The POWER of Partnership!

PowerDownDC logoHoriz (4)

In partnership with the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) and the Institute for Better Communities (IFBC), SWA is implementing DC’s first multifamily housing energy and water challenge.

What is the POWER DOWN DC Challenge?

POWER DOWN DC is a 4 month building-to-building, education focused competition in Washington, DC with a goal of empowering  building residents and staff to change behavior and reduce overall energy and water usage. Residents compete as a building team against  other apartment buildings to hit a reduction target and strive to make the greatest overall  reduction. 

Banner

Driving Savings through Friendly Competition

The basic concept is simple: bringing people together for friendly competition is more likely to encourage meaningful action than simply providing information about energy and water efficiency alone. By joining the competition, participants try to reduce their own energy and water use and help members of their apartment community  do the same. Residents will be encouraged to make a commitment to efficiency and take simple steps every day that collectively will have a big payoff. Actions like turning off lights, fixing a leak, and taking shorter showers, multiplied across dozens of apartment units will have quick results. In DC, residential buildings make up 20% of total energy use and 23% of total water use.  If all multi-family residents take action, we can save 83,000,000 kilowatt hours (KWH)  of energy, 96,000,000 gallons of water, and $31, 400,000 dollars annually. Small steps = big savings. 

Power Down DC

Read more

Greenbuild 2015 Takeaways

SWA staffers chat up expo goers at the SWA booth.

SWA staffers chat up expo goers at the SWA booth.

Greenbuild 2015 has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep celebrating its “monumental” success. Having a booth in the expo hall allowed us to meet so many engaging and intelligent people.  We want to extend a gigantic thank you to all those that stopped by the SWA booth for making our experience memorable and rewarding.

Bummed you missed Greenbuild 2015? No fear, reader! Here are five takeaways from the massive green building gathering.

Greenbuild 2015 Five Takeaways Read more

Heat Pumps Are Taking Over

Air-source heat pumps are a booming business. In the Northeast, manufacturers report that sales of residential systems have increased by 25-35% per year over the past 5-10 years. We’ve seen more and more systems being installed in existing homes (to provide cooling while offsetting oil or propane used for heating) and into new homes (often as the sole source of heating and cooling).

We’ve looked into these systems often, and from many perspectives. I’m planning a series of posts, but, for now, here are the answers to some basic questions we receive from clients.

First, the basics: What is an air-source heat pump (ASHP)?

It’s an air conditioner that can operate in reverse. During the summer, it moves heat from indoors to outdoors. In the winter, it moves heat from outdoors to indoors. We helped NEEP (the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships) to put together a market assessment and strategy report on ASHPs. The early sections in this document (see p. 12) outline the different terms and types of heat pumps (ducted/ductless, split/packaged, mini-split, multi-split, central, etc.) Unfortunately, different people can use the same term to mean different things, but hopefully the NEEP Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Air-Source Heat Pump Strategies Report can help clarify things.

Indoor section of heat pump.

 

Outdoor section of a heat pump.

Read more

SWA Lifestyles: A Simple Weekend Cabin

By Kai Starn, Sustainability Consultant

kai_starn_headshot

Autumn has arrived again in the Northeast and the foliage is in full splendor. Over the Canadian Thanksgiving / Columbus Day weekend, I headed up to Ontario to deliver one final truckload of building materials to my family’s property there, which is located an hour and a half across the Canadian border. While I am a Connecticut native, the land bordering the Frontenac Provincial Park has been in my family for generations. In the 1980’s, my grandfather logged the area, and subsequently built a road and a log cabin on the property, which is where my grandmother now spends time during the summer.

The main cottage is a gathering place for family reunions; as such, I had always envisioned building a small weekend cabin to accommodate extra people for the occasions when there was sure to be a full house. About a year ago, I began to design and build this structure. When completed, the tiny cabin will be a simple, un-insulated cottage of old. But, dang, if it doesn’t scream summer and lake and relaxation!

Lakeside living.

Lakeside living.

Read more

New York Keeps It Clean with a Global Commitment to Emissions Reduction

This October, Governor Cuomo announced with former Vice President Gore that New York will join the Under 2 MOU effort to join states and cities around the world in pledging to reduce GHG emissions 80% by 2050. The Under 2 MOU is a global joint effort to encourage action at the Conference of the Parties meeting at the 21st UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris later this year.

This is not the first commitment that impacts performance targets for buildings in New York. Both the city and state have committed to deep reductions in emissions that have regulatory and programmatic impacts on buildings.

What Targets are in Place?

The Under 2 MOU program is already in line with New York’s same self imposed target in place: 80 by 50 via Executive Order No. 24 which was signed in 2009. New York is one of 20 states, plus DC, with a target in place.

SWA_PolicyEmissionsMap

Source: http://www.c2es.org/us-states-regions/policy-maps/emissions-targets

New York City has a comparable target.  In September 2014 the One City Built to Last plan also targeted an 80% reduction by 2050. But to reach this target, the city needs to reduce 30% of GHG from the building stock by 2025.

How Does New York Reach These Goals?
Read more