How We Walk the Walk
Alta Environmental (Alta) assists clients in complying with environmental policies and regulations, as well as growth and change in their operations with recommendations that incorporate sustainable policies and procedures, equipment, and facilities. In addition to providing environmental and sustainability consulting services to our clients, Alta also strives to implement sustainable policies and procedures in all aspects of our operations. In 2017, Alta formed a Sustainability Task Force to define and expand our company sustainability initiatives. The following sections highlight some of the metrics we track in order to determine the program’s success.
Two consultants from Alta’s Environmental Health and Safety team, Kimba Anderson and Michael Morrison, have earned credentials as Envision Sustainability Professionals (ENV S.P.) and Alta is now an Envision Qualified Company. Envision is a tool for developing sustainable infrastructure projects through each step from the planning stages to completion. The tool can be used by anyone for free to self-assess sustainability progress or developers can submit evidence of their sustainability practices to Envision to be verified and possibly earn awards determined by the number of credits earned by the project. An award from Envision shows that the project developers have taken a comprehensive and holistic approach to achieving sustainability.
Legionnaire’s disease has once again made headlines with nearly 90 cases of illness and 10 fatalities in Flint, Michigan. Last summer, a Legionnaires’ outbreak in New York killed 12 people and sickened more than 100 others. Two months later, in Illinois 12 people died and 54 became ill, and that same month dozens of inmates at San Quentin Prison in California fell ill. In late fall of 2015, several articles were published with claims that “Legionella is the new asbestos” citing the significant spike in litigation against facility owners and operators related to the disease. According to OSHA, it is estimated that over 25,000 cases of the illness occur each year and cause more than 4,000 deaths. Outbreaks of the disease are associated with exposure through building water systems and the key to prevention is careful design, construction, maintenance, and repair of building water and infrastructure systems
How can energy consumption be reduced and energy costs lowered? Nearly every company is seeking efficiency and cost controls. For many, the answer to this question is at the core of a company’s environmental sustainability and long-term profitability. Some could even argue that the answer is so crucial that a company’s existence may be determined by the answer to that question. So how do you find the answer to this important question?
Within the last few years Industry has been bombarded with pressure to become “more sustainable” by adopting eco-friendly practices that reduce consumption of resources such as water and energy. A more profitable operation and lower utility costs are benefits realized when a business becomes more sustainable.
Reducing electrical energy use is an area that many businesses have seen real benefits because savings can often be had with minimal investments of time and money. Most organizations pay their power bill without much examination or question. Many times, savings can be seen by simply understanding how electrical use is billed and how demand and consumption charges are calculated. This requires an understanding of the unique nature of electrical energy as well as how it’s generated and supplied to consumers.
Consumption charge is the calculation of the total amount of electricity, kilowatt-hours (kWh), consumed during a billing period. This is, in effect, the total quantity of energy consumed. Unfortunately, this is oftentimes understood to be the only charge associated with electrical energy consumption without realizing there are other charges which must be considered.
Bills also include costs based on the highest level of electricity supplied at one time during the billing period and at the time of day it’s needed by your business. This is the demand charge.
An energy utility provider cost required to store electrical energy is very high which makes the use of battery storage impractical. In general, electrical energy that is provided to consumers must be generated nearly instantaneously. Therefore, in addition to the consumption charge, an additional cost is itemized on an electricity bill called the demand charge. Demand is the rate at which a company consumes electricity – or the amount needed to power a business at any given point in time. Therefore, total electrical energy consumption and demand are not necessarily related.
Sub-Metering & Smart-Metering
The first step in making any reductions to electrical energy use and costs is the creation of a baseline profile that details how and when energy is used at the company. Since energy costs are not only based on the total electrical consumption, when you use electrical energy is just as important as how much you use. Therefore, creating an electrical energy profile must include both the time of day energy is needed (smart-metering) and energy demand requirements by each electrical consuming piece of equipment (sub-metering). If sub-meter installation is too costly, there are other ways to estimate individual equipment demands such as using equipment rating and run-time.
Managing electrical energy costs should be as easy as managing other costs. Unfortunately, energy providers have kept an advantage by depending on consumers simply not understanding the nuances of how electrical energy is billed. The understanding “when” and “how” of electrical energy consumption will enable you to work with your energy provider and internal operations to identify areas where consumption can be reduced and costs can be cut.
Author – Matt Giron, Associate Consultant can be reached at email@example.com
At Alta we help our customers with energy and operational efficiency. For more information contact us.
The Alta Air-Carbon-Energy-Sustainability (ACES) team has been hard at work on an exciting Energy Efficiency Retrofitting and LEED Sustainability project in Mountain View, California.
The Client is a nation-wide, commercial real estate portfolio management firm that oversees various buildings throughout California and the United States. Alta Environmental was selected to assist the Client in performing energy auditing, retrofitting, and LEED sustainability program implementation, in order to improve energy performance at a mid-sized commercial office building in Mountain View, California. The project includes ENERGY STAR benchmarking, ASHRAE Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 Auditing, LEED certification, and contractor bid and construction management. Alta provides ongoing energy data monitoring, tenant engagement through a Green Team sustainability program, and assistance to the Client in building out multiple efficiency oriented building improvements.
Alta’s Project Role
The Alta’s team’s initial step was to perform benchmarking and comprehensive energy auditing services. We determined that the property was performing as much as 50% below the national average for buildings of this type. The team identified specific energy efficiency measures to help reduce energy demand (window films, minor HVAC repairs, reflective roofing), as well as larger capital improvement projects for the property. We proceeded to identify qualified specialty contractors, coordinate project bids, and to manage the construction process. At the same time, Alta initiated the Green Team, connecting tenants and building management staff to identify and prioritize various building-level and tenant suite improvements. Alta has also coordinated utility rebates and incentives where available to ensure the best value and payback for the building improvements.
Solutions and Outcomes
Alta has continued to successfully collaborate with building management, contractors, and tenant representatives, to drive a number of different complex initiatives forward in parallel on a rapid and evolving schedule.
A few projected and notable project elements:
Window Film = $30,000. Payback: 2 years.
Retro-Commissioning = $20,000. Payback: 1 – 2 years.
Reflective Roof = $150,000. Payback: 0 year (already due for replacement).
EV Charging Stations = $25,000. Payback: 0 years (user revenue).
Larger building system upgrades (lighting, HVAC) were scoped and are proceeding with best-in-class, industry standards, and will benefit tenants and the building owners for decades to come.
Let Alta Help You
Alta Environmental is perfectly positioned to assist with complex energy retrofitting projects for our clients. Please contact us for more information about this project, and how we can help you address similar needs for your property.
Call us at (562) 495-5777.