Q: What qualifies my lighting system as “sustainable?”
“There are two aspects to it,” describes Stuart Berjansky, senior product manager for controllable lighting at Rosemont, IL-based Advance Transformer Co. (www.advancetransformer.com). “There’s the environmental side of the material itself, but then there’s also what the lighting system does to help promote the idea of sustainability.” In other words, not only should sustainable lighting employ environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, recycling capabilities, and sustainable components in assembly; it should also be energy efficient, cater to the needs of occupants in the space, optimize daylight, and avoid directing light toward the sky.
Daylight harvesting is one example Berjansky offers with regard to how lighting can promote sustainability. “[With daylight harvesting], you are taking the energy and light of the sun and directly incorporating that into your building and controlling your lighting accordingly; so when you start dimming your lights down, it’s a domino effect. If the building is drawing less power, the utility company has to generate less power. This equates to less pollutants being emitted into the atmosphere,” he explains.
Berjansky makes the following recommendations for facilities managers who decide to assume the task of making their lighting systems more sustainable:
Convert incandescent lamps to compact fluorescent lamps. “That’s a no-brainer,” he explains.
Whenever possible, utilize low-mercury lamps when using compact fluorescents, linear fluorescents, and HID lamps.
Incorporate “controllable lighting” into appropriate areas in your space by using dimmer controls. “There are products out there today which use powerline control. So, all you would have to do is change the ballast and change the controller, and you have a dimmable system. You don’t have to pull any additional wires. It’s an easy retrofit,” he emphasizes. “And, dimming fluorescent lighting won’t harm the lamp or decrease lamp life if done correctly.”
Install occupancy sensors – “another relatively easy retrofit.”
New Construction Projects
Take advantage of the tips mentioned above, “but start automating them a little bit more,” says Berjansky. If you’re going to incorporate daylighting, for example, use photocells which operate on 0-10V signals. “They will ‘see’ the amount of available daylight in the space and dim the lights up or down accordingly.”
Integrate new available technology. Case in point: “With DALI (digital addressable lighting interface), you can start integrating a lot more of your lighting system into your other building systems so they operate jointly as opposed to operating in silos,” he explains.
In renovation/modernization and new construction projects, sustainable lighting design also earns points in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. Points are awarded for preventing light pollution, increasing energy savings, incorporating daylighting and views, and using alternative materials (recycled, salvaged, renewable – or materials available locally).
To further assist building owners and facilities professionals, Somerset, NJ-based Philips Lighting Co. (www.lighting.philips.com) has unveiled its Sustainable Lighting IndexSM, an online tool that can calculate the mercury content/lumen hour ratio of lamp operation and can provide lamp alternatives to reduce environmental impact. The tool ensures that end-users consider all factors when making sustainable lighting decisions. For instance: a low-mercury lamp with long life and low lumen output would reduce mercury in the lamp itself, but ultimately would call for additional lamps, which adds up to more mercury and greater energy consumption overall.
Q: What options do I have for environmentally friendly pest control?
Unlike chemical sprays and poisons, there are a variety of eco-friendly methods for pest prevention and management that don’t create health or environmental risks.
“People think that pests just automatically come in; that they just appear. The pests have to be introduced from outside. So, we need to look at four things – access, food, water, and harborage,” explains Zia Siddiqi, quality assurance director, Orkin Inc., Atlanta. Pests don’t need much room to squeeze inside. Cracks and crevices, system connections entering/exiting from the building, air suction through HVAC systems – all are viable places that insects and rodents access. Crumbs and debris around equipment, furniture, and shelving offer enough food for months of survival. “Same with condensation accumulation on water pipes,” Siddiqi explains. Routine maintenance (cleaning; repairing holes, splinters, and gaps; etc.) can help tremendously in the battle against pest invasion.
But, if pests are already a problem in your building, here are some environmentally friendly alternatives to slow their multiplication:
Chemical-free products (employing naturally occurring enzymes and bacteria), used especially for drain cleaning and eliminating grease.
Light traps (using UV lamps). These should be used indoors and should not be visible from outside the building (they’ll attract night flying insects/flies). Glue boards are set up behind the light; when pests head toward it, they get stuck.
Pheromone monitoring systems. “[Pheromones] are the very fine chemicals [that are] the insects’ secret to communication,” says Siddiqi. These monitoring systems are set up at different locations, indicate where there’s a problem, and help pinpoint a particular area for inspection and elimination of the product causing infestation.
Insect growth regulators. These products mimic insect growth hormones and prevent insects from molting (a proc-ess crucial to their development cycle). The insects aren’t able to mature, and they ultimately die.
Siddiqi explains that inspection is key in preventing and eliminating pests. “An inspection will reveal [access, food, water, and harborage] opportunities to our clients, and then we give them a ‘to-do’ list. ‘Okay, Mr. Customer, you need to: look at these things, seal these openings, close this gap here, clean your garbage, mow regularly’ ... things like that. These are all noted and brought up during an inspection, and we expect the clients to comply with them if we are going to have a win-win situation,” he explains. “People are becoming more aware. They want to have buildings with less IAQ problems. They, too, are looking at how we can get rid of pesticides. This is what has motivated the industry to go in that direction.”
For more information, visit (www.orkin.com/commercial) or call (800) ORKIN-NOW.
Q: We have a recycling program in place – but how can I get tenants and occupants to participate?
Chicago-based Recycling Services Inc. (www.recyclingservices.com) provides this advice to promote and endorse your recycling program:
Educate Tenants. In order to participate in your recycling program, tenants have to know how they can participate. Send a memo explaining how the program works, what materials can be recycled, and who to contact with questions.
Utilize Benefits. Implementing a recycling program in your building is a perfect opportunity to meet tenants and occupants while introducing them to the program. Have a display set up in the lobby to present program information.
Display Results. Put monthly recycling results on exhibit (including the volume of materials recycled and the environmental benefits associated with recycling that material) in lobbies, elevators, or on message boards.
Provide Feedback. Tenants like to know that what they do has an effect. Utilize your building’s communication tools – website, Intranet, newsletters, etc. By providing feedback, your tenants will have more confidence in the recycling program. And with increased confidence comes increased participation.
Making Recycling Standard. Integrate recycling into tenant handbooks. Provide info on how tenants can participate, including steps to recycling large volumes of material from file clean-outs or tenant moves.
Q: What are some easy ways that I can conserve water in my building?
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance (www.ehnr.state.nc.us) offers the following tips for water efficiency and conservation. These guidelines can be applied to schools, dormitories, office buildings, hospitals, and other commercial/institutional settings.
Use posters/signs/stickers in restrooms as conservation reminders. Include contact information for reporting leaks.
For tank-type toilets with 3.5-gallon or greater flush, install dams or low-flow flapper valves to decrease consumption per flush. For a long-term solution, consider replacing toilets with ultra-low flow models.
Retrofit flushometer toilets with water-saving diaphragms.
Shut off cooling units when they’re not needed.
Sweep or blow paved areas to clean, rather than hosing off.
As appliances and equipment wear out, replace with water-saving models.
Ensure that water pipes are properly insulated.
Water the lawn during the coolest part of the day (early morning is best).
Have soil tested for nutrient content and add organic matter if needed. Good soil absorbs and retains water more efficiently.
Inspect ice machines to see if they use once-through cooling water. If they do, replace the unit with an air-cooled system or a recirculating water system.
Set up a process for all facility staff to look for and report leaks and constantly running water sources. Some facilities have had hidden leaks or failed valves that existed for years before they were discovered.
Switch from “wet” carpet cleaning methods (such as steam) to “dry” powder methods.
Check timing cycles and volumes for automatic water-flushing systems in urinals and toilets. Coordinate automatic systems with office hours so they don’t run continuously.
Philadelphia-based RealWinWin Inc. provides a perspective on energy rebates and incentives...
Q: What sorts of rebates and incentives are available right now to encourage water and energy efficiency?
Offered by utilities, state/federal government agencies, and other sources, incentives and rebates exist for new construction projects, energy and water retrofits, emergency equipment replacements, feasibility studies, tenant fit-outs, renovation projects, and more. The rebates and incentives in RealWinWin’s Financial Incentives National Database® span across 26 different categories, including lighting, HVAC, building envelope (windows, roofs, etc.), energy management systems, load curtailment, and commissioning. “The most popular rebate programs out there involve lighting, HVAC units, motors, and variable frequency drives,” says Lou Urwitz, senior project manager for RealWinWin.
Who is eligible to apply for these rebates?
While federal incentives are available in all 50 states, CEO Mark Jewell points out that the overwhelming majority of rebates available at this time exist in 25 states.
How big of a return can I expect?
According to Jewell, rebates for energy- and water-efficiency improvements increased 32 percent from 2000 to 2003. “There’s almost $1.5 billion available in rebates,” he says. “Of course, not all this money is claimed. Finding a rebate on your own can be like playing a game of hide and seek.” Urwitz estimates that most rebate returns average between 20 and 30 percent of total project costs. “It can be higher than that; it can be lower than that – but that’s the average we’re seeing,” he explains.
How long do I have to wait to see rebate dollars?
The timeframe varies widely – Urwitz estimates somewhere between 30 days to a year or more, depending on the type of project being completed. In more complicated situations (installing a chiller plant, for example), the utility may conduct a pre-installation inspection to ensure existence and inefficiency of old equipment. New equipment must then be designed, ordered, and installed. The utility may also revisit the facility to inspect installation and confirm actual savings as compared to predictions. Many incentives are paid in entirety upon project completion. For more complex projects, a portion of the incentive is awarded upon successful completion and the remainder is paid in installments as the client verifies that projected savings have been realized.
My equipment is already efficient. I don’t qualify for an incentive to replace it, do I?
“This may be true, but it’s often a myth,” says Jewell. “Equipment may be less efficient than the owner realizes – many rebates exist to pay for equipment upgrades. We’ve [also] seen plenty of cases where efficient equipment is not operated efficiently – many agencies offer funding to add or enhance controls or to assure that systems are operating as designed.”
What does the future hold for rebates and incentives?
“I think there are going to be more rebates available,” says Jewell. “I think the environment will eventually prevail.” It is true that as the rebate market matures, granting agencies are slowly raising the bar in terms of what qualifies. “They used to pay $1 per watt of energy savings in New York City. Now you don’t get anywhere near that kind of a benefit,” Jewell points out. “Funding will still be there, but what you did five years ago will no longer be enough to meet rebate eligibility requirements. For those building owners and managers who pursue energy efficiency as a best practice using commercially available, cost-effective technologies, there will be plenty of rebates and incentives to collect.”