Six Steps to a More Efficient Building

Originally published on the ILA Connector blog.

Libraries are expensive to operate and there is never enough money to go around. By looking for opportunities to make your building more energy efficient, you can make changes that will continue to save you money for years. These six steps will help you start to improve the energy performance of your building, as well as save money that you can use in other operational areas.

  1. Establish a baseline and assess your current energy use. Before you make changes, you need to understand where you are. Become familiar with your electricity and natural gas bills. Understand how much energy you use each year and how much it costs you. Quantify specific energy uses and costs. Some areas to look at include:
    1. Lighting – Are you lighting areas that people don’t use? Are there places where you can replace less efficient lighting with LEDs or compact fluorescent bulbs? Do you have decorative lighting? Are your exit signs LED? Are lights too bright for the space?
    2. HVAC – Do you have programmable thermostats? Are they programmed appropriately for your hours of operation? How old is your HVAC system? Has it ever been recommissioned/retro commissioned?
    3. Building envelope – Does your building have leaks around windows and doors? Is your building’s insulation adequate for the climate? Are your walls uninsulated brick or block?
  2. Get technical assistance. Ameren and ComEd offer free energy assessments for public sector agencies. The University of Illinois’ Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) offers free public sector energy assessments, assistance with retro commissioning, and information on how to save energy.
  3. Make a list of changes you want to make, then prioritize it. Some examples of first priority changes include: installing motion sensors, turning off lights when not in use, eliminating decorative only lighting, installing LED exit signs, adjusting your programmable thermostat to align with building occupancy, installing weather stripping and sealing cracks, and checking your building’s hot water temperature and resetting, if appropriate.
  4. Plan for more expensive changes and look for incentives to help you pay for them. These include installing dimmable switches and occupancy sensors, addressing over-illumination, converting to more energy efficient lighting, recommissioning or retro commissioning your HVAC system, upgrading to high efficiency equipment (boilers, fan motors, furnace), replace broken or malfunctioning windows and doors with those of higher performance, replace your roof and install more insulation, find creative solutions for uninsulated brick or block walls, and install a high efficiency water heater.
    1. Ameren and ComEd offer public sector energy efficiency incentives. SEDAC will also help you find qualifying incentives.
  5. Continue tracking your building’s energy use and making changes to ensure continuous improvement.
  6. Tell your patrons. Let them know how much of their money you’re saving with the changes you make and how you’re using those funds to benefit them.

Building remodels or new construction are usually when libraries look at energy efficiency options. Why wait when you can start saving money now?

Supporting Healthy Houses of Worship

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This booklet is designed to identify some of the most common types of environmental health concerns found in older facilities and contains voluntary recommendations that maintenance staff may use to limit risks to congregations. It also provides one-stop access to learn some facts about these issues and existing low-cost or no-cost measures to prevent, reduce, and resolve each of the highlighted environmental issues.

Washing machines and fridges to be made easily repairable under new EU legislation to cut greenhouse gases

Read the full story in The Telegraph.

Washing machines and fridges must be made easier to repair under new EU legislation designed to cut greenhouse gases.

From 2021, all televisions, monitors, fridges, freezers, washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers and lighting products sold across the EU will have to meet minimum repairability requirements.

Calcium alginate ‘novel’ eco-friendly microbead alternative: Study

Read the full story in Cosmetic Design Europe.

Calcium alginate microbeads offer a promising and cost-effective alternative to polymer additives, rapidly degrade in sea water and simple to fabricate, say researchers.

NZ’s litter problem: Citizen scientists hope rubbish data will provide wake-up call for Kiwis

Read the full story at Newshub.

In a programme being rolled out at over 100 beaches, groups of volunteers are collecting and analysing the rubbish that washes up on New Zealand shores to build a database of evidence to inspire action.

Evaluation of U.S. Manufacturing Subsectors at Risk of Physical Water Shortages

Prakash Rao, Darren Sholes, and Joe Cresko (2019). “Evaluation of U.S. Manufacturing Subsectors at Risk of Physical Water Shortages.” Environmental Science & Technology 53 (5), 2295-2303 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b04896

Abstract: The potential impact of water shortages on U.S. manufacturing is unknown. While water for manufacturing constitutes an estimated 6% of U.S. water intake, the data (i.e., location, quantity, and purpose of water intake) needed to determine this impact does not exist.

This paper will identify manufacturing subsectors at risk of physical water shortages by applying a method for estimating U.S. manufacturing water intake at the necessary spatial and sectoral resolutions. First, the data requirements to quantify a manufacturing facility’s water footprint within the context of the watershed are developed. Second, using international data, water intake at the national, state, and county-levels by each U.S. manufacturing subsector is estimated. Third, manufacturing subsectors that are most vulnerable to risks of physical water shortages are identified.

Based on the results, the Paper, Primary Metals, Chemical, Petroleum and Coal Products, and Food subsectors have the largest intake, respectively. However, the Primary Metals, Fabricated Metals, Transportation Equipment, Petroleum and Coal Products, and Plastics and Rubber subsectors are at the greatest risk of physical water shortages based on concentrations of water intake in water-stressed regions. The results can be used to develop strategies to mitigate the risks of water shortages on the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Mapping energy consumption in food manufacturing

Ladha-Sabur, A, Bakalis, S, Fryer, PJ & Lopez-Quiroga, E (2019). “Mapping energy consumption in food manufacturing.” Trends in Food Science and Technology 86, 270-280.

Background: The food industry is heavily dependent on fossil fuels and significantly contributes to GHG emissions. The global population is also growing and food demand is expected to increase a 60% by 2050. To combat environmental pollution and create a more sustainable food sector, energy use during manufacturing needs to be reduced.

Scope and approach: To gain a better understanding of the energy employed in manufacturing and distribution of foods – within the UK and globally – energy usage within the food industry has been collected from literature and clustered by product, processing technique and transportation method.

Key findings and conclusions: Energy figures show that instant coffee, milk powder, French fries, crisps and bread are among the most energy intensive food products. The thermal processes involved in their manufacturing consumed large proportions of the total processing energy. In the meat and dairy processing sectors, energy and water use have increased due to a rise in hygienic standards and cleaning requirements. Additionally, meat products are processed – and sometime over processed – to a higher degree for consumer convenience, all this increasing the associated energy usage for manufacture. Regarding food transportation, more than 98% of all foods within the UK are transported by road, and the distances travelled have increased in recent years. Tertiary distribution using rigid vehicles was the most energy intensive transportation method, while primary distribution at ambient temperature was the least. Refrigerated transportation, which is more intensive than stationary refrigerated systems, has also increased during the past years.

Operational Efficiency in the Food and Beverage Industry Through Sustainable Water Consumption

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The scarcity of water poses a threat to domestic and global economic sustainability while inhibiting the operational efficiency of food and beverage industry firms. The purpose of this multiple case study was to explore the strategies some food and beverage industry leaders in the United States used for implementing sustainable water consumption practices to improve operational efficiency. The conceptual framework for the study was stakeholder theory. The primary data source was semistructured interviews with 4 food and beverage industry leaders in Wisconsin who have responsibility for implementing their firms’ sustainability practices, and the secondary data source was corporate sustainability reports. Thematic analysis was used to analyze data, which resulted in 4 themes: efficient equipment, stakeholder and sustainability focus, water recycling, and supply chain support. The implications of this study for social change include the potential for leaders in the food and beverage industry to use findings to create more sustainable water supplies and demonstrate greater stewardship of the environment.

Waste not, want not: Reducing food loss and waste in North America through life cycle-based approaches

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The objective of this report is to describe life cycle thinking and the suite of quantitative tools such as life cycle assessment (LCA) that are rooted in that perspective, and to detail where and how these tools can be beneficially applied in the food waste space. As LCA and related tools have begun to enter common parlance, occasionally their strengths and limitations are misunderstood. Establishing realistic expectations and detailing what these tools can and cannot do is equally important.

Virginia to Pilot Waste Conversion Solution

Read the full story in Waste360.

CVWMA is implementing recycling bins made with UBQ Material, a plastic alternative comprising unsorted household waste.