Think Green, Go Green, Act Green, Be Green, Feel, Smell...Green-Green-Green! If you are a building owner, manager or operator how many times have you heard about this 'Green Monster' sweeping across the nation? No, not the outfield wall at Fenway Park, but this green monster of eco-friendly concepts and energy smart ideas for your building.
'Green' topics can be found in magazines, newspapers, websites, talk radio, television commercials, talking heads on CNN/Fox, politicians, the U.S. Government...the whole world is talking green. Saving the environment once meant tossing our old newspapers in the recycle bin, but now building owners are being faced with a much more radical view of what it means to be 'Green'. Property Managers are being pressured by building owners to 'think green'. Building Consultants, like myself are being pressured by property managers to 'think green'. I in turn pressure my vendors to provide 'Green' products...and so on and so on.
Energy costs will continue to rise, oil prices have recently hit the $100 dollar per barrel and the U.S. Government is handing out tax incentives for those who can dramatically cut utilities. Now more than ever has saving the environment also meant saving money. If green building research is on your agenda for 2008, well then you are in luck. In this edition of Mechanical Matters, I will touch ever so briefly on why 'Going Green' is important and share with you several sources of green research that I found helpful when composing this article.
But first I want to share with you a statement read that really sums up why 'Green Building' technology is important to me as a mechanical building consultant. Joanna R. Turpin, with Engineered Systems Magazine said this:
"Manufacturers in all sorts of different industries are advertising their green offerings these days - products that help end-user save energy, lower emissions, reduces wastes, etc. Nowhere does that make more sense than in HVAC industry, where high-efficiency heating, cooling and ventilation projects are in great demand by building owners looking to cut energy cost and lessen their impact on the environment."
I couldn't agree with her more. The rest of her article went into great detail about how 'Green' products and concepts made to a particular facility resulted in tremendous energy savings. I could go into great detail about 'Green' products that are on the market right now, but in this edition I wanted to address the whole 'Green' thing head on. I will leave 'Green' products that I endorse for another edition. For now I want to answer two questions. 1. Why is having a 'Green Building' so important? 2. What is my first step towards a 'Green Building'?
Recently I sat down to watch television with a pen and notepad in my lap. I wanted to jot down every 'Green' advertisement, or 'Green' subliminal message that saw. Wow! I saw energy efficient light bulbs that apparently grow from trees and are picked like apples. Eco-friendly car commercials highlighted the MPG (mile per gallon) ratings in 'Green' across the screen. Learning channels such at HGTV, Discovery, National Geographic have 'Green' related topics airing daily. There is so much 'Green' coming through television that I thought I needed to adjust the color balance. Everyone seems to have great 'Green' ideas for sale, but why?
After wading through all the political bull, I found a very convincing statement on Go Green Initiative's website:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the world population is expanding at a mind-boggling rate. The world reached 1 billion people in 1800; 2 billion by 1922; and over 6 billion by 2000. It is estimated that the population will swell to over 9 billion by 2050. That means that if the world's natural resources were evenly distributed, people in 2050 will only have 25% of the resources per capita that people in 1950 had. Throwing away items that could be recycled diminishes energy, water and natural resources that could be saved by recycling. To read the rest of this article, please go to gogreeninitiative.org
Ok, so if we don't strive to protect our environment we could potentially consume all of our natural resources...I can buy that. No matter what side of the political fence you sit on, I think we all can agree that recycling and conserving some of our natural resources just makes sense...we should all do our part. BUT recycling and protecting the environment is not a new concept. So why 'Green'? Why now? Second to saving the environment, 'Going Green' has risen in popularity to another 'Green' acronym...MONEY. 'Going Green' is big business. It's no secret anymore. For most business owners its common knowledge that lowering energy consumption positively effects the bottom line. It's also common knowledge that product manufacturer's can now label their products 'Green' and sales will increase while saving our environment.
For the sake of time and political debate, I will stick to 'Green Building' topics and steer clear of 'Green Party Politics'. As Engineered Systems magazine stated, your building's mechanical system consumes the majority of your energy. Unless your building is in the manufacturing industry or a nuclear power plant, chances are your mechanical system is the biggest contributor to your light, gas and water utility bills. To learn more about how HVAC Energy Efficiency, please go to Wikipedia.org and type HVAC. However, to reach perfect 'Green Building' stature, please take heed by one of the most profound statements ever made by a frog: "It's not easy being green." - Kermit the Frog
In order to achieve perfect 'Greendom' you may have to spend a lot of 'Green' to get there. (For the definition of Greendom, please go to my website and click on the glossary. Look for Greendom in the 'G' section). Un-like Kermit, 'Green Building' can be easy, but getting there may be a challenge. Whether you are replacing/updating your mechanical systems, improving sequence of operations, new lighting, building automated controls, low flow toilets or addressing your building's envelope you will discover those 'Green' improvements won't be cheap. However, through precise Energy Audits, building owners can discover how much energy is wasted, and target the areas of improvement that have the greatest return on investment.
You may be saying to your self right about now, "But Jimmy, we didn't budget any building improvements this year...we don't have the capital!" That's why the Energy Audits are so important. Your audit may reveal an area that could be improved and the energy savings alone could finance the project with out any capital. Even if the Energy Audit didn't result in immediate cash flow improvements, you will still have a sound road map to model your building's capital investments for the next 1-5 years. Now do I have your attention? Keep reading.
I work with a lot of engineers, who are a lot smarter than me, and have dedicated the past 20 years of their lives to energy services. The company that I represent is both an Energy Star Partner and U.S. Green Building Council member. Normally when writing these articles I try not to boast about my day job. Unfortunately there are a lot of companies out there that are selling 'Green' performance-contracted energy projects, that have no business doing so. Just because they are in the lighting business, or maybe they sell a great control system, doesn't mean that they have your ENTIRE building's best interest at heart. So, there you have it...I am now forced boast.
"Any desired improvements to your facility's mechanical systems, lighting, water systems, operations, controls and so forth can be financed by the money saved through energy smart decisions, or green concepts. Through precise energy audits, engineered solutions, strategic planning and skilled craftsmanship, we can improve facility operations, lower energy consumption, improve cash flow, and put money on the bottom line. Unlike those controls companies that push 'Performance Contracting' we can self perform all of the work we propose. We won't push a specific brand of controls or equipment that is proprietary. We take our own energy audits, engineer our own solutions, assign our own project manager, utilize our own man power with no subcontracting. This in turns saves the building owner money and shortens the ROI." - Jimmy V.
I could write an entire book about 'Going Green'. There is a lot of information out there on this topic. In an effort to keep this article under 5,000 words I will close and leave you with a list of websites whose 'Green' commentary I found very valuable in my own research. In these websites listed below you will discover thousands of eco-friendly and energy smart practices. We now know that 'Green' concepts can improve the world we live in and save money. It's a win-win so what are you waiting for? If you are interested in these 'Energy Audits' I have spoken so highly about, call me. Together we can bring your building into the 21st century, improve our environment and put so 'GREEN' back on the bottom line.