The World Cup of Renewable Energy

Thursday, July 3, 2014 13:28
Posted in category Solar Installer Articles


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or in a room without tv access (like me), you’ve probably seen one, or several world cup games in recent days. FIFA has been everywhere lately, and not just for soccer (..or football). One hot button topic surrounding the 2014 World Cup games are the measures that planners and developers have gone through to reduce the environmental impact of the games. Of the 12 stadiums being used for the games, 10 have applied for LEED certification, a recognition that indicates a high level of sustainable awareness. While the ultimate goal of the organizers is to have some sort of green energy integrated in all of the stadiums, as of now only four of the stadiums utilize solar energy in their design. To put numbers into perspective, the installation at Estadio Mineirão produces enough energy to power about 1,200 households, while the Solar PV system at Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha will generate enough energy to supply almost 2,000 households per day which is a great step towards creating a more sustainable society.

Brazil has very obviously dedicated much thought and planning to their renewable energy projects, but what about some of the other countries participating in the World Cup?

Lets pretend for a moment that the World Cup is a competition over sustainability bragging rights and not soccer. Based on figures from Renewables 2014 Global Status Report and teams competing in this years World Cup, I made my bracket for the first ever (imaginary) Renewable Energy World Cup.


Read the rest of this entry »

Gateway to Green Building – LEED Green Associate

Monday, April 21, 2014 11:27
Posted in category LEED Certification Articles


Getting a LEED certification is not just a way of demonstrating a commitment to environmental wellness; it’s also a way of enhancing the asset value of a building.

More than 30 major cities across the US enacted disclosure requirements last year, requiring commercial building owners to disclose green building performance metrics. With the focus of the green building industry gaining importance, the practice of greening a building spans from existing constructions to new design projects.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Business Case For Green Buildings

Monday, September 23, 2013 16:28
Posted in category LEED Certification Articles

It is the question asked for so many times when talking about green building. Does it pay off to make your building green (or at least greener)?

Read the rest of this entry »

An Overlooked Aspect of Energy Efficiency

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 14:10
Posted in category Uncategorized

Parking GarageDespite the growth of public transportation and other transportation alternatives, parking locations remain necessary in much of the nation. Even though parking consultants and design teams have been using sustainable practices for parking structures in recent years, many do not calculate energy use as part of their standard methodology. Unknown to most, a garage typically uses 15% of the energy that the building that it is designed to support uses.Worse, this energy use is often lost in the periphery of energy efficiency efforts. Parking structures should not be overlooked, though, because the savings potential is immense. Energy use can be reduced by more than 90% over an ASHRAE Standard 90.1 2007 baseline parking structure with typical construction costs.

Here are some design elements that can be implemented to improve the energy efficiency of parking structures


Design the parking structure to maintain an approximate 40% façade openness, which allows natural ventilation on all levels. This will be enough ventilation to preclude the need for mechanical ventilation systems.


Lighting is typically the largest load, particularly for naturally ventilated structures. To reduce the lighting load to almost zero during daylight hours, perforate the façade with aluminum panels that let in sunlight (while keeping out weather) and, if possible, design to include a “light well” in the middle of the structure to meet a full daylighting effort in the center of the space. If done properly, only a few places in the structure, such as under the stairs, need to be electrically lighted between sunrise and sunset.

Read the rest of this entry »

What the Green Building Industry Can Learn From Motorola

Thursday, January 17, 2013 11:49
Posted in category Uncategorized

LEED Six SigmaWhether driven by a genuine desire to reduce their environmental footprint, or simply to insulate themselves against rising costs, energy efficiency is becoming a significant organizational goal for many companies around the country. In order to achieve these goals, businesses are looking for direction on how they can have their buildings’ designed and/or operated to consume as little energy as possible. Many have looked to the LEED Rating System to provide both the guidance for, and recognition of exceptional energy, water and material conservation. However, large barriers remain; the planning, modeling, implementation, measurement and documentation requirements of attaining a LEED designation can be daunting. Worse, many companies begin the process of having their building LEED certified, only to abandon the project due to lack of focus and uncertainty. While some companies are waiting for the streamlined documentation promised by LEED V4 (set to release in September), the real solution may be found in a more unlikely place – the Six Sigma Methodologies originally developed by Motorola in 1986.

Six Sigma Methodologies

Six Sigma is a business management strategy that seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, primarily statistical, to define a project and carry out a defined sequence of steps towards a quantified target (generally cost reduction or profit increase). These steps are known as DMAIC – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. All this is done in an effort to operate at Six Sigma quality levels, in which only 3.4 outputs out of 1,000,000 are defective. In a time when New York’s Energy Benchmarking law found that the Chrysler Building, constructed in the 1930s, is more energy efficient than the newly constructed (and LEED Certified) 7 World Trade Center, a discipline that focuses on excellence in results might be exactly what the green building industry needs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Energy Benchmarking – A $9 Billion Saving Plan

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 16:07
Posted in category Uncategorized

Multifamily BenchmarkingEnergy benchmarking can unlock $9 billion in energy savings by 2020, suggests a recent report by the Institute of Market Transformation. Despite our lofty aspirations of energy independence and tackling global climate change, we are only beginning to implement the first step in the multifamily building sector – understanding our energy use. Multifamily housing has a number of characteristics that should make green retrofits an appealing investment, but only a fraction of the potential energy savings have been realized due to the lack of data on best practices and historical cost savings. Experts estimate that the multifamily housing stock could feasibly become 28% more efficient by 2020, which translates to 51,000 GWh of electricity, or 20 coal power plants worth of carbon emissions.

Increasing Demand and Barriers to Adoption

Given that energy costs have risen three times faster than rent increases in the past ten years, utility bills are beginning to be a significant burden on the almost 40 million Americans that live in these multifamily buildings, costing approximately $22 billion per year. Exacerbating the problem in the case of multifamily buildings is the larger capital investments for energy improvements, lack of available capital, and the divide between building owners, utility bills, and tenants. Still, the main obstacle may be the fact that many building owners have never measured, or benchmarked, the energy performance of their buildings, and struggle to make informed decisions when relying solely on energy bills.

Read the rest of this entry »

5 Most Common Credits for LEED Certification

Friday, November 16, 2012 10:04
Posted in category LEED Certification Articles

LEED BuildingThe decision to apply for LEED Certification is both exciting and daunting for designers and managers. Having your building recognized by the USGBC is a badge of honor in the design and construction industry, but it also means more planning, measuring and upfront costs. What’s more, a simple “LEED Certified” designation no longer holds the same weight as it once did; in fact, the most common designation is now LEED Gold. This requires getting at least 60 out of the 110 possible points under the current LEED rating system. Points vary tremendously in ease and cost, so make sure not to miss any of the low hanging fruits in this list. Also, you shouldn’t worry about whether these options will still be available under LEED V4; a project can still apply to the current system, LEED 2009, until mid-2015.

1. Include a principal participant with a LEED Accreditation

In terms of ease and benefit, the number one thing any project should do is to make sure you have a LEED AP on the team. LEED AP’s have passed the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP Exams, as well as documented experience on a project seeking LEED Certification. They will have the expertise required to design a building to LEED standards and to coordinate the application process. LEED APs also go through continuing education to ensure they understand the latest in integrated design and how to consider interactions between the various credit categories. Remember that they must have a LEED AP designation, which tests for advanced knowledge of a particular rating system; not simply a LEED Green Associate, which only tests a fundamental understanding of green buildings.

Read the rest of this entry »

3 Million Jobs in the Green Economy by 2020

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 14:19
Posted in category Uncategorized

Where are the Green Jobs?

CleanEdison research indicates that nearly 3 million people will be employed in the green economy by the end of 2020.

When we look at job creation and industry growth in areas such as energy efficiency, solar energy, and smart grid technology, we see tremendous growth potential. We estimate that by the end of 2020, nearly 1 million people will be employed in these sectors and nearly 3 million people will be employed in the green economy as a whole.

As Seen in Bloomberg News

Read the rest of this entry »

10 Most Sustainable American Universities

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 11:32
Posted in category LEED Certification Articles

Colleges and universities are in a particularly advantageous position to foster sustainability in the short and long term. Their decisions regarding energy, transportation, construction and operations can have real effects on the surrounding community, and collectively, the nation as a whole. Moreover, the inclusion of sustainability in the curriculum and activities of students will help shape a more eco-conscious society as we move forward. There are many different metrics that can be used to define sustainability, but in terms of resource efficiency and human health, LEED certified buildings can serve as a good measuring stick for a school’s commitment to sustainability. In no particular order, here are 10 universities that have demonstrated a willingness to be leaders in the field.

California Polytechnic State University

Cal Poly– Cal Poly is a leader in curriculum focused on sustainability; they currently offer over 170 courses with an emphasis on sustainability. In addition to educating the next generation of sustainable experts, they have made a strong commitment to LEED for their own campus. All new facilities are designed to be equivalent to a LEED Certified level of sustainability, with the goal of each project achieving LEED Silver or higher. Cal Poly was awarded LEED Silver certification for their Faculty Office East building in 2008 and LEED Gold certification for their Poly Canyon Village student housing in 2009, resulting in over 25% of the campus square footage being LEED certified. Moreover, the Poly Canyon Village project diverted 94% of the non-hazardous construction and demolition waste from landfills.

Total Number of LEED Certified Buildings – 11

Combined Square Footage LEED Certified – 1,425,794 sq. feet (25% of total area)

Read the rest of this entry »

Decoding the Green Construction Codes

Monday, October 1, 2012 10:12
Posted in category LEED Certification Articles

Often, businesses tout the designations they’ve received from voluntary green building rating systems such as a LEED certification to showcase how environmentally-friendly they are as a company. These rating systems have had a significant impact on the building industry, but many feel that there is a need for a code compliance path to document buildings’ performances. This is why the the ICC International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and ASHRAE 189.1, Standard for the Design of High Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings have been established.

Green Building

These documents are neither ratings systems or guides, though they do focus on the five categories of sustainability addressed in LEED New Construction: Materials and Resources, Site Sustainability, Indoor Environmental Quality, Energy Efficiency, Water Use Efficiency, and an additional section addressing Operation and Maintenance. These codes are written in mandatory code language and are intended to be adopted on local and state levels.

So, what are the major differences between the two codes? First, one must understand that ASHRAE 189.1 is based on site energy cost, while IgCC is based on source energy use. These unique metrics provide energy-saving measures depending on the particular project. A portion of the IgCC also states that the person doing the energy simulation be a professional architect or engineer in the state where the project is being constructed; ASHRAE 189.1 currently does not have a similar condition.

Read the rest of this entry »