What’s on the Horizon at Como Zoo

Como Zoo Study

By Mary Stokes

 

As the first light of morning brightens the enclosure, the King of the Jungle cracks open one eye, surveying his domain with interest.

 

Something is different.

 

The quality of the indoor light, usually so brash and glaring is softer, somehow, hearkening to the gentle rays of the morning sun.

 

Schroeder is his name, and as the gorilla shakes the fine layer of condensation from his fur, he savors the flavor of the air with wide nostrils.  It is humid, with the slight morning chill characteristic of the lowland tropics.

 

More…natural.  More pure.

 

He is more at home in the enclosure than he’s been in years, the humidity and heat of the morning slowly building as the sun rises, and the lights and air control compensate, creating the atmosphere of the jungle.

 

Around King Schroeder, his troop is waking: Alice, Nne, Dara, and the latter’s 2-year-old child, Arlene.  In the distance, the sounds of the bachelor troop waking ring out, their noisy voices loud and hoarse.  Jabir, Samson, and Virgil, a group of related males, are the other inhabitants of the enclosure.

 

Schroeder tolerates them, but if they get too close to his consorts, he will warn them off.  Oftentimes, just a look from the King is enough.

 

What have the humans done now?

 

Ignoring his troop for the moment, Schroeder climbs the nearby trees and ropes to investigate.  While the others are starting their day of feeding and resting, he prods at the covered lights and discreet air vents.  A light mist is released from them, feeding the humidity of the air.

 

What Schroeder sees is only the outer shell of a complex system of climate control, lighting, and energy management.

 

In order to create the best habitat for the primates, the atmosphere is as close as possible to the animal’s natural environment while still remaining green and sustainable.  Every part of the exhibit has purpose, from the vegetation that will be used as graze for the gorillas to the harmony of lights and natural lighting.  The utilities are streamlined and highly efficient, so no energy or resource is wasted in the care of the gorillas.

 

These measures are not simply to provide Schroeder and his family with an ideal environment.  As the number of wild gorillas dwindles, it is up to the Como Zoo and other establishments like it to encourage population growth and preserve the breed.  This, in turn, requires sensible solutions to the conservation of not only animals, but energy use as well.

 

Como Zoo is creating a future for its gorillas and giving them room to grow.  Schroeder will be the father of a new generation of gorillas, thanks to the zoo staff and the new, sustainable exhibit.

 

The enclosure is a harmonious work of art and efficiency.  From the trees that provide browse for the gorillas to the climate control and lighting, its design has the future of not only the animals in mind, but the future of the establishment and future generations of gorillas.

 

Schroeder looks down on the enclosure from his perch, taking in the view.  His troop is foraging below him, little Arlene romping around and pestering the other gorillas.  He can see the multitudes of humans that pass through, eyes wide and sparkling.

 

He breathes deeply, nostrils flared, before swinging down to join his family.

 

The air is clear and fresh, the light constant and natural, and the climate comfortable.  While he may not understand the finer points of his surroundings, he is content in his tenement.

 

This is my home.

 

SES, Inc. recently completed a Gas and Energy Study of the facilities and enclosures at Como Zoo where we identified energy saving strategies such as LED lighting that will produce an annual savings of 23,912 Dtherms of gas and 1,615,311 kWh of electricity. We at SES, Inc. are very excited to have gotten to work with the Como Zoo and to look ahead at what is on the horizon.

Photo Credit: Forest, by werner22brigitte-5337 licensed under C.C. by 2.0

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The Value Proposition of Solar.

The Value Proposition of Solar

By: Jason Ackermann, CPPM

 

The Solar Industry has changed tremendously since it first came on the scene in the 1970’s. As with any mature industry the technology has improved and cost have dropped by 90%!

 

Over the past decade, the amount of residential solar has risen exponentially while both commercial and industrial property owners have been slower to adopt even with a generous federal tax credit that will offset the installation cost. The solar investment tax credit allows investors in solar energy systems to claim up to 30 percent of their solar installation costs as a credit on their taxes. In December of 2015, the program was extended by five years in order to spur the growth of commercial and industrial solar projects. If we looked at both commercial and residential rooftop solar solutions there is enough suitable, sunny rooftops in the U.S. to provide nearly 20% of the power in every state.

 

 In my home state of Minnesota, we have approximately 282 million square feet of public building rooftops. If we were to place solar arrays on the roof tops of just our K-12 public school buildings, we could create enough to power to satisfy the needs of 125,000 homes. The 30% reduction in utilities would save those school district 110 Million dollars per year, enough to hire an additional 2,200 teachers. Visit supercleaningservicelouisville.com.

 

Where would a commercial or industrial property owner interested in solar energy even begin? The best place to howells ac start is always with a comprehensive energy plan that has been customized to your building. Our expert team is ready to guide you through every decision point, maximizing your investment dollars and saving you money.

 

Jason Ackermann, CPPM, is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at SES, Inc and a Senior Consultant at Legacy Road, Inc.

 

Photo Credit: Barley Field Sunrise Morning, by kangbch licensed under C.C. by 2.0

 

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Sustainable Energy and the Road Ahead

Sustainable Energy and the Road Ahead

Jason Ackermann, CPPM

 

With the changes that are taking place in Washington and the selection of Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, many of the subsidies for renewable projects could very well be scaled back, if not phased out completely.  As a country, we have spent the better part of two decades weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Renewable energy was an industry in its babyhood with almost unlimited potential and most renewable energy projects were easy to sell with a major portion being funded by large government grants and subsidies. Now that the era of incentivization is coming to its conclusion, will the Sustainable Energy sector be sustainable?

 

Or, is this the end of renewable energy projects?

 

 

Riding with the Big Boys

 

In all new sectors of business, there comes a time when the government subsidy training wheels must come off.  This is the test of any good industry.  Can Sustainable Energy become the “big-boy-bike-riding” industry that it has been touted to be for the past 20 years?

 

The answer is absolutely.

 

Now more than ever before, those that want to see sustainable practices and increased use of renewable energy sources need to change how we communicate the beneficial impact of energy projects. It is no longer enough to tout the environmental impact of these projects. Times have changed and the conversations around energy projects must also change in order to still be relevant today.

 

Bumps & Scrapes

I know it may be hard to believe, but not every company or the executives that run them, give a second thought about the environment. This doesn’t make them bad companies or executives.  To some, the capital outlays need to bring a return, because their role within the company is to steward the limited resources that they have, to bring the biggest ROI. With the potential of losing some or all government incentives, we need to better understand how to communicate to those that lead the financial realm of our companies. If you’re not a numbers guy, there is a great tool, provided by Xcel Energy here, to assist you in making your case.

 

Gaining Momentum

The benefits of renewable energy are proven to save money for many companies as well as provide an additional connection point with energy conscience consumers.  Technological advances are also continuing to improve upon the efficiency of captured energy (i.e., solar panels designed by Elon Musk’s company, Tesla), which add considerable promise for the future of many forward-thinking companies looking to shave expenses.

 

Beyond a simple cash on cash return there are many other factors within energy projects that need to be quantified in order to compete head to head with other projects. Studies have shown that energy projects not only can save on operating costs, but may lead to increased productivity and overall employee health creating a much greater impact to the bottom line than just the easily quantifiable monetary gain, check thelockboss.

 

As the industry grows from adolescence to adulthood it will prove time and again, that for the money, Renewable Energy Projects not only pay, but create the greatest value for the organization. Looking forward, it is a very exciting time to be involved in the renewable energy sector, watching it take its first few wobbly trips down the block.  It’ll soon enough be yelling, “Look Ma, no hands!”

 

 

Jason Ackermann, CPPM, is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at SES, Inc and a Senior Consultant at Legacy Road, Inc.

 

Photo Credit: “Cycling” by Unsplash, licensed under C.C. by 2.0

 

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Google will use 100% renewable energy in 2017

The Googleplex, Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., is covered by solar rooftop panels. Credit: Creative Commons Lic.

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Google today said it will be able to power all of its global data centers and corporate offices from 100% renewable energy in 2017, a goal the company has been working toward for years.

Six years ago, Google began signing long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly from solar and wind farm suppliers. The company’s first contract was to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Iowa.

Last year, Google purchased another 842MW of renewable energy, nearly doubling the clean power it had purchased, which took it to 2 gigawatts (GW) of cumulative renewable power.

Google

“Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future,” Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, stated in a blog.

Google pursued a multi-pronged approach to reach its 100% renewable energy goal, buying electricity through power purchase agreements (PPAs) that locked in contracts for carbon-free energy at a set price. The guaranteed revenue from PPAs also allowed renewable energy suppliers to invest with confidence in additional capacity, such as wind turbines and photovoltaic panels. Google also started creating more efficient facilities that would use less energy.

Google has signed onto 20 renewable energy projects around the world — about two-thirds of which are in the U.S. — amounting to more than $3.5 billion in clean energy investments.

Google also purchased its power through renewable energy credits, each one of which represents 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity sold separately from commodity power sources and fed into the general electrical grid.

Where Google’s energy comes from.

“Over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60% and 80%, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option,” Hölzle said. “Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy.” Check out find cleaning service brooklyn.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a world where everyone — not just Google — has access to clean energy,” he added.

Corporations increasingly demand more renewables

Google is far from alone in working toward achieving 100% renewable energy usage.

In September, Apple announced its commitment to running all of its data centers and corporate offices on renewable energy, joining a group of other corporations committed to the same clean energy goal.

Also in September, Microsoft announced plans to power its data centers around the world using 50% renewable energy by 2018. Click over here. The company also plans to boost its use of renewable power for its data centers to 60% by the early 2020s.

Last year, Apple announced it was investing $850 million in a solar power plant through a partnership with First Solar, one of the nation’s largest photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers and provider of utility-scale PV plants.

Increasingly, corporations are also pressing governments to change policies to favor the use of renewable energy, which — depending on the region — can be less expensive than power from traditional sources such as coal-fired power plants.

Increasing the use of renewable energy has become a targeted goal of almost half of Fortune 500 companies, according to one report. In 2014, more than half of Fortune 100 companies collectively saved $1.1 billion in energy costs by rolling out renewable energy programs. Visit website for more details.

“Operating our business in an environmentally sustainable way has been a core value from the beginning, and we’re always working on new ideas to make sustainability a reality,” Hölzle said.

This Article originally appeared on ComputerWorld.com

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Five Benefits of Utilizing ISO 50001 EMS

Five Benefits of Utilizing ISO 50001 EMS

 

By Mary Stokes

For any business concerned with their triple bottom line (3BL), ISO 50001 is probably in the near future.  It’s an energy management system that hits each of the 3BL categories (people, planet, profit), gives a good return in each area, and is taking the world by storm.

 

There are numerous benefits to utilizing such a system, but here are the top five.

 

1) Structured approach to energy management

 

The ISO 50001 has a structured approach to managing energy that is invaluable to businesses and manufacturers alike.  While any business can resolve to manage energy more efficiently, anything less than a structured approach risks being ineffectual.  In fact, the pilot projects that used ISO 50001 found that it shifted their take on energy management; it “…became a way of doing business, instead of a project-by-project undertaking.”

 

Because the ISO 50001 utilizes the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) approach, it allows for continual improvement as well as integration with other management systems.  It creates an environment in which the goal is to strive and challenge not only the business, but its employees.

 

2) Involvement of management and employees

 

In this area, ISO 50001 excels.  Because it requires both employees and management to take part in gathering data and reporting it, it improves communication and accountability.  It encourages people to take an active interest and responsibility in their company’s energy management strategies, and creates a positive cycle of feedback and correction that gives a business the ability to take preventative action and adjust goals.  The ISO 50001 shares the responsibility for energy reduction among management and employees, thus spreading the increase in work manageably.

 

We already know that employees perform better when they take ownership of their work and feel that what they do matters.  The ISO 50001 takes this a step further, involving employees in the lifeblood of the business through the PDCA approach. Visit website here. It does cost in terms of time and effort, training, and maintenance, but it gives back in employee involvement, responsibility, and value.

 

3) Reduced emissions and energy waste

 

Additionally, the PDCA approach allows businesses to promote energy awareness and make informed decisions about energy use.  Energy is one of the largest costs, particularly for manufacturing businesses, but it is a controlled cost.  Better energy use and maximized performance makes it possible to decrease energy cost as well as consumption.  This in turn reduces energy wastage and emissions, which are quantified by a third party, lending credibility to your business. 

 

4) Increased profitability and savings

 

Because the ICO 50001 centers on reducing energy waste, it creates savings.  Its focus on continual improvement also creates not only better energy expenditure but better products, as businesses find more efficient processes and save on energy costs. Check site here . In the Superior Energy Performance (SEP) cost-benefit analysis paper, businesses were documented as having a 12% average reduction in energy costs within 15 months of implementing practices like ISO 50001.  In facilities with more than $2 million per year in energy costs, payback was less than 1.5 years, and less than 2.5 years for facilities with energy costs of $1 million a year.

 

In particular, the PDCA approach creates an environment in which products are improved and increase in value.  Additionally, the necessary changes and improvements are low-cost or even no-cost, which creates even greater opportunity for improving savings.

 

5) Potential business partnerships

 

Last but not least, implementation of ISO 50001 is beneficial for businesses looking to partner with other businesses.  Excellent management of energy is attractive to business partners, especially if they utilize ISO 50001.  It is already a widely known and trusted method of measuring and managing energy, and because of its transparency, it has proven itself to be a worthwhile investment.  It creates a competitive environment in which businesses and manufacturers thrive.

 

The ISO 50001 has been in play for only 5 years thus far, but businesses continue to adopt it; it has proven its worth over and over.  In fact, it’s projected that it could influence 60% or more of the world’s energy use in a variety of sectors.

 

It’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon—the benefits are clear, the return is good, and you strategically position your company to leave a greater impact on the world.

 

Photo Credit: “Road” by Larissa-K, permissions through C.C. by 2.0

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Why Tesla’s new solar roof tiles and home battery are such a big deal

Why Tesla’s new solar roof tiles and home battery are such a big deal

On October 28, Tesla unveiled its new solar roof tiles. Few of us in attendance, if any, realized the solar roofing tiles were actual functional solar panels until Elon Musk said so. Sure, it’s a neat trick, but what’s the big deal?

Why does it matter that Tesla is making a fashion statement when the point is green power and a future where we aren’t so dependent on fossil fuels?

I’ve heard from some people suggesting that this is nothing new, because of other similar previous projects, including Dow Chemical’s canned solar shingle project, for example. Others are wary of Tesla’s ability to sway consumers with a solar solution that sounds like it’ll still be quite expensive in terms of up-front (or, with payment plans, deferred but net) installation costs. Still others aren’t clear on Tesla’s goals with this product, or how it fits into the company’s overall strategy relative to its electric vehicles, like luxurious car service.

Looks matter

It’s easy to dismiss the aesthetic import of how Tesla’s tiles look, but it’s actually important, and a real consideration for homeowners looking to build new homes or revamp their existing ones. The appearance of the tiles, which come in four distinct flavors (Textured Glass, Slate Glass, Tuscan Glass and Smooth Glass) is going to be a core consideration for prospective buyers, especially those at the top end of the addressable market with the disposable income available to do everything they can to ensure their home looks as good as it possibly can.

As with other kinds of technologies that are looking to make the leap from outlier oddity to mainstream mainstay, solar has a hurdle to leap in terms of customer perception. Existing solar designs, and even so-called attempts to make them more consistent with traditional offerings like the above-mentioned Dow Chemical project, leave a lot to be desired in terms of creating something that can be broadly described as good-looking.

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It’s like the VR headset — Oculus and Google can make claims about their use of fabric making their headsets more approachable, but both are still just options somewhere along the curve of things with niche appeal. Neither is very likely to strike a truly broad audience of users as acceptable, and neither are solar panels that don’t succeed in completely disguising themselves as such.

Halo effects

Tesla has been referred to as the Apple of the automotive world by more than a few analysts and members of the media, and if there’s one thing Apple does well, it’s capitalize on the so-called “halo effect.” This is the phenomenon whereby customers of one of its lines of business are likely to become customers of some of the others; iPhone buyers tend to often go on to own a Mac, for instance.

For Tesla, this represents an opportunity to jump-start its home solar business (which it’ll take on in earnest provided its planned acquisition of SolarCity goes through) through the knock-on effects of its brisk Tesla EV sales, including the tremendous pre-order interest for the Model 3. It’s strange to think of halo effects with big-ticket items, including vehicles and home energy systems, but Tesla’s fan base shares a lot of characteristics with Apple’s, and because they’re already purchasing at the level of an entire automobile, the frame of reference for what constitutes a valid halo purchase is actually appropriate.

tesla-powerwall

Tesla, like Apple, scores well with customer satisfaction and brand commitment, and that’s something that no one trying to sell a solar home energy system at scale can match. As strange as it sounds, “buying a roof because you like your car” might be the new “buying a computer because you like your phone.”

Benefits beyond basic solar

Tesla’s solar tiles claim to be able to power a standard home, and provide spare power via the new Powerwall 2 battery in case of inclement weather or other outages. Musk says that the overall cost will still be less than installing a regular old roof and paying the electric company for power from conventional sources. But Musk’s claims about the new benefits of the new solutions don’t end there.

Tesla’s tiles will actually be more resilient than traditional roofing materials, including terra-cotta, clay and slate tiles. That’s because of the toughness of the glass used in their construction, according to Musk, who demonstrated the results of heavy impact from above, using a kettlebell as you can see in the video below.

Originally posted on TechCrunch.com

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Standards To Improve Sustainable Manufacturing

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Anyone who’s ever covered a wall with sticky notes to clearly map all of the steps in a process knows how valuable that exercise can be. It can streamline workflow, increase efficiency and improve the overall quality of the end result. Now, a public-private team led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a new international standard that can “map” the critically important environmental aspects of manufacturing processes, leading to significant improvements in sustainability while keeping a product’s life cycle low cost and efficient.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, manufacturing accounts for one-fifth of the annual energy consumption in the United States–approximately 21 quintillion joules (20 quadrillion BTU) or equivalent to 3.6 billion barrels of crude oil. To reduce this staggering amount and improve sustainability, manufacturers need to accurately measure and evaluate consumption of energy and materials, as well as environmental impacts, at each step in the life cycles of their products.

However, making these assessments can be difficult, costly and time consuming, as many manufactured items are created in multiple and/or complex processes, and the environmental impacts of these processes can vary widely depending on how and where the manufacturing occurs. Additionally, the data collected are often unreliable, frequently not derived through scientific methods, and do not compare well with those from other types of manufacturing processes or from processes at different locations.

Graphic showing sustainability aspects for measuring and evaluating the performance of manufacturing processes. A new international standard created by a public-private team led by NIST guides manufacturers with a formal method for characterizing their processes to achieve environmental goals. Credit: NIST

 

These issues are beginning to be addressed through a recently approved ASTM International standard for characterizing the environmental aspects of manufacturing processes (ASTM E3012-16). The guide provides manufacturers with a science-based, systematic approach to capture and describe information about the environmental aspects for any production process or group of processes, and then use that data to make informed decisions on improvements. The standard is easily individualized for a company’s specific needs.

 

“It’s similar to using personal finance software at home where you have to gather income and expenditure data, ‘run the numbers’ and then use the results to make smart process changes–savings, cutbacks, streamlining, etc.–that will optimize your monthly budget,” said NIST systems engineer Kevin Lyons, who chaired the ASTM committee that developed the manufacturing sustainability standard, check sanmembers.

“We designed ASTM E3012-16 to let manufacturers virtually characterize their production processes as computer models, and then, using a standardized method, ‘plug and play’ the environmental data for each process step to visualize impacts and identify areas for improving overall sustainability of the system,” Lyons said.

For their next step, Lyons and his colleagues on the ASTM sustainability committee plan to define key performance indicators (KPIs)–metrics of success–for manufacturing sustainability that can be fed back into the E3012-16 standard to make it even more effective.

“In the long term, we’d also like to establish a repository of process models and case studies from different manufacturing sectors so that users of the standard can compare and contrast against their production methods,” Lyons said.

Through a collaboration with Oregon State University, NIST held regional industry roundtables in Boston, Chicago and Seattle to learn how best to introduce the benefits of the sustainability standard to U.S. manufacturers, especially small- and medium-size firms. A report about those meetings will be published later this year.


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Materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Photo Credit: “Pumpjack” by Skeeze used with permission from C.C. by 2.0

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