energy efficiency

The Stark Reality of Climate Change? Rolling Stone Takes It On.

by George Danellis

Bill McKibben wrote perhaps the first book of the modern era about climate change aimed at the average person. Today he is active in work through his 350.org to educate and motivate people and government’s to take action about a problem he says is a lot bigger and pressing than is commonly reported.

McKibben has just published an article in the August 2nd issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, an article that had been shared a remarkable 90,000 times only 5 days after it’s release. Considering climate change doesn’t make for the most uplifting reading that’s an impressive number. In the article, McKibben shares both the more recent scientific data and projections, as well as what he believes to be the key obstacles (and solutions) to effectively addressing climate change. The newest projections, what he calls “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”, show that the tipping point is much closer than previously reported and that “rapid, transformative change” is required to avert climate melt-down. He asserts that we have the technology but what we lack is the will. McKibben points to Germany as an example of what is possible: “on one sunny Saturday in late May, that northern-latitude nation generated nearly half its power from solar panels within its borders.” So what gives?

Environmentalism has failed. Individual actions won’t get it done in time. The US government has made important but only incremental advances. And companies whose business models are reliant on the fossil fuel still buried in the earth sure as heck plan on getting it out. But according to McKibben if they get even a small fraction of it out we’re beyond cooked.

So what can we do? McKibben lays it out in stark detail. Read and let us know what you think: Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.

 

Taking A Holistic Approach To Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

by George Danellis

The case for commercial building portfolio owners to address energy resource consumption today is undeniable, including reduced costs, cooling towershealthier indoor environments, and staying a step ahead of regulatory compliance issues.

But this doesn’t mean that owners are always effective in upgrading building systems on ways to immediately reduce costs. A recent report at the Sustainable Operations Summit showed a pent-up demand to act on energy efficiency, and that much of the inefficiency evident today is based on weak operational choices, like lighting being on outside of working hours or poor temperature regulation. In Johnson Controls recently issued fourth annual Energy Efficiency Indicator they report that 52% of building executives and managers are planning to make operating budget expenditures in energy efficiency programs in the coming year. But 38% report that limited capital availability is the main barrier to taking action.

Additionally many building owners and managers are not experts in the energy systems that run their buildings or the solutions available to them. While there are a myriad of well-known benefits for acting on energy efficiency, building system upgrades are often chosen that that fail to deliver solid ROI. In today’s financial environment this lack of expertise means capital projects often fail to get funded.

However when whole building measures are determined based on ROI and higher rate-of-return solutions the likelihood of gaining funding improves dramatically.  These measures need to be based on the size of each building and its complexity, utility and government incentives, as well as the unique state of energy systems in the building – for example the age and condition of particular HVAC plant and lighting.

Lighting remains the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency, with training of staff/occupants also showing good ROI based on low investment and quick return. Investments in HVAC and the right building controls are a play that can justify greater expenditure as can upgrades to windows. Heating and cooling systems that operate more efficiently save money daily and lead to reduced maintenance costs. While cost reduction is still the number one factor for most decision-makers to move forward, improving brand image and building valuation are also key drivers to act. And many building owners and executives are looking to get ahead of expected regulations related to energy efficiency and carbon-based emissions.

Ultimately building performance will benefit most greatly when buildings are viewed as unique, whole units, and decision-makers tap the appropriate expertise to assess both their buildings and their intentions before developing and acting on an energy efficiency plan.

Heavy Lifting at The Los Angeles Superior Court Building – Civil West

This past week saw some significant work on our LA Superior Court Civil West Building project in Los Angeles.

Our partners on the project Johnson Controls, along with Hill Crane, executed some major lifts at this 20-story building that houses the LA County Superior Courthouse.

The cooling towers and associated plumbing were removed, followed by the removal of the old chillers, or air conditioning units.

Subsequent to the removal of these pieces of equipment and their related plumbing, brand new units from manufacturer York were installed. In addition to being more reliable, these units are approximately 25% more energy efficient than the units they replaced and as such are a big part of cost-effectively improving both the energy efficiency of the building, as well as the comfort of building occupants.

We congratulate the crews involved as all of the lifting work was successfully, safely completed in one day, minimizing cost and impact to the area from traffic restrictions associated with crane operation. We send our special appreciation to the staff at Hill Crane, who really showed why they are a leader in their area.

What is ECO Corporation?

By George Danellis

So this marks the first post on this new blog for ECO Corporation, or ECO Corp as it is also commonly known.

And I am sure some of you are thinking, “Great, another blog.” And a “green” one at that. Well, I’ll offer that what you read hear, and what gets communicated by our bloggers as well as those who participate in the conversation, might be a bit different than what you are used to. Yes, we are a business (a suite of businesses to be more exact – you can read more about that below) so of course we’ll be talking both about our own businesses as well as others in our areas of activity that we think might just matter. But at ECO Corp we are in business to do well financially by doing things in a way that might just make sense for people in the longer term. A way that leads to profitability while also working to better address environmental and social impacts and to be a part of the transition to a clean energy economy. One where prosperity is about the well-being of people and all the things that support it. We believe that it’s possible and rewarding to live a sustainable life.  Even in the corporate world.  The technology is here, and sometimes the intention.  We can power our vehicles,  feed our people, breath good air and drink good water without undermining the conditions on which these rely.  But we need to be honest with ourselves, and truly embrace a lifestyle that promotes that kind of living and thinking.

Now we’ve heard a lot about this approach to business over the past several years, and thankfully some progress is being made. There’s been a lot of bluster is too – it’s often called greenwashing. And that has made it hard to discern who’s doing what and in what manner.

What we aim to accomplish with this blog is to be authentic about what we are doing, and what others are doing to be more “sustainable”.  I’ll say right now that you’re going to read some things in posts that you’ll take issue with. Great! Let us know what you think by commenting at the end of posts. Let’s have a discussion that makes us all more effective. And if it’s at all possible, let’s adhere to the old maxim that suggesting problems without offering solutions doesn’t do us a lot of good. Please share your reasoning for why you disagree with something written here, or with a suggested approach , and then give us your suggestions for righting it. Because at ECO Corp we are 100% sure that we don’t have all the answers – we’re just doing our best to figure out how to do good things, for our owners and for stakeholders up and down the value chain. And we want our activities to inspire and inform others to do the same.

So what does ECO Corporation do? ECO is a company that identifies waste where it either is not seen or is mis-perceived, and turns that “waste” into something valuable. Another way to look at it is that we extend the life-cycle value of existing products and services. In the case of the performance of the built environment  we act as owner’s representatives for energy efficiency-based commercial building retrofits. Currently we are working on the 20-story building that houses the LA County Superior Courthouse. Together with our carefully selected partners, we are modernizing their building to improve tenant health and satisfaction while increasing its value, and simultaneous reducing energy and other utility costs and pollutant emissions.  ECO Corporation is involved in several other businesses as well. While we’ll share much more in the coming weeks here is a snippet:

  • One of ECO’s companies has developed a thermal powered desalination system capable of using waste heat or solar generated heat,  that with almost no electrical energy can turn sea water into delicious and healthy drinking water. This same technology can clean waste agricultural water, and more.
  • We also have a natural skin care line that uses pure salts and water that are byproducts (known formerly as “waste”) of this solar distillation process to create remarkable skin care products.
  • The solar still technology is the first one to be developed by our Research and Development Company and can be used for various applications.
  • The brine that is left after the distillation of the sea water is used as a high quality, natural solution for the commercial aquarium industry. One that eliminates the need for synthetic products and massive freighting of sea water from the coasts. Our sea water solution is roughly 1/5 the volume of sea water and can be re-constituted on site.

I’ll stop there for now, but I hope gives a picture of what we are about at Eco Corp. We’ll share more in the future but know that at ECO we are committed to activities that encourage a lifestyle and a way of doing business that is healthy and rewarding, that more accurately accounts for natural and human capital in this resource constrained world, and that leaves us with a greater sense of well-being.

We don’t harbor any illusions that the road to a more sustainable world is marked with potholes the size of Ford Expeditions, but we are pretty sure that if our collective energy and spirit is truly aligned with finding solutions, then we will. And we’ll even make money doing it.

Until next time…..