Posts Tagged ‘Geothermal’
» posted on Monday, December 13th, 2010 at 7:35 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 2,942 times
This special guest post comes to us from Mark Mizrahi, CEO and President of EnLink Geoenergy Services, Inc.
Recently, we have seen an increase in new construction aiming to achieve LEED certification and even Net Zero Energy buildings. Although market trends for construction have seen a decline in recent years, the U.S. Green Building Council estimates the growth in LEED certified buildings is continuing and will have doubled from 2009 to 2013.
In California, the California Energy Commission and California Public Utilities Commission are advancing efforts to mandate that all new construction for the residential sector be Net Zero by 2030 and for the commercial sector by 2050. With Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards now policy for utility companies, other states are sure to follow California’s lead.
Inevitably all buildings will become Net Zero Energy. It is a necessity. Net Zero Energy building means a building is not a net user of energy; that is, it produces as much as it uses. As buildings currently account for approximately 40% of all primary energy use in the U.S., and are responsible for a corresponding 40% of all CO2 emissions, the beneficial consequences of Net Zero Energy buildings are immense.
Installing a Geothermal Heat Pump WILL Save you thousands in heating and cooling costs, and WILL Repay itself many times over. Read more about installation
If Net Zero is the solution the question becomes, “how can we achieve this?”
Simple applications of specific technologies could easily reduce the energy loads required for a building’s operation dramatically. Geothermal Heat Pump Systems (also referred to as ground source heat pump systems) could be the most effective of these technologies. On average, 65% of a building’s energy load is consumed for heating and cooling purposes. The EPA suggests geothermal systems can potentially reduce the amount of energy used for heating and cooling by up to 72%. During cooling periods, GHP systems use excess heat for a building’s domestic hot water needs, reducing the amount of energy required by another 5-10%. A conservative estimate of the total reduction in energy consumed by a building would be 40%. In short, a single, existing and proven technology could conservatively cut a buildings energy use almost in half.
The concept behind geothermal systems is simple. They utilize the constant temperature of the earth’s shallow layers to cool and heat buildings without the need for chillers or boilers. The earth is used as a heat sink in the summer, and a heat source in the winter.
Geothermal systems not only dramatically reduce the amount of energy consumption of buildings, but have other proven benefits as well. These benefits include water conservation, reduced operating, maintenance and replacement costs, no on site use of fossil fuels, and system longevity. Geothermal systems are versatile and can work in combination with any energy management program. The systems are the only demand side renewable that works the same in all regions and is available at all points of use.
Geothermal can also be a major contributor toward LEED certification for buildings. Industry estimates are the systems can provide up to 34 potential LEED points towards certification. It only takes 40 to get basic certification.
With this information on hand, why hasn’t there been more effort to increase the frequency of geothermal heat pump system use? One reason is that much of the current policy initiatives are related to supply side renewables, namely solar photovoltaics and wind turbines. While renewable sources of energy are indeed part of the solution, demand side energy efficiency measures are essential. Most energy efficiency efforts are focused on incremental steps like lighting and insulation, not on more far-reaching technologies like geothermal. Notwithstanding, there is an increase in use of these systems and we expect them to grow significantly in the coming years, given the objectives we will be required to work towards.
EnLink Geoenergy Services, Inc., a turnkey full-service geothermal contractor, and a leader in the design and installation of geothermal heat pump systems, has produced significant energy savings on multiple projects throughout the U.S. EnLink is based in Los Angeles County, California.
By Vicki Terwilliger (staff writer email@example.com)
Published: October 31, 2010
vicki terwilliger/staff photo At the Wasilus home, a wind turbine, left, overlooks a ground-mounted solar thermal panel hot water system and rooftop photovoltaic PV solar panels.
Some Schuylkill County homeowners are giving their neighbors something to talk about.
As a partner and installer with Control Alt Energy, Auburn, Andy Wollyung said he’s seen inquiries about solar and alternative energy sources soar among local residents. Often, referral is by word-of-mouth.
“We’re still seeing a growing number of people interested. It’s the talk of the town. People say, ‘I’ve seen this installed,’ and it strikes a big interest in a lot of people’s eyes,” Wollyung said.
Two Barry Township families have had their alternative electricity systems in place and say they’re happy with the investments and savings. Ted and Marie Reinoehl and Mike and Karen Wasilus, all of the Ashland area, shared details about their experiences.
The state’s decision to remove the rate caps on what electric companies can charge is what prompted Mike Wasilus to start looking into alternative energy.
“I was looking to get ahead of the rate cap removal. I contacted Control Alt Energy and things took off from there. We started with the solar/thermal water heat, then the wind turbine and finally the solar panels.”
“Also, the federal and state tax credit and rebate programs played a major role in our decision-making. Without those programs, the projects would not have been good business decisions,” Wasilus said.
Their home is heated and cooled by a heat pump and is entirely electric.
The ground-mounted solar/thermal water heater, a Sunda brand system, was installed in September 2008. It immediately cut 15 to 20 percent from their electric usage, they said.
The Skystream Wind Turbine made by Southwest Windpower was installed in March 2009.
“It has had less of an impact on our electricity savings. I’d say about 10 percent savings,” Wasilus said.
Sharp brand solar photovoltaic PV panels were installed on the rooftop with a Fronius inverter in October 2009.
“They are awesome and have had the biggest impact on our electricity savings. They easily cut 30 to 40 percent from our electric usage. For comparison’s sake, the solar panels have been installed six months less than the wind turbine, yet the solar panels have already surpassed the amount of electricity generated by the wind turbine by 75 percent.”
“Knowing what I know now, I would double the capacity of the solar panel system and bypass putting up the wind turbine,” he said.
Wasilus said he doesn’t regret installing the wind turbine, it just may take a bit longer to recoup his initial investment.
The initial investment cost for all systems, he said, was offset by the federal tax credits offered, at about 30 percent. The solar-panel cost was also offset by the state’s Sunshine program that offered about a 30 percent rebate on the installed cost of the system.
“The payback period is a tough question to answer, because the tax credits and rebates are constantly changing. For me, both solar projects will have a much faster payback than the wind project. I’m looking at about eight years on the payback for the solar projects and probably at least 12 years on the wind project. As far as savings, I would say as a percentage, I’m saving about 60 percent off my electricity bill with these projects. Obviously, for someone who has other forms of heating or cooling, the saving percentage would be much greater,” Wasilus said.
The kilowatt hours generated by the PV panels in almost a year were 4,100 KWH, Wasilus said, and the wind turbine generated 2,100 KWH in a year and a half.
The Reinoehls, meanwhile, had their solar array panels installed in October 2009 by Maximus Solar, Sacramento. There are 33 panels on the south-facing roof of their 3,200-square-foot home.
“We were trying to look into the future,” Ted Reinoehl said. “We figured electric rates would go up and deregulation was happening, and we were getting closer to retirement and were looking for ways to save money down the road.”
Their home is also an electric-run house. They initially installed a geothermal system, with tubing running beneath their yard, when the home was built 19 years ago.
Over the past 11 months, Reinoehl said they’ve saved about $1,200 in electricity costs.
On average, if the sun is out, the solar panels generate about 40 KWH per day, according to Ted Reinoehl. In checking his records, their panels did generate less kilowatts during the winter and more in the spring and summer months. By comparison, there was 397 KWH generated in the month of November, 64 KWH in December, 400 KWH in January and 1,200 KWH in March.
“I’m so glad we did this, and there were incentives to do so.” Marie Reinoehl said. With five adults living in the home, the system provides the electricity needed to heat and cool the home and for daily usage.
“One of the biggest holdbacks is the initial costs, which can make it prohibitive,” said Ted Reinoehl. “I feel confident within a five-year period of time, it’s paid for.”
» posted on Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 at 12:45 am by Woody Wilson viewed 232 times
Advertising Feature — By Rachel Fallert
May 20, 2010
With energy costs on the rise, it is more important than ever to improve existing homes. New lines of windows, insulation, doors, air conditioner and more are available that not only add value to a home, but are cost efficient in the long run.
FALLERT HEATING & COOLING
A home energy audit is the first step to understanding how much energy is consumed in a home. Fallert Heating & Cooling of South Lyon can evaluate all aspects of a home’s energy use. Proper energy management will keep all systems running efficiently. An energy audit of electrical heating and cooling includes checking insulation, draft stopping, windows and doors, as well as the overall envelope of the home. The assessment will determine the efficiency of the heating and cooling system and how to conserve energy. Corrections in the system will save homeowners time and money.
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Air conditioners are 50 percent more efficient today than ever before. Homeowners can cut up to half or more of their electric bill when installing a high efficiency air conditioner. Fallert Heating & Cooling installs a full line of air conditioners to suit any home. Planned maintenance is important to keep air conditioners and heating systems operating at peak efficiency. All systems must be maintained in order to keep energy costs lower. Heating systems should be checked in the fall right before the heating season, and air conditioners in the spring before the cooling season.
Geothermal systems are the most efficient way to heat and cool a home. The system draws heat of the ground to warm and puts heat in the ground to cool the home. The temperature of the ground about five feet under the surface stays relatively stable throughout all seasons. Not only is this energy efficient and environmentally friendly, the tax credit for geothermal systems have been extended. Homeowners who install geothermal systems may be able to claim up to 30 percent of the installed cost in tax credits in the year the system is placed into service and it no longer has a cap.
Installing a Geothermal Heat Pump WILL Save you thousands in heating and cooling costs, and WILL Repay itself many times over. Read more about installation
Whether a homeowner is installing a new or old system, planned maintenance is crucial to keep heating and cooling systems operating at peak efficiency. It will not only increase the lifetime of the system but will also ensure it is energy efficient.
Fallert Heating & Cooling is located at 10075 Colonial Industrial Drive in South Lyon. Visit www.fallertheatingcooling.com or call (248) 782-5861.
While many homeowners believe now is the time to pick up and sell rather than invest in their current home, KC Construction believes it is the perfect time to stay put and make some updates that will add value and increase energy efficiency. Making small changes such as new windows, insulation or siding will not only keep a home in shape — it will add value back faster than non-energy efficient homes.
Insulated siding includes custom gapless fit with a layer of polystyrene foam between the home and siding. The insulation can reduce the heating and cooling energy loss through exterior surface walls up to 20 percent. The thermal resistance in insulated siding can reach up to triple the value of other siding options. It is more durable than traditional siding, and it is resistant to pressure and wind, allowing it to last up to 50 years. Insulated siding helps reduce outside noise with a layer of polystyrene foam that acts as a great sound barrier. With all the benefits of insulated siding, including the increased curb appeal, the most appealing of all is the decrease in home energy costs and greater efficiency.
KC Construction provides expertise in all phases of residential and light commercial construction work, specializing in exterior work. The company offers reconstruction as well as remodeling services — anything from one storm door to an entire subdivision.
The company sells do-it-yourself supplies with free usage of its equipment for various projects. Visit KC Construction June 12 for an open house event, featuring manufacturer’s representatives, a car show and give-a-ways.
MECHANICAL ENERGY SYSTEMS
Mechanical Energy Systems is located at 8130 N. Canton Center Road in Canton. Visit www.by-solar.com or call (734) 453-6746.
» posted on Saturday, May 15th, 2010 at 12:25 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 409 times
Published On Sat May 15 2010
Diana Zlomislic Staff Reporter
Mike Preston was everything his environmentally friendly customers wanted in a contractor.
The Oakville entrepreneur promised homeowners across Ontario he could solve their energy woes with state-of-the-art geothermal systems. They’d be cool in the summer and warm in the winter, saving money and the environment along the way. He said he was an accredited specialist who could help them get government rebates.
What happened next — the complaints of shoddy and unfinished work, the utility bills that doubled, the missing money — is part of a growing problem in the loosely regulated green building industry, a Star investigation has found.
“It shouldn’t be this hard to do something that’s so right,” says Lesya Cooper of Richmond Hill, who paid Preston more than $70,000 before he vanished — leaving a couple of holes in the wall where two gas furnaces used to be.
During the past two years, Ottawa, Ontario and the City of Toronto have handed out more than $1 billion in government rebates and interest-free loans to help homeowners and residential developers go green.
Despite the growing number of incentives — the list fills a 65-page document — the Star found there are few quality-control standards to protect consumers from incompetent “eco experts” looking to cash in on the booming industry.
Shoddy building is not unique to the green sector: Lawsuits and complaints against architects and contractors are common in the traditional home building and home renovation realms.
But with governments aggressively promoting green construction, and green building still an emerging practice, consumers who opt for more eco-friendly homes and renovations are vulnerable.
Some home and condo owners initially moved by green guilt to help save the planet now feel cheated and angry.
In downtown Toronto, residents of a four-unit boutique condominium are suing eco developer Greg Bonser for fraud. He promised a cutting-edge green development. What he did not advertise is that he would use unqualified workers, including an out-of-work special effects technician, to complete the project. Residents moved in, only to learn their units did not meet basic provincial building codes, the statement of claim alleges.
Families in Scarborough and Brighton are scrambling to fix expensive problems with their green dream homes. Inspection reports show the architect and contractors — who claimed to specialize in eco builds — failed to deliver. Read about their stories Sunday at thestar.com.
Meanwhile, Cooper is one of 26 homeowners across Ontario who claim Preston and his company — Max Air Environmental — secured more than $600,000 in deposits and payments for substandard work or no work at all.
When the Star found Preston, he said he folded his company and declared personal bankruptcy in part because he thought the industry “was more lucrative than it was.”
Geothermal, from the Greek, means heat from the earth. There are a few ways to capture this heat which involve burying a network of pipes in the ground or in a body of water.
Starting in June 2007, homeowners could get up to $10,000 in provincial and federal rebates for replacing their standard heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units with a geothermal system.
Trying to capitalize on demand for these rebates, Preston went to work.
Installing a Geothermal Heat Pump WILL Save you thousands in heating and cooling costs, and WILL Repay itself many times over.Get informed begore you buy. Read more about installation
He earned his “trained installer” certification from the Canadian Geo-Exchange Coalition — a federally funded industry group — by taking a multiple choice, open-book exam.
Three years ago, Air Canada pilot Gord Cooper and his wife, Lesya, purchased a sprawling fixer-upper in Richmond Hill. The home’s existing heating and air-conditioning systems were unreliable. The Coopers said Preston’s professionalism and “middle-of-the-road quote” sold them. “He told my wife she was going to be sweating with all the heat that’s coming off the geothermal,” Cooper said.
Subcontractors worked through the summer to drill 12 holes on the property — some as deep as 340 feet. Pipes filled with a water and alcohol mixture were to be dropped into these holes and fed into a compressor inside the house. The friction created by this conversion of liquid to gas is supposed to heat and cool the house as needed.
When Preston asked for an earlier-than-scheduled payment so he could settle with the hard-working drillers, the couple obliged with a $43,000 cheque.
“They worked in 32-degree heat with black smoke and exhaust,” Lesya says. “They earned that money.”
But a month later, the drillers called to say they were never paid — that Preston told them he never got the money.
Max Air customers never expected this could happen. They didn’t just believe in the green technology. They believed in Preston.
How many six-foot-three guys with linebacker proportions do you see cramming themselves into a fuel-efficient Smart Car? His was branded with the company’s logo — Max Air Environmental. The 52-year-old talked with customers about his family, telling them his business was named after his youngest son, a passionate Go-Kart racer, asked about theirs. He answered questions about geothermal technology with authority and patience. He was a back-patter who gave great handshake.
“He was a confidence man,” says an angry Dan Goliger, 65, a Milton resident who paid Preston $30,000 for a system he was told would pay for itself within seven years.
“Our payback, if we ever have any, will happen long after we’re gone.”
Before replacing his oil furnace, Goliger’s typical two-month winter electric bill shows, he and his wife used about 2,600 kilowatts of energy. “Right now, we’re using 12,000 kilowatts,” he says. “It’s horrible.”
Other Max Air customers have told the Star their utility bills have more than doubled since their geothermal units were installed. In many cases, the units were undersized and incapable of heating the home.
Flashing lights on Daniela Fiocca’s system prompted the Toronto woman to call in a geothermal specialist when she couldn’t reach Preston. She found out she didn’t get the system she thought she was buying. Her $40,000 contract with Max Air specified a top-of-the-line heat pump that would have met her home’s energy demands. But what she has is an inferior unit from a different manufacturer that barely covers half of her heating requirements. Also, the emergency back-up heating system she paid for was never connected.
“The stuff that (Preston) did was unbelievable,” says James Treadwell, a former Max Air employee who has started a new geothermal company with another former employee and Mike Preston’s son Chris.
“Mike was selling work for whatever price he could get from customers.”
Though it received complaints, the Canadian Geo-Exchange Coalition never disciplined Preston.
“All we could do was remove his name from the “Qualified Companies” portion of our website,” says coalition president Denis Tanguay. “I know he’s still working in the industry.”
The group uses the term “qualified company” to assure consumers that a company’s employees “had their credentials verified and offer the highest quality of workmanship and highest ethical standards.”
Nonetheless, Tanguay offers this bleak assessment of his industry: “Basically, anybody can install a system tomorrow morning and nobody will question it.”
Preston sold some customers on the expensive system by offering financing through a company called UEI Financial — a division of Union Energy. He said the arrangement would allow them to defer payments interest-free for six months, by which time the installation would be complete and their rebates would be in hand.
Frank Schwarze in King City, Ont., says UEI started deducting payments right away. He later learned UEI had received a “completion certificate” with his forged signature, which authorized full payment to Preston.
Schwarze is not the only Preston’s customer who alleges he forged their signatures on these documents that entitled him to the early release of $20,000 lump-sum payments.
Three years later, Schwarze told the Star he’s still making monthly disbursements to UEI, at nearly 20 per cent interest, to pay for a system that Preston never finished installing.
A UEI Financial spokesperson says the company terminated its relationship with Max Air in 2008 and “is working individually with affected homeowners to reach a satisfactory resolution.”
Preston declared personal bankruptcy last October. It was his second filing in 10 years. The father of three sold his luxury Oakville home with a swimming pool near Glen Abbey golf course for $930,000.
“I don’t want someone to have the wrong impression that I’m a crook,” Preston told the Star.
Responding to the forgery allegations, Preston says he takes full responsibility but didn’t know who signed the financial documents: “We had a big staff.”
Preston blames his problems on the economy’s collapse, and claims that financing he had secured from a private lender didn’t come through.
“This is a real sad story because our family lost our home because of this mess. We’ve always had a comfortable life and we don’t anymore.”
Two weeks after the initial interview, the Star tracked down Preston in one of Oakville’s toniest waterfront neighbourhoods. The four-bedroom house he rents for $4,200 a month is nestled among multi-million-dollar estates.
After folding Max Air, Preston started a new heating and air conditioning company, which he says is a “one-man show” called Fairway Mechanical. He told the Star he still sells geothermal “for a few companies” but no longer installs the systems himself.
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Greg Bonser, a 32-year-old eco consultant and developer, made headlines across the city a few years ago with plans to build one of Toronto’s first green boutique condominiums.
Now magazine hailed his renovation of a heritage building on Queen St. E. as one of the city’s top environmentally sustainable places to live: “If only all old Toronto apartments were so green.” The Star touted him as a “green leader.”
His investors know otherwise. Bonser’s associates told the Star they did not have the expertise to deliver on a promised state-of-the-art green condo development.
Three months ago, suite owners filed a $900,000 lawsuit against Bonser, alleging fraud.
The statement of claim says Bonser, who did most of the general contracting himself, marketed the project as a “cutting-edge green building containing the latest environmentally friendly technology and features.”
Owners say they instead were duped, with the help of architect Ferdinand Wagner, into paying closing costs to Bonser before the condo was even declared structurally sound. The lawsuit also claims the building did not comply with the Ontario building code.
“Yes, there were deficiencies,” Bonser told the Star during an interview in his Riverdale storefront office, which he’s since sold. “There were mistakes made. That’s part of the process . . . They’re just litigious people.”
In a rambling, 12-minute interview that covered Catholic theology, working conditions at Swiss Chalet and the “spirit realm of dogs,” Bonser’s former employer Wagner, who signed the occupancy certificate and is named as a co-defendant, said he’s not worried about the lawsuit.
“My lawyer thinks it’s pretty silly,” says Wagner, 65, whose licence was suspended twice by the Ontario Association of Architects for professional misconduct.
Wagner says Bonser “underestimated the difficulty of what he was taking on. He’s not evil.”
One of the building’s key green features was supposed to be an energy-efficient geothermal system. The lawsuit alleges Bonser never retained a building permit for the system and that it wasn’t built to code.
Bonser, who graduated in architectural technology from George Brown College, says he “self-taught most of the green stuff.” He designed the geothermal system himself and hired an out-of-work special effects technician from the film industry to install it.
“I felt in over my head,” Trevor Briggs, Bonser’s geothermal installer, told the Star. “He was encouraging me to do it because I was a lot cheaper than going to a traditional HVAC company.”
For $15,000 and “sweat equity,” Briggs says, Bonser — who ran as a Green party candidate in the 2004 federal election and finished last in Scarborough Centre with 1,045 votes — promised him a percentage of the company.
“He told me they had a million in backing,” Briggs says. “I thought it was real money. He told me later it was a million in goodwill.”
Convinced of a post-construction payoff, Briggs says, he spent almost $30,000 of his own money on copper piping and other materials. Briggs says it became clear that Bonser had no intention of repaying him, and he sued. The two settled out of court last year.
Bonser told the Star he doesn’t have the money or the energy to fight the latest lawsuit.
“Five days after I bought this building, I got hit by a pesticide truck,” he says.
“For the last four-and-a-half, five years, I didn’t realize how out of it I was.”
Tomorrow: How renegade green architects and builders are leaving homeowners bitter and broke
Diana Zlomislic can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 416-869-4472