Monthly Archives: October 2015

Climate Change After the Pope’s Visit

The Pope came to the US last month and made very forceful and well-publicized arguments about the importance of addressing climate change soon. Of course, he emphasized the moral imperative: how wealthy countries contribute more to climate change, yet poorer countries will likely suffer more. This blog has discussed extensively the practical and business benefits of addressing climate change. One may not “believe” in climate change, yet benefit your company or entity financially by addressing it smartly. But with the aura of the Pope’s visit and his framing of the moral dimension and the upcoming meeting in Paris for potential rules and goals for GHG reduction, how does climate change affect not just the US as a whole, but your company, too? What are the most effective ways to meet the moral and financial priorities of climate change? Should we address climate change wholeheartedly or is it better to address it slowly?

The momentum to address climate change is growing, as a number of national polls show that climate change is being accepted as true and something that needs to be addressed by a growing majority of Americans (despite the demagoguery of some Presidential candidates). Climate change introduces a number of new, significant risks to our nation and institutions. And, many of the steps to be implemented to address climate change (reduction of GHG emissions) also provide direct economic benefits.

As a result, the trend to encourage companies and people to use less or de-carbonized sources of energy will likely continue. For example, Northeast power generators, forced to reduce GHG emissions because of the RGGI rule, have greatly exceeded the rule’s reduction goals, in part, because of the price differential between cleaner fuels and fuels used before the rule went into effect. Because of renewable goals that many states have set, large investments in renewable power are being made. Quietly, the fraction of power from renewable sources in the US is growing. There is also a growing movement of governments and utilities to encourage improved energy efficiency to save money on expensive energy infrastructure upgrades if power demand continues to grow. Energy efficiency is now understood as an investment that pays a better return than the vast majority of banks and Wall St. investments, and has ancillary benefits, such as reduced GHG and air toxic emissions, reduced O&M costs, and increased asset value.

Should the US, the states, and companies invest now in energy efficiency and in clean or cleaner energy technology now or should they wait? There is an argument that it may be better to wait to invest in reduced-carbon energy or energy efficiency, as initial costs of such technologies are expected to fall in the future as they become more common. On the other hand, there are significant costs to waiting to become more energy efficient and use lower-carbon or renewable power, such as:

• paying significantly higher energy costs for more energy used while waiting;

• probable future rules will reward those who reduce GHG emissions early; and

• the potential lower future value of carbon credits in the future as more entities reduce GHG emissions.

Similarly, should companies go “all in” now on reducing GHG emissions or should such moves wait for final global or US regulations to come out of the Paris UN conference or for other priorities to shake out? While the answer depends on the “culture” of each company, it is important to understand that actions to reduce GHG emissions almost always have not only direct, long-term cost savings benefits, but also harder-to-quantify benefits, such as reduced O&M, improved worker productivity, increase in asset value, and more productive tenants, that also improve the bottom line.

Therefore, waiting for exact requirements from the federal government, which will take years, even if US authorities make pledges in an approved agreement in Paris, can result in missed business opportunities for many companies. Just performing a basic GHG emission inventory (“carbon footprint”) and studying and eventually implementing energy reduction projects does not need to wait for an exact finality of regulatory requirements, and will likely not involve any re-inventing of the process.

Besides reducing GHG emissions as a response to climate change and the Pope and/or UN initiatives, another climate change issue that a company must assess is risk. What effects caused by climate change may affect a business.

Four types of climate change risk that could affect a business include:

1. Competitive (cost) risks
• Effect of a decline in consumer demand for energy-intensive product
• Rise in costs for your necessary processes which are energy intensive
• Rise in costs for necessary transportation fuels

2. Reputational risks from perceived inaction on climate change

3. Regulatory/compliance risks from future tightening legislation

4. Physical risks of climate change-influenced events (i.e., extreme weather, rising sea levels, etc.):
• Asset damage
• Inability to make or transport product, raw materials
• Health and safety risks
• Project delays
• Crop damage or agricultural transition as certain crops no longer are viable in certain areas and new supply chains become necessary

Outside the US, many companies have recognized and begun to study and implement strategies to minimize climate change-related risks. US companies have been slower to react. But as climate change is more recognized and accepted, spurred on in part by the Pope’s visit, this is something that is also important for many companies. Entities understand risk affecting operations, revenue, and even existence and deal with this routinely. Climate change represents another set of risks that entities should understand and address – independent of the Pope’s visit and the upcoming Paris UN conference.

CCES can help your firm develop a climate change program and prepare strategies to not only minimize risk, but also take advantage of energy realities to maximize financial benefits while reducing GHG emissions. Contact us today on this at 914-584-6720 or at

Case Study: CCES Helps Implement Energy Upgrade for Transportation Hub

Climate Change & Environmental Services (CCES) was part of a team that designed and implemented the installation of occupancy sensors at a major transportation hub station in a large Northeast city. The transportation authority needed to demonstrate energy savings. While the hub is in use 24/7, many areas, including those not used by the public, were unoccupied for long stretches of time. It was understood that modern, properly designed and placed occupancy sensors would be very effective in saving the agency much in electricity usage and costs by automatically turning lights off in certain areas when unoccupied. This project was also part of the agency’s “green” program.

CCES provided technical assistance, reviewed drawings and plans and provided professional engineering certification of several dozen occupancy sensors installed throughout the complex. CCES also inspected the facility post-installation to ensure that the right sensor models were installed in the right locations within the proper rooms and areas and that they were operating properly based on design settings. The project was a success and the agency subsequently has saved substantial energy costs without impacting operations.

Giant Firms Demand Strong Carbon Deal

In the run up to the COP21 UN Climate Convention in Paris later this year in which nations intend to finalize a global deal on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, six huge US banking institutions ( and six major oil companies ( called for both a strong global climate agreement and policies that recognize the cost of carbon.

JP Morgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley, the 4 largest lending institutions and two largest investment banks with over $7.6 trillion in managed assets also committed to provide “significant resources” to finance climate solutions.

Officers from these banks issued an open letter for the UN’s General Assembly session for which climate change and sustainable development is strongly covered and as a prelude to the COP21 convention. The letter from the banks openly stated that climate change is real and is already threatening world prosperity. It also described efforts from their point of view – financing the changes for the world to become a low-carbon economy – as a “business opportunity” for them and the whole banking industry.

The statement indicated that while they believe fossil fuels will remain part of the global economy, it is important for an accelerated transition to clean power to begin soon with sound governmental policies.

The statement also called for policies to establish a future cost of carbon. While they did not advocate a specific policy, such as a carbon tax, governments need to recognize the need for carbon to have a cost as part of future economic policy. According to CERES, while many large corporations currently price carbon as part of their internal operations, these standards are disparate and national policies are needed, important to provide guidelines to value the emissions and reduction of GHG emissions.

The six major oil companies (BG Group, BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Total) wrote their open letter to governments and the UN saying that they can take appropriate actions if governments provide clear, stable, and long-term rules and carbon pricing that puts a proper price on the environmental and economic costs of GHG emissions.

This is critical as the oil and gas industry, producers of fossil fuels that have contributed to climate change, has been the last to be “on board” with addressing the issue.

The letter recognizes that climate change is becoming one of the biggest risks of their and many other industries. Many companies want to implement positive solutions, such as renewable and efficient energy, reduced pollution and resilient economies, but need robust government policies to allow them to plan and invest in such projects properly.

These unequivocal open letters from bastions of industry and capitalism are particularly strong against the backdrop of the current US presidential campaign in which candidates of one party openly deny and mock climate change and state that reducing GHG emissions would hurt the economy. And in Congress, leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell openly vow to prevent the US from implementing any agreement to reduce GHG emissions and price carbon coming out of the COP21 UN Climate Convention.

CCES can help your company prepare for the coming clean energy revolution, helping you reduce GHG emissions by reducing your energy demand and usage and by assessing how you can create your own energy from renewable sources, in both cases, increasing your economic benefits. Contact us today to discuss this more at or at 914-584-6720.

A Better Way To Prevent Legionella In Cooling Towers

By Sherry Rivera, Envirron

Legionella bacteria traced to and found in cooling towers have affected several areas of the Bronx, NY and North Carolina, worrying public health officials and producing much negative publicity. Do you want to keep your Cooling Towers safe and clean and FREE of Legionella? This is critical given the publicity and remediation costs and legal fees for those found to have Legionella. We share news of a better way for those willing to do something other than the same old AND costly reactive measures.

We now know that current methods prove less, if not ineffective. Dr. Jay Varna, New York City Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control said the problem is that most people think of cleaning a cooling tower like a kitchen counter – scrub hard and it is good. One needs to be incredibly aggressive in dealing with this, he says.

The threat of Legionella bacteria in cooling towers remains very real since these rooftop devices use an evaporative process which allows a small portion of the water being cooled to evaporate into a moving air stream. This process exposes recirculated water – the perfect incubator for bacterial growth and biofilm which can be dangerous and unhealthy – to the atmosphere.

Many operators use chemicals to control this environmental exposure. However, these same chemicals prove harmful to the environment and to operators and are expensive, difficult to store, dispose of, and manage. A better way exists instead of total reliance on chemicals: the innovative application of Ultraviolet Technology set up appropriately to manage the microbial growth.

Why Ultraviolet (UV) Technology?

All living organisms, including microbes, contain DNA. UV light penetrates the cell body of microorganisms, reaches the DNA and harms it. This safe and reliable UV process renders the bacteria unable to reproduce in a non-chemical manner. By exposing microbes in the water of a cooling tower to UV, you assure their destruction.

Environmentally safe Ultraviolet needs no operator licensing, proves effective on a wide variety of pathogens, operates continuously, offers low operating costs, significantly reduces the need for chemicals, and requires little maintenance. UV use – in conjunction with a Filtration system – results in a much cleaner system; it introduces constant suppression of microorganism growth at better levels than those achievable with chemicals.

The end results: A More Efficient, Economical and Environmentally Friendly Water Treatment Program; a very attractive payback period; and an effective treatment to prevent outbreak of Legionella. It makes sense for Real Estate Owners, Property Managers, Facility Managers, Engineers, and anyone responsible for these towers to seriously consider adding UV technology to their Cooling Tower management program.

If you have any questions or for more information on the use of UV radiation for cooling towers and other health-related water management issues, please contact Ms. Sherry Rivera of Envirron at or at 516-458-5384.

Importance of USEPA Tightening the Ground-Level Ozone Standard

On October 1, 2015, the USEPA issued tighter the national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for smog, limiting ground-level ozone, the main indicator of smog, to 70 ppb from 75 ppb. This represents both the new primary (human health) and secondary (trees, ecosystems) standards. This is based on new scientific research on the effects of smog. The Clean Air Act requires that the USEPA review NAAQS standards every 5 years and adjust any if research indicates that it is too or not stringent enough to protect public health. The agency says the updated ozone NAAQS will reduce public exposure to smog, a cocophony of thousands of compounds, many of them toxic, and estimates that the public health benefits of these updated standards will be $2.9 to $5.9 billion annually in 2025 in avoided illnesses and deaths and added productivity, outweighing the estimated annual costs of $1.4 billion. “It is also notable that the Clean Air Act is one of the most life-saving pieces of legislation ever adopted by any country in history.” This was not quoted from an environmental group manifesto, but from Forbes Magazine!

The USEPA received criticism of the new standards from both sides. The USEPA entertained lowering the standard to as low as 60 ppb and, therefore, was criticized by some environmental groups for not going further than 70 ppm. Meanwhile organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers issued a statement calling the new standard “overly burdensome, costly and misguided.”

While average ozone levels in the country have fallen 33%, according to the USEPA from when the Clean Air Act was formally administered until recently, many regions are still out of attainment with the old standard. A list of current non-attainment areas may be found here: Now that the standard has been lowered, some areas that worked hard to reach attainment may become out of attainment again. Depending on the degree of nonattainment, states will have until between 2020 and 2037 to revise and enforce regulations to meet the new standards.

Smog levels are influenced by emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), by product of combustion. These and other compounds enter into chemical reactions in the atmosphere catalyzed by sunlight and heat to form many compounds, some of which are harmful. Ozone is an indicator to measure smog levels. Thus, smog is highest in the summer and in sunnier areas of the country.

The USEPA will work with affected states and regions to modify its rules to tighten emission standards of VOCs and NOx. In many cases, however, smog components waft in from upwind sources of the compounds. The USEPA may, therefore, promote regional solutions.

CCES can help you estimate your VOC and NOx and other emissions and perform the technical work needed to evaluate your compliance status vis-à-vis current ozone and other federal and state air regulations. Plus, we can provide cost-effective strategies to comply or just to lower your emissions. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

“Do” Energy The Right Way

More and more people are getting it. The recent revolution in energy technology makes upgrades for a building not just the right “green” move, but also one of the smartest ways to invest money. Returns on investment of 15%, 20%, and much more per year can be achieved for a smart upgrade. Much better than you can get at a bank or on Wall Street, with no risk of loss!

However, some facility managers want to pursue this in a rush-rush manner. Go to the store, buy some new lights or controls or other items and just replace in kind for the reduced usage or wattage without determining the needs or the applications.

This is counterproductive. Changing lights, improving insulation, upgrading HVAC are the opportunities to take a deeper look at your building. Building functions change over time. People are moved to different areas; different activities occur; different equipment brought in. Therefore, your energy needs and demand will change, too.

It is important to take the time when you decide to make your energy upgrade to plan beforehand. For example, is the lighting you have now right for your workers, shoppers, etc.? Is the right amount of light being applied to desks or product being sold, etc., and less in other areas (but enough to be safe)? Just lowering wattage for the same type of light will not help or enhance your operations. Therefore, it is also important to invest money in lighting design. Bring in a professional lighting designer or one with experience in this area (there is now a new Certification in Lighting Design: CLD). Yes, you’ll spend some additional money, but you’ll definitely get it back in improved sales, more productive and less stressed employees, etc., on top of your energy cost savings. Get the right professionals involved early for other energy upgrades, too.

In fact, it is also critical to get the right people involved in your initial energy evaluation or audit, as well. The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) has many certification programs for professionals in the energy area, including Certified Energy Managers (CEMs), Certified Energy Auditors (CEAs), and retrocommissioning professionals (EBCP). I am pleased to say that I am a CEM and an EBCP, and I can tell you the training and amount of information I had to learn to pass the exams was great and comprehensive. In fact, AEE programs are gaining greater respect in the energy world, as CEM is the first program to receive recognition from the US DOE as aligning with their Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines and has also achieved ANSI accreditation.

The recognition by the US DOE elevates the importance of the CEM credential for evaluating your property. You should make sure that you don’t do your energy upgrade yourself or use just a run-of-the-mill person who claims to be an energy expert. At a minimum, the professional who oversees your energy upgrades should have a CEM or CEA certification. After all, you would not go to someone to do your taxes who is not experienced and certified, right? You would not go to a doctor or dentist for advice on a health matter who is not properly degreed and trained, right? Therefore, you should only trust your energy management with the great cost savings and productivity gain potential to experienced, recognized professionals.

CCES has the expertise and experience to perform comprehensive professional energy assessments and audits for diverse building types to provide a complete picture of not just your current energy usage, but also provide multiple energy conservation measures to help you reduce usage and demand and maximum benefits, through incentives and financing, as well. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at