AC Solar Solutions sees green opportunities in commercial buildings old and new. The Austin, Texas, based company is a solar power provider, and focuses its services on equipping residential homes and commercial buildings with low-cost, energy-efficient alternatives. A recent article in The New York Times discusses a Seattle-based program from the Bullitt Foundation and partnerships between municipal power and water utilities. The program leads in energy conservation, and backs up its claim with hard-won data.
Small conservation techniques, like switching light bulbs and sealing ceiling cracks and leaks, is a start. There is no doubt that these strategies reduce energy consumption and save costs, but the big projects are what energy-minded foundations are looking for. These include new boilers or retrofitting an entire building’s heating and cooling systems. The practice is termed a “deep retrofit,” and is finding its place in smaller, older commercial buildings.
The Bullitt Foundation has created an ultra-efficient building concerned with saving water and power. This is all analytically tracked by EnergyRM, a new-wave software program that looks at the savings on a day-to-day basis. Implementing this solution is costly, which is why the foundation finds ways to utilize existing infrastructure and wires and recycle current systems.
Bullitt’s calculations suggest the building will consume one-third (250,000 out of an average 750,000) kilowatt-hours per year for its building type and size. The unused energy generated by the building is net metered, which is a system that pumps unused energy back into the power grid. Net metering is popular for alternative energy solutions. For AC Solar Solutions, depending on location, unused power generated throughout the day is filtered back into the grid and “sold” back to the power company. The household or building accumulates energy credits (also known as nega-watts), that are useful for utilizing traditional electricity on cloudy days or during a heat wave.
With metering, Bullitt’s building is expected to earn $44,000 profit from the Seattle City Light company, and over the years the amount will cancel out the cost of installation. In time, such buildings will pay off their initial investments and create “free energy,” making a profit all at once.
Power companies are adjusting slower to efficiency than commercial building owners, though. They run a business, after all, and the less power used means they charge more for it and are left with an excess. The article cites a report from Edison Electric Institute: “The industry is getting increasingly nervous about its long-term ability to finance its infrastructure costs in a new world of efficiency and renewable energy.”
This is entirely expected, and it is more than expected for energy companies to adapt and evolve to new trends and alternative energy sources. Building owners do not switch to alternative energy like geothermal, wind, or solar, to make it easier on electric companies. Utilizing alternative sources of power is a step in the right direction to reduce carbon emissions and increase global sustainability. For now, at least, forerunners in this sector are finding huge profit margins after years of investment due to net metering, but that will most likely balance out like every other industry eventually does.
Commercial buildings should take advantage of renewable energy while they can. It is the way of the future and can pay for itself in a few years with a combination of state and national incentives, rebates, and net metering. The Bullitt Foundation is hoping to attract commercial buildings with proven results. Initial expenses are hard to get around for owners, but there is capital to be had following major efficiency retrofits.
“This is a win-win situation and hopefully will become a model nationwide,” says AC Solar Solutions. “This is just another reason why solar power is becoming obtainable and affordable in both residential and commercial markets.”
Efficiency does not stop at energy. Residential and commercial owners can utilize a variety of different techniques to see savings and minimize energy loss throughout entire buildings. One way is to re-insulate and add radiation barriers to an attic, or take advantage of energy-efficient and long-lasting fluorescent and LED light bulbs.
Solar power, though, applies to more than just photovoltaic panels. The power of the sun can heat rooms as easily as it can heat water. High-quality windows can let solar radiation warm an entire room or lobby while adding natural light, or even repel rays during summer days to stay cool inside. Avoiding the sun is the best way to cool down, especially if a parking lot or building is surrounded by trees and bushes — which retroactively replenish and revitalize the environment.
Energy solutions are snowballing. They begin slow, a change here a change there, but over time huge cuts in wattage used per year can lead to less mining, less burning, and less consumption. One building will not make a world of difference, but every building in the world can. It is a combined effort.
Through government incentives and proven efficiency methods, the competition between alternative energy services will start to increase, thereby decreasing costs. New innovations will arise, giving way to more affordable and efficient solutions. All it takes is a little effort from everyone, and partnerships between places like Seattle City Light and the Bullitt Foundation.
Electricity companies will feel a hit, no doubt, but they have evolved over the years and will adapt to the global power landscape once again. Alternative energy is not yet at a point where it can provide 100 percent of the power the world needs. For one, the world is using too much power to begin with. Secondly, it needs research and development funding and consumer trust to build better solutions and stronger systems to take on more challenges. It is a robust and ever-changing field, one that AC Solar Solutions has its eyes on staying ahead of.
AC Solar Solutions has more than a century of energy experience between its employees. Based in Austin, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the company combines the services and products of several different energy and home-efficiency companies to bring its customers the best in the business. It specializes in solar solutions, and does everything from home energy consultation to installation and repair.
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