Posts tagged ‘Green’

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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February 4, 2016, 9:00 am

Increasing Carbon-Neutral Projects in 2016

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The latest buzzword in the building industry is “carbon-neutral,” and it just might stick around for a while. At first, carbon neutrality was an idea: balancing the amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount that is offset or sequestered. Now, we’re seeing actual carbon-neutral projects crop up around the country, and conversation turn toward this latest version of sustainable building practices.

One place that conversation is taking place is in the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA) – a group of international cities committed to achieving aggressive long-term carbon reduction goals. Their Innovation Fund is accepting proposals next week for city-by-city sustainability efforts. This will begin the process of creating a consortium of carbon-neutral cities, with a longer-term goal of advancing carbon-neutral technology.

While the CNCA has set a goal of 80 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2050, Seattle is striving for complete carbon neutrality by that same benchmark. Seattle has moved beyond planning to actually doing and is already one of the top 10 cities in the country for LEED® and ENERGY STAR®-certified buildings. On the opposite coast, South Carolina real estate developer Richards Gregory has already achieved carbon neutrality, creating a zero-carbon office building.

Not only are we inspired by this movement around the country, we’re also excited to see how our own products can contribute to these efforts. We note, for example, that solar energy is a key component to carbon-neutral projects, making our electric heat pumps a smart HVAC choice. As carbon-neutral moves from buzzword to, perhaps, standard, it’s an exciting time to research, develop and live!

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January 11, 2016, 9:00 am

Massachusetts Approves Our Systems for Rebate

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Cities are constantly looking to initiate more green building projects and to update older, existing buildings. In short: Cities are going green. In Boston, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) announced a $30 million initiative to increase the use of clean cooling and heating systems on these projects. In December, MassCEC listed our products as eligible for this rebate, including our MSZ-FH09NA/MUZ-FH09NA system. The rebate for houses using air source heat pumps ranges from $750 to $3,750.

For your customers in Massachusetts considering our systems, this rebate just might seal the deal. Massachusetts natives have shown interest in being energy conscious – ranking first as the most energy-efficient state for the last five years – and promotions like these are attractive to those needs.

For more information about which products are eligible check out MassCEC.com

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December 29, 2015, 10:12 am

Work Smarter With Green Technology

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Last week we wrote about the financial benefits of using automation systems to modify green buildings; now here’s one more reason to consider updating your office space. According to a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, there is a clear relationship between air quality and cognition. This relationship makes intuitive sense, but its impact is more severe than you may expect. Professionals who work in green buildings showed “cognitive scores” as high as 101 percent better than those in traditional office buildings, and the “using information” score was nearly 300 percent better for workers in green settings.

These results seem to demonize conventional buildings as being poor working environments. The good news is that the industry has a big opportunity here, and some professionals are already embracing this challenge. Building Construction + Design recently identified a trend in the green building industry: Many older buildings are being retrofitted with green technology rather than being replaced with entirely new buildings. Ultimately this will save money and improve air quality for employees – perhaps exponentially. That’s a big opportunity for a big, important change.

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September 16, 2015, 9:35 am

The Truth About Buzzwords

Talking with homeowners about our products often means using words like “sustainable,” “net-zero” and “green.” But should these words come up? Do homeowners respond well to them?

These are the exact questions the Shelton Group set out to answer in a recent study of over 2,000 U.S. respondents. The resultant report, “The Buzz on Buzzwords,” sheds light on the market’s perceptions of 11 words relating to “green.”

The results are surprising in places, and should influence how certain conversations occur with homeowners. It is helpful to know, for example, that 76 percent of respondents believe the word “green” indicates a steep price. Likewise that only 30 percent of respondents know what “net-zero” means, and an ample 43 percent believe it is an undesirable quality.

Just as technology shifts and progresses, so does the language we use to discuss it. Keeping current is a challenge, especially since it is now apparent that listeners might not fully grasp what we think of as everyday terms. Educating homeowners seems more important than ever before.

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August 20, 2015, 3:48 pm

Never Leave ‘Home’ Without ‘Ready’

Last month, we shared how green rating systems stack up. Now, we are focusing on just one of those ratings – Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH).

What is a ZERH and why is it called that? The ZERH rating endorses the sustainability and high efficiency of a Zero Energy home and protects builders from false pretenses with the addition of ‘Ready.’ A ZERH is at least 40 to 50 percent more efficient than a traditional home but what separates it from a home with zero utility bills is a renewable energy system. It can almost offset its annual energy consumption but many factors can affect utility costs, such as homeowner habits, occupancy levels and adverse weather conditions.

Take the ZERH-certified Village Park Eco Home in Double Oak, Texas, for example, which saves almost $1,700 a year in utilities. Its efficiency earned the home the 2014 Housing Innovation Award and has garnered the attention of over 1,300 tourists. Builder Wayne Atkins said building the Village Park Eco Home was an easy decision and a step in the right direction. He intends on making it a Zero Energy Home to increase his savings even more. He shared, “solar may not be cost effective now but, in a few years it will be and we’ll be ready for it.”

Atkins isn’t the only one going to the greener side. More and more builders and homeowners are willing to put in a little now to get a lot out later. They’re willing to position themselves for better efficiency by making smarter choices for the home. Cooling and heating accounts for nearly half of a home’s energy consumption so, for those heading down the ZERH path, installing a high-performing HVAC system like ours would be a smart place to start.

June 11, 2015, 10:18 am

The Grass Is Always Greener on the Greener Side

Educational facilities across the country are going green. Recycling clubs, organic gardens, green roofs and sustainable dining programs are becoming campus staples. More and more institutions are adopting environmentally conscious practices and technologies for a simple reason: to minimize operational costs in order to maximize the educational experience.

Here are some of the ways that sustainable HVAC solutions benefit educational facilities:

  1. Cost Savings. When school is in session, cooling and heating systems provide a comfortable learning environment. When school is not in session, the systems safeguard the building from the damaging effects from extreme heat, freezing temperatures and excessive humidity. With an energy-efficient HVAC system, all of this is done at a reduced cost. When Falmouth Elementary School, Stafford, Virginia, installed our VRF zoning systems, their operating costs decreased by 40 percent and their energy costs fell by 25 percent – a savings of $70,000 per year.

  2. Utility Rebates. Many utility companies offer financial incentives for purchasing qualified energy-efficient systems. Our VRF solutions have contributed to astounding utility rebates for a number of commercial projects – Towson City Center got back $421,999; Union Mill, $164,258; 909 Kapiolani, $70,000; Residence Inn® by Marriott®, $27,000.

  3. Tax Incentives. The Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction (Section 179D) is a deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for companies designing or renovating energy-efficient buildings for the government. Participating schools have received free energy assessments and been able to offer designers and contractors a potential tax deduction for their sustainable design solutions.

The Hollis Montessori School, Hollis, New Hampshire, is a good model for how an educational facility can improve energy efficiency with an environmentally friendly HVAC solution and, in turn, improve its students’ educational experience. Our H2i® system creates not only a healthy environment in which the students can learn but an unparalleled academic experience. Teachers incorporate the building’s energy usage into lessons and students are encouraged to interact with the system’s monitoring equipment. As far as the savings go, Hollis Montessori School’s annual electricity bill is just $4,500 – an 85 percent energy savings, says the school’s energy consultant. The school has an even bigger achievement to tout – it’s the first independent school in the country to earn Passive House certification.

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