Posts tagged ‘Green’

February 21, 2017, 9:00 am

The Trend Toward Socially Conscious Multifamily Facilities

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The multifamily sector is seeing an amenities arms race. Residents want more and more, and the desired amenities now branch beyond obvious offerings like concierge services and rooftop terraces. Many new amenities are designed to draw in socially conscious tenants.

Building Design + Construction magazine recently named some popular new amenities. Among them were bike storage and car-sharing services – amenities that help tenants live a more socially responsible lifestyle. Likewise when it comes to new technology, tenants want amenities that help them (and the broader community) live sustainably, like advanced controls for HVAC and lighting systems.

Some tenants are socially conscious enough that they’re taking it a step further and signing so-called “green leases.” Green Building & Design magazine notes that in Boston’s Allston Green District, residents must sign a Green Declaration. In doing so, they commit to activities like minimizing energy and water usage, recycling and using public transit – the idea being that not only must the building be green, but so must its tenants. That might sound like a tall order, but finding tenants was no problem for this neighborhood: every unit was preleased before the building was completed.

Of course, not all tenants are ready for a green lease. Some just want to live in a building with green practices – particularly recycling. A recent National Multifamily Housing Council survey found that 80 percent of tenants consider recycling a “top lease decision factor,” and are willing to pay more in rent for that amenity.

This trend toward social consciousness may seem intimidating, but facility managers can rest assured that even small steps can make a difference. For example, a simple recycling program can help attract the new – and large – generation of socially conscious tenants. And those facility managers who can push broader green programs – they’ll be in good company!

Want to read more industry news? Click here to see our archive of newsletters written for architects, engineers, facility managers and builders. You’ll also have a chance to subscribe to one or more newsletters.

Written by MitsubishiHVAC
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January 4, 2017, 9:00 am

Will Homebuyers Pay for Efficiency?

Yes.

To this point, the latest McGraw-Hill Construction report on new and remodeled green homes found that energy-efficient appliances are some of the first things homebuyers look for in a new house — second only to having enough square footage to live comfortably. This was true for both millennials and baby boomers — two generations poised to purchase homes in great numbers.

Why do homebuyers look for energy-efficient appliances? To save on monthly costs and anything related to maintenance. It’s common knowledge that HVAC systems account for a significant portion of monthly energy costs, so many homebuyers think of these systems first. In the latest study by the National Association of Realtors, homebuyers were asked to rank which features are most important to them in their new house. Respondents said HVAC systems were the number one essential feature when it comes to environment.

It’s no surprise the appetite for energy-efficient appliances and the concern over HVAC energy costs has resulted in strong and ever-increasing consumer demand for energy-efficient HVAC. Countless studies and surveys are concluding this very same thing — some looking at demand, others at supply. One example is Navigant Research’s recent report showing that annual revenue from energy-efficient HVAC systems will almost double in the next 15 years, growing to $33.2 billion by 2020.

For builders, the focus on energy-efficient appliances — and energy-efficient HVAC in particular — is an incredible opportunity. If homebuyers are looking for appliances from trusted, well-known brands, builders can feature these products. If buyers are searching out green-certified homes, builders can embark on green projects. This seems to be a time of “if you build it, they will come.” And, even more so, “if you build it energy-efficient, they will buy.”

If you want to learn more about why homebuyers want efficient products in their homes, check out our Builder newsletter.

Written by MitsubishiHVAC
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December 13, 2016, 9:00 am

Green Retrofitting: The Future of the Past

As a society, we are increasingly demanding sustainability in all facets of life. The effect on the building industry has been staggering. Owners and managers of commercial buildings have quickly learned that going green can save on operating costs and can attract more, higher-paying tenants. As the U.S. Green Building Council recently learned, the result has been a dramatic increase in demand for green facilities.

Some of that demand is being met by new, high-performance buildings. To fully meet the mandate, however, the industry will need to take on a significant number of green commercial retrofit projects. The good news: The U.S. Energy Information Agency’s recent Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey found that about half of America’s commercial buildings were built before 1980 – creating a wealth of buildings just waiting to get the green treatment.

The scope of each commercial retrofit will include meeting tenant requirements for features like rooftop gardens, recycling and composting programs, and green transportation options. The list of mechanical systems that engineers will be asked to update isn’t unexpected. It includes:

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For all of these systems, the question will be what technology or product can help a project meet its client’s needs and budget, as well as today’s building codes. A frequent answer:  super-efficient, state-of-the-art technologies – the same ones that were once considered “alternative.”

If you want to learn more about green retrofits, check out our Engineer newsletter.

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August 16, 2016, 9:00 am

Addressing the Growing Trend of Greenwashing

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First came the trend of going green – a good thing. Now the trend is greenwashing – not a good thing.

A company or organization greenwashes by marketing itself as green but not offering products or services that are actually green. A realtor might list a house as being “green,” for example, when none of its components were designed or installed to minimize environmental impact. Or a hotel might claim to have green practices because it washes occupants’ sheets every third day instead of every day, but its lighting, HVAC, kitchens and vehicles are all voracious energy-consumers.

The result is that consumers are now being told to be suspicious of the word “green.” A recent Washington Post article made this very suggestion, telling buyers to “be wary of houses that are marketed as energy-efficient.” There is unfortunately truth to this statement. Some organizations unfairly claim that their products are green or contribute to a greener overall building. The risk is that the field may get tainted for the rest of us; consumers may come to think of green as a gimmick – something they’ve been duped by in the past.

As is so often the case, the best thing we can do is educate. HVAC contractors sitting across the table from homeowners can discuss the importance of energy efficiency in having a green home, pointing toward our zoning systems’ industry-leading efficiencies and how they tie into a host of green technologies like solar panels. Architects meeting with clients interested in green certification can discuss how our VRF systems’ efficiencies consistently help projects earn 28 points across two LEED® categories (Energy and Atmosphere and Indoor Environment) – advancing the project further down the track toward certification. Professionals can also talk with clients about green raters, ENERGY STAR® certification and countless other resources.

As members of the building industry, we need to do our part in educating potential clients so they know what to look for when searching for “green.”

Written by MitsubishiHVAC
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July 13, 2016, 9:00 am

Clean Energy Jobs on the Rise

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You can expect energy consumption to come up a lot in conversation this summer; there’s just a lot of activity surrounding energy and related topics, like job creation. Partly this is due to the current election cycle, and partly because new incentives and tighter energy codes are being introduced federally and statewide to promote green building and technology.

For many people, this new focus on energy is great news. Bloomberg reports that all over the world, more cost-effective green technologies and increasingly prevalent green policies have led to a five-percent growth in green jobs over the last year – from 7.7 million jobs in 2014 to 8.1 million in 2015. This increase includes openings in biofuels as well as solar power, while oil and gas producers have seen declines since the middle of 2014.

Here at Mitsubishi Electric, we are proud to be involved in a number of projects that promote green building, and to create technologies that make lofty energy goals achievable. Some recent success stories include Concord Riverwalk (residentially) and The Willow School (commercially), though many more examples exist.

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July 5, 2016, 9:00 am

Project Profile: The Willow School

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“How do you make a building like a tree?” That was the question Mark Biedron, co-founder, The Willow School (Willow), Gladstone, New Jersey, was trying to answer when he, his wife Gretchen and the team at Willow embarked on the Living Building Challenge (LBC). LBC is a standard requiring buildings to be 100 percent electric – often functioning at net-zero or net-positive energy usage. This was the goal for Willow’s new 20,000-square-foot Health, Wellness and Nutrition Center – and it was our very own VRF technology that helped achieve that goal.

Since a tree would use only sunlight, Willow produced energy with photovoltaic panels. That energy then fueled the school’s mechanical systems, like our VRF technology and Lossnay Energy Recovery Ventilators. The VRF units keep the school comfortable for little energy, while the Lossnay ERVs enable this new building to recover energy from exhaust air and simultaneously cool or heat outside ventilation air as it enters the building.

The result is a hugely efficient energy operation – a reflection of the school’s commitment to sustainability, and of the smart products and project design. “Every load was tracked and analyzed. Every amp and watt was accounted for. Nothing was missed,” said Vin Farese, Loring Consulting Engineers, Princeton, New Jersey. The success is evident: The school building performs more than 700 percent more efficiently than conventional educational facilities. Biedron is very proud of that fact: “It’s really the responsibility of the educational community to teach children how the planet works, why that’s important and how to use energy efficiently.”

To learn more about the efficiency at Willow – including how our customer service helped Willow meet certain LBC codes – check out the case study.

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June 23, 2016, 9:00 am

Project Profile – Bonobo Winery

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When it comes to wineries, comfort can be dramatically different from room to room. This was a challenge for brothers Todd and Carter Oosterhouse, the latter of shows like TLC’s “Trading Spaces” and HGTV’s “Carter Can.” The Oosterhouses selected our zoned comfort solutions to condition a variety of spaces at their new Bonobo Winery in Traverse City, Michigan, including the barrel room, office space and hallways. Todd noted that, “Our winemaker likes to keep everything cold, so it’s been helpful that the units maintain the desired temperature for us. You can raise the temperature in individual offices, though, if someone wants it warmer. Not everyone likes it so cold!” Our zoned comfort solutions have made handling each of Bonobo’s zones possible.

In conceiving, opening and running the winery, the Oosterhouse brothers’ focus beyond just making Bonobo a pleasant destination for visitors was “to be as energy-conscious as possible through the whole project,” said Todd. This concern was not just a product of the brothers’ upbringing, but being in environmentally conscious California. Todd, Carter and Carter’s wife, Amy Smart, fully-embrace the environmental goals of their home state, so “mini-splits just made sense.”

Pat Harrison, estimator, Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing, Traverse City, recommended our system to meet the Oosterhouses’ needs, because he knew that it would be reliable. Harrison said, “Mitsubishi [Electric] product is our No. 1 product for split systems. The reason is performance – fewer callbacks.” Todd agreed, saying, “The Mitsubishi [Electric] system was right in line with our energy-conscious goals. So we went for it. And, happy to say, the installation was pretty seamless.”

To read more about Bonobo Winery, check out the case study.

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June 6, 2016, 9:00 am

Project Profile: Dodge City Schools

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“I can hear my teacher now.” That was one student’s reaction in Dodge City, Kansas, after the school district began renovating each of its 10 schools’ HVAC systems. When it paired our Water-source Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) with geothermal technology in two of its buildings, that same wonderful thing happened – suddenly, students could hear their teachers. Additionally, the district saw reduced utility bills, green certification and satisfied teachers.

Each summer now, the district focuses efforts on one renovation. Our water-source VRF technology entered the scene during the second summer as part of improving conditions in the 35,000-square-foot Central Elementary School (Central) – a two-story brick facility built in 1927. Water-source VRF paired with geothermal technology replaced outdated, inefficient HVAC systems. VRF brought efficiency, true zoning and excellent control to that pairing.

The following summer, Wilroads Elementary School (Wilroads) – a 19,000-square-foot building from the 1950s – was renovated by pairing our water-source VRF systems with geothermal technology. Drew Rose, electrical engineer, Integrated Consulting Engineers, Inc., Wichita, Kansas, has served as the project manager and designer for the ongoing Dodge City Schools projects. Rose said of the Wilroads installation that “everyone’s been satisfied since, and the teachers were really excited to get something that works without being loud.”

Both Central and Wilroads also earned ENERGY STAR® certification; Central even got a score of 91! “When you think about how it was built in 1927, well, we think that’s pretty impressive,” said William Hammond, the district’s executive director of business operations.

The Dodge City Unified School District’s energy manager, Morris Reeves, spoke of the decision to use VRF: “We work every day to conserve energy. Energy conserved is more money for the classroom – that’s what we’re all about.” Hammond added: “I like being green to save energy and resources, and being green to save money. I try to find projects that do both.” By pairing our water-source VRF systems with geothermal technology, the school district was able to do both. This pairing even earned the district a claim of $215,000 in grants and rebates. And now, nearly 7,000 students can hear their teachers.

To read more about Dodge City Schools, check out the case study.

February 25, 2016, 9:00 am

Net-Zero and the New Normal

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In an editorial regarding Net-Zero enthusiasm, architect Ned Cramer questioned, “Why isn’t net-zero as familiar in our technology-worshipping culture as the iPhone? Why don’t we talk about it with as much awe as the Tesla Model S?” These innovations are not only popular – they are part of our culture.

So then why doesn’t net-zero building feel like a fundamental part of our culture, especially when so much of the success with net-zero projects comes from a thoughtful and simple redesign of something we already use? We know to anticipate the newest iteration of our favorite electronics each year, but green technologies are constantly innovating and updating as well. Windows, for example, can be angled to either contain or release heat. This simple rethinking of traditional windows can naturally regulate the temperature of a home, which in turn saves on energy and associated costs. On bigger projects, energy recovery technology can even utilize heat that would otherwise be dispelled, creating a source of comfort.

Building professionals have the capacity to imagine these intuitive, efficient designs and now have the tools to make these projects not only a reality, but a modern inevitability. As the newest smartphones draw crowds for a new product release, so too should each green milestone be celebrated.

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February 19, 2016, 9:00 am

The Need to Go Green in a Costly Housing Market

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With the 2016 Primary Season in full swing, Joel Kotkin of The Daily Beast wrote Monday morning that the cost of housing has gone largely unmentioned among policy issues. Citing a study from Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy, Kotkin argues that, “In 2015, the rise in housing costs essentially swallowed savings gains made elsewhere, notably, savings on the cost of energy.” In November of last year, Nielsen identified sustainability1 as a “shopping priority” for millennials, even to the point that they would pay extra for that sustainability. For presidential hopefuls, recognizing the impact of environmental demands on the needs of our country’s next generation of homeowners is a must, but acting on that information takes time.

What we in the industry can do is much more immediate and impactful. We wrote last week of the practicality of carbon-neutrality, but beyond that our ductless systems were among the first of their kind in the United States and have always worked toward energy efficiency. By minimizing the size of our units without sacrificing output, and by making personalized control more readily available, our systems can help reduce energy consumption. This curbs energy costs and makes our products ideal for the millennial consumer, while also easily adapting to future economic and environmental trends.

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