Green Building: Geothermal Heating & Cooling Options

geothermal-heating-and-coolingAs we continue to seek out more efficient and more environmentally friendly ways to heat and cool our office buildings, the geothermal heating & cooling systems available today are paving the way.

If you have been thinking about one of these solutions, you may have a few questions.

Is the Geothermal System Efficient?

Yes. Geothermal has 50% efficiency rate in heating and 20% to 30% increased efficiency in cooling. These percentages are in comparison to typical heating and cooling systems on the market today. This percentage of efficiency also translates directly into cost savings on the energy bills.

Are They As Comfortable As Typical Systems?

Yes. Using your existing ductwork in most cases, these systems utilize heated (90 to 100 degrees) air in greater volumes which results in more even heating.  You may be familiar with traditional systems and the occasional cold air spots in buildings. Geothermal systems will remove that problem completely as heating is more thorough.

Are Geothermal Systems Expensive?

Yes. Geothermal installations are expensive. However, they can bring significant savings over a period of time.  The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association’s website informs us that the Geothermal systems usually provide 25-50% savings on energy consumption and offer lower peak demand resulting in lower operating costs.

Are Geothermal Systems More Environmentally Friendly?

Yes. By using a naturally sustainable heat source it lowers the carbon footprint of operations.

As you search for energy efficiency in your business practices, we can help you determine if Geothermal system might benefit your situation. We can also recommend other ways in which you can lower the carbon footprint of your small business. Please contact us for more information.

Green Building: Funding Options for Renewable Energy Projects

Few business owners would argue that green building practices are ethically the right step and will prove to be cost effective in the coming years. However, funding a green building project up-front can prove to be a challenge for many entrepreneurs and small to mid-size companies.  energy-efficiency

Consider the following funding options for your green building project:

  1. Research grant opportunities.  Grants for green projects are available at both the state and federal levels.  The Department of Energy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Veteran’s Affairs and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development branch make funds available to both business owners and homeowners. The Environmental Protection Agency also has a list of funding sources for homeowners, industry and non-profit organizations. Grants.gov and mrsc.org are additional grant-finding resources.
  2. Rebates from the local utility company.  Utility companies often offer rebates on energy conservation and green building projects.  There is also a host of rebate programs available through Xcel Energy that can defray costs for energy conservation efforts.
  1. Energy Efficient Mortgages.  If you are taking out a mortgage on your business property, ask about an energy improvement mortgage. This special lending arrangement allows you to borrow a larger amount of money to fund green improvements, without having to increase your down payment.
  2. Federal Tax Credits. Similar to homeowners, business owners can get tax credit for qualifying energy-saving purchases, including air conditioners, furnaces or construction materials. The Business Energy Investment Tax Credit, is the corporate tax credit enacted in 2013 and provides up to 30% tax rebate for solar and wind and PTC renewable technologies.
  3. State and Local Tax Credits.  States and local municipalities often provide incentives for business owners to build green. In Colorado there are many opportunities with the Governor’s Office of Energy Management as well as other organizations.

Don’t let cost of renewable energy prevent you from building green.  Investing in renewable energy will save your business money over time and leave less of an environmental footprint.

Consider Renewable Energy for Your Small Business

solar-power-generatorWith the cost of fuel rising higher each year, many companies have started to look towards renewable energy to reduce expenses. However, many of the smaller enterprises are often lagging behind in adapting to greener energy resources because of the associated costs to invest in renewable energy.

Cheaper Than You Think

One of the most common let-offs for many small businesses when trying to switch to renewable energy sources is the purported high cost. Technological innovations in recent years have resulted in reduction of the cost of renewable energy systems. Also, more investment and partnership opportunities for small businesses. Clean Energy Collective, a community-owned solar program, is one of those organizations making renewable energy cost effective for small businesses.

Small businesses can buy wind energy to support renewable energy programs without the cost of building the infrastructure. There is also a host of rebate programs available through Xcel Energy that can defray costs for energy conservation efforts.

Choosing the Right Renewable Energy Systemwindturbines2

Of course, all of these would be useless if you don’t choose the right energy system for your particular needs. Here, knowing the kinds of renewable energy resources available in your given area will definitely help a lot in selecting the actual system. The Colorado Renewable Energy Society provides a clear and short overview of the types of energy resources available for small business enterprises.

Contact us and learn more on how you can effectively use renewable energy for your business needs.

Energy Produced from Footsteps: New Innovation Of Pavegen Floor Tiles

pavegen tileIf you have ever seen those street scenes of New York City in the movies, you can really see how a product such as Pavegen, a simple rubber tile with a spring-like action which generates energy when stepped on, is a brilliant concept when it comes to harnessing human energy power.  Just imagine all the different places that could take advantage of people walking, jumping, dancing or just waiting in line, to harvest the kinetic energy generated by their stepping on Pavegen tiles.  These are the innovations that are possible for the future of sustainability energy solutions.

Affordable

The creation of these energy producing rubber tiles is affordable to begin with but with more large scale, and attention grabbing installations, the cost will continue to be attractive.  As people become familiar with the product and understand how much potential there is for application in business environments, the mass-production and subsequent drop in cost is inevitable.

Interactive

The initial applications were in schools where foot traffic throughout the day is fairly constant.  After all, these kids of today are our energy consumers of tomorrow.  They embraced the technology and even had fun with the interactive aspects of the product.  People really responded to the way the tiles light up.  In fact, they went out of their way to take time to generate power through play as seen in this video.

Applications

The goal is to create clean and pavegen conceptreliable off-grid energy that can be used to power various applications such as charging stations or lighting solutions. With enough power generated you could feasibly power an entire building. In an airport, for example, the heavy foot traffic could generate enough energy to power all the electric signage in the area.

Clean Energy

Kinetic energy is totally clean and sustainable and with new technology it has meant that the power generated can be used immediately stored in batteries.  In this way the energy can be more directly focused for optimum usage.

Green building options continue to be forefront in planning as we move into the future.  The Pavegen floor tile is an exciting solution that is worth watching as the site installations continue to grow and produce.  It is definitely one of the more exciting products we have seen recently.

Carbon Nation: A movie on Renewable Energy

A movie that came out late 2010, Carbon Nation, discusses the role American can have in the renewable energy sector to reduce the carbon footprint. Whether you are believer in man induced global warming or not, it makes a compelling case for why renewable energy is a good move for the United States to invest in.

This non-partisan documentary provides compelling evidence that dealing with climate change can boost the economy, increase national & energy security and promote health and a clean environment.

The movie can be purchased via DVD or downloaded through all the various online movie retailers.

Other short videos and movies on renewabale energy that are also recommended;

Sustainable Innovation

YERT – Your Environmental Road Trip, is a film that entailed a year long road trip in the U.S. showing  unique and innovate ways to approach environmental sustainability. The film features some incredible innovations.  Check out this short preview of some of the innovations.

One of the more practical and large scale ideas is the Solar Roadways project that is working to pave roads with solar panels that you can drive on. Check out this short four minute video on their idea to increase solar energy and guarantee power to outlying areas in our country.

Wind Energy: New Report by NREL

According to a recent 2010 report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the electricity generating potential of offshore wind resources in the U.S. is 4,150 gigawatts (GW) based on offshore resources from 26 coastal states and the Great Lakes, according to the report entitled “Assessment of Offshore Wind Energy Resources for the U.S.”.

NREL says the nation’s total electric generating capacity from all sources was 1,010 GW in 2008. And based on their key findings they indicate that onshore U.S. wind resources could generate nearly 37,000,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually, more than nine times current total U.S. electricity consumption.

This is good news for wind energy and the type of energy consumption it could generate for the U.S.  For more information on wind energy research, visit the NREL site on Wind Research.  The University of Massachusetts also has a Wind Energy Center with very good information.

Consider Purchasing Carbon Offsets for Work Travel

Starting to wonder how much impact all that work travel is having?  The average American commutes 20 miles a day, that’s about 5,000 miles a year, resulting in just over 2 tons of CO2.
Consider purchasing carbon offsets to counteract the carbon dioxide emissions of driving or flying home to meetings and conferences.  A carbon offset for the entire year’s worth of commuting emissions could cost as little as $45. According to the Colorado Carbon Fund, a Carbon Offset means “neutralize,” “balance,” or “cancel out.” Carbon offsets counteract these activities by funding projects to compensate for CO2 emissions occurring at another source.  These offsets help fund projects that reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Though there are many organizations that offer Carbon Offsets, the Colorado Carbon Fund and Aspen’s Canary Tags are two great providers that use the proceeds for projects in Colorado.

For more ideas on how to reduce environmental impact with business travel, see the article entitled What you Must Know about Flying Green by Patti Prairie CEO of Brighter Planet.