Greening the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island

Statue of Liberty

The federal government took its own advice with regard to energy efficiency when it supported alternative energy by installing a geothermal well on New York’s Liberty Island.

Utilizing the earth as a heat source, geothermal wells provide renewable energy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers geothermal the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean and cost effective space controlling system available.

The purpose for the new well was to provide energy-efficient geothermal power for the heating and air conditioning of the facility which would conserve energy and reduce operational expenses.

The drilling of the Liberty Island geothermal well took five working days but the challenge for the crew was executing this and moving equipment on and off the island without disturbing the flow of tourists. After the drilling was complete the crew installed 260 feet of 6-inch Certa-Lok PVC Well Casing and 1,290 feet of 4-inch Certa-Lok PVC Well Casing for the well’s Porter Shroud.  The crew then installed a submersible pump within the Porter Shroud using 200 feet of 3-inch Certa-Lok PVC Drop Pipe.

As the well operates, the ground water beneath the Statue of Liberty travels at a rate of 120 gallons per minute down the well core and enters the Porter Shroud through perforations at 1500 feet.  It then flows up to the pump and circulates back into heat pumps within the Liberty Island Retail Pavilion.  The heat pumps pull temperature from the 55-degree water and return cold water back to the ground.  During the warmer months, the system reverses, meaning the pump will transfer heat in the building to the water being used and return it back underground. This type of geothermal well is typical in commercial installations where a large heating/cooling demand is present, but the surface area will not allow for a closed-loop well field.

Geothermal systems can be installed in commercial or residential projects. For residential, the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association estimates that these systems can create heating efficiencies of 50 to 70 percent higher than other heating systems and cooling efficiencies of 20 to 40 percent higher than available air conditioners.

Do you have any experiences with these systems that you can share?

Kicking the Energy Issue up a Notch – The Green Power Community Challenge

Lucas Hamilton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just launched a year-long nationwide campaign called the Green Power Community Challenge to encourage communities throughout the nation to utilize renewable energy as a means of helping address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

The Green Power Community Challenge aims to double the amount of renewable energy sourced electricity used by participating EPA Green Power Communities collectively. Throughout the year the EPA will track and report the standings of the communities participating on a quarterly basis.  

In order to participate, communities need to join EPA’s Green Power Partnership and buy or produce approved forms of green power (such as solar power) on-site. All the communities currently participating are listed if you want to check the communities in your area.

This program not only focuses on the use of renewable energy but also encourages generating energy on site as a means to cut down on our net annual fuel consumption.  Communities can either reduce as much energy as possible or identify ways to create power to subtract from their total consumption. 

One resource that can help communities and individuals meet the challenge is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiencies (DSIRE). This site lists all the incentive and rebate programs by state. This is important because the incentives do vary from state to state.  In some cases, the incentives or rebates can help you recoup almost half of the cost to install photovoltaic roofs.

At the conclusion of the Challenge, the community that has the highest green power percentage and the community that uses the most kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power will receive national recognition and special attention from the EPA.

It is exciting to see this type of involvement in reducing energy consumption on the community level.

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

During Energy Awareness Month Take the ENERGY STAR® Pledge

Lucas Hamilton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR program has launched a pledge project designed to draw awareness on the part of individuals to change their ways and adopt more energy conscious practices. The pledge asks individuals to commit to replacing items in your office or home ranging from light bulbs to appliances and office equipment that carry the Energy Star label to reduce energy consumption. Retrofitting with added insulation is another improvement to consider.

According to the current statistics 2,655,126 individuals have joined the cause and pledged to take small, individual steps that have led to reducing 8,842,303,899 lbs. of greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against climate change.

I want to applaud my fellow employees for taking the Energy Star pledge and committing to reducing their energy consumption.  The EPA estimated that the value of the pledges received by CertainTeed/Saint-Gobain so far equates to more than $1.5 million in energy savings.

You, too, can get involved as an individual or a company and be a part of this national campaign.  Get your company involved by going to Energy Star’s Join our Movement . To register as an individual go to Take the Pledge

This type of awareness is a good starting point to encourage everyone to look at ways to reduce their energy consumption and become more conscious of how they use energy.  We can all do our part.

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

Drinking Freely at the Energy Trough

The days of conspicuous consumption on the part of apartment dwellers may soon be over. A recent article in the New York Times regarding utility included rents  highlighted the fact that the energy consumption in apartments or multi tenant buildings where utilities are included is about 20 percent higher than apartments where utilities are not included.  With the record temperatures experienced throughout the country this summer this has a major environmental impact since 40 percent of a building’s energy use is spent on heating and cooling.

Property managers are beginning to audit buildings and have discovered renters with utilities included did not worry about turning on the air conditioner in May and leaving them on until October.  Apartment dwellers admit to leaving the air conditioner running when they go to work and even when they go on vacation because it is not costing them anything.   

In the Times article, Lawrence J. Wright, a New York University professor referred to this type of phenomenon as Homo economicus – man’s economics – if something is free you will imbibe until you are full.

Property owners are considering submeters in buildings to identify how much energy is consumed per apartment.  While this would still generate one bill, the landlords could charge tenants based on consumption.

No one wants the label of ‘conspicuous consumer’. The ability to show a resident how much more energy they consume than their neighbors could help to change the behavior.

This may be the end of an era but one that could help to improve the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation