earth energy Solutions GROUP

… revealing and resolving the economics of energy efficiency


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The Emerging Technology of Microgrids – Demand Response News

 

microgrids

The Emerging Technology of Microgrids – Demand Response News.


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What We Talk About When We Talk About Energy

October 15, 2012
By Jing Jin

In the past year, ardent and persistent campaigning from students who have since established Energy Corps has yet to result in such a fund at this university. While I support Energy Corps and SEI for championing a self-sustaining funding stream for energy efficiency projects, I am not yet convinced that such funds and their concomitant projects result in a meaningful net reduction in energy use.

When I asked if the specific projects advocated by SEI were mostly technology retrofits targeted toward infrastructure, for example motion sensor lights, or if they included behavior change campaigns targeted toward users, Orlowski was careful to say that SEI focused on funding and left project selection up to each school.

Sure, retrofitting a building or dorm reduces energy consumption and carbon emissions, but if the University continues expanding in Ithaca and beyond, tweaks here and there will not balance the carbon books as more services are provided and students served. I am not anti-growth and share the excitement for the tech campus and other facets of our burgeoning global presence. I do, however, want to urge that as we cast our eyes on greater prospects, we must also hold the University to its commitment of climate neutrality by 2050.

Energy use, of course, is a mind-numbing practical and ethical dilemma facing not just universities but consumers at every level — from individuals to the world as a whole. It is certainly a big ticket issue in the presidential election, whether a voter is more concerned with securing supplies of fuel, access to which fluctuates with domestic and international politics, or more concerned with abating the environmental consequences of present and projected energy practices.

Energy independence is a far more complicated goal than the emerging reality the candidates have made it out to be. In the first debate, President Obama celebrated that “oil and natural gas production are higher than they’ve been in years.” Indeed, as James Burkhard of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates has testified in the Senate, “A ‘Great Revival’ in US oil production is taking place — a major break from the near 40-year trend of falling output.” Forty years ago, the U.S. was also in the grips of the Arab oil embargo, which cemented fuel supply as a supreme source of national anxiety.

The load of the U.S.’s oil imports is lightened by increased production and decreased demand. (According to IHS CERA, this is due to higher fuel economy standards — about as close as this administration has gotten to environmental reforms — and an aging population.) However, the $70 billion and growing invested in 2010 to develop U.S. oil and gas belies a continuing long-term dependence on fossil fuels.

The shift from reliance on foreign fossil fuel sources to domestic ones is not all that stabilizing. We have now deigned to figuratively scrape oil and gas from the very bottom of the barrel. The reserves that have trumpeted this Great Revival, such as Marcellus shale gas, Alberta tar (oil) sands, Arctic oil and deep offshore oil, can only be tapped at steep costs to fossil fuel companies, ecosystems and people.

These unconventional fuels, or forms of extreme energy in the words of Hampshire College professor Michael T. Klare, require extraction methods which are unprecedentedly invasive and which use inordinate amounts of water and release toxic amounts of waste. Due to environmental and human health concerns, activists in America, Canada and around the world have mounted successful campaigns to delay hydrofracking in New York, the building of the Keystone XL to pipe tar sands to refineries and drilling in the Arctic by Shell. The Great Revival is unquestionably beset with practical and ethical uncertainties which companies, policymakers and consumers must wrangle with.

I am one of those voters who is more concerned with environmental consequences than with fuel supply, and I don’t harbor any illusion that my camp is necessarily on higher moral ground. I would say that we are uninterested in business as usual, which is what further development of fossil fuels would maintain, at best. Sandra Steingraber writes in Living Downstream, a book about the environmental causes of cancer, of “the unimaginative way things are.” She attacks the unremitting momentum of petrochemical development (for fuel, for industrial products and for consumer goods) in the face of undeniable evidence tying the industry to environmental and human health problems.

For the U.S. to rejoice in further oil and gas exploitation, not as a crutch for advancing toward a truly energy independent future, but as an insistence on squeezing out every murky drop of oil and undisturbed pocket of gas is to be deeply unimaginative.

When we talk about increasing energy efficiency at Cornell without talking about reducing overall energy use, and when we talk about cutting dependency on foreign fuels without talking about building capacity for new domestic energy sources, we fall short on thinking through the full spate of practical and ethical considerations.

Jing Jin is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at jingjin@cornellsun.com. Ringing True appears alternate Mondays this semester.


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REGISTRATION for FM PM Architects Engineers Contractors Energy Instructors

REGISTRATION | reTHINK Sustainability.


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earth energy Group acknowledges positive Ikea move to LEDs in shops around the world

October 02, 2012 | Christoph Hammerschmidt | 222908144
Ikea makes move to LEDs in shops around the world The Swedish furniture shop chain Ikea has announced that it will phase out all incandescent bulbs and CFL lamps in its shops across the world. By 2016, the company plans offer only LED-based lighting fixtures and illuminants.


The company said the move will help its customers to lead a more sustainable life and lower their energy bill. Ikea experts have reckoned that each LED luminaire saves its operator 5,30 euros per year. The LEDs will be sold at the lowest possible price.

At the same time, the company will replace all entire in-shop lighting systems – more than a million light sources in its shops around the globe – to LEDs and “other energy efficient light sources”. An Ikea spokesperson said that the company will use quality as one of the principal criteria for its purchase. “We want to avoid that buyers return their products to us,” she said. The LED product spectrum offered at Ikea stores will be identical around the world. For this reason, each product will have to meet all legal and technical standards.

“LED revolutionizes lighting”, said Ikea Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard. “We believe that everyone should be able to afford a sustainable way of living”.

Nature conservation organisation WWF hailed Ikea’s move. “Our goal is that in the future only renewable energies will be used. In order to remove our dependence from fossil fuels we need to exploit all possibilities. Almost 20% of the global energy consumption is associated to lighting. For this reason, the changeover towards LED technology is a cost-effective means to change things. Ikea’s shift towards LEDs will greatly affect the private energy consumption throughout the world,” said Samantha Smith, head of WWF’s global energy and climate initiative.


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earth energy Group congratulates Verizon for walking the Energy Star walk

VERIZON WIRELESS WORKS WITH ENERGY STAR® TO IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY NATIONWIDE

… BY Stephanie.Lazar | Posted: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 09:50 AM in the St. Louis Today

Verizon Building, New York City

Verizon Building, New York City (Photo credit: marcoderksen)

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. –Verizon Wireless formed a partnership in 2006 with EPA’s ENERGY STAR®, a voluntary program that promotes reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency.

In 2006, Verizon Wireless introduced ENERGY STAR tools and resources to improve efficiency within company-owned buildings, including the EPA’s measurement and tracking tool, Portfolio Manager.  Portfolio Manager allows users to track and assess energy and water consumption across a portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment.  Since 2008, more than 100 Verizon Wireless Communications Stores have been awarded the EPA’s prestigious ENERGY STAR certification, the highest number of stores of any wireless retailer to date.  The company remains committed to achieving ENERGY STAR certification for all eligible stores at least once.

“Our six-year strategic relationship with ENERGY STAR has focused on reducing Verizon’s carbon footprint, and serving our customers in the most environmentally friendly way possible,” said James Gowen, chief sustainability officer for Verizon.  “We look forward to continuing our alliance, and reaching Verizon’s sustainability goals of increasing our energy efficiency and cutting our carbon intensity in half by 2020.”

Verizon Wireless has taken steps to improve energy efficiency in stores with projects such as lighting retrofits, energy management system (EMS) installations and HVAC upgrades.  Specific initiatives include:

  • Replacing more than 30,000 existing 50-watt and 37-watt Halogen MR16 spotlights with 12-watt LED lamps throughout the country (less than two-year payback).
  • Upgrading 338 locations with the energy management systems (EMS) in 2010 and adding 174 locations in 2011.  These systems control the HVAC units and lighting according to set schedules, thus maximizing store efficiency.  Another 38 EMSs have been installed as of July 2012.

In 2012, Verizon Wireless opened an Evolution 2.0-designed retail store in Toms River, N.J., featuring an open 3,100-square-foot sales floor with numerous interactive demo stations that allow customers to immerse themselves in a hands-on experience with the latest 4G LTE smartphones, diverse offering of 4G LTE tablets, and unique devices such as the Verizon Jetpack™, and so much more.  The new design resulted in a 30 percent reduction in energy costs.  To learn more about Verizon Wireless’ green initiatives, please visit http://aboutus.verizonwireless.com/Green_Initiative/overview.html.  To learn more about ENERGY STAR products and initiatives, visit http://www.energystar.gov.

About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s largest 4G LTE network and largest, most reliable 3G network. The company serves 94.2 million retail customers, including 88.8 million retail postpaid customers.  Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 78,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: VOD).  For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Debra Lewis

Verizon Wireless

908.559.7512


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earth energy Group confirms Cool Roofs Initiative helps agencies achieve energy-saving goals

IMAGE: earth energy Solutions GROUP

Monday – 9/17/2012, 3:26am EDT By Michael O’Connell

President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13514 in October 2009, which established goals for agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency.

One of the ways agencies could do that is to install “cool roofs” on their buildings.

When a building has a regular, darker roof, it absorbs heat from sunlight. “The more reflective and the lighter the color of the roof, it actually increases what’s called the ‘albedo,’ the reflection of the sun off of the building’s surface,” said Jennifer MacDonald, the director of DoE’s Sustainability Performance Office. “So, it reduces the need to then cool the building further, especially as you are trying to maintain cooler temperatures in higher buildings.”

According to MacDonald, the cost of installing a cool roof is comparable to installing or replacing a standard roof. “There are special requirements in terms of the materials and the labor, but it’s typically a comparable cost,” she said.

As roofs come up for repair or new buildings are constructed, the Energy Department will typically install a cool roof. For example, the National Nuclear Security Administration has set aside a roof asset modernization program.

“They have about 2.5 million square feet that have been turned into cool roofs, at a savings of about half a million dollars and up to $10 million over the next 15 years,” MacDonald said.

Chu introduces Cool Roofs Initiative

In July 2010, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu issued a memorandum directing that all DoE sites install cool roofs when it was cost effective, when a roof needed to be replaced or repaired.

“It’s only when it’s cost effective,” said MacDonald, whose office was established to help DoE meet all of its sustainability goals and requirements. “These roofs ensure that we’re gaining energy efficiency savings.”

DoE has installed approximately 160 cool roofs, adding roofs when new buildings are being built or older roofs are being repaired.

by:  Jennifer MacDonald, Sustainability Performance Office, Energy Department

“About 50 percent of the buildings at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are cool roofs, which is a 27 percent increase from 2010,” MacDonald said. “A number of our other laboratories have also redesigned their building specifications to include cool roofs, such as the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh and Morgantown, W.Va.”

Those facilities have about 10 percent cool roofs, but they are ensuring that any new buildings or any buildings that need new roofs are going to have cool roofs installed.

When Chu issued his memorandum, he also sent out a letter to other agencies encouraging them to work on cool roof initiatives. DoE helps agencies to do that via the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP).

“They are specifically designed to help assist other agencies in meeting all of the energy and sustainability goals,” MacDonald said. “So FEMP has additional resources on their website about the types of roofs that can be installed, potential service providers and also helpful tips.”

Going white and green to save money and energy

One agency that has seen the installation of cool roofs help it meet its energy sustainability goals is the National Archives.

“The Department of Energy has been pushing white roofs for several years, and we were at a confluence of factors,” said Mark Sprouse, the director of the National Archives facilities and property management division. He is responsible for building operations at the National Archives facility in College Park, Md.; the main National Archives building in downtown Washington, D.C.; and the energy conservation projects at all of the presidential libraries across the country.

“Our roofs were getting to be 25-years old, we needed to replace them anyways and it just sort of made sense to do that with a white roof and put the solar on it to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals that we had set,” he said.

Sprouse authored the National Archives’ 2011 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, which encourages the implementation of the cool roof initiative.

“Our policy is we’re mirroring pretty much what Executive Order 13514 says,” Sprouse said. “We’ve tied it all to greenhouse gas reductions. We set a goal two years ago for a 10 percent, across-the-board greenhouse gas reduction and that’s how we’re moving forward with our strategic energy conservation policies.”

The National Archives’ efforts already have proved to be a success, according to Sprouse. “As of last year, we’d already reduced it by 8 percent and we hope to reach the goal by the end of this year,” he said. So far, the Archives has reduced its energy consumption by about $3 million per year. Of that, 3-5 percent is attributable to the green and white roof intitiatives, along with the solar panels placed on the white roof.

The National Archives has installed cool roofs at two facilities — one is the National Archives II in College Park, Md., and the other is The William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark. White and green roofs have been installed at both facilities, as well as solar panels to generate to electricity.

“By the time we removed the old roof and put the new roof on and put the solar panels in and tied them into the building electrical system, it took about six months,” Sprouse said.

“It saves energy by two ways,” Sprouse said. “It reduces the heat load underneath the roof and so we don’t have to cool as much. It reflects the sun and the solar panels are producing about 30 kilowatts of power on a bright day, which we feed back into our building electrical system.”

In addition, all of the roof drains at College Park empty into a 6,000 gallon tank in the building’s central plant, which is used to irrigate the 33-acre compound. “We don’t use any city water to irrigate the plants at Archives II,” Sprouse said.

The rainwater also helps to keep the green roof green and, in turn, the green roof cuts down on stormwater runoff.

“When it rains, if you stand up on the green roof and watch, it takes almost an hour for water to start flowing off the roof and into the drains because the plants are absorbing all that water,” Sprouse said. “That just cuts down on the stormwater that we’re sending to the Chesapeake Bay.”

Agencies have a number of considerations when choosing to install a cool roof, MacDonald said, but studies show that chief among them is the energy the roofs save.

“They think there’s about a 15 percent decrease in annual air conditioning costs that are associated with installing these roofs,” said MacDonald said, adding that there is no single solution that applies to every building or every department.

Tags: Jennifer MacDonald, Mark Sprouse, Steven Chu, DoE, sustainability, green government, Green Government Initiative, cool roofs, National Archives, Obama Impact, management, Michael OConnell


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earth energy Group supports and implements actions to reduce energy expenses in Schools

Penny-pinched schools — huge market seeks energy efficiency

Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter

Anthony Wright knows well how summer heat in Memphis, Tenn., can zap life out of even the hardiest souls, including the roughly 107,000 students and faculty who begin filling the city’s roughly 7,200 classrooms each year in early August.As Memphis City Schools’ coordinator for energy management and conservation, Wright also knows what the heat does to his district’s bottom line, sucking tens of millions of dollars annually to keep buildings cool for up to 250 days a year.

“We’re pretty generous with our comfort when the students are there,” said Wright, who in his first week of the fall semester had to contend with outdoor temperatures of 92 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

But as late afternoon rolls toward evening and school buildings empty out, Wright turns from cooling manager into energy miser, turning up thermostats, shutting down unessential lights and sealing off areas that require precise temperature controls from rooms that can stand an overnight warmup.

Often the next morning, he pores over the previous day’s energy use, plugging data gleaned from real-time energy meters into a software program called the “Energy Star Portfolio Manager” that allows him to track every kilowatt-hour of electricity used across the entire school district.

“For every degree [of thermostat adjustment], it’s like a 2 percent savings,” Wright said. “And when you’re counting every percentage point, and even tenths of percentage points, the savings add up pretty fast.”

The $8B challenge

Squeezed by shrinking budgets, rising energy costs and aging infrastructure, America’s schools are coming up with creative ways to squeeze every kilowatt and British thermal unit out of aging, often inefficient buildings that literally form the backbone of the U.S. education system.

Their challenge is significant. In 2008, the Energy Department estimated that the nation’s 93,000 K-12 schools spend $8 billion annually on energy, second only to teacher salaries and more than was spent nationwide on classroom books, supplies and equipment.

“Rising energy costs, coupled with declining property tax revenues, are increasing budgetary pressures on schools,” DOE said in conjunction with the 2008 publication of its “Guide to Financing EnergySmart Schools.” “These challenges make energy-saving strategies a real opportunity for schools undertaking new facilities construction and major renovations.”

But where school construction in the United States before the Great Recession was a $20 billion enterprise — with fast-growing suburbs and even some urban districts building new classrooms — today there is a shrinking public appetite and even less taxpayer revenue to underwrite major school expansions.

According to the “2012 Annual School Construction Report,” published by School Planning and Management magazine, “The demand for school space and improved facilities has not lessened — the number of children schools serve continues to rise — but, as a consequence of the 2008 recession, combined with the anti-tax sentiment it spawned, the money has dried up.”

Some low-cost ways to start

As a result, schools and school districts — often in conjunction with foundations, electric utilities and private-sector energy innovators — are looking at ways to make existing buildings perform better. Such efforts are often channeled through retrofits of old, inefficient boilers, air conditioners and lighting systems, or by simply recalibrating existing energy-consuming systems to make them work better and more cheaply.

According to the Alliance to Save Energy, which helps schools achieve efficiency, many buildings can cut their electricity consumption by 5 to 15 percent without spending any money on new lighting, heating or air conditioning. The key, the alliance says, is interventions that change the way students, faculty and school administrators view and use energy.

“We’ve been hampered by so long by the invisibility of energy and how hard it is to get a handle on how much we’re using, whether at home or work or school,” said Merrilee Harrigan, the alliance’s vice president of education in Washington, D.C. “Now, if we put diagnostic tools in kids’ hands and let them learn how to do an energy audit and then drive school activities based on a no-additional-cost model, we’re finding that schools can become highly efficient buildings.”

Schools that go beyond tapping up thermostats and conducting “lights out” campaigns to invest in technologies like the federal government’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager software can cut energy costs by as much as 30 percent, Harrigan said. “Even with constrained budgets, people are finding ways to use energy better.”

Such approaches are taking root in urban districts like Memphis and Washington, D.C., where energy managers and students are learning new ways to assess, monitor and reduce energy consumption. They’re also catching on in suburbs like the North Penn School District outside Philadelphia, where energy use plummeted by 25 percent in one year due to student-driven conservation efforts, and Gresham-Barlow School District in suburban Portland, Ore., where 14 of the district’s 19 schools achieved Energy Star ratings of 90 or above.

In outlying districts, like central Michigan’s Ovid-Elsie Area Schools, plans are under way to upgrade four schools and the district’s administration building with energy-efficient lighting, high-efficiency boilers, better insulation and a new automation system to better manage and track energy use. The improvements, funded with a $1.1 million Energy Savings Performance Contract, are expected to net $85,000 in annual energy savings. A significant portion of those savings will come back to the school in cash to pay off the initial investment.

“During these tough economic times, it was helpful to use avoided energy expenses rather than the schools’ capital to fund necessary building improvements,” Ryan Cunningham, the Ovid-Elsie Area Schools’ superintendent, said in a statement last week announcing the energy savings contract with Ameresco Inc. of Framingham, Mass.

Powering buildings when nobody’s there

For school systems looking to achieve similar energy efficiency gains with lower capital costs, experts point to the North Penn School District, based in Montgomery County, Pa., one of the largest districts in the state with nearly 13,000 students spread across 17 school buildings.

Last fiscal year, the district shaved its energy consumption by 25 percent by recalibrating its schools’ lighting, cooling, heating and other systems to work only when needed and not a minute more. That, coupled with a concerted effort by students, faculty and administrators to only use the energy necessary to do their work, cut bills by $895,000.

“I’m real proud of my school,” Thomas Schneider, the district’s manager of energy and operational efficiencies, said in an interview.

Schneider, an engineer who spent years in the private sector as a construction manager and designer of K-12 schools and other infrastructure projects, said the primary obstacle to shrinking a school system’s energy footprint is not student reluctance. In fact, he said, “if you can get the passionate energy of the student body behind you, there’s no limit to where you can take it.”

More than students, he said, it is the school systems’ “engineers and the wrench-turners,” many of whom are trained to adhere to local building codes rather than achieve operational efficiencies, who need to change their thinking.

For example, schools’ maintenance and operations protocols, often dating to the 1970s, usually require school buildings to be managed like sealed envelopes, where temperature and lighting demands are presumed to be constant rather than fluctuating with days, seasons or even the school year.

Under a new approach — and usually aided by advanced systems control technology — lights, air conditioners, boilers and other energy-hungry equipment can be turned on and off based strictly on a building’s user needs and occupancy.

“School is in session 185 days out of 365 days, so about 50 percent of the year. And we’re operating 10 to 12 hours out of the day,” Schneider explained. “If you can ensure that your essential equipment shuts off when nobody’s there, it makes a huge impact.”

Equipping students to tackle the problem

Where engineering and mechanical solutions aren’t enough, students are stepping up to squeeze even more energy savings out of school buildings, experts say, often with the aid of smart meters and “dashboard” technology that allow students and teachers to convert school buildings into real-world energy laboratories.

In Memphis, the district joined the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools affiliate program in April 2011, expanding on a pilot project that had gained support from the Tennessee Valley Authority and local utility Memphis Light, Gas and Water. The program brought focused attention to the schools’ energy challenges and pledged to reduce energy consumption by 5 to 10 percent year over year.

The program also unleashed an army of energy auditors as Memphis youngsters canvassed school grounds, measuring every piece of energy-consumptive equipment — from industrial boilers to vending machines — looking for ways to curb energy demand and maximize efficiency.

In 11 months, Memphis City Schools cut systemwide electricity consumption by nearly 8 percent, racking up an estimated $2 million in avoided energy costs. “Energy efficiency is not rocket science,” Wright said of the program. “It’s just about turning it off and turning it down.

“I know we’ll eventually get to the point where all the low-hanging fruit is gone, and some additional investment will have to be made” in replacement systems, he added. “But right now I celebrate every percentage-point improvement that we’re getting.”

What does the ‘dashboard’ say?

The Memphis program has also benefited from the participation of firms like EnerNoc Inc. of Boston and New Energy Technology of Grand Junction, Colo., which have invested millions of dollars to bring smart grid technologies to the education sector.

EnerNoc, which had previously provided demand-response services to Memphis City Schools through TVA, increased its involvement with the district last August by placing energy monitoring equipment in 25 schools to allow facilities managers and students access to real-time information about energy consumption and costs. Within a month of the launch of the monitoring program, EnerNoc engineers had flagged school building inefficiencies and system overrides that would have added $180,000 annually in energy costs had they not been corrected.

At the same time, equipment provided by another firm, New Energy Technology, is helping to put EnerNoc’s real-time data into the hands of students and administrators via an online energy center, or “dashboard,” that provides straightforward information and analysis for how the district is faring in meeting its energy efficiency goals.

Matt Plante, EnerNoc’s vice president of energy efficiency sales, said in an interview that real-time energy monitoring has become increasingly popular with school systems, especially as lessons are shared from district to district and state to state about how wasted energy can be converted into real dollars.

“It helps them very directly through reductions in their utility bills,” said Plante, whose company now works with 170 school systems nationwide and maintains an energy consumption database for nearly 1,000 school buildings.


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earth energy Group commends Electrical Safety – What OSHA Will Ask

REPOST by our valued Associate and Author Ralph Carito, Total Environmental & Safety.

When it comes to OSHA standards, they can be technical and confusing, especially electrical standards. Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what OSHA inspectors are trained to ask and look for during an electrical inspection?

A good starting point is to understand OSHA’s approach to electrical safety. OSHA’s goals are to ensure that employers identify electrical hazards, both potential and actual, and have sound procedures in place to eliminate the hazards, such as Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout) procedures, working with live circuits procedures, energized work permit procedures, and employee training programs. A more recent area of emphasis for OSHA is arc flash safety, which means employers must analyze their workplace for shock and arc flash hazards and establish safe protection boundaries and define required personal protective equipment (PPE).

For electrical safety in the workplace, OSHA relies on expert consensus bodies such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and its standards published in NFPA 70E. To ensure that employers are following OSHA standards and NFPA guidelines, OSHA trains its inspectors and compliance officers to ask specific questions during an inspection. Below are some typical questions asked during an electrical safety inspection:

Do you have a facility description and/or diagram of the electrical circuits and equipment?

OSHA expects employers to know their workplaces. If an employer cannot provide a written description or drawing of the electrical circuits and equipment, then the inspector will most likely assume that the employer has not assessed the facility for electrical hazards.

Do you have a detailed job procedure for performing electrical work, and have employees been trained on your procedures and applicable OSHA standards?

OSHA wants employers to make electrical safety part of the company culture and regular work process. The only way this happens is if detailed user-friendly procedures have been developed and implemented, and employees have been trained. I’m not saying this is all it will take, but, these are the first steps.

Several NFPA 70E annexes offer guidelines for the development of electrical safety procedures. For example, Annex E covers electrical safety programs, Annex F covers hazard risk evaluation procedures, Annex I covers job briefing checklists, and Annex J covers energized work permits.

Do any employees work on live electrical circuits? If so, can you justify why equipment couldn’t be de-energized or the job deferred until the next scheduled outage?

OSHA says that energized electrical circuits that an employee may be exposed to must be de-energized before the employee works on them, unless the employer can demonstrate that de-energizing introduces additional or increased hazards, or is not feasible due to equipment design or operational limitations, in which case, other safety precautions must be utilized to protect the worker. Therefore, never work on live circuits unless it is absolutely necessary. If you do allow work to be done on live circuits the reason shouldn’t be simply because turning off the power is inconvenient or will interrupt production. Nor should workers use the excuse that they didn’t have the authority to shut off power.

It’s important to note, that NFPA 70E requires an Electrical Hazard Analysis be completed before work is performed on live equipment operating at 50 volts and higher, as discussed in the next question.

Do you need and have you done an Electrical Hazard Analysis, Shock Hazard Analysis, and Arc Flash Hazard Analysis?

As mentioned earlier, when it comes to electrical safety, OSHA refers to NFPA 70E, which requires employers to conduct an Electrical Hazard Assessment consisting of a Shock Hazard Analysis and an Arc Flash Hazard Analysis before work is performed on live equipment operating at 50 volts and higher.

These requirements may be fairly complex, as they involve calculating the potential fault current at each circuit and piece of equipment and understanding the characteristics of the overcurrent protective devices. Complex or not, in the eyes of OSHA, these assessments are essential to reducing the number of arc flash-related deaths and injuries that occur each year.

Did you establish flash protection boundaries?

NFPA 70E has established Shock and Flash Boundaries to reduce the risk of injury to workers due to shock and arc flash hazards. There are four (4) distinct boundaries; limited approach boundary, restricted approach boundary, prohibited approach boundary, and flash protection boundary. The boundaries are determined based on information gathered during the above-referenced hazard analyses, and have different requirements for each. Each boundary is based on the voltage of the energized circuit and/or equipment.

It is important to note that circuits and equipment are considered live when checking for voltage, even if checking to ensure that circuits and equipment have been properly de-energized and, therefore, boundary requirements apply.

Understanding the hazard and the use of appropriate PPE are key to preventing electrical related injuries. OSHA requires employees who work in areas where there are potential electrical hazards to be provided with electrical PPE that is appropriate for the tasks being performed. Of course, the employee must also be made to ware the PPE.

This is no small undertaking, first the employer must facilitate the workers’ understanding of the PPE required for each specific task. Second, employers must select the appropriate PPE to be worn for each potential hazard. Third, the employer must train workers in safety procedures and practices, and in particular, how to match the PPE to the type and magnitude of the electrical hazard. And finally, employers must determine, through regular supervision and inspections conducted annually, that each employee is complying with the employers’ safety procedures and applicable OSHA standards.

Ralph Carito, Total Environmental & Safety, LLC


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earth energy Group applauds successful energy efficiency programs in Florida

Florida’s Stimulus Success: The Untold Story of Energy Savings and Economic Development

August 15th, 2012 › Clean Energy, Green Economy, Renewable Energy, SolarMaria Hubert

In July of 2012, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS), led by Commissioner Adam Putnam, issued an audit of energy initiatives including those funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds — also known as the Stimulus.  The audit states that:  “Based on reports received by the Office of Energy (OOE), the State of Florida has benefited from the investment of ARRA funds…state agencies, local governments, profit and non-profit organizations, indicate that the rebates and grants awarded have led to emission reduction, energy savings, energy cost savings and job creation and retention.”  July 2012, Operational Audit of the Florida Office of Energy

Combined, the Stimulus funds from the Energy Efficiency and Community Block Grant (EECBG), Energy Assurance Grant and Energy Star Appliance and State Energy Programs totaled $175.86 million, 60% of which has already been pumped into the Florida economy.  “Some recipients, such as local governments, reported progress in energy savings in areas that involved building retrofits, equipment upgrades, and the installation of more efficient lighting. These returns resulted in reductions in greenhouse gases and electric and natural gas consumption, as well as overall dollars saved through increased energy efficiency.  This was achieved through the development of energy efficient strategies and procurement of energy efficient systems, such as: retrofitting buildings with energy efficient HVACs; installing energy efficient lighting; purchasing alternative fuel vehicles; using biofuels and compressed natural gas to reduce fossil fuel consumption, and purchasing residential ENERGY STAR appliances and HVACs.”

Let’s take a closer look at some of the actual projects that took place:

- $17.6 million ENERGY STAR rebates helped to fund new appliances.

- The number of HVAC and geothermal systems purchased added $26 million to the Florida economy.

- The Solar for Schools Grant totaled $10 million – with 19 projects completed and 71 in various stages of completion.

- $39.39 million in ARRA funds supplemented the State’s Solar Rebate Program, which resulted in over 11,000 rebates.

- The Florida Energy Opportunity Fund (FOF), a direct investment grant created to promote the adoption of energy efficient and renewable energy products and technologies in Florida, was awarded $36.08 million.

- The Sunshine State Buildings Initiative of $7.62 million expended $5.55 million (or 73% of the total). The grant is projected to reduce electricity consumption significantly.

- By May 11, 2012, of the projects that competed for funding, four major projects have been completed and 120 agreements are still in progress. In addition, recipients have already begun to report return on investment (ROI) data for 50 projects.

- The City of West Palm Beach used their $6.8 million in ARRA funding to retrofit all City-owned street lights with energy efficient LED lighting and induction technologies, upgrading lighting in 15 city buildings and three City garages, and installing HVAC improvements in various parks and recreational facilities. The project is anticipated to result in savings of over $11 million in reduced energy and operations costs over a 15-year term.

- Sarasota County combined their ARRA funding with the Cities of Sarasota, North Port and Venice for a total of $2.13 million and put into place their residential energy efficiency initiative, which is still ongoing.

Perhaps the best success story is the Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF), which got its start in St. Lucie County.  SELF matched the $2.9 million in ARRA funding with private sector funds. They created a low interest rate loan program to help reduce energy bills in communities and provide access to various clean energy solutions such as energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy production.   SELF is now expanding into other areas of the state and transforming itself from a revolving loan fund to a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), certified by the U.S. Department of Treasury. This designation will provide access to even more funding and ensure that SELF can serve the citizens of Florida for years to come.

There will be even more successes in the pipeline to share, as Floridians will continue to benefit from the future energy savings of these projects.

The audit was of significant importance to establishing the success of the Stimulus; we have to look closely at what worked and what didn’t and take those lessons forward. The good news is that of the $175.86 million, 98.6% of the Stimulus funding went to projects that were or are in the process of being successfully implemented and only 1.2% of the total amount – $2.26 million in grants – were terminated due to irregularities and to avoid fraud investigations.  I’m not sure what it says about what makes headlines, but when West Palm Beach can save $11 million, that’s big news!


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earth energy Group working to correct poor performing buildings and related energy losses

Wide Differences Found in Buildings’ Power Use

By MIREYA NAVARRO

The first comprehensive study of energy use by New York City’s largest buildings shows some to be power hogs, using up to five times as much electricity, natural gas, heating oil and steam as others of comparable size or purpose. And there is ample room for improvement.

The report, to be released on Friday by the city’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, estimates that if poor-performing buildings in the city improved their efficiency and reached just the median level of energy use in their categories, the city’s energy consumption would decline by at least 18 percent and greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by 24 percent.

The Bloomberg administration deems such an improvement to be crucial to the city’s effort to reduce emissions associated with global warming: buildings, their heating and cooling especially, account for two-thirds of those emissions in the city.

But while lowering their utility bills gives building owners a major incentive to make energy upgrades, the initial costs have been a deterrent, and intense opposition from owners has staved off new city laws requiring some upgrades and retrofits.

Changes that could improve the energy consumption of a typical building range from simple fixes, like new light fixtures, to fairly expensive equipment, like solar panels.

The city and state offer financial incentives, like low-cost loans for such improvements, but co-op and condominium associations point out that they face an array of pressure for other spending.

The report is a preamble to assigning scores to individual buildings on their energy use and publicizing them to further encourage property owners to make necessary improvements, not unlike the grade system the city uses for restaurants.

The initial scores for nonresidential buildings will be released by the city next month and scores for all large buildings are expected by the fall of next year, officials said. The report offered a broad picture of how much energy buildings used in 2010, and found that the worst-performing, or bottom 10 percent, of  more than 15,400 buildings reporting energy data used three to five as much energy as comparable buildings. At the ZIP code level, some areas of the city consumed as much as six times more energy per square foot as better performers, raising questions about whether income levels, the attributes of the buildings themselves or some other factor is at play.

Among the best-performing residential neighborhoods, defined by ZIP codes, city officials said, were Williamsburg (11211) in Brooklyn and Richmond Town (10306) on Staten Island. Among the worst were Roosevelt Island (10044) in Manhattan, Kew Garden Hills (11367) in Queens and Soundview and Clason Point (10473) in the Bronx.

The least-efficient residential buildings were found in neighborhoods that also reported high asthma rates, the report said, without identifying them, a finding that city officials said “deserves more analysis.”

The city began tracking or “benchmarking” buildings’ energy use under a 2009 law intended to help satisfy Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The law applies to individual buildings of over 50,000 square feet and multiple-building properties with a total of more than 100,000 square feet.

Although just 2 percent of the city’s one million buildings are covered by the law, they account for 45 percent of the energy used by all New York buildings.

The reason for the sharp discrepancies in energy use will not be fully identified until the buildings undergo required energy audits, starting next year, but the benchmarking data reveals some patterns. For instance, older buildings of every stripe, even those dating to the early 1900s, performed better than most structures from recent decades. Green-building experts say it is likely because they have fewer windows and thicker walls, which provide better insulation.

Adam Freed, the deputy director of the sustainability office, said the scoring would give the city a road map for understanding the characteristics that drive energy use and allow buildings to “make informed decisions” about spending priorities.

A version of this article appeared in print on August 3, 2012, on page A16 of the National edition with the headline: Wide Differences Found In Buildings’ Power Use.


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earth energy Group salutes Ernst and Young completed lighting retrofit

The company’s New York headquarters is now equipped with energy-saving LED lighting.

Wed, Aug 01 2012 at 6:56 PM EST …

Photo: Ernst & Young

The 650,000 square-foot Ernst & Young headquarters building in New York City’s Times Square has been the target of a massive lighting retrofit project. Now that the project is complete, the facility will realize a 54 percent reduction in lighting-related energy use and a more than 50 percent reduction in lighting maintenance costs.

Lighting-related energy use topped 6.2 million kilowatt-hours, annually, before the retrofit. The company expects that this figure will be reduced by 2.9 million kilowatt hours annually. The reduction in energy consumption will reduce Ernst & Young’s CO2 emissions by about 2 million pounds.

“Reducing the carbon footprint of our office space is part of our firm-wide strategy to reduce our environmental footprint as our business grows,” said Leisha John, Ernst & Young Americas Director of Environmental Sustainability. “In fact, by the end of 2013, we plan to have a majority of our employees working in LEED and or Energy Star certified space. The completion of this lighting retrofit project in the New York office brings us one step closer to that goal, and will be part of that office’s Energy Star application.” Source: Ernst & Young

In addition to the lighting retrofit at the Ernst & Young headquarters facility, the company’s other sustainability goals include ensuring that 50 percent of its employees work in a LEED certified office space by 2013 and offering shared workspace to reduce the amount of physical space needed.

For more information about these projects and other sustainability goals, visit the Ernst & Young Environmental Sustainability website.


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earth energy Group sending grandious Birthday gratitude to America and all Patriots

Give Thanks for our Independence by Honoring our Troops for all of us Citizens having Freedom and Independence in these the United States of America. 

“We the people” choose to be responsible for our independence and that of future generations.

Receive, Believe and Achieve

At earth energy Solutions Group we foster a culture of honor, respect, loyalty and integrity.  We CELEBRATE our Clients’ reduction in CO2 and energy spend and all businesses that understand the benefits to their financial health and are doing something about it. We embrace and share more ways to honor our purpose through education and implementation which leads to a growing economic and environmental Independence.


“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.”
…Henry Ford

If you take advantage of everything America has to offer, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.  …Geraldine Ferraro

Relief of debt and energy consumption must coexist in a more unconventional way in order to lead toward sustainability and independence from foreign oil.
.. Christian Perkins

Sometimes people call me an idealist.  Well, that is the way I know I am an American.  America is the only idealistic nation in the world.  …Woodrow Wilson

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.  … Elmer Davis


earth energy Solutions GROUP and many businesses now have additional justification to take a serious look at reducing monthly energy spend through the properly designed LED lighting retrofit. 


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New Energy Department Report Finds Lower Environmental Impact for Energy-Efficient Lighting

earth energy Solutions GROUP and many businesses now have additional justification to take a serious look at reducing monthly energy spend through the properly designed LED lighting retrofit.  Read on for the great news just released by the US Department of Energy | Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy aka EERE News

June 29, 2012

A new Energy Department report finds that LED lamps have a significantly lower environmental impact than incandescent lighting and a slight environmental edge over compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The report, LED Manufacturing and PerformancePDF, compares these three technologies from the beginning to the end of their life cycles—including manufacturing, operation, and disposal. The most comprehensive study of its kind for LED lamps, the new report analyzes the energy and environmental impacts of manufacturing, assembly, transport, operation, and disposal of these three lighting types, and is the first public report to consider the LED manufacturing process in depth. This report supports the Energy Department’s efforts to protect our air and water, boost American competitiveness in the race for clean energy, and help families and businesses save money on their energy bills.

This is the second report produced through a larger Energy Department project to assess the life-cycle environmental and resource costs of LED lighting products in comparison with traditional lighting technologies. The report uses the conclusions of the previous report, Review of the Lifecycle Energy Consumption of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent and LED LampsPDF, released in February 2012, as a point of departure to produce a detailed, conservative assessment of the manufacturing process and use it to compare the three lighting technologies, taking into consideration a wider range of environmental impacts.

The first report concluded that CFLs and today’s LEDs are similar in energy consumption—both consuming significantly less electricity over the same period of usage than incandescent lighting—and that operating these products consumed the majority of the energy used throughout their life cycle. Similarly, the new report finds that the energy these lighting products consume during operation makes up the majority of their environmental impact, compared to the energy consumed in manufacturing and transportation. Because of their high efficiency—consuming only 12.5 watts of electricity to produce about the same amount of light as CFLs (15 watts) and incandescents (60 watts)—LED lamps were found to be the most environmentally friendly of the three lamp types over the lifetime of the products, across 14 of the 15 impact measures examined in the study.

Other key findings:

  • CFLs were found to have a slightly higher environmental impact than today’s LED lamps on all measures except their contribution to landfills. The aluminum contained in an LED lamp’s large aluminum heat sink causes a greater impact on landfills because of the energy and resources consumed in manufacturing.
  • The report projects that in five years, the environmental impacts of LEDs will be significantly lower than today’s LED products, based on expected near-term improvements in LED technology.
  • As the market transitions from incandescent sources to energy-saving light sources that save consumers and business money, LEDs and CFLs are expected to achieve substantial reductions in environmental impacts–on the order of three to 10 times current levels.

To download a PDF of the report and view other market studies and technical reports on solid state lighting, go to the Solid State Lighting website.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. For more information about DOE’s support of research, development, demonstration, and market support of energy-efficient solid-state lighting, visit the EERE Solid-State Lighting website.

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