Eco-Efficiency in Lincoln, Nebraska
Linking environmental and economic performance, eco-efficiency is a key part of the successful management of a modern business/organization.
A key sustainability concept, eco-efficiency takes into consideration all of the integral parts of your business—the actual day-to-day functions—and how those components can be further optimized for the preservation of the environment while also positively impacting the business’s bottom line. Furthermore, when we use the term “environment,” it actually has a two-fold meaning: on a small scale, the environment that you do business in itself, and on the largest scale, our global environment.
“Today more than ever, building owners want their facilities to be environmentally responsible and healthy places to live and work,” emphasizes Pat Killeen, owner of Engineered Controls. “They also want to optimize the energy usage, without compromising comfort. Together a tall order to accomplish, but at Engineered Controls that technology is available today. Furthermore, we benefit greatly from our partnership with Honeywell, a major energy products company that is spending sizable research and development funds on new products that will improve our lives and reduce energy.
Engineered Controls can play a very big part in assisting new and existing building owners with controlling their buildings’ energy costs. Considering the fact that a building’s lighting and HVAC loads account for nearly 80% of a building’s energy usage, there are plenty of energy strategies that a Building Automation System can provide maximizing the energy strategy options available to building owners. Essentially, Engineered Controls can assist in total building control and help provide a healthier and more energy-efficient environment for occupants.
To help our customers in identifying efficiency areas in their buildings, Engineered Controls, in conjunction with Honeywell Inc., developed an Energy & Environmental Optimization or EEO program. It is designed to leverage a broad portfolio of energy efficiency products and solutions, as well as offer a high level of energy expertise to commercial buildings in the hands of our skilled, knowledgeable and certified EEO professionals. Our EEO team can help building owners and managers obtain real-world data to help them make fact-based decisions about how to optimize their buildings for occupants’ comfort while saving energy at the same time.
Engineered Controls also offers our customers Planned Service Agreements (or simply PSA’s) to assist them in the daily operation of their facilities. The PSA that has two elements: 1. Preventative Care & Routine Maintenance; and 2. System-Wide Energy Analysis.
The first element focuses on the building hardware and is a standardized preventative maintenance program on a building environmental controls system to maximize the system’s reliability and to minimize the operational costs. In other words, our PSA program offers comprehensive system-wide checkups and testing to ensure that the control system is always operating at peak performance levels. Building systems that are properly maintained and controlled will enable you to focus on the core of your business while ensuring that everything is running efficiently. This also promotes longevity of equipment, protection of employees and equipment due to proper security measures, and energy efficiency which will result in minimizing operating costs and future unplanned capital expenditures.
For the second element, our staff of trained experts will assist a building owner in identifying areas where they can reduce cost, identify simple potential energy savings payback opportunities, and provide training. When our customers are interested a more aggressive approach to energy reduction, then we move them into our EEO program that was previously mentioned.
Moving away from the building equipment perspective and focusing more on the building occupants, indoor air quality (IAQ) is of great importance. This can be a major concern to building managers, employees and tenants because it can impact the health, comfort, well-being, and productivity of the building occupants. Having suitable indoor air quality in commercial buildings is an important component to the overall health of its occupants. Quality indoor air contributes to a favorable and productive environment for building occupants, giving them a sense of comfort, health, and well-being. Significant increases in worker productivity have also been demonstrated when the air quality was adequate.
Today in commercial buildings, automation systems exist that will monitor and control a buildings environment to look for possible contaminates. The building automation system can also monitor human exposure to pollutants (e.g. carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds and more) that can have adverse effects on your workers’ health. For example, high levels of carbon dioxide can cause drowsiness and create an inefficient work environment for building occupants, whereas other toxic gases like carbon monoxide are hazardous and potentially fatal for workers if not treated quickly. To combat all of the indoor air problems that are present, Engineered Controls offers a Demand Control Ventilation software program that will automatically adjust HVAC systems to introduce higher levels of outdoor air only when occupancy levels of building contaminants are at a high level. Equally important is that these features only induce more outdoor air when required, thus allowing building owners to maintain optimum levels of IAQ and at the same time obtain substantial energy cost savings while increasing the comfort and productivity of occupants.”
John Henry (Jack) Zohner, owner of John Henry’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning highlights another possibility that will positively impact the health and wellness of your employees, tenants, clients, and any other visitors.
“The Air Scrubber Plus is an incredible new product that can reduce up to 99% of the harmful contaminants in your home or office. Every surface you touch is cleaner as it attacks things like influenza virus, Pseudomonas, Streptococcus, E. Coli, and another dozen or so things that can affect our health. The Air Scrubber Plus would be a great device to have in all offices to reduce absenteeism due to illness, and it’s a great investment at $865 including installation. It makes sense to have the Air Scrubber Plus in all facilities, but especially at daycares, schools, doctor’s offices, and the list goes on.
He, too, addresses building controls, and more specifically, the thermostat, which has come a long way in terms of the current technology that’s available. “Smart programmable thermostats are a great way to save energy and maintain maximum comfort. Why not adjust the temperatures and run times to match the hours a building or home is occupied? There are many options to pick from and payback is fairly quick. I like the Lennox iComfort and the Trane Nexia thermostats that are controllable from an iPhone. It’s comforting to know you can make any necessary adjustments while you are away. Some smart thermostats have options for security, timing of lights, and the list goes on. Smart thermostats do so much more today than control the heating and cooling!”
Zohner further advises, “It’s hard to put into words what we will be facing soon as our environment rapidly declines. The Arctic will likely be free of sea ice by mid-century and global warming will increase ever faster. We are on a collision course with nature and the deck is stacked against us. We need to take a proactive approach immediately and reduce our carbon footprint in every possible area. All heating and cooling equipment needs to be replaced if it is not high efficiency. It needs to be maintained by a qualified technician twice a year that follows specific details covered in a good service maintenance agreement.
Humidifiers are another very important part of a heating system. Our cold Nebraska winters tend to dry out our homes and offices. Dry air increases the risks of bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold, mites, respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma. It also dries out our skin and increases wrinkles. The optimum range for relative humidity is best for your health. The Honeywell TruEase is a very good humidifier that has a bypass damper to keep air from going through it when the system is not calling for heat and also automatic water shut off valves to shut off the water. These two features save energy and improve comfort. The right humidity also increases comfort and allows the temperature to be a few degrees lower, which of course saves energy too.”
It’s not only important to regularly evaluate and invest in equipment and systems that promote eco-efficiency, but also to work with service providers whose environmentally-friendly business practices align with your needs and goals. A prime example for businesses is your commercial cleaning company, as the products used do indeed matter.
“We recently submitted our company’s best practices for green cleaning to an independent non-profit organization called Green Seal, a respected U.S. environmental leadership ecolabel,” explains Angela Paolini, President of ServiceMaster Professional Business Maintenance. “Working closely with Green Seal we did attain the coveted GS-42 certification by completing a rigorous certification and audit of our cleaning services. This means that now we can say that our cleaning service and ServiceMaster Clean’s patented Capture and Removal Cleaning® system meets the criteria of the Green Seal™ Environmental Standard for Cleaning Services for reduced toxicity, waste and exposure.
Based on her experience, she also offers the following advice, “If you are interested in ‘Going Green’ you should understand what ecolabels are and who to listen to as a reliable source of information. Since the 1990s the number of third party ecolabels has grown. The number of reliable and truly independent standards and ecolabels remains low. Green Seal standards are singled out as science-based and exceptionally credible. Since 2000, nearly 1,500 cleaning products have become certified under GS-37 and more than 100 companies offer products certified under GS-37 including 3M, Ecolab, PortionPac and Staples. ServiceMaster Clean Green For™ cleaning products and ServiceMaster Clean’s patented Capture and Removal Cleaning® system are certified by Green Seal under GS-42.
That being said, I believe more important than what to use in an effort to “Go Green” is making sure that whatever equipment, process or practice you incorporate has been certified by a reputable third party ecolabel such as Green Seal.
According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, eco-efficiency is progressively reducing environmental impacts of goods and resource intensity throughout the entire life-cycle to a level at least in line with the Earth’s estimated carrying capacity. It is important to remember that even by just reducing your environmental impact in your operations, equipment use and practices you are working towards to a more environmentally efficient practice and creating sustainability for your department or company. Do not give up. It is a big job to protect our environment and it doesn’t happen overnight in one large move by one large company but in many seemingly insignificant decisions and choices by many people.”
So far we’ve just skimmed the surface of everything out there that serves to improve energy efficiency. You could even choose to take energy efficiency a step further and employ a strategic approach that not only incorporates energy usage but also energy production. Renewable energy—energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale—is more affordable than ever, making it accessible to a much wider segment of the population.
“Photo voltaic system (PV) also known as solar power is definitely a great optimizer for environmental efficiency,” emphasizes Jason Olberding, owner of J-Tech Solar. “Solar provides energy that could potently power your workplace, lighten its carbon footprint and increase environmental efficiency. PV also has a great economic outcome for all business owners who decide to give it a chance. Federal government allows businesses to have a 1-year accelerated depreciation on solar power if necessary. This can make the return on investment absolutely incredible.
When most people think of solar power, the first thing that comes to mind is their roof and they often eliminate themselves due to shade, space or maybe cost constraints. Please rejoice! Solar panels can be placed almost anywhere and J-Tech Solar actually has a community solar project in the works. This would allow a business or individual to purchase a solar system and have it on land designated for the use of solar power generation. The purchase includes 24-hour WiFi monitoring system that tracks the power production live minute to minute.
Solar is relatively new to our area, this often makes people hesitant to look at the possibilities. J-Tech Solar provides the best equipment, OSHA compliance and PV certified installers. The solar business is just like most things in life in that you pay for what you get. We’re always more than happy to provide information to anyone who is interested in learning more about the possibilities that exist.”
Speaking of the power of the sun, another item that can make a big difference in terms of environmental efficiency are window films, which have evolved to offer a host of impressive functions and benefits.
“3M Solar Control Window Films are the perfect retrofit for any building if you’re looking to decrease solar heat, glare, and UV rays while increasing the efficiency of the heating and cooling units, all without replacing the original windows,” advises Keith May, owner of The Tint Shop. “3M Window Films have significant advantages all year long, but since winter is here, I’ll use that as an example. The heating system in a building is being used to keep most of the employees comfortably warm. In the meantime, the employees in front of or close to large windows are sweating because they are getting hit with heat from the building heating system AND the sun’s heat blasting in through the windows. 3M Window Films even out this heat in balance, keeping it more comfortable for all in winter as well as the warmer months.
With energy costs rising, and climate change becoming a factor, you want to find the most cost effective solution for energy consumption possible. Something as small as using lower wattage bulbs can lower the energy consumption in a large building. But when it comes to climate control in a building or home, the solutions are generally costly. With new energy-efficient windows, heat pumps, new high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, there are many options to dealing with energy efficiency that are expensive but worthwhile investments.
However, retrofitting 3M Window Films into ANY building is one of the most cost-effective improvements available that produces immediate results. There’s no construction, closing down sections of the building, or permits required for the installation, making it one of the least intrusive options as well. With an average ROI of 3 years, you will notice a drop in energy costs immediately along with much-improved temperature regulation.
Among the solutions window films provide, many are actually quite creative in terms of function. Some 3M Fasara Decorative Films can even brighten up a dark room or workspace by reflecting the ambient light in the room off of the “white” decorative finish and back into the room amplified. So now that conference room that always seemed a little dark and gloomy can be brightened up without resorting to expensive fixtures or brighter, higher energy bulbs. Alternatively, 3M Daylight Directing Films are literally like tiny “prisms” working to redirect the light entering a window up towards the ceiling, and away from employees, desks, screens, etc. Both the desired look and function can be achieved, as much of the new films have little to no darkness or ‘tint,’ or in industry terms, high visible light transmittance (VLT).
3M Window Films have been recognized by the American Skin Cancer Society and are Energy Star Rated. There are films that address just about any issue you’re experiencing or objective you’re seeking to meet, and when installed by The Tint Shop, you know you are getting the right film for your situation and having it applied by professionals with over 18 years of experience. If your property is more than three floors we can also do an Energy Audit, which provides an ROI time frame.
Please feel free to call The Tint Shop at (402) 466-1355 or email us at email@example.com with any questions. You can also check out our website at tintshoplincoln.com for more information, which includes features for requesting an estimate, paying an invoice, and other convenient options.”
Now that you have a taste of what’s out there currently, take a step back to look at the whole picture of your operations (and ecological footprint). You’ll find that there are many useful applications, and in all aspects of business, where eco-efficiency principles, tools, and processes can be applied. Whether it’s a small improvement or a large-scale solution, the outcomes are well worth at least looking into what you can do to improve your eco-efficiency. If you’re not sure where exactly to start, give one of our local professionals a call and go from there!