earth energy Solutions GROUP

… revealing and resolving the economics of energy efficiency

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The Emerging Technology of Microgrids – Demand Response News



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 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


… 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  To learn more about ENERGY STAR products and initiatives, visit

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 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


Debra Lewis

Verizon Wireless


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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.