Happy Thanksgiving- Energy Savings

Happy Thanksgiving, here are a few videos to enjoy after you partake in some turkey.

100+ mpg: EPA grant equips Houston to upgrade fleet Priuses to Hymotion PHEVs

Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the EPA, the City of Houston upgraded five more of its Toyota Prius fleet to Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) with the only EPA certified battery module the week after Thanksgiving 2010. These Hymotion PHEV Priuses, like the first ten the City upgraded in 2009, can achieve gas mileage 100+ mpg, fueling the first 30-40 miles primarily with Hymotion’s 5 kW battery and only a 5.5-hour charge in a conventional 110 V AC electrical outlet. Results: better air quality for kids, more fuel savings, and a green automotive infrastructure for Texas and the nation’s 2+ million Priuses.

What a HERS score is

Rene Oehlerking explains what a HERS score is and how it can save you significant money on your utilities.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Samuel Carrara, PE, MBA, LEED GA


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Making Energy Work 2011- Renewable Energy

This is Part 2 of a post about the Making Energy Work 2011 conference I attended.

Part 1 is found at: Making Energy Work 2011- Jobs Growth

Making Energy Work logo

The first session I attended titled Innovation Creates Opportunity: Renewable Energy has an overview of:

North Carolina has a broadly diverse clean energy economy, with projects from the mountains to the coast.  Successful projects have great impact on our state not only through cleaner power generation, but also through the creation of jobs.  Come celebrate these and other successful projects! Hear their story and the lessons learned through the process that you can take back to build your own organization.

The first speaker was Garald Cottrell who is the President & General Manager of Wellons Energy Solutions. He discussed the lower cost of wood to energy ($2.38/MMBtu) versus natural gas ($5.25/MMBtu). In addition the NC Renewable Tax Credit and Federal Section 45 Investment Tax Credit make Wood to Energy systems very affordable. They try to procure fuel within 50 miles to reduce the carbon footprint of the site. Clients include Perdue, Perdue Agrirecycle, Pfizer and House of Raeford. From their own website:

The Wellons Energy Solutions is a renewable energy company focused on employing biomass (wood or other biomass fuels) boilers for installation at existing industrial accounts that have historically relied upon green house gas emitting fossil fuels. By employing biomass, customers are able to substantially reduce annual fuel costs by more than 50% while employing a renewable energy strategy that is considered “green house gas” neutral. Projects typically have a payback of less than 3 years and an IRR in excess of 30%. In conjunction with the biomass boilers, Wellons Energy Solutions has formed strategic partnerships with leading steam turbine generator sets to enable a comprehensive co-generation product offering.

The second speaker was Tom Paonessa who is the Comfort Consultant/Geothermal Expert of Warren Hay Mechanical Contractors, Inc. The average temperature of the earth is 60 degrees, which makes it a good heat/cold sink. The higher efficiency of ground source heat pumps (GSHP) or geo-thermal heat pumps (GTHP) reduce the electricity/fuel to heat and cool a building. On the residential side there is a 30% tax credit. From their own website:

Nearly half the solar energy our planet receives is absorbed by the ground. As a result, below the surface the earth remains a constant moderate temperature year-round. This provides an ideal source for heating and cooling your home. Geothermal systems use a sealed underground piping loop filled with circulating water and an ultra high-efficiency Tranquility heat pump to exchange heat between your home and the earth.

The third speaker was Erika Schneider who is the Outreach/PR Coordinator of Sundance Power Systems. Solar panels come in both the photovoltaic (PV or power generation) and thermal (heating for domestic hot water, room heating and pool heating) varieties. The cost of components has been dropping as more people buy systems. These components include Kyocera Modules, Deka batteries and Sunny Boy inverters. From their own website:

Since 1995, Sundance extends over a decade of service, providing value through the design and installation of close to 1,000 systems, specializing in solar electric (photovoltaic), solar hot water, wind, & hydro electric systems for both on and off grid applications. Our systems collectively produce clean renewable energy for homes and business, offsetting the emissions of hundreds of thousands of tons of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

These are just a few of the Renewable Energy possibilities available, others include wind and wave power.

Renew your mind to Renewable Energy,
Samuel Carrara, PE, MBA, LEED GA

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Nest Learning Thermostat

I was looking around for a new thermostat and came across the Nest thermostat. It has been feature in a number of articles and on the Nest website here is what they are saying about their popularity:

Who knew there were this many people so passionate about a thermostat? We’re working as fast as we can to meet the overwhelming demand, but creating a Nest Learning Thermostat takes time.

You can get a good overview of Nest Learning Thermostat in the video below.

The company based in Palo Alto, California was founded by Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. Tony is the company CEO and is a former Apple Executive who worked on iPod and iPhone development. Matt is the company VP of engineering who also comes from Apple. With all of this Apple experience there is no wonder there is an iPhone/iPad app that communicates to this thermostat.

Monitor Nest and adjust the temperature from the office, the car, your smartphone, your couch, anywhere. You just need Wi-Fi and an Internet connection at home.

Nest Online AccessThis thermostat gives you:

  1. Real-time control: Laptop, iPhone, iPad
  2. Temperature Setpoint Learning: Activity sensors integrated with temperature settings and it remembers the changes you make to the room temperature.
  3. Auto Setback: Saving energy while you are away for work or vacation.
  4. Knows Local Weather Conditions- Communicates by Wi-Fi with your internet connection to know current and forecasted weather
  5. An many more features…

While they are sold out right now, when they do come available they are priced at $249 each.

Other articles discussing the thermostat include:



Nest for Energy Savings,
Samuel Carrara, PE, MBA, LEED GA

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UNCC Sustainable Systems

Yesterday I had the please of being a guest lecturer at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). This was the second time I have talked with students this school year to discuss energy engineering and auditing. The first time was to a group of students that belong to a student chapter of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

The University of North Carolina at CharlotteThis time I discussed Energy Audits and Case Studies of Audits to their Sustainable Systems class. I was able to teach about energy audits in general and went into some case studies of past projects I have done. Afterwards I met with two groups from the class who had questions to help them with class projects. Their projects are:

  1. Energy Auditing & energy competition- They are auditing two “Greek Buildings” on campus, trying to figure out how to save energy and then create a competition for further savings. I heard great questions about what areas to focus on, possible vendors to use and how to show savings potentials.
  2. Geothermal Wells- Looking at putting a house or building on geothermal cooling for energy efficiency. They had some good questions about the type of well fields, how to calculate savings and how to figure the costs of the system installation.

During both the class and project discussion time I answered many questions and helped guide the students to better understand Energy Engineering. The graphic below is where I started the training. It goes over an example building and the main areas of energy auditing. (The image is blurry and small on purpose because I will go into more detail about each area in future posts.)

Auditing Overview smallI would like to thank Dr. Sara K. McMillan, PE for coordinating my visit, she is a member of The William States Lee College of Engineering faculty.

Sharing Knowledge at UNCC,
Samuel Carrara, PE, MBA, LEED GA

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Making Energy Work 2011- Jobs Growth

Last week I attended the North Carolina Sustainable Association-Making Energy Work 2011 conference in Raleigh, NC on November 9, 2011.

Making Energy Work logoTheir tag line was “Celebrating North Carolina’s Success in the Clean Energy Economy.” It was a celebration because of the great job and business growth happening in NC due to the Green Energy sector. They released a wonderful report detailing this growth called the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Industries Census 2011. If you know Rich Crowley and his team of researchers, thank him for all of the data they poured over to create this report.

The report can be found at: NC SEA Industry Census 2011

Some of the highlights include:

  • North Carolina’s clean energy sector accounts for 14,800 full time equivalent (FTE) employees in 2011.
  • Nearly 60% of the wind industry’s product are destined for export from North Carolina.
  • In 2011, the clean energy sector conservatively generated over $3.1 billion in North Carolina gross revenues.
  • NCSEA conservatively estimates that at least 1,084 firms are currently condusting business in the clean energy sector in 2011.

Lots of positive “energy” and momentum in the industry, and that is just a snippet from the report. Grab the report from the link above to better understand all the positive aspects, along with all the nice charts and graphs provided.

In another post I will talk about some of the sessions I attended at this conference, to include renewable energy types and online tools.

Great NC Job Growth,
Samuel Carrara, PE, MBA, LEED GA

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