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Natural gas plants cool data centres as a by-product in an audacious winner for Uptime’s Green IT #CRE

April 11, 2013 Leave a comment

 

Liquid Gas Plants Could Power Data Centres For Nothing

Natural gas plants could power data centres for nothing

An ingenious proposal to locate data centres near liquid natural gas (LNG) plants could provide all their cooling and electrical power for nothing – and the group behind it hopes to interest European providers in the concept.

Natural gas storage plants produce excess refrigeration, and waste enough energy to run a data centre according to TeraCool. The plan is being looked at by LNG plant owners in several countries, and has won the Audacious Idea prize in the 2013 Green Enterprise IT Awards 2013 from the Uptime Institute

 

Free energy from gas plants

Natural gas is typically liquefied at the places where it is extracted from the ground and transported in liquid form in tankers to LNG plants where it is stored in giant cryogenic tanks. When needed, it is turned back into a gas (vaporised) for circulation in the gas supply network.

Liquid gas stores energy, and the vaporisation process releases that energy, while also producing very low temperatures. However, this energy and cooling normally go to waste, because LNG plants are situated away from population centres which could use them.

“We think there is a tremendous opportunity,” Bob Shatten, president of TeraCool, told TechWeekEurope. “We have had interest from some LN G terminals – now we need to get the data centre world to step outside of the box and align their interests at one of these locations.”

TeraCool proposes that data centres could be built near the LNG terminals – as long as there are good data connections, and improve the energy efficiency of both sites. The waste heat from the data centre’s servers could help vaporise the gas, and the energy released could power the data centre.

“The system adds an additional refrigeration loop to the circuit in which the refrigerant is pressurized, warmed and vaporised,” explains the Institute’s citation. “The expanding refrigerant drives a turbine coupled to a generator to produce electricity in a combustion-free, emissions-free process.”

LNG plants are often huge, and some could easily provide enough power for the largest data centres ever built, said Shatten. “The upper bound for data centres is around 90MW in the US – and one terminal we looked at in Seoul, Korea, has 22 storage tanks, and could provide 350MW of cooling and 87MW of electricity.

Since a 90MW data centre, operating at a PUE efficiency figure of 1.3, would only need around 27MW of cooling, that’s easily enough.

The limitations of the idea are the variation in the amount of gas being vaporised. The data centre would only be able to rely on the steady output of the plant (the “minimum gas sendout”). However, as Shatten points out, gas is a transition fuel from coal, and is increasingly used in generators which power the base load of countries’ national grids.

European data centres are migrating northwards to some extent at the moment, to countries like those in the Nordic region, where cooling can be had for nothing from the surrounding air. Co-location with LNG plants could be particularly useful in hot countries in Southern Europe, like Spain and Portugal, where cooling is harder to come by.

“Once this happens, it will happen fast.” said Shatten. “The data centre has very little to lose by trying this – it can get its money back very quickly on the energy savings. ”

Uptime Top Ranking

The other Green Enterprise IT awards went to actual data centers – but most featured liquid cooling. The University of Leeds was recognised for using British company Iceotope’s liquid cooling system for the servers in its its high performance computing (HPC) system.

Interxion won a “retrofit” award for a system that uses sea water to cool multiple data centres in Stockholm, and then uses the warm water to heat local offices before returning it to the sea. The firm says it reduced its energy needs by 80 percent and got its PUE down to 1.09.

Other winners include the US National Center For Atmospheric Research, which achieved a PUE of 1.08 in a new high-performance computing (HPC) facility, and a design innovation award went to TD Bank, which included rainwater harvesting and onsite generation in a data centre.

 

Gas-Cooled Data Centre Idea Wins Green Prize.

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By 2050, urban buildings that breathe and adapt | #CRE

March 11, 2013 Leave a comment

By 2050, urban buildings that breathe and adapt

Published March 07, 2013
By 2050, urban buildings that breathe and adapt

What will a skyscraper built in 2050 look like? How will it function?

Rather than being static as they are today, in the future buildings will produce food, energy and resources, according to a new report by engineering firm Arup, which designed the iconic Sydney Opera House and is building a zero-carbon city in Dongtan, China.

They will be “living buildings” whose intelligent systems adjust to the needs of inhabitants, respond automatically to variations in weather, are reconfigured by robots and produce more resources than they consume.

“The urban building of the future essentially functions as a living organism in its own right — reacting to the local environment and engaging with the users within,” writes Josef Hargrave, a consultant with Arup’s Foresight + Innovation division.

Of course, the building of the future is powered by renewable energy — in this case from external walls coated with photovoltaic paint, microwind turbines and an algae facade to produce biofuels. A nanoparticle membrane captures carbon and converts it to oxygen.

Vertical farms, which we’re already seeing built, will be standard ways to produce meat, poultry, fish and vegetables.

Brain-like “intelligent building systems” will make “calculated” decisions about how to optimize resources by constantly tracking data on energy consumption, weather and the needs of residents.

Next page: Buildings craft environments

Many of the concepts are already becoming familiar, such as integrated microsystems that generate on-site energy; water collection and recycling systems; heat recovery surfaces; building membranes that can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen; and even urban food production modules where residents can get meat, poultry, fish and vegetables.

Other ideas are far more futuristic. Buildings will be far more modular, created out of components that can be easily upgraded or rearranged over time — and even assembled by robots. Depending on what’s needed, robots could swap in or out components that provide food, such as animal, fish or vegetable farms. Robots would also be able to “work seamlessly together to install, detect, repair and upgrade components of the building system,” says the report.

The materials will also be capable of self-repair and maintenance.

This template for the building of the future, the report says, will be accomplished through a multilayered approach: a permanent layer at the bottom, a 10- to 20-year layer (which includes the facade and primary fit-out walls, finishes or on-floor mechanical plant) and a third layer that can incorporate rapid changes, such as new IT equipment.

“In the ecological age, buildings do not simply create spaces, they craft environments,” writes Hargrave. “They function as part of an urban ecosystem, promote more environmentally conscious and efficient resource management, and actively contribute to the unique needs of the individual user, as well as the wider requirements of the city.”

Partial illustration of Arup’s building of the future provided by the company.

This story is reprinted with permission from Sustainable Business.

SustainableBusiness.com provides global news and networking services to help green business grow. Rather than covering a slice of the industry, it offers visitors a unique lens on the field as a whole, covering all sectors that impact sustainability: renewable energy/efficiency, green building, green investing and organics.

Read more from Sustainable  Business News.

Categories: Sustainability

LED lighting gaining traction in commercial retrofits | #cre #ccim #sior #sustainability

February 7, 2013 Leave a comment

LED lighting gaining traction in commercial retrofits | GreenBiz.com.

LED lighting gaining traction in commercial retrofits

Published February 06, 2013 ,GreenBiz.com
LED lighting gaining traction in commercial retrofits

 

Once thought to be too costly for commercial buildings, LED lighting is increasingly popping up in warehouses and commercial facilities as part of energy retrofit projects.

Atlas Box, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of protective packaging for electronics and heavy equipment, has embarked on a plan to reduce energy consumption by 55 percent in two facilities by installing LED lighting systems. The two-year retrofit project for installing lighting controls and other energy efficiency measures got underway thanks to a no upfront cost financing program set up by the local utility, National Grid.

Energy, of course, remains a significant cost for buildings and facility managers and “anything we can do to manage and control energy costs gives us a competitive advantage,” said Frank Tavaras, global process engineer with Atlas Box and project leader.

Atlas worked with Groom Energy to perform building energy assessments to map savings opportunities. Tavares said he considered the warehouse’s machinery and power cutting equipment as using the most energy in the three-year old facility. “But we were wrong, lights use more and gave us the opportunity to target something  right away” to save energy.

For Atlas’s interior warehouse lighting, Groom Energy installed a Digital Lumens system enabling occupancy-based lighting and the ability to track and manage the system through software.

Having individual control of each fixture, as well remote monitoring and Web-based dashboard tools, were critical features in selling Tavaras on the project.

Indeed, wireless controls with underlying analytics and data management to help building managers track and monitor energy savings helps justify the investment in new LED technologies, writes Casey Talon with IDC Energy Insights.

In addition to Digital Lumens, there are a number of new players in the market for advanced lighting and with Internet-enabled controls, including  Enlighted, Adura Technologies (which was recently acquired by Acuity Brands), Redwood Systems and Daintree Networks.

But trying to gather the initial capital expense, which ran upwards of $500,000, for retrofitting a seemngly new, three-year old facility was of a tough sell, said Tavares. The company received a number of incentives from the local utility National Grid, including a finance program that covers 70 percent of energy efficiency upgrade costs with an option to finance the remaining 30 percent with no interest over the next two years.

“We are committed to promoting and offering programs that will help our customers save money while reducing their carbon footprint,” said Marcy Reed, president, National Grid, MA in statement about the project. “We’re proud to partner with [Atlas Box] and help defray the costs through program incentives that will make the project a reality.”

Energy efficiency retrofits can produce big savings for commercial building owners with little upfront costs.

FirstFuel, a Boston-based energy analytics startup, released a report today revealing 51 percent of all energy efficiency opportunities could be achieved through low and no-cost operational improvements. They calculated the savings over the entire U.S. commercial building market as a $17 billion opportunity for operational improvements. An infographic showing the energy savings can be found here.LED lighting gaining traction in commercial retrofits | GreenBiz.com.

Categories: Sustainability, Workspace

How to create a net-zero office | Can you? | #cre #ccim #sior |via @GreenBiz

January 13, 2013 Leave a comment

How to create a net-zero office

Published January 08, 2013

For homebuilders, the latest iteration of the green building movement are net-zero homes. These structures generate as much energy as they consume and have very small carbon footprints. Improvements in technology have now made net-zero homes a viable option for many homeowners.

But the success of net zero homes begs the question: Can you create a net-zero office?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Of course, many offices do present more challenges than a typical home, but there are clearly ways to improve their sustainability even if net-zero status cannot be fully achieved.

There are two parts to the net-zero equation:

1. Energy Consumption: The first order of business is to reduce the energy that your facility uses. The obvious candidates for energy savings also apply to homes: efficient lighting, insulation, programmable thermostats and Low-E windows.

For offices, there are some additional opportunities for energy savings:

  • Power down computer equipment at night.
  • If you have multiple computer servers, combine them into one box using new virtualization technologies.
  • Move your data storage and applications to the cloud. This can potentially eliminate computer servers from your facility altogether. Not only does this reduce the energy consumption of the box, but the energy required to keep it cool as well. It is true that some of this energy requirement is simply moved to a third party service provider, but most large data centers are much more energy efficient than a small local IT facility.
  • Almost every office has rules addressing energy use of items such as personal heaters, refrigerators — even changing the thermostat. It would be worthwhile to re-visit your particular rules with an eye towards energy efficiency.
  • Install skylights or solar tubes to reduce the use of electronic light fixtures during the day.
  • Ensure that large copy machines and printers are energy efficient and switch to sleep mode when not in use.
  • Because they are used so frequently in the office, make sure that you have motion sensing switches or timers on the lights in your bathrooms.
  • If your exterior doors are opened frequently during the business day, review your options for mitigating the heat and cooling loss. Two sets of doors or air curtains are sometimes used to address this problem.

Photo of keyboard with green button provided by Lasse Kristensen via Shutterstock

The challenge of generating energy

2. Energy Generation: Now that you have minimized your energy consumption, you know how much energy you need to generate in order to achieve the net-zero goal.

Here is where some businesses have big challenges. Many proprietors do not own their buildings. Some offices are not in stand-alone buildings and many may not have land or roof space available. You may be able to work with your landlord to get around some of these limitations.

After assessing your particular situation, consider the following alternatives for generating energy:

  • Solar is the obvious choice for homes and offices alike. Solar panels can be used to generate electricity and solar water systems can generate hot water and even heat the facility. The big challenge for an office is to find enough room to install the solar panels.
  • Wind Power: Here is where an office may have an advantage over a home. Building height, noise problems and aesthetics can all be an impediment to installing wind systems on a home. A commercial area, on the other hand, may be more conducive to installation of this equipment.
  • Geothermal Energy: These systems pump fluids into the ground to take advantage of moderate temperatures below the surface. The fluids that come back up can then be used to both heat and cool the building.

Many net-zero homes utilize both solar and geothermal energy to achieve an energy balance. Unless you have very large areas available for solar panels, it’s likely you will need more than one energy source for the office as well.

If you can’t achieve net-zero status at your office facility on your own, don’t despair. Do what you can and buy the balance of your energy from a renewable source. Many utilities now offer opportunities to do this. You can also purchase carbon offsets to complete the package.

When it comes to office sustainability, continuous improvement is key. Wherever you are in the process of moving towards net zero, don’t hesitate to take one more step forward today.

For more see Link below:

How to create a net-zero office | GreenBiz.com.

Categories: Sustainability

3 Drivers That Will Push Sustainability into an Investment Megatrend in 2013 |#cre #ccim #sior

January 10, 2013 Leave a comment

There are three drivers that are pushing sustainability into an investment megatrend in 2013.

Driver #1: Emerging sustainability accounting standards

One of these drivers is the accounting industry’s investigation into accounting policies and practices that will account for the financial liability of a company’s environmental impacts. KPMG, in their “Expect The Unexpected” white paper, reported that in 2008, the world’s 3,000 largest public companies by market capitalization were estimated to be causing $2.15 trillion of environmental damage.

This off-balance sheet liability is equivalent to seven percent of their combined revenues and 50 percent of their EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization). In response, a Sustainability Accounting Standards Board was launched in 2012 with funding by the Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rockefeller Foundation. The organization’s main goal is to establish and maintain industry-specific sustainability accounting standards for use in Form 10-K and 20-F. What this means for investors is that sustainability is now a CFO issue. A Deloitte white paper entitled Sustainable Finance: The risks and opportunities that (some) CFOs are overlooking reports that half of surveyed CFOs are planning capital investments that support the implementation of sustainability initiatives.

Driver #2: Sustainability is now a C-suite area of focus

Sustainability is now being adopted by the C-suite as a valuable tool for growing profits and competitive advantage. Walmart’s CEO, Mike Duke, has embraced a corporate strategy to advance Walmart’s everyday low price competitiveness through sustainability. He hosts two milestone meetings per year for his leadership team focused upon adopting sustainable best practices in operations and merchandise procurement. Similar to achievements by Ford and DuPont, Walmart’s CFO, Charles Holley, reported at a recent milestone meeting that Walmart now earns $230 million annually through its waste management program.

Driver #3: Consumers are demanding smarter, healthier and greener solutions

The consumer is the ultimate driver in sustainability’s emergence as an investment megatrend. But consumers don’t call it sustainability. They are actively searching price competitive “in me, on me and around me” solutions that are healthier, smarter and greener. Attractive investment opportunities that are emerging as smarter, healthier and greener solutions win price competitiveness through manufacturing economies of scale. Much maligned solar power is an example.

If oil had dropped in price as much as solar panels it would be selling for $10 per barrel. A report by ILSR projects that unsubsidized solar will grow from .1 percent of U.S. electricity supply to 10 percent by 2023, as it wins price parity against utility supplied electricity. Hawaii provides a current example where the price of rooftop solar is now lower than utility supplied electricity resulting in a 75 percent leap in construction applications to install rooftop solar electricity systems.

Bill Roth is the Founder of Earth 2017 He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues.

3 Drivers That Will Push Sustainability into an Investment Megatrend in 2013.

Categories: Sustainability

Racing to greener pastures |10 enterprise sustainability trends for 2013 | #cre #ccim #sior #sustainability

January 9, 2013 Leave a comment

In the previous decade, regulation, awareness and stakeholder pressures made enterprises rethink their sustainability agenda. What started out as corporate social responsibility and fragmented ‘green’ programs has now become a dedicated enterprise function. One that is all set to effect a change in the way enterprises operate.

via Infosys – Infographic | Racing to greener pastures: 10 enterprise sustainability trends for 2013.

Categories: Sustainability

WHY GREEN LABELS BOOST REAL ESTATE VALUES| #cre #ccim #sior #green #sustainability

January 4, 2013 Leave a comment

U.S. Green Building Council

U.S. Green Building Council (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why green labels boost real estate values | GreenBiz.com.

Published January 04, 2013
Why green labels boost real estate values

Walk into an office building in downtown San Francisco and you’re likely to see a familiar plaque at the entrance promoting the building’s green certification. At least 35 percent of San Francisco’s total commercial square-footage now bears a LEED and/or EnergyStar label, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

Extensive research on the financial impact of green labels in the commercial real estate sector shows that tenants not only want to house their companies and employees in green buildings, they are willing to pay a price premium to do so. We have documented that buildings with a “green rating” (Energy Star and LEED) command rental rates that are roughly 3 percent higher per square foot than otherwise identical buildings — controlling for the quality and the specific location of the office building — and sales prices of green buildings are about 16 percent higher.

But does the price premium, and demand for green labels, exist in the residential real estate market as it does in the commercial sector? The short answer is yes.

The value of green hits home

In July 2012, my colleague Matthew Kahn and I released the “Value of Green Home Labels,” the largest study of its kind to document a significant price premium for green-labeled homes. Looking at sales transactions of 1.6 million homes in California from 2007 to 2012, we investigated the price implications of the three largest California green labels: LEED for Homes, Energy Star and GreenPoint Rated.

What we learned

We found that, holding other factors constant, a green label provides a market premium of 9 percent compared to a similar home without the label. Considering that the average sales price of a home in California is $400,000, the price premium for a certified green home translates into some $34,800 more than the value of a comparable home nearby.

What’s driving the price premium of green homes? Key findings from our study reveal that:

  • The premium associated with a green label is highest in areas with hotter climates, indicating that residents value green labels as a signal of energy efficiency especially in regions where it tends to cost more energy to keep a home cool;
  • The premium is positively correlated to the environmental ideology of the area, as measured by the rate of registration of hybrid (Prius) vehicles. Just as in the commercial sector, this correlation suggests some homeowners may attribute value to intangible qualities associated with owning a green home, such as pride or perceived status. (But also: the improved comfort and air quality of a green home.)

The bottom line: Green labels, or the characteristics these labels reflect (e.g., energy savings, water savings, greater home comfort) are valued by homebuyers and commercial building tenants alike. So what does this trend mean for the future of green buildings in the residential sector?

Market implications

We are already observing significant buy-in from builders and financers of green single-family and multifamily properties. In 2010, California-based homebuilder KB Homes announced that all new homes in Northern California would be labeled GreenPoint Rated. And in 2011, Fannie Mae launched the Multifamily Green Initiative to accelerate multifamily green property improvements and explore the development of a uniform rating system for multifamily properties, which lags far behind the single-family housing and commercial building sectors.

While these initiatives, and consumers’ increasing willingness to pay more for a green home,will likely increase the market presence of green-labeled homes, it remains to be seen whether the demand for these labels will be enough to offset the asymmetry that exists in the residential sector between the number of green and non-green homes.

However, based on the growing evidence of the financial benefits of green building in the commercial sector, we expect a similar trend will soon take shape in the residential green building market.

Photo of energy efficient building in San Diego provided by Dancestrokes via Shutterstock.

Categories: Sustainability
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