Posts tagged ‘sustainability’

January 26, 2017, 9:00 am

Project Profile: Concord Riverwalk

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A few years ago, Dan Gainsboro, founder and principal of NOW Communities, LLC, Concord, Massachusetts, built the award-winning community of Concord Riverwalk. The West Concord, Massachusetts, development consists of 13 Zero Energy Ready Homes.

While planning the development, Gainsboro faced his largest challenge ‒ finding a system that would cool and heat the homes in an unpredictable climate while also offering impressive energy efficiency. With research and expertise from ZeroEnergy Design, Boston, Gainsboro knew our Zoned Comfort Solutions™ would keep these houses comfortable and efficient even in New England’s icy winter weather.

Gainsboro said, “Japanese-designed mini-splits are just bulletproof. They require little maintenance and are reliable. And the efficiencies!” Gainsboro also noted how year-round performance was a big consideration in the selection process. He continued, “I’ve had good luck with Mitsubishi [Electric] in the past; they’re a bit ahead of the others in terms of addressing concerns related to heating.”

Since project completion, Concord Riverwalk has received media attention across the building industry, applauding its innovative concept and exceptional performance. According to Gainsboro, the residents have also been extremely pleased, especially with their homes’ comfort and low energy costs. Gainsboro said, “I think people are generally pretty satisfied with the return-on-investment for their high-performance home. I believe one resident’s daily electricity is 25 cents a day!”

To read more about Concord Riverwalk, check out the full case study here.

October 26, 2016, 9:00 am

Greenbuild 2016

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At Mitsubishi Electric, we take pride in creating sustainable cooling and heating technology. Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to share our newest innovations at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Greenbuild is the largest conference and expo dedicated to green building and sustainable design. It attracts industry leaders and experts from all over the globe. In addition to a diverse crowd, Greenbuild is known for its attractions. This year included a film festival, yoga session and Women in Green Power Breakfast. The buzz was so contagious that #Greenbuild16 became a trending topic on Twitter.

Although this year’s Greenbuild has come and gone, its impact will continue in Los Angeles with the Legacy Project. For this year’s Legacy Project, the U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles Chapter helped launch an Eco-Tech Maker Space for the Los Angeles Unified School District. This project offers “S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) curricula, hands-on learning and environmental stewardship emanating from the reuse of discarded, safe manufacturing materials.”

From beginning to end, Greenbuild always brings the energy that inspires us to engage and create technologies for this industry. We look forward to participating in next year’s conference in Boston.

Written by MitsubishiHVAC
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September 22, 2016, 9:00 am

Maximizing Comfort in Health and Wellness Facilities

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Healthcare Facilities Management magazine recently reported the success of some HVAC systems in health and wellness facilities. With stringent indoor air quality requirements, these facilities need systems that condition outside air, monitor and control humidity, filter air and provide ample ventilation. The article reported that beyond these measurable requirements, facility managers also want sustainable and energy-efficient systems. It also recognized a few manufacturers – including us – as meeting these needs.

Specifically, our latest Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) innovation, CITY MULTI® L-Generation Air-source technology, was recognized for its improvements in efficiency and its ability to maximize heat transfer. In regard to facility management, the magazine celebrated our Diamond Controls™ Solutions for its assistance in helping managers modify zone temperatures and observe building conditions, such as occupancy, CO2 levels, energy usage and humidity levels.

To learn more about how our VRF performs in health and wellness facilities, check out these case studies: Choctaw General Hospital and Grand Lake Mental Health Center.

Written by MitsubishiHVAC
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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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March 24, 2016, 9:00 am

Zoned Comfort Solutions in a Limited Rental Market

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In predicting the trends of the housing market for 2016, the Washington Post expects that, “for renters, 2016 will be a difficult year.” Specifically, it focuses on millennials – who are driving builders toward multifamily projects and apartment buildings, but also of empty-nesters – baby boomers whose millennial children have moved out and who are now scaling back in retirement.

Having both millennials and boomers in the market has created an inverse relationship resulting in a dramatically reduced supply. The Washington Post also notes that “builders have been slow to increase construction of new single-family homes,” which limits that supply further. Instead, what seems to be happening, writes Time magazine, is that investors are buying larger homes foregone by empty-nesters and renovating them to become multifamily rental spaces.

Though millennials will still have to delay becoming homeowners, the benefit is an exponential increase in rental space for all. For the building industry, the expansion of single-family homes into multifamily apartments means a need for energy-efficient, sustainable cooling and heating options. Installing zoned comfort solutions gives each family in these developments individual, personalized zones. This means that for renters who have limited options, more cost-efficient rental spaces are opening up.

House vector. People vector. Infographic vector designed by Freepik. Graphics have been edited.

March 22, 2016, 9:00 am

Green Certification in Unexpected Applications

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This year’s International Builders’ Show provided a perfect forum for Home Innovation Research Labs to showcase its annual report and the initial results of its National Green Building StandardTM (NGBS) certification program. The goal of this program was to create a flexible yet consistent building certification program with which builders and developers could certify green projects. With over 60,000 green certified projects to date, these results show the success of the NGBS program.

Most interestingly, the report highlighted a niche of distinct mixed-use facilities that may not have qualified as green-certified projects under other metrics. Some of these facilities included:

  • Student Housing. Student housing creates small but diverse communities in a single area. Schools can promote sustainability by installing high-performance insulation and ventilation products, but also by placing campus housing facilities, student resource buildings and social life nearby one another, making it easier for students to make sustainable choices to walk or bike rather than take a car.
  • Military Housing. Servicemen, servicewomen and veterans bring to the building industry a variety of need-based applications. For example, in Liberty Hill, Texas, Staff Sergeant Ray Coffey needed a cold, dark space to help manage the after-effects of his service.
  • Rescue Facilities. Rescue facilities – firehouses, and emergency stations where first responders must remain on-call – typically have residential floors where professionals on call can sleep, cook and commune. These facilities also have the business component of a garage and dispatch. In some cases, these facilities could even be registered as a “residence with an exceptionally large garage.”
  • Supportive Shelters. In low-incoming housing, having cost-saving options but still providing noticeable comfort is right in line with the mission. Often these are varied spaces with multiple kitchens and residences, as well as community and enrichment rooms.

For more ideas about how to redefine sustainable building, click here to read the full annual report.

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.

Designed by Freepik Graphic has been edited

February 17, 2016, 9:00 am

The Advantage of Net Metering

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While some cities are seeking to become net-zero or even net-positive, a battle currently taking place in Massachusetts is over the limit set on net metering – a process by which residents are incentivized to save or generate power from their homes and sell it back to energy companies. This is the most recent in a line of Massachusetts rebates and not only offsets the cost of energy bills, but helps reduce the demand on the grid.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker proposed raising the cap – thus furthering the incentivizing – as much as four percent in the last year. However, the funding for these subsidies comes in the form of higher prices for those not using solar energy, according to Mary-Leah Assad of National Grid: “The cost of these subsidies is not borne by the utilities, but by the 99 percent of our Massachusetts electricity customers who do not own solar.”

Offering attractive solar options is not only a good long-term option environmentally, but also as an immediate solution – both in New England and across the country. Solar panels are a great way for a home to produce its own energy, and pairing solar panels with our zoned comfort solutions creates an energy-efficient loop throughout the home. As Massachusetts strives to generate 1,600 megawatts of solar power by 2020, we’re working to provide cost-effective equipment that meets the needs of increasingly energy-conscious users.

Written by MitsubishiHVAC
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February 10, 2016, 9:00 am

Project Profile: Wyebrook Farm

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Rural Pennsylvania is known for its beautiful countryside, so when Dean Carlson – a former Wall Street bond trader – decided to convert Honey Brook’s Wyebrook Farm to a sustainable restaurant, his focus was on aesthetics. Carson selected a 230-year-old stone barn and chose our S-Series system and Lossnay Energy Recovery Ventilator to keep it comfortable. This combination allowed the restoration to have an 18th-century look, with a 20th-century feel.

Keeping in theme with the pastoral surroundings, the goal was to retain the farmhouse look by keeping mechanical systems discreet. Rich Nolan – the project’s designer – said of Carlson’s vision: “They didn’t want ductwork hanging across the restaurant; and you don’t want to be at dinner eating a grass-fed piece of beef and have the compressor kick on.”

Our system avoided all of this. Minimally invasive piping would allow the old building to live a second life without renovating the façade. Further, a building that had never needed any HVAC system would keep the appearance it always had, without obtrusive ductwork, and the restaurant would be sustainable both in the food it served as well as its independence from fossil fuels. As a result, the restaurant has received two awards for Nolan’s work and Carlson’s vision.

To read more about Wyebrook Farm, check out the case study.

Written by MitsubishiHVAC
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December 4, 2015, 4:42 pm

The Increasingly Complicated Question of ‘Repair or Replace’

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Frequently the same question comes up in all projects: Repair or replace? A recent article in ArchitectureBoston took the stance that repair is almost always the better choice: “Extending the service life of any object avoids the environmental impact of replacing it.” Previously, the average decision-maker has considered factors like cost, performance and aesthetics – not sustainability. As sustainability gets added to the list now, it seems the ‘repair or replace’ question will only get more complicated.

Still, it will be easy to provide guidance sometimes. Repairing a defunct HVAC system is insufficient, and defunct can take a lot of forms – as suggested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines on when to replace. Sometimes it is challenging to provide guidance, though. If an old system is inefficient and requires intensive maintenance, replacement may not be absolutely necessary, but it’s a chance to upgrade technologies while solving issues. It is hard to deny the importance of salvaging when possible, but it is perhaps harder to deny the importance of comfort and energy performance.

As customers broach this topic, perhaps the best response is to get them thinking about what role HVAC plays in their project, and how important each decision factor is to them. As ACH&R News discovered when interviewing contractors on the matter, there’s no right answer to ‘repair or replace’. There’s just a worthwhile conversation.

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