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

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, “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.

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

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

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 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

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

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


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

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.

Solar PV Will Grow in 2017 And Beyond

According to a recent Bloomberg article, solar power has become the world’s cheapest form of new electricity generation. See: Solar PV is cheaper than not only other renewables (i.e., wind), but also is cheaper than conventional sources, such as coal and natural gas.

According to Bloomberg’s analysis, the cost of solar power in many emerging market economies has dropped by about two-thirds since 2010. The article reports that during 2016 the price of electricity from solar dropped by over 50% to a low of $29.10/MWh in Chile, which is about half the price of coal-produced electricity there. The article attributes this drop in costs to China’s massive investment in solar panel production and its assistance to other countries financing their own solar projects. 2016 is expected to see global generating capacity of newly-installed solar PVs reach a record 70 gigawatts (estimated), exceeding that of wind for the first time.

And solar PV will get a further “shot in the arm” as technology to integrate solar power into buildings themselves is ready to make its debut in the field. Tesla and Panasonic will jointly begin to manufacture and market Tesla’s solar roof products. Manufacturing will be performed at Tesla’s Buffalo, NY facility.

This technology is called building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) sector. See BIPV is the inclusion of solar power-generating elements in the construction of a structure. A roof or window is present not just for protection from elements or for aesthetics, but now can contain the elements to absorb sunlight and generate electricity, as well. This is in contrast with traditional rooftop solar installations, which entails attaching PV panels separately to roofing material. Integrating solar power generation as part of the construction project rather than as a separate post-construction addition would result in cost savings by reducing labor and installation costs and eliminating the need for separate racking equipment. With Tesla’s BIPV, solar becomes an efficient building material rather than an add-on. This is not the first such product as solar roof shingles (from Dow and others) already exist, but has had a limited market. Dow has exited this business segment.

Market research indicates that some building managers are hesitant to commit to traditional solar panels because they are an add-on. If the roof underneath needs work there is extra labor to remove and then put back on the solar panels. An integrated product would address this concern. A recent study estimated an annual compounded growth rate of BIPV of nearly 10% over at least the next 5 years.

CCES can help you decide if solar PV is right for your buildings, including BIPV or traditional add-on panels and whether it makes economic sense. And we can advise you on any of many other issues in the energy and environmental areas to maximize your financial gain and minimize risk. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Think Unconventionally in 2017

Usually I write fact-driven blog articles about news and trends in energy, environment, sustainability, etc. to inform and prepare you for what’s new. I hope I’ve been helpful. But I want to take this opportunity to be a little different and share some personal thoughts for 2017 and beyond. Some of this is based on the recent presidential election and what it may do to our livelihoods, and some independent of that.

I want to start off by sharing with you an unusual activity I really enjoy doing, something unconventional. I am 60 years old, yet I play in a pickup, full-court basketball game weekly and I love it. I go up mainly against guys who are less than half my age. This is certainly not a “normal” activity given my age and body type (I am not in the best of cardiovascular shape and, yes, a bit overweight), and friends and family try to convince me to stop.

But I love it so much. The competition, the intensity, the camaraderie. At the end of an evening of basketball, when I walk to my car and into the night and even the next morning – even when I’m very sore – I feel absolutely great. Why does it make me feel so good? I don’t know. The physicians out there may say that the intense activities on the court and all causes me to produce endorphins that lift my mood, presumably to counter the pain. Maybe some who are very religious may say that doing such a physical activity prolongs life (of paramount importance) and God is participating in a positive feedback loop. I happen to subscribe to another theory (and it’s just a theory) that one of the worst things a person can do is be in a rut. Do the same thing day after day, week after week, year after year. From an evolutionary point of view, it is hard for a species to survive if it does the same things all the time. So I think the good feelings from my brain is an evolutionary reward to encourage change. Again, just my guess.

As if this were not enough, I also participate in another activity that is a bit unconventional for someone like me, dancing, specifically Israeli dancing, on a regular basis. 60-year old men generally do not go out dancing; we sit by the TV and watch ball games and movies and talking heads. But again, I find it fun and uplifting, too.

So, as we enter a new year which is often a time when we self-evaluate and think about our lives, I want to urge each and every one of you to pledge to do something a little unconventional this year. No, it doesn’t have to be playing basketball or doing Israeli dancing (they’re certainly not for everyone). Perhaps it’s saying one or two evenings a week you will not sit on the couch and watch TV, but instead read classic old books or study new philosophies or take a course in a new subject or spend more time with your kids or do a volunteer activity with other kids or groups or be involved in local (or national) politics, or pick up that musical instrument you always liked or have not played since high school. Do any of these as a different, regular activity in 2017.

And the same for your careers. Declare in 2017 you will do something a little different; study something you normally do not get too deep into, or expand your comfort zone in your workload and go down a different “route” to benefit your company, or look into doing something new in the office.

Whether personal or professional or both, doing things unconventionally in 2017 should get your endorphins flowing, make you a little more nimble, and make yourself happier and more productive.

Thank you very much for allowing this indulgence. Have a happy, productive, unconventional 2017.

Despite Election, Six Reasons Why Clean Energy Will Still Do Well In The Future

With a new presidential administration and team at Energy and the USEPA soon to be sworn in, it is assumed that the US will repeal many current environmental rules, attempt to develop more of its own fossil fuels, and walk away from Paris climate change commitments. However, there are strong economic, global, and non-political factors that will move the US away from these actions or prove that they are actually harmful for the companies that the new Administration wishes to benefit the most.

Here are six reasons:

1. Economic forces are stronger than repealing a few rules. Right now, there is a glut of oil relative to demand, as many nations are only slowly recovering from the Great Recession or are entering a new slowdown themselves (i.e., China). Should the US succeed in greater exploration of coal or crude oil or invest in improving pipelines to move the oil, this will be a “dump” in the market, pushing down prices more and reducing profit margins of coal and oil companies. This would be true even if this growth were to take a few years, as futures markets will react.

Further, if the Trump Administration gets its wish to relax or repeal many environmental rules, which they believe is “holding back” energy companies, economic forces will make coal, oil, etc. more inexpensive. Other oil and coal producers (Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Middle East, etc.) are all desperate for revenue to keep their regimes going and populations happy, and are likely to dump as much energy supply on the market as possible. The US will just add to that. Despite OPEC agreements to hold back putting oil on the market, countries will want to maximize needed revenue. Economic forces are greater than loosening some environmental rules.

2. The effort to get fossil fuel supplies. Even with a “green light” from Energy or the Interior, as time goes on, it will get harder for companies to drill for or mine oil, natural gas, or coal. Companies naturally look for the easiest and cheapest sources. In the future, companies will need to dig deeper or in further away places than years ago, raising the baseline cost. Because of oversupply the price of a gallon of crude oil or coal may not be worth the cost to produce it – even if environmental regulations were to be relaxed (if this is even allowed).

3. Improved technology favors clean sources of energy. Another economic force that even the Trump Administration cannot stop is technology. Improved technologies are being invented and successfully implemented all the time to make renewable energy more effective, practical, and affordable. New wind farms in west Texas can be built for as little as $22/MW, and solar farms in the desert for about $40/MW. In contrast, the cost to build a new natural gas-burning power plant is estimated to be about $52/MW and for coal about $65/MW. Even if environmental controls do not need to be included, there will still be a gap and that gap will climb as renewable technology improves more. There is also the crucial issue of time. Renewable power plants can be up and running in a matter of months; for a fossil fuel plant to begin operation, it’s years.

While causing GHG emissions, natural gas will also be favored because it is lower in GHG emissions compared to oil or coal and can be shipped overseas as LNG much more conveniently and cheaper than oil or coal.

There is also forecasted progress in battery storage capabilities. Thus, it is likely that eventually, all forms of transportation will be able to operate using electric power, lessening the need for gasoline or diesel oil combustion, resulting in lower GHG emissions and saving money, too. It is not an accident that major oil & gas companies are all investing in energy storage, LNG, and renewable energy.

4. Growing understanding of the impacts of “dirty” fuels. Another factor favoring clean energy is the strength of the problems and growing understanding about the impacts of “dirty” energy. There is much worldwide publicity about the air pollution issues in China with pictures shown worldwide of filthy vistas and people walking around in masks. Asthma and other lung diseases have risen dramatically, and the Chinese now realize that environmental issues are high impact economic issues, too, affecting future growth. Many other locations worldwide are learning this, too. So even if the Trump Administration tries to repeal many environmental and public health rules, it will not succeed because of the risk of such scenes becoming common in the US and that world markets, with the biggest component, China, in the lead, will move away from dirty fuels and toward renewables over the next few decades.

5. The power of the States. While those picked to run national environmental and energy policies have historically fought to repeal many regulations, the States have considerable sway in their energy mix. More than half of US states have laws requiring utilities to incorporate a minimum percentage of renewable energy into their generation mix. Some such rules are in force in states considered conservative politically. Some states have very aggressive goals. These will force utilities to contract for or build plants for renewable power in the near future, independent of who is President.

In addition, some states administer GHG emission rules that have been determined to be effective in getting utilities to move away from coal toward renewable power. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cap and trade system for GHG emissions from large power plants in 9 Northeastern states, and is considered a success as it met GHG reduction goals ahead of schedule at a relatively low cost to the regulated utilities. California has aggressive rules it is enforcing. Other states are considering similar rules to encourage renewable power in their states.

6. The power of the private sector. In addition to the States, some major corporations have thrown in their lot to move toward a heavy reliance for renewable power, including Wal-Mart, Microsoft, and Google. It is in their long-term plans to maximize renewable power as their source of electricity for a variety of reasons, including reliability of supply (the sun will always shine, while there could be an embargo or shortage of oil or coal). For the most part, these companies have succeeded and saved energy costs, as well. Other companies are likely to see the success and authorize their own programs to catch up and obtain the benefits.

While there is much to worry about in terms of our future work in the environmental and energy sectors, these factors, beyond the control of the upcoming Administration, should ensure that there is much progress in the future for clean energy, environmental safeguards, and renewable powers.

CCES has the experts to help your company assess impacts of future environmental or energy rules. We can provide you technical advice to help you determine your current status and determine strategies in the future to put yourself in a better place. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at