Monthly Archives: September 2016
As the green building and sustainability industry evolves, so too does the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. October 31, 2016 marks the final day to register any LEED project in the v2009 rating system before LEED v4 takes full effect. Additionally, projects currently registered within the LEED v2009 rating system must either achieve certification by June 30, 2021 or upgrade to LEED v4.
If you have a project seeking LEED certification in the immediate future, call us to help you get the project registered within the v2009 window.
For Marylanders, there are several barriers to entry for renewable energy usage through solar panel installation. For example, renters might not be allowed to install solar on their homes, some buildings might have too much shading for solar to be feasible, others might not be able to front the installation cost. Luckily, Maryland is testing a community solar pilot program to make solar energy a possibility for those who would not otherwise have access. Here’s how Hailee explains it:
The Community Solar Program is pretty much what it sounds like: Participants buy into a large solar array that may or may not be on their land, and get a portion or all of their energy from the array.
Essentially, here’s how it works: Someone finds a good place to put solar panels (an apartment rooftop, a warehouse roof, top of a parking garage, empty field, over a landfill, unused farmland, etc.) and installs an array there. The power gets run back to the utility, and allocated to certain residents or buildings that are subscribers to the program. The subscribers pay a reduced rate for the allocated solar power relative to the utility’s standard rate.
It is especially beneficial to low-income housing or apartment rental buildings, because the people occupying these spaces wouldn’t have the money or physical space or ability to install panels on their roof otherwise. This offers them an avenue to purchase clean energy AND lower their electric bills. To put this in perspective, low-income households have utility bills comparable to middle and high income households, so they pay a disproportionate and burdensome amount of their income on energy.
For scale, a 2MW array is the maximum size in most state’s programs. That would require about 10 acres of land, and provide power for 1,200 homes. The installations of community solar arrays are still eligible for state and federal tax incentives for solar installation.
Below are details for the Community Solar programs in Washington, DC and Maryland:
- No cap on amount of power that can be installed
- Panels can be installed on a building, either by the owner, or by a third party through a Power Purchase Agreement and the electricity can be allocated to another building or specific people
- Excellent SREC market in DC that helps this program
- DC requires a certain percentage of their utility power to… Continue reading
Watkins Elementary School
Owner: District of Columbia Public Schools
Watkins Elementary is part of the Capital Hill Cluster, a unique PK-8 that is located in three buildings in the Capital Hill neighborhood located at 4420 12th Street in SE Washington, DC. Watkins supports grades 1-5. The Department of General Services (DGS), DC Public Schools (DCPS), and The Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) worked with the School Improvement Team (SIT) comprised of school staff, parents, and members of the community to develop concepts for the school based on program, student, teacher and community needs. The scope of the Watkins Elementary project modernization includes a complete renovation and addition.
On September 14th two of Lorax’s project managers, agents known as Katie 1 and Katie 2, embarked on a mission to the nation’s capital. While previously sworn to secrecy on the sustainable design plans, the groundbreaking ceremony was the perfect opportunity to unveil the top secret plot to achieve LEED certification for the new International Spy Museum building.
L’Enfant Plaza was filled with many other secret agents disguised as groundbreaking-luncheon-attendees. From Milton Maltz, the Founder and Chairman of the Spy Museum Board, to Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, the event was abuzz with the underground intelligence community. Lorax agents were also able to strategize with fellow accomplices to the LEED mission including Hickok Cole Architects, Clark Construction, JBG Companies, Vanderweil Engineers, and the Malrite Company.
Disguised in red hard hats, all of the top agents prepared for groundbreaking as the program speakers covered the tactics that will be employed in order to successfully open the “expanded and revitalized” Spy Museum in 2018.
With construction officially kicking off, our team plans to use 30% recycled materials vastly reducing the impact on virgin and raw material resources as well as 10% regionally sourced materials to greatly reduce the negative effect of transporting these materials. We will also be diverting a minimum of 75% of debris from the landfill in order to achieve the project’s LEED and sustainability goals.
The intelligence Lorax gained on the history and educational offerings of the International Spy Museum has us readily prepared to accomplish Mission: LEED!
Congratulations to our client, Wexford Science and Technology! Wexford recently won The Talking Walls award from the North Carolina chapter of USGBC at the Green Gala and Sustainable Business Awards for Building 60 in Winston-Salem, NC. This award recognizes a successful integration of sustainability standards in the category of existing building renovations.
Building 60 is part of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. This state of the art district is home to a variety of academic institutions and companies, and fosters research and education in biomedical science, IT, clinical services, and digital media. Building 60 adds over 300,000 square feet of additional laboratory and office space in a major renovation of a historic building, and care was taken to maintain the historic integrity of the existing structure.
Building 60 targeted a very high level of sustainability and is expected to earn LEED Platinum certification. They have reduced both their energy and water use by over 40% for dramatic savings in both. They also reused 96% of the existing usable walls, floor and roof, and recycled over 90% of their construction waste.
Wexford targets a high level of environmental stewardship in all of their buildings and developments. For example, the three other projects in the Innovation Quarter, Wake Forest Biotech Place, Inmar/525 @ Vine Street, and 625 @ Vine Street all achieved LEED Gold or Platinum.
Congratulations once again to Wexford Science and Technology on their outstanding achievement!
At Lorax, we find, the largest barrier to adopting renewable energy systems for private property owners is the lack of financing options. Slowly but surely, counties in Maryland are adopting the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing method to make renewable energy a more feasible option. Here’s how Tim explains the program:
The PACE program is a government financing policy. Its goal is to incentivize energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades on private property. It allows private lenders to fund the up-front capital cost of these upgrades, and recoup that money via property taxes. The payback period will be based on the life expectancy of the equipment- for solar panels it may be 20 years, for an HVAC system maybe 15 years. The interest rate on the loan will be in the ballpark of 5%.
Here’s an example of a project considering installation of a $1,200,000 solar PV array, rated at 700 kWp. Let’s assume the property owner secures $200,000 in incentives and rebates for their solar array. Through PACE, a lender would cover the remaining $1,000,000; the owner would pay it back like a 20-year mortgage at 5% interest.
Their property tax bill would have a line item for the PACE-funded solar panels. In this example, they’d owe $79,200 annually.
Using some assumptions about solar panel output, we can estimate that the 700 kWp solar array will produce about 600,000 kWh of electricity annually. At rates of around $0.20 per kWh, that amounts to $120,000 in energy cost savings annually, more than the loan repayment amount. In this case, the owner would see an immediate positive impact on their net operating income. The 3, 5, or 7-year payback period people often discuss with these kinds of upgrades goes to 0. Of course, this is an idealistic scenario. Real projects will have many more nuances to consider, but this should give you feeling for the kind of cost-benefit analysis that PACE presents.
The PACE program has been running in California since 2010. Now in 2016, it’s active in 16 states. Maryland has adopted it, but each County must decide whether to opt in or not participate. So far, Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, and Garrett County are in. Many others are in the process of adopting or evaluating the program.
In Maryland, it’s available for commercial, industrial, and multifamily projects. It’s available for new construction and retrofits/rehabs. Government-owned… Continue reading
This year, Lorax is taking a delegation of 4 representatives to GreenBuild International Conference and Expo Iconic Green located in Los Angeles, California. Lorax Project Managers will be in attendance from Tuesday morning October 4th through Friday October 7th to learn about new sustainable strategies, become familiar with green building technologies, learn from our peers, promote the achievements of our clients, and network with friends — both new and old.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Where you can find us:
- Greenbuild Plenary & Celebration
- Annual GreenBuild Raters Party: Epic After Party 2016
- Various Educational Sessions
- On the Expo Hall Floor
To join us at GreenBuild, go to http://greenbuildexpo.com/ in order to register for the conference and expo. And, if you would like to join us at the Annual GreenBuild Raters Party: Epic After Party 2016, contact us here! We have tickets!
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