JR Rich examines a 103 kw solar photovoltaic installation he spearheaded at JCC of Staten Island, a Hazon Seal site. The solar panels reduce the agency's carbon emissions by 84 tons annually, the equivalent of planting 63 acres of forest per year.
Did you know the energy sector is the greatest contributor to global climate change? In terms of total greenhouse gas emissions, the production of energy makes up about a third of the total emissions in the United States. This is because we still rely heavily on fossil fuels, which warm our atmosphere when we burn them for energy.
Think about how many devices and appliances you use each day that require energy—there are probably so many of them that it is hard to remember them all! Buildings and institutions use even more. Only by assessing your energy systems can you know how to reduce energy use and improve efficiency. This formal assessment process is called an audit. Once completed, you can identify the areas where you can improve the way you use energy and set goals.
Working on your institution's (or your home's) energy efficiency and usage is also an easy environmental practice that will actually save you money! Energy efficiency is the practice of updating facilities and systems so that they use energy more efficiently, so that less is wasted and in turn less is used. This can be as simple as purchasing better insulation or replacing an incandescent light bulb with an LED.
In addition, preventative maintenance will help you in catching little fixes before they become large problems and costs. It is valuable to know how your building and equipment operates and to be vigilant about keeping records. Preventative maintenance will save money and energy today and in the future as you extend the life of equipment.
Renewable energy sources are an exciting alternative to fossil fuels. Solar and wind energy in particular are growing in popularity as they become more and more cost competitive with fossil fuels (which are heavily subsidized by the government). The fossil fuel industry is dirty, in terms of the waste and pollution created by extraction and production, and in terms of the negative impact on communities and workers involved with the industry.
The building envelope is the physical barrier between the inside of a space and the outside, and it offers one of the largest opportunities to make an impact on your heating and cooling costs. A well-maintained building envelope can also reduce pest management concerns and improve air quality. Have your staff well trained in identifying cracks or areas of leakage, but also utilize experts who can ensure that your energy costs are put to good use.
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