The Economics of Green
In our last issue, we discussed some basic concepts of sustainable design. For this week’s fare, we turned to some specifics: In this region, what are the financial models for sustainable projects? Who provides the financial incentives? And who are the building owners, architects and contractors involved in these projects?
According to the CT Clean Energy Fund, there are dozens of businesses in the New Haven area that have taken advantage of the Fund’s various initiatives for solar, geothermal and wind power.
The largest photovoltaic installation on a commercial showroom in New England happens to be invisible to most passersby.
Pilgrim Furniture City in Milford was designed with 1500 solar panels on the roof of a 1950s industrial facility. A grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund allowed the project to proceed, and the panels generate an estimated 50-80% of the showroom’s energy needs.
While many projects don’t have visible signs of their sustainability, some boast their green-ness…
Two visible wind turbines are on the roof over the front entrance at Zane’s bicycle shop in Branford and, more recently by Phoenix Press, along the Quinnipiac River in Fair Haven.
Zane’s bicycle shop features a 900-watt wind turbine as well as a 120-panel solar array on the roof, which provides 21kW of electricity, translating to 60% of the shop’s power and 100% of the building’s hot water.
The Phoenix Press wind turbine to the North of the QEW bridge, erected in February of this year, is a 156-foot high tower with triple blades which convert the wind’s power into 100 kilowatts of electricity a year. The Clean Energy Fund provided about half of the $500,00 investment toward the project.
Along route 1 between Branford and Guilford, Pat Munger Construction has recently covered their south-facing roof with 72 solar panels. At a cost of $130,000, with the CT Clean Energy Fund providing nearly $50,000, the 4.3MWh system provides about 50% of the energy needed for PMC’s facility. The return on investment is expected to be 6-7 years, based on the data provided since the system went live this past December.
By the way, it is amazing what kind of data you can get, ‘real-time’, once a system is in place. For instance, so far at PMC, .74 tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided and 154 trees have been preserved – that’s 40 trees a month!
Campaigne Kestner Architects designed the first gold LEED certified new home in Connecticut.The result was about a 5% increase to the budget, which they found would fully pay off in energy and maintenance savings in less than 5 years. The Owner has found that their monthly utility bills average less than $100/month for their 2,300 SF home, which is about 75% less than the average comparable home.
There are many builders who promote green construction, but few provide actual dollar savings on investments, or life cycle costing. Leland Torrence (Leland Torrence Enterprises and the Guild) promotes the idea of using less, spending less, without compromise to quality. His ‘daily usage retrofits’ aim for short-term returns. For instance, he has convinced eleven home owners to give up their attics for storage and increase their insulation to a minimum of R38. The results are a 22-28% savings in heating bills. With Federal tax credits and CT rebates, the payback in one case is headed toward six months.
Funding for a recent solar panel installation in Guilford was researched by Green Planet Options, as part of its feasibility and design scope. A 2.52 KW Photovoltaic Solar Panel Array at the office of the Guilford Interfaith Ministries and Charlie’s Closet will provide over 90% of the agency’s electrical needs, saving in excess of $20,000 in utility expenses over the life of the system.
The development is unique in that the installation was funded entirely through State corporate tax credits provided by the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services through the Town of Guilford and purchased by the Guilford Savings Bank.
While the system is relatively small, the twelve, 210 watt PV panels will produce 3000 kWh and reduce carbon emissions by over 2500 lbs. each year. Chris recommends the use of the website of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency for the research of applicable state incentives.
Karin Patriquin Architect is collaborating with Green Planet Options on the design of a sustainable daycare in New Haven, CT.
A sampling of recent articles from some of our favorite sources…
|A Clean Energy Competitiveness Strategy for America|
The Huffington Post, April 19, 2010When Sustainable Gets Obtainable
The Hook, April 19, 2010Architect Designed Green Undies for Earth Day
Interior Design, April 19, 2010Climate Works Foundation
Green Source, April 2010
Getting the Goods
Sun, Shape, and Poetry: The Best Green Houses
LEED VOC Budget Calculations Explained
Could Wal-Mart Save the Green Building Industry?
Aqua Tower, Chicago Illinois Case Study
The Godfather of Efficiency Could Get His Own Unit of Energy Savings
Obama Seeks Budget Increases for Several Federal Green Building Programs
Number of LEED Certifications Sky-Rocket
Lawmakers want 10 Million Solar Rooftops
“The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.”
Tags: architect, Campaigne Kestner Architects, Commercial Green, Connecticut, CT Clean Energy Fund, Efficiency, Federal Tax Credits, Financial Sustainability, Geothermal, Green Planet Options, Karin Patriquin, LEED, LEED Certified Home, Leland Torrence Enterprises and the Guild, Milford Connecticut, New England, New England Green, New Haven, Non-Profit Green, Pat Munger Construction, Photovaoltaic, Pilgrim Furniture City, Renewables, Residential Green, Solar, Sustainability, The Economics of Green, The Phoenix Press, Wind Power, Zane's Bicycle Shop, Zane's Connecticut