in multifamily buildings. For example, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) is researching an energy efficiency credential program for multifamily staff. Everyday maintenance of the physical building and equipment is a cost-effective way to save energy.

In summary, the world of multifamily buildings – when it comes to energy – is complex, with differing needs and concerns of renters and unit owners, coop and condo boards, and owners. Who will pay the costs of upgrades? Who will benefit and when? However, multifamily buildings represent an opportunity for significant energy savings. Given popular benchmarking rules where the public can see energy (and water use) ratings of buildings, there is impetus to invest toward energy efficiency.

CCES can provide the technical experience to perform an energy evaluation of your building (multifamily or not) and develop cost-saving strategies to reduce energy use and peak demand saving you not only significant energy costs, but also improving the value of your building and reducing your O&M costs. Contact us today with any questions at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

How to Avoid Costly Office Technology Disasters: 7 Cringeworthy Examples of What Not to Do

BY DAVID J. ROSENBAUM, PRINCIPAL,
CITRIN COOPERMAN TECHNOLOGY CONSULTING

When selecting space or designing an office interior, proper planning for technology is critical; failure to do so can be expensive and disruptive. Including a technology consultant as part of the professional design and engineering team can help to avoid costly mistakes. Learn from these 7 real-life examples.

1. Server Room Column – The architect designed offices for a law firm and provided a centrally positioned server room with adequate dimensions to accommodate the firm’s file server rack. What the architect failed to take into account were the clearances required in front of the rack and behind the rack to service the equipment, and the fact that the column in the server room would prevent the equipment from sliding out of the rack for maintenance.

2. Building MPOE – The real estate broker and landlord assured the client that Internet and telephone services were provided to a warehouse building. What nobody disclosed was that the building’s main point of entry (MPOE) was at the opposite side of the building, and that a 2” EMT conduit would be required from the MPOE to the client’s communications room with an unexpected, unbudgeted cost of nearly $15,000.

3. Conference Table – The furniture dealer proposed a beautiful conference table for the client’s Board Room, and the architect specified appropriate core drills to bring power, voice and data service to the surface of the table through the table’s pedestals. When the furniture dealer recommended an “even more beautiful” conference table that was “on sale” he failed to coordinate the change with the architect or general contractor. The result was delivery of a truly beautiful table that didn’t align with the incoming feeds. The cables draped on the floor from the core drills to the pedestals were unsightly and compromised the entire look of the Board Room.

4. Space Heaters – The MEP consultant and the architect assured the client that the temperature in the new offices would be properly regulated and balanced, and that staff would not need space heaters in order to be warm during the winter. What the MEP and architect failed to take into account was client “organizational culture” which emphasized work comfort, interpreted as allowing space heaters. In the client’s old office, a proliferation of space heaters resulted in frequent circuit breaker trips and loss of data on the computers that were sharing the circuits; in the new office, an additional electrical panel to support individual space heaters would have added $45,000 to the project. Ultimately client management agreed to prohibit employee use of space heaters, and tasked the MEP, architect and general contractor with assuring that employees were comfortable without them.

5. “Redundant” Air Conditioning – The MEP met the client’s requirement for redundant server room air conditioning systems, but designed the two systems to both rely on the building’s cooling tower. When the cooling tower lines froze during the winter, both air conditioning systems failed and the server room began to overheat. Ultimately a 3rd air cooled system was added at significant post-construction expense to provide proper system redundancy.

6. Cable Pathways – The cabling vendor roughed-in cables from the building’s service closet to the tenant’s communications room, which were then enclosed in a soffit by the general contractor. When additional communications circuits were later required, it was discovered that nobody had thought to leave a drag line or provide pull boxes to facilitate future connections. Due to the pathway and turns in the pathway, the soffit needed to be penetrated to install additional cabling, then reclosed and repainted at additional cost and disruption to the client.

7. Internet Services – The real estate broker identified space that met the client’s requirements for location, budget and useable square footage, but didn’t review the availability of suitable Internet services for the floor the client would be occupying. After signing the lease and beginning construction, the client learned that the building’s management would not permit the current Internet provider to install any additional services through the riser closets unless they first cleaned up the cabling that had been installed haphazardly over the past 15 years. The result was that the client experienced delays in occupying the space and incurred additional costs securing Internet service from a different, more expensive provider that wasn’t similarly barred.

This demonstrates the importance of planning and anticipating future needs. While it’s not possible to anticipate everything when selecting or designing an office space, a thorough review of current technology-related requirements and possible future needs is critical to assure that the client’s needs are met. Working with professionals who’ve been through the process before can help to avoid these and other pitfalls.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Rosenbaum is a Principal at Citrin Cooperman. He has more than 35 years of experience in the information technology field and is a third-generation entrepreneur. David can be reached at 914.693.7000 or drosenbaum@citrincooperman.com

Citrin Cooperman Technology Consulting is focused on meeting the needs of small and midsized businesses. With experience in a variety of industries, our team is well-equipped to support your company’s growth and vision. We have four core service offerings including best practices assessments, outsourced IT, corporate relocation services, and compliance implementation.