Monday, May 23, 2011

Rainwater Harvesting Reduces Water Use Over 60%

Our Rainwater Harvesting system is connected and functioning. The 1000 gallon tank is filled to capacity and we are now using rainwater to flush all our toilets. Over 50% of the water used by most office buildings is for flushing toilets. We measured our water use for the first two weeks and the results are impressive. 480 gallons of rainwater to flush toilets and 73 gallons of potable water for hand washing and making coffee. That's over 80% reduction in water use. This is higher than we expected. We are checking the meters and the valves to see if all is functioning as it should. We will keep tracking our water us and report back to you.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Green Strategies Showing Impressive Results

The snowy winter shut down our solar power plant for 33 days, however we are now back online. We have calculated the results of the green strategies we have implemented over the past year and the results are impressive.

42% energy use reduction
78% reduction in solid waste
35% of our electric use generated by our solar power plant
4 tons CO2 avoided

Many of our green strategies have not been in place a full year and we are planning some additional strategies so the numbers will get even better.

Click Here to view our latest solar power statistics.

Stay Tuned for our Rainwater Harvesting Update. The 'Tank' has landed.

Posted by Michael Shilale, AIA, LEED

Thursday, August 12, 2010

High Performance Lighting and Controls Saves Energy

If you see me walking around with a device that looks like it came from a sci-fi film, have no fear, it is merely a foot-candle meter. As part of our green building renovations all of our light fixtures are being replaced. We have purchased very high performing lights that will cut our energy use in some spaces over 75%.

The average office building uses approximately 1.0 - 1.2 watts per square foot to illuminate the interior spaces. For every three watts used to light our buildings we need an additional watt to remove the excess heat generated by all those artificial lights. In many buildings lighting accounts for around 30% of its total energy use. Our lighting upgrades have reduced our connected light loads from 1.2 watts per square foot to under 0.6 watts per square foot. Additional savings will be achieved through the use of occupancy sensors that shut off the lights when the space is vacant. We are also experimenting with daylight harvesting. Sensors will measure the amount of daylight in a space and automatically dim the artificial lights while maintaining predefined light levels. We are still calibrating the sensors; however the initial results are exciting. One space that previously used eight 32 watt fluorescent lamps now needs only TWO 28 watt T-5 lamps strategically place to give more light on the desks (over 50 foot-candles) reducing the energy use to light that space almost 80%.

Stay tuned for our next sustainable strategy - rainwater harvesting. Over 60% of the potable water we use in our office building is literally flushed down the toilet. That’s about to change.

By Michael Shilale, AIA, LEED

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our Website is Hosted by 100% Wind Energy!

We are proud to announce that our website - and blog - are powered by 100% renewable energy! And we are making that announcement with a badge from Easy CGI, which will promote the idea of green business both online and off.

Our badge not only signifies our commitment to environmental and energy efficiency, but it helps you follow suit: when you click on our badge, you'll be able to read information about how we've come to run our website on 100% wind energy. Our status is not only through our own efforts, but with the help of our hosting company, Easy CGI. By purchasing REC's, or Renewable Energy Certificates, from Easy CGI, we are offsetting our energy use and reducing our environmental impact. If you have a website, check out Easy CGI to be powered by 100% wind energy, too!

by Courtney Iseman

Monday, March 15, 2010

Our New Bottle-Less Water Cooler System

Here at MSA, we are excited to announce we have left our bottled water cooler system where it belongs - in the past. In keeping with our green efforts, we have opted to enjoy our water without contributing to landfill waste or the emissions from the trucking it takes to deliver the bottles. Thanks to the multiple benefits of a bottle-less water cooler from Abbey Ice & Spring Water Co., we encourage you to do the same!

Did you know that about 1.5 million barrels of oil a year are used to make plastic bottles? Additional fuel is then of course required to transport these bottles. According to Daniel Teuton, President and CEO of ClearH2O Coolers, bottled water contributes to environmental degradation. Opting for a bottle-less system eliminates the need for bottle manufacturing, bottling, storage, delivery, removal, recycling, and dumping of used bottles. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 98% compared to a bottled system!

In addition to the environmentally and energy efficient benefits, a bottle-less system is also more convenient - you don't have to order, replace, and dispose of any bottles, there's practically no maintenance at all. Teuton states that businesses will experience savings from 30% to 60% when they go bottle-less, too! By switching over to filtered water that runs into the cooler, you will keep getting clean, pure, fresh water either cold or hot, but at a lower cost to both you and the environment.

By Courtney Iseman

Friday, February 5, 2010

Solar Panel Power Plant Goes Live

MSA is ‘walking the walk’ with their new solar panel project. Rated at a maximum of 4.05 kilowatts, the system was just turned on and delivered over 2.7 kilowatts. This is pretty good for this time of the year. The maximum power will be generated in summer when the sun's energy is more directly transferred to the solar panels.

Our system will pay for itself in under eight years. You can help us track the energy we create as well as the carbon dioxide we offset and the dollars we are saving on our website.

Project Cost
NYSERDA rebate
30% Federal Tax Credit
Net Cost

Adjusted Annual Electrical Savings

Years to Payback

By Michael Shilale, AIA, LEED

More Solar Power Plant images

Monday, January 25, 2010

46 New High Performing Windows Feel Warm and Bright

Another part of our energy saving performance project is the window replacement work. Windows are the parts of a building that allow the most heat to escape in the winter and add solar heat gain in the summer. Older windows can also have greater air infiltration (draftyness), further increasing utility bills and energy use.

Our new windows are 78% better insulators, allow in just as much light as our old windows and are 60% better at resisting solar heat gain.

The simple payback on our windows is longer than some other items. However there are other benefits that make this project economical. Harvesting daylight with our new lighting controls will reduce our electric use. There is also a reduction in heat gain from lights that will translate into lower air conditioning costs. It is said that for every 3 watts used lighting a building and additional watt is used to cooling the space from the heat given off by the artificial lights.

The increase in comfort and decrease in drafts are additional benefits our staff is enjoying.

By Michael Shilale, AIA, LEED

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Energy Benchmarking and NYSERDA Loans: How You Can Benefit

At MSA, we’re not the only ones going green. In fact, we’ve been helping our important clients, like our local school districts, to do the same without costing their taxpayers a cent.

How? We help school districts complete NYSERDA’s 1613 PON Application, which grants funds to help implement a solar panel or energy efficiency project. The state gave out $25 million in round one. The money goes toward whatever energy efficient upgrades the district needs or wants to make. Deciding what those upgrades should be can be a bit daunting, but we’re here to help with that, too.

By performing a service called energy benchmarking, MSA can analyze and inspect the district’s buildings to determine where improvements could and should be made. Benchmarking compares your building’s energy use to similar buildings. The average building uses twice the energy each year of a high performing one. Are the boilers staying on all night during school vacations and wasting energy? Can solar panels be installed on the roof to provide a source for energy? Once the areas that can be improved upon are found, they are discussed with the district so a plan of action can be decided. Our assistance doesn’t end there, either. MSA will be right there with the district every step of the way to make those energy efficient upgrades happen.
We have already helped a district secure $250,000 among other successes from NYSERDA. Just think of energy efficient possibilities with this loan!
By Courtney Iseman

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Renovations at Michael Shilale Architects, LLP

We're making numerous renovations to our offices here at Michael Shilale Architects, LLP, all on the road to being an energy efficient, LEED certified building. One of the many renovations we are most excited about is the renovations that we have made on our roof!

MSA decided that we wanted to take advantage of the amazing energy benefits offered by solar panels - but first our roof had to be renovated. We increased the R Value, or the insulating value, by adding tapered insulation. Now, significantly less heat is lost through the roof, more heat stays inside which = reduced energy! Plus, the insulation is tapered to cause water to run off of the roof and into the drains, which can be collected to water our landscaping.

We also put up a 4-ply built-up roofing system with coal tar product and white gravel. Why the coal tar? It has a low melting point, so in hot weather, it actually flows and re-seals itself. And why the white gravel? It reduces heat absorption on the roof, the kind that black gravel or darker roofing causes. Roofs with this type of insulation and built-up roofing system can last up to 40 years.

After this work was done, we were ready for our solar panels, of which 4 1/2 kilowatts were installed. Quick recap on solar panels: they are made up of photovoltaic cells, which take sunlight and turn it into pure, clean energy and electricity. So now, not only does MSA have a more efficient roof, we also now have a major source of completely clean and environmentally-friendly energy! 30% of our electric load will now be supplied by our solar panels, which have a seven year payback. It is important to note that 50% of the cost of these panels comes from a New York State Incentive, a loan from NYSERDA. You might be eligible for that very loan, and solar panels of your very own! And we can help, so if you’re wondering how this can work for you, just ask!

By Courtney Iseman