Outlets & Switches

Air infiltration compromises your “conditioned air.” Conditioned air is air you are spending money to change – either making it warmer or cooler. Air infiltration works against your conditioned air in the summer and winter months.

Your building envelope – foundation, walls, windows, ceilings and roof – has lots of spots for air infiltration. One you might not expect are the outlets and light switches located on exterior walls. During the winter months if you hold your hand over outlets and switches located on exterior walls you can actually feel cool air coming in! At least I can in my house…

While you might not want to do this yourself, here’s what’s involved (thanks to re-nest.com’s Home Hacks series)

Furnaces and Boilers

Developing a survey for my member libraries this week to help me benchmark how much electricity, gas, and/or oil they are using in their libraries. Along the way I found this nice page on the Department of Energy’s web site: Energy Savers: Furnaces and Boilers.

A number of my libraries are facing the realities of having to replace their equipment and making the right choice seems easy as just about anything new is more efficient than what they have now. This site gives some great tips for making that decision be an even more energy efficient one that it might be if you just went with whatever your installer suggests.

New York’s Solar Thermal Roadmap

Renewable Energy World is reporting on New York’s plan to become a leader in the solar thermal landscape:

“By unveiling a solar heating and cooling programme that could create 25,000 new green jobs, generate US$2.6 billion in revenue and see 2 GW of new solar thermal capacity installed in the state over the next decade, New York has revealed its ambition to become America’s national leader in solar heating and cooling.”

New York Solar Energy Industries Association‘s Roadmap’s proposed implementation would save an estimated 6 million gallons of oil, 9.5 million ft³ of natural gas and displace 320 GWh of electricity production annually by 2020, translating into consumer savings of more than $175 million per year.

Green Team Meeting #2

Today was our second Green Team meeting and it went really well.

  • We reviewed the benchmark data gathered since our last meeting:
    • electricity usage in both buildings
    • gas consumption for both buildings
    • paper recycling levels
    • solid waste recycling levels
  • Options for providing safe drinking water for staff and guests were reviewed in light of the decision to stop providing serving bottled water – bottleless water cooler option looking very attractive (not to mention a lot cheaper than what we’ve been doing). Decided we needed to think about it more and will revisit this at our next meeting.
  • Reviewed the results of our complimentary lighting audit done for by a consulting firm that works with our utility company. I need to double check the numbers but it looks like we could completely convert our lighting in the office building to T8s, get a 50% rebate from our utility AND payback the remaining cost through energy savings in 1.21 years. Not to mention the on-going savings after that.
  • Then came the fun stuff. Over the past three weeks we challenged our coworkers to come up with “green” ideas. Anything goes – that was the only parameter! I received 130 ideas! I’ll share the best ideas in a later post but just wanted to say that at this stage the act of asking everyone had so much benefit:
    • Staff buy-in for change
    • Revelation that some were unaware of existing recycling and energy saving rules already in place building-wide – really made us think about how we convey the rules and how staff are oriented to the way things should be done
    • Behavior is already starting to change – more people are turning off lights in unoccupied offices and rooms, more people are using ceramic mugs rather than disposable cups for coffee…
    • Excitement that they can help the System save money by changing how we do things – people were so anxious to help, it was wonderful
  • Next steps identified:
    • Codify existing rules related to recycling and energy savings and create a staff web page so people can reference the info – things like what is recyclable, who is responsible for turning off lights, making sure everyone is turning off computers/monitors at the end of the day…
    • Create tip sheet on reducing paper use based on the input from staff gathered over the last month
    • Work with the Computer Operations Department to audit all computers and printers in the building to make sure they have basic energy saving settings in place and to develop how-to info for people that want to adjust the energy saving settings
    • Use input from staff to create a checklist of things they can personally do to reduce energy consumption
    • Develop a staff education event to orient them to the building, how they can play a part in reducing, reusing and recycling

So for those of you in our member libraries – the Business Office won the MHLS Go Green Challenge – they came up with twice as many ideas as the other two floors. Doris, our receptionist, was the champ, I got more ideas from her than anyone in the building! Go Green!

“13 Amazing Facts About Green Roofs” [The Daily Green]

13 Amazing Facts About Green Roofs: Green roofs and living walls offer many benefits, including cooling buildings, reducing stormwater runoff, providing wildlife habitat, growing food and creating jobs.

MHLS Green Team

So I took the plunge and called a meeting to start a Green Team at work.

Started by having the building manager, financial manager, interim executive director and my assistant meet to talk about the feasibility of moving forward to help our workplace be “greener.”

Luckily they were all on board and willing to play along with me!

We chatted for a bit about things we’ve already done or are doing and realized we needed to benchmark or at least measure where we are now so we can measure success. So the first action item out of the gate was split between the financial manager – Linda and our facilities manager – Chris. They are going to gather info on:

  • how much electricity we use
  • how much we paid for electricity last year
  • how much gas we use
  • how much paper we currently recycle
  • how much solid waste we currently recycle

A few years ago we had a NYSERDA energy audit and since our funding situation has been so bad we couldn’t follow up on many of the suggestions so we decided to stop letting ourselves be limited by that so I’m going to dust that off and revisit the recommendations and start looking for incentives/reimbursements/grants or at least add these things to our facility plan.

Chris had heard about a new energy audit program through our electric company so he’s going to schedule that.

We decided we couldn’t just dictate ways to work and be greener so we decided to pool the collective wisdom of our coworkers. So I volunteered to poll the staff. I turned it into a competition. There are three floors to our building so it’s floor against floor. Prizes have been promised but really it’s the bragging rights that motivates!

I’m encouraging ideas related to energy efficiency, waste reduction/recycling, water efficiency, healthier choices. . . whatever they can think of.

I decided after the first submission I got to not pre-judge the ideas just yet. I’m just popping them all into a spreadsheet to count up which floor is in the lead (first floor is way ahead after the first week!)

The Green Team steering committee will meet again at the end of the month to check out the ideas submitted, review the energy audit info and checkout the data Linda and Chris collected.

I’m glad I finally took the plunge, it has been more well received than I expected and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Thin Clients

Learn about thin clients – they are a great solution for public access computing/networks in libraries as most patrons are not doing intensive computing, just surfing, typing, social networking, etc.

They are “green” because they:

  • use less electricity
  • require less equipment
  • take up less space
  • once set up, they are easier to administer

Just my opinion …

The future of cloud computing

The Pew Internet & American Life Project released a new report on June 11, 2010: “The future of cloud computing

“By 2020, most people won’t do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Instead, they will work in Internet-based applications such as Google Docs, and in applications run from smartphones.”

What will this mean for libraries? Some possibilities:

  • Less servers = smaller electric bill for the library
  • PCs purchased for patron use will not be configured the way the PCs we are buying today are; may possibly be just a box and monitor connected to the internet = cheaper hardware, less manufacturing
  • Size of PCs can diminish, taking up smaller footprint in library space
    • the report predicts that “the desktop will not die out but it will be used in new, improved ways in tandem with remote computing
  • Apps for smartphones from the library (catalog, databases, library’s web site) = digital library will take on new and different forms, people using services and facilities in different ways
  • Robust broadband connection = more, more, more
  • More power outlets for charging laptops/smartphones = design considerations
  • Software licensing a thing of the past? Open source options (Google Docs, Linux, etc.) meet the needs of patrons without costing the library = staff training issues, budget impact?
  • More to come… I’m sure!