Solutions to Energy Issues for Developers

      PEC recommendations for renewable energy and appropriate technology

Ideas and Solutions to Energy Issues for new developments and renovations or…

Keeping affordable housing affordable requires thinking outside the conventional box.

1. Co-generation or district heating – is the use of a heat engine or a power station to generate both electricity and useful heat. Conventional buildings account for over 35% of the energy used in the developed world. Conventional heating systems use more fuel, even though a project may use LEED certification, using heating oil for each dwelling will consume much more energy than a centralized wood pellet or bio-fuel co-generation system.

2. Passive solar design – for all units and commercial spaces. Passive design includes small changes such as larger roof overhangs on the south side, direct and indirect solar gain techniques, roof pond systems, trombe walls and other simple technologies that will save money on heating and cooling over the life of the project. Passive solar technologies convert sunlight into usable heat, cause air-movement for ventilation or cooling, storing energy for future use without the assistance of other energy sources. Technologies that use a significant amount of conventional energy to power pumps or fans are classified as active solar technologies. Some passive systems use a very small amount of conventional energy to control dampers, shutters, night insulation, and other devices that enhance solar energy collection, storage, and use.

Design changes include buildings that are elongated on an east-west axis can also provide greater solar exposure. By using Passive design the energy costs of the buildings are lowered further than what LEED alone can provide. This will save energy for the life of a project.

3. Day-lighting (the practice of placing windows and skylights, light tubes with reflective surfaces, so that during the day natural light provides effective internal illumination), this brings in the natural sunlight, even to lower floors, and back rooms. This will eliminate, or reduce the need to run electric lighting in the daytime. Day-lighting provides healthy lighting for occupants with no ongoing or additional cost.

4. Use of automated lighting controls (called occupancy sensors), which turn on and off lights if there is motion or occupancy, and not enough ambient light. Also the use of motion sensors for exterior lighting. These energy saving technologies are being used in many new buildings for interior and exterior lighting systems and  will save electricity over the life of a project.

5. Use compact fluorescent bulbs and low voltage LED interior and exterior lighting systems in 100% of the project, including the outdoor lights. Outdoor lights are so often overlooked and play a major roll in energy consumption.

6. Street lighting should be low voltage LED style and on timers or motion sensors to use less electricity and not be always on. Streetlights can be PV powered (standalone) so less wiring and underground trenching will be needed. There are several very attractive low standing LED street light systems. LED street lamps do not have to be changed for 12 years when lit for an average 11 to 12 hours a day, which is twice the lifetime of regular high energy lighting. LED systems use less than 50% the electricity of conventional lighting. LED lighting is also more tightly focused than conventional lamps, and so provide a darker night sky view – even in town.

7. Use of geothermal energy (heat pumps), to provide cost-effective cooling for your project. Using the ground for cooling is much more efficient than using air conditioning, and provides heat in the winter. If there is no central co-gen plant than heat pumps are the second choice.

8. PV Systems (Photovoltaic – solar electric) can provide some portion of the electric needs. PV collectors can now be integrated into the roof and walls, and are often very attractive. While the most efficient collectors are on trackers that pivot to follow the sun, one can cover more area on a roof and generate as much electricity for lower cost without using trackers. PV electricity will offset energy used for your entire project; it will save electricity over the life of the project.

9. Solar hot water systems and on-demand (tankless) hot water systems for units not serviced by solar hot water systems. These systems can be used together with on-demand as a backup. This will reduce costs, since only a cold water pipe is needed to supply remote bathrooms (less copper pipe), and in other cases where units would only turn on if the water was not heated by sunlight.

10. Solar Cooking – commercial grade solar ovens, solar kettles and hot pots will compliment the shared kitchen space for this project, providing free heat for cooking meals. Home appliances are the world’s fastest growing consumers of energy, second only to automobiles. Items such as stoves, ovens, and refrigerators account for 30 percent of electricity use in industrial countries and 12 percent of their greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, an estimated 5 percent of fossil fuel consumption is dedicated to the cooking and distribution of food. Using solar ovens could eliminate a portion of that energy expenditure. This will also encourage more community suppers.

11. Green rooftops – provide a natural solution to large scale water runoff problems, noise and air pollution and, offers a productive greater insulation while providing a green space that reduces carbon dioxide from man made sources. A green rooftop uses a building’s roof surface for vegetation, such as sedums or grass, planted on a growing medium over a waterproof membrane.

The advantages of green roofs are:
·  Green roofs are aesthetically pleasing.
·  They reduce city “heat island” effect of any development.
·  They reduce carbon dioxide impact of not having green space or trees.
·  They reduce summer air conditioning cost by shedding heat that would otherwise be generated by a hot roof.
·  They reduce winter heat demand by providing insulation
·  They lengthen roof life by two to three times.
·  They remove nitrogen pollution in rain thus neutralizing the acid rain effect and can aid in storm water runoff
·  Green roofs reduce noise and can provide green space.
·  They can provide songbird habitat and green space for people.

12. Green Infrastructure -This term refers to the fusion of water resource protection and public circulation networks. Elements of the natural landscape-wetlands, wildlife corridors, trees and meadow – all combine together with pedestrian (foot path – trails) and commercial usage to create a green web. This understanding and usage is crucial to the preservation of our wellhead protection and recharge zone. The wetlands provide a vital function for our town and need to be safeguarded.

13. Rainwater Management – Runoff and other technologies
By using rainwater harvesting, and porous pavement technologies (that allow water to seep into the ground) we can reduce the volume of water and the pollutants in storm water runoff and provide water for use in fountains, or other nonpotable uses while protecting the environment. Other techniques include rain gardens with plantings that are designed to soak up water from roofs and other runoff. Specialized plants that absorb salts and toxic runoff are employed to create buffer zones for roadways. See Rain Garden info

14. Gray Water Systems – This water reuse technology can alleviate drought conditions for gardens or provide water for other uses, thus reducing the need to use freshwater from the town water system. This will forestall or eliminate the enlargement (and possible disruption) of the water system because of upgrades needed for new developments.

15. Urban Forestry – By planting and increasing the number of trees, along with a myriad of fruit and berry bushes, we can improve the ecological health of a parcel. Trees sequester atmospheric carbon, and reduce energy consumption by providing shade for buildings and homes for wildlife and birds.

16. Water saving fixtures – Simple measures can slash water usage and save fresh water. Flushing toilets or needlessly running water wastes about 70% of the total water used in homes and offices.