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Popular Multifamily Retrofits, Part II

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In our first entry of this three-part series, we described advanced controls for electrically heated buildings, combined heat and power systems, and upgraded atmospheric boilers. This time around, we’ll examine the ins-and-outs of exhaust ventilation in multifamily buildings. Read more

Hotels, Motels, Reining Emissions In

I’ll save the long-winded introduction and get straight to the facts. Based on New York City’s publicly available Local Law 84 (LL84) benchmarking data for 2015, hotels emit 32% more greenhouse gas (GHG) per square foot than the average for all buildings. I also want to qualify this by making a few statements about the data:

  1. There are 13,973 buildings on the Department of Finance list; of which 2,353 did not comply with LL84 or are not required to comply.
  2. We removed the outliers. Weather-normalized source energy use intensity (EUI) over 550 and under 100 (kBtu/ft2) typically indicates erroneous data. Most likely either the building’s benchmarking activities or report filed with NYC were completed incorrectly.
  3. A significant portion of the list comprises the buildings with erroneous data: 4950. Seems a little crazy, no? Leaving us with a good topic for another day….
  4. For clarity, that means we analyzed the remaining 6,654 buildings.
2016 Emissions Map

Click to View Interactive NYC GHG Emissions Map – via CityLab. Map credit: Jill Hubley

The good news – for the sake of this post – is that the hotel market had one of the higher rates of correctly reported compliance data. Out of 187 buildings, 143 reported with numbers that were in a normal range. The average for the sector however, reflects EUI and GHG emissions per square foot that are much higher than other similar building types. Multifamily buildings, for example, have an average of 42% lower GHG emissions/ft2 than hotels (see table below). Read more

The POWER of Partnership!

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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. 

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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

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Game Changers in Building Science

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth last week at Greenbuild 2015 in Washington, D.C.! By all accounts, this year’s event was a great success. In case you missed it, our fearless leader, Steven Winter, spoke at the GAF booth on Wednesday. As an architect who has been practicing building science for the past 50 years, he shared insights about some building science innovations that he thinks have been “game changers” and have intrigued him: they are changing the way we design, build and operate buildings.

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Here are the highlights:

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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.

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