Off-Grid and Grid Tied: It’s All Good

June 24th, 2013

by Leigha Dickens

Solar Panels on home

Many customers who consult with me on green building profess their dream of living in an off-grid home powered by solar energy.  Since solar technology is now widely available and cheaper than it has ever been, this dream is easier than ever for a homeowner to achieve.

However, solar is still a high-dollar line item on a construction budget or upgrade for an existing home, and whether the concept of an off-grid solar array makes sense for a particular home is a more complicated question.  There are multiple ways to set up a renewable energy system to power your home—with “off-grid” being only one possibility.

So What Does “Off-Grid” Mean?

“Off-grid” means you are on your own: there is no connection to the power company.  The only way to accomplish this in a setting where you want electricity even when the sun is not shining, is to incorporate batteries into your system.  Thus off-grid homes have no power poles running to them, and draw the power they need from deep cycle battery banks.

Grid-Tied: the Alternative

“Grid-tied,” by contrast, means that your house is connected to the grid, and you are still set up to buy your power from the power company when you need it.  But, when your solar array is producing power, you can either sell that power straight to the grid with the goal of financially offsetting the cost of the power you have purchased, or you use that power yourself first, and sell any extra to the grid.  You may not be using the actual electrons you have produced yourself, but you are still contributing green power to everyone’s benefit.

The Pros and Cons

The advantages of one system over the other come down to cost, comfort and independence. A grid-tied system will cost less because it does not require batteries, which form a significant portion of the cost of an off-grid system.  A grid-tied system for a net-zero home will also cost less because fewer solar panels are needed:  When you are not trying to store your own energy in batteries for later use, you do not need to produce quite as much energy in order to offset your yearly energy use.

A grid-tied system is also more flexible, both from a day-to-day use standpoint, and from a down-the-road standpoint.  Since you still buy any excess power from the grid, you won’t suddenly find yourself without electricity if you accidentally leave the lights on all night—although you will have to pay the electric bill for such a mistake.  And since you aren’t tied in to producing all of your own power yourself, you can use a grid-tied system to install as much solar as your budget allows, adding to it down the road as you are able.  Although you can add to an off-grid array down the road as well, if you don’t install enough to meet all of your power needs to begin with, you can’t wait on installing more capacity if you want to have enough power.

Pictured above is a grid-tied solar array installed on this round Deltec home in Virginia.  It produces enough energy to offset ½ of the home’s yearly energy needs, making the home a partial-net-zero home.  Installing the grid-tied array allowed the homeowners to put in as much solar as their budget allowed.

However, for safety reasons, grid-tied systems cannot function when grid power goes down (a live load on the line would present a danger to utility workers coming in to fix power outages), and to many independence-seeking homeowners, that is the biggest drawback of grid-tied systems.  There may be very practical reasons to go off-grid as well, such as a high cost of installing traditional power poles to a remote jobsite or a concern about local grid reliability.

Off-grid array installed by Leigha Dickens at Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute in North Carolina

Pictured, left, is an off-grid array installed by yours truly at Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute in North Carolina  The small research institute had a number of isolated telescope buildings on a high ridge that was prone to summer lightning storms.  Giving each building its own off-grid array made sense to keep this equipment powered even during frequent lightning-induced power outages at the site.

An off-grid system could also be argued to have a lesser environmental footprint than a grid-tied system.  For one thing, it forces you to adopt a more energy-conscious lifestyle, for every decision about electrical usage has consequences for how your system performs.  Additionally, an off-grid system produces its energy on the site where that energy will be used, eliminating the inefficiencies of distribution.  A grid-tied system is typically sized to offset the power consumed at the homesite, but is not often sized to offset the wasted energy from burning a fossil fuel at the power plant level and then distributing that energy.  An off-grid system represents a complete removal of your home from the environmental externalities associated with conventional power production—for some, this is by far the biggest attraction of renewable energy.

Pros and Cons Can Vary by State

How the state in which you live structures its rules and incentives for renewable energy makes a difference to which type of system makes more financial sense.  In general, grid-tied systems can have a dramatically shorter payback period than off-grid systems, as utility incentives for renewable energy or programs to pay homeowners for the power they produce typically speed up the time it takes to recover the up-front investment of solar.  However, in states that have very poorly structured rules for grid-connection, off-grid might be a better way to go solar while avoiding regulatory headaches.

I recently interviewed four Deltec homeowners who have built their homes with solar energy: two who chose to go off-grid, and two who chose to go grid-tied.  For some of these customers, state incentives played a role in their choice.  I compiled their stories into an off-grid fact sheet I use to educate our customers, which you can download from our website here.

A good place to go to start looking for the rules and incentives in your state is the North Carolina Solar Center’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency: http://www.dsireusa.org

If you’d like to start getting a handle on just how much solar you would need and how much it would cost, I have found several online calculators useful for arriving at ballpark figures:

Alt-E’s Off-Grid Solar Calculator: http://www.altestore.com/store/calculators/off_grid_calculator/

Grid-Tied Solar Estimator: http://www.solar-estimate.org/index.php?page=solar-calculator
Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/off-grid-grid-tied-zbcz1305.aspx#ixzz2XBBfiYZm

Adawehi: A Healing Community

May 27th, 2013

Guest post by Claire O’Sullivan, Adawehi Community Member

In beautiful Western North Carolina, nestled in the Foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is the Adawehi Wellness Center. The mission of Adawehi is to support healing and promote health on all levels—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. When Jackie Woods, the founder, decided to construct the first building—the Healing Center—she chose a Deltec because it was well constructed, durable and a prefab kit that we as a community could assemble, with the support of Jackie’s contractor husband, Rodney Booth.

Adawehi community members build the 'Healing Center.'

Adawehi community members build the 'Healing Center,' a building envelope by Deltec Homes.

The center first opened up for business in June 1997. It provides space for services such as awareness classes, personal healing sessions, deep emotional-release massage, non-force chiropractic, color and sound therapy, astrology readings as well as nutritional counseling. A large room on the bottom level holds awareness classes, hosts 60 people for a community movie night and also hosts yoga classes. Finally, there is a space dedicated to the production of personal growth CD’s recorded by Jackie Woods.

The Deltec was built when most community members still lived in Atlanta, GA. We would drive up on the weekend, camp, or stay in nearby lodgings and then work all day to assemble the structure. This was the beginning of community life. Working together, eating together, sometimes freezing together!

The Healing Center, which is considered the heart of the community, wasn’t the only Deltec to go up on the property. Jackie’s personal home is also a Deltec, complete with a cozy wood burning stove, vaulted ceilings and amazing views. The Deltec architecture options allowed Jackie to create a space that reflects her love of nature, and cozy hominess.

The campus has two other Deltec homes where community members live, containing both private and shared areas. Deltec offers such diversity in floor plans that all four of the Deltecs on the property are completely different in design. The homes not only house community, but helped create community. Three of them were built by community members, volunteering their time on the weekends. The sides were delivered to a flat area where they were painted, and groups of people worked together to lift them and put the panels into place. We learned to support each other, work together, push ourselves and know our limits. We also learned to ask for help. The building of the Deltecs was a testament to what a group of people with a common vision could accomplish together.

Four prefab, circular, sustainable homekits by Deltec Homes, built by Adawehi community members, on campus grounds.

Four prefab, circular, sustainable homekits by Deltec Homes, built by Adawehi community members, on campus grounds.

Over the years the community has flourished, adding other buildings for community events, shops and additional healing services such as colon hydrotherapy and music therapy. Martial arts, drumming and tai chi classes in addition to a circuit training room have been added over the years. We also have a health food store, Beneficial Foods, and a Bed & Breakfast on the property.

Located on 125 acres of woodlands, the grounds are a haven for common and rare plant species. It is also a native plant preserve that includes walking trails lined with ferns, azaleas, and a variety of wildflowers and herbs, a beautiful place to experience nature’s healing & health.

You can find a complete listing of Adawehi events on our website, as well as a visit with one of our many healers or a lovely stay in the mountains at our B&B. We also provide Continuing Education courses for massage therapists and music therapists. For anyone seeking health or growth in any area of their life, we offer many products that will help. We invite you to visit our website if you can’t visit us in person!

Expanding the Family Circle: Multigenerational Housing on the Rise

May 20th, 2013

Have you noticed lately that households in your neighborhood are growing in numbers? From Grandma moving in with her grown daughter and her husband and children, to the boomerang college graduate moving back home, statistics show that the three-generation home, or multigenerational living, is not only on the rise in the US—it’s here to stay.

As of 2008, a record 49 million Americans, or 16.1% of the total U.S. population, lived in a family household that contained at least two adult generations or a grandparent and at least one other generation, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data, with a 10.5 increase in multigenerational households from 2007 to 2009.

Of course it’s no surprise that economics play a big part in this—Time magazine reported a staggering 85% of adult children returning home to live with mom and/or dad, after graduation. And, as Louis Tenenbaum, a leading thinker, speaker and consultant on Aging in Place observes, if years ago it was Mom or Dad moving in with grown children because they were struggling to make ends meet, now it’s more likely to be the grown child moving back home, complete with spouse and children.

Another cause for the sharp increase in multigenerational living comes from the immigrant population. For families from Asia, Mexico, Europe it’s in the natural order of life to have either the husband’s or wife’s parents living in the home with married children.

With the rise in multigenerational living, many building companies are scrambling to provide solutions to a self-sufficient ‘in-law ‘apartment. Steve Linton, President of Deltec Homes, says, “Due to the nature of our building envelopes, Deltec Homes, has been offering an economic and viable solution to multigenerational living for years. There is nothing easier than adding a smaller Deltec model to the main house, either with a Connector or by an external walkway.”

This is not to say it isn’t a tricky situation. Many families simply designate a bedroom to the aging parents or boomerang child, but this can lead to undue stress. The key to having multiple generations living peacefully under one roof is privacy and space. Maintaining a sense of independence is crucial to the sanity of everyone involved: this means a self-sufficient apartment complete with living area, kitchen, bath and, preferably, independent entry.

Kerry Watkins and Chad Moore, designers at Deltec, concur. They can reel off names of families for whom, over the years, they have designed a home destined to multigenerational living. Says Watkins, “A typical solution for such a situation has been a larger model (1200 sq ft or larger) for the main house, and a smaller model, such as a Camden, for the in-law apartment. At 800 sq ft, a Camden offers ample space for living/dining quarters with a bedroom and full bath, as well as some storage.” Adds Moore, “Many Deltec homeowners intentionally plan for a flex space—separate guest or office space that can, when the need arises, be converted into independent living quarters for a family member.”

A Deltec home can easily be configured for multigenerational living with independent entry and aging in place.

A Deltec home can easily be configured for multigenerational living with independent entry and aging in place. Here we see a 2,000 sq ft Windsor and a 500 sq ft Newport, both with independent entry, linked by a 16 x 18 ft Connect.

Says Joe Schlenk, Director of Sales and Marketing at Deltec, “A Deltec offers the live-in family members, whether they are boomerang children returned to the nest or aging parents, a more dignified solution to the problem—there isn’t the feeling of being reduced to living in a bedroom in someone else’s home.”

“In addition,” adds Schlenk, “a Deltec offers the perfect aging in place solution: open living floor plans with with the kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, laundry, and garage access all within easy access on the same floor, eliminating the worry about climbing stairs.

Zoning laws are another aspect not to be overlooked when designing a multigenerational home: a completely separate structure might require special permitting, or could be denied. Deltec offers two solutions to this issue: either an added wing as an independent living area, or a second circular model with a ‘Deltec connect’ between it and the main circular structure.

Says Schlenk, “With planning and foresight, you can make the transition to multigenerational living in a home environment more comfortable and accommodating for everyone involved.”

Three Steps Your Organization Can Take to Achieve Zero-Waste

December 11th, 2012
Deltec Homes not only manufactures sustainable homes, we do it in a sustainable way.  Our manufacturing processes drastically reduces waste when compared to stick built construction—but we don’t stop there. Our goal is to become a zero-landfill facility within the next few years. The path to get to where we are today—producing a home with 78% less waste than stick-built—has taught us a great deal, and it is heartening to see more and more manufacturing plants from all industries tackling zero-waste as an end goal.

Deltec engineer Ben Poss talks recycling and sustainable manufacturing at a Deltec Homes seminar.

Ashley Halligan, of Software Advice, recently published an article outlining the trends of organizations undertaking zero-waste initiatives—specifically, diverting all of their waste from landfills through a series of efforts ultimately tackling their waste stream.

In Halligan’s article, she interviewed several industry experts to find out how organizations can go about undertaking this type of goal.

Kirk Varga, Chief Sales Office of the International Environmental Alliance, says, “A zero-waste initiative is a great way for a facility to stay ahead of the sustainability curve, enhance positive visibility, and save money.”

Experts from Waste Management Sustainability Services, RecycleMatch, and theZero Waste Alliance also chime in with the necessary steps and suggestions for a company to prove successful in their efforts. Because this is a growing trend, both private and government entities are getting involved in its progression–along with the support of numerous nonprofit organizations coast-to-coast.

The experts all agree on three essential steps for beginning and implementing such an initiative:

  • Determine and Define Your Goal: Eric Dixon, VP of Waste Management Sustainability Services, says, “There is no minimum standard to define what constitutes zero-waste in the U.S.—a goal can’t be achieved if it hasn’t been defined… Success in attaining the ultimate goal depends on the types of non-product outputs produced—some are more easily recyclable than others.”
  • Engage Your Employees: Without employee engagement, meeting any kind of performance goal—environmental or otherwise—is not only a bigger challenge, but it also becomes merely impossible. Varga adds, “Most people want to do the right thing for the environment–but aren’t always sure how to help or don’t want to do more work than necessary.”
  • Lastly, Audit and Tackle Your Waste Stream: This process first involves identifying where waste can be reduced within an organization; from there, an organization can determine the route for the remaining waste stream—that is, reuse, recycle, or sell byproducts to organizations who can find value in them.

So what else did the experts have to say? Read the remainder of Halligan’s article here.

MSN Takes Note of Deltec Homes

December 4th, 2012

Saving the best for last, MSN.com, in  a recent article about contemporary yurt-like homes, dedicated space to photos and information about Deltec Homes.

Today’s yurt is generally not the pack-and-carry variety devised thousands of years ago on the Central Asian steppes by Mongolian and Turkic nomads. Rather, today’s yurts in the U.S. and in Canada use modern engineered materials. Indeed, their best features are being incorporated into permanent homes that are not meant to be moved.

Enter Deltec Homes: manufacturer of circular, yurt-like structures, sustainably manufactured, energy efficient for the homeowner, and boasting a not-so-incidental track record against hurricanes. In fact, since Deltec began manufacturing homes in 1968, they’ve never lost a Deltec to a hurricane—a distinct advantage over more tent-like structures and other yurt-like homes.

As msn.com points out, round homes are also popular due to their design flexibility. A Deltec has no load-bearing walls, leaving the homeowner complete freedom in designing the floor plans.

Find out more at deltechomes.com

Go for the “Real” Green

October 19th, 2012

by Leigha Dickens, Green Building Coordinator, Deltec Homes
and Brenda Cooke, Communications & Creative Media, Deltec Homes

Greenwashing— v, the act of using green marketing to deceptively promote the perception that an organization’s aims and policies are environmentally friendly. Whether it is to increase profits or gain political support, greenwashing may be used to manipulate popular opinion to support otherwise questionable aims.

green wash paint canIn 1962 Rachel Carson‘s Silent Spring marked a major milestone for the sustainability movement. Over the next thirty years people began embracing the idea of choosing greener living options, and ‘green’ went from a simple color concept to a mainstream lifestyle choice. It didn’t take long for marketers to catch on—and ever since, “greenwashing” in advertising has become a nuisance you practically need a pesticide to fight against.

The construction industry is certainly not immune: from window salesmen claiming to bring you 50% energy savings with new windows to building companies claiming to be “industry leading” merely by providing insulation values that are already required by building energy code, “greenwashing” can come at hopeful homebuilders in many forms. Tristan Roberts, editor of the industry-respected Environmental Building News, details nine types of greenwashing common to the green construction industry in a great blog post at Building Green.com.

Greenwashing misleads customers and that’s wrong in itself, but the bigger problem is that it undermines the real efforts of truly sustainable products. At best it contributes useless noise to a serious conversation, and at worst it allows companies and consumers to continue to dodge responsibilities for environmental externalities. It can also quickly become a bandwagon, but a bandwagon based on marketing and hype in the place of actual substance. Amid all of that noise and hype, even well-intentioned and legitimate green product developments can feel marketed in a greenwashed way.

And consumers are starting to notice. The publication AdAge states in their Sept. 24 issue “While 93% of consumers say they have personally changed their behavior to conserve energy in their household, they’re becoming less willing to pay more for green products.” Greenwashing has become such a wide-spread a phenomenon that The Federal Trade Commission has stepped in with a revised Green Guide, released October 1 2012, which will result in increased regulatory scrutiny of marketers’ environmental benefit claims.

TerraChoice, a division of the Underwriter Laboratories who certifies all types of products for consumer protection, maintains an informative website on how to spot greenwashing, and issues a comprehensive greenwashing report every few years. Encouragingly, what they’ve found in the most recent report is that while greenwashing is a significant problem, it is also a problem that is beginning to decline. Savvy customers are pushing back against false claims, and companies are listening. And many companies who start to wade into “this green stuff” for marketing reasons stumble into real sustainability along the way.

Our response at Deltec to a growing critique of green claims? Bring it! From the homes we build clear down to the method in which we build them, we are green straight through to our core, and have been since our beginnings in 1968. The difference in “genuine green” means looking at the environmental sustainability of practices we follow in our everyday operations. It means evaluating the “greenness” of our products on many environmental fronts, not just picking the one aspect that is green and ignoring other negative environmental implications. It means going above and beyond what building codes and environmental laws require, not touting simple compliance with regulation as something that is praiseworthy. And it means educating our customers about the way construction interacts with environmental issues in all kinds of ways—from ozone-depleting refrigerants and what truly constitutes “industry leading” insulation levels to understanding what it means to be free of volatile organic compounds. The kind of education we do daily with this blog and with our green department consultations with our customers.

Most importantly, a genuine quest for sustainability means being honest, introspective, and humble. It doesn’t mean being 100% free of any environmental impact in everything that you do—because it may be impossible to mitigate environmental harm on every single level—but it does mean asking tough questions and constantly striving to improve upon the sustainable steps you have already succeeded at implementing. In short, learning by doing.

Free Download: “Building the Home of Tomorrow, Today”

October 10th, 2012

As you know from our previous post, we participated this year, for the first time, in the hugely popular Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.

We also sponsored the Fair, but that still wasn’t enough: Deltec Homes president Steve Linton presented (twice) a talk to appreciative, attentive audiences, “Building the Home of Tomorrow, Today.” Many attendees afterwards asked for the Powerpoint file of the presentation. While it’s not the same as seeing it in person, we hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to download the presentation.

It was great to see the Deltec logo, up first on the Sponsors list.

Just click here to safely and automatically download the file. And of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at roundhouse@deltechomes.com

Feeling at Home, at the Mother Earth News Fair

September 24th, 2012

Exhausted but happy, Steve Linton, President of Deltec Homes and and Joe Schlenk, Director of Marketing at Deltec, are making their way back to North Carolina from Seven Springs, Pennsylvania after Deltec’s first-time participation in that phenomenon known as The Mother Earth News Fair.

“It was well worth the effort,” said Linton. “There was an incredible response by fair-goers to Deltec Homes, all of whom are familiar with Deltec’s signature round home.” Added Linton, “The fair far exceeded our expectations.”

visitors at Deltec's booth at the Mother Earth News Fair

Left, center: Visitors at the Deltec Homes booth at Mother Earth News Fair. Right: Steve Linton, President of Deltec Homes, talks zero energy with a visitor.

Visitors to the Mother Earth News Fair are well educated about building sustainably. They are passionate about working with a company that not only sells, but also manufactures, homes in a sustainable manner. “Devotees of Mother Earth News are working towards the goal of reducing their impact on the environment, and reducing the ongoing energy costs associated with owning a home. We were thrilled at the interest shown in our zero energy round home,” stated Linton.

There was also considerable interest in Deltec’s newest offering: the Solar Homestead, a solar powered, net-zero energy home designed by students from Appalachian State University (ASU). The home was ASU’s entry in the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy’s international Solar Decathlon home design and construction competition featuring 20 teams from around the world. The Solar Homestead received the competition’s People’s Choice Award. Deltec has licensed with ASU to market and produce the Solar Homestead.

Through the agreement with ASU, Deltec Homes will pay royalties that support the Department of Technology and Environmental Design’s next large-scale, sustainable design-build project and other research and creative activities at the university.

Says Schlenk, “The response to Deltec Homes at the fair has been overwhelming. Visitors showed incredible knowledge and passion about building sustainably.  We have given away several thousand booklets and brochures, and almost as many DVDs. It’s been a memorable experience.”

Deltec’s drawing for a free ‘TED® The Energy Detective Give-Away,’ a $200 value, garnered lively participation. TED® is an in-home electricity monitor that provides real-time data and gives you instant feedback on your electricity usage. Congratulations to ‘Miss Nancy’ in Hardy, Virginia, who won this coveted tool!

Left: The calm before the storm—waiting the arrival of the fair visitors. Right: filled to capacity for Steve Linton's presentation "Building the Home of Tomorrow, Today."

During the fair, Linton took time away from the Deltec Homes booth to present “Building the Home of Tomorrow, Today” twice to enthusiastic, full-capacity crowds—well over 400 people total—at the Renewable Energy Stage. Said Linton with a smile, “Mother Earth News Fair in 2013? We’ll be there.”

Deltec Homes Markets Award-Winning Solar Decathlon Home

September 24th, 2012

Deltec Homes, leading home builder for over forty years, has signed an agreement with Appalachian State University (ASU) to market and manufacture The Solar Homestead, a solar powered, net-zero energy home designed by students and professors at ASU for entry into the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C. The home won the competition’s People’s Choice Award.

The Solar Homestead, a Net-Zero Energy Home

Steve Linton, President of Deltec Homes, stated, “The collaboration between ASU and Deltec Homes has been truly inspiring. We have all pushed our limits, gained knowledge, and developed a relationship that provides in-depth experience for the students and a design that has a profound impact on the future of home building—a home that produces as much energy as it consumes.”

Deltec was a lead contributor to ASU’s Solar Homestead project, providing the student-led team with hands-on experience constructing wall panels and roof systems, as well as working collaboratively with them on the engineering aspects of the project.

Through the agreement with ASU, Deltec Homes will pay royalties that support the Department of Technology and Environmental Design’s next large-scale, sustainable design-build project and other research and creative activities at the university.

The Solar Homestead is a self-sustaining, net-zero energy house inspired by the traditional homesteads of early mountain settlers. The homestead utilizes a highly energy-efficient building envelope, incorporating renewable resources and innovative technology into a prototype that is adaptable, self-sufficient, affordable and attractive. It features a 2- or 3-bedroom floor plan and additional outbuilding modules for additional living and storage space, arranged according to your needs. Chad Everhart, Associate Professor, ASU Department of Technology and Environmental Design, said confidently, “The Solar Homestead is a house people can grow into, and add on to at a later date.”

Jamie Russell, Assistant Professor, Department of Technology and Environmental Design, Appalachian State University, remarked “This is a great example of our department working with local industry to bring sustainable solutions to the people of North Carolina and beyond. It is a great step forward, bringing energy efficient housing to a large consumer base.” Added Russell, “The licensing agreement also validates the many hours of dedication and hard work of students and faculty that went into The Solar Homestead project.”

The project now moves out of the classroom and into the real world—interest in the Solar Homestead is high home builders who want to dramatically reduce their impact on the environment while living in a cutting-edge home. Commented Linton, “We are proud to offer the new Solar Homestead nationally as a panelized building shell, or turn-keyed locally through Deltec Building Company.”

For more information call 800-642-2508

Energy Management Applications Any Organization Can Afford

September 20th, 2012
Ashley Halligan, an analyst at Software Advice, recently shared another article with Deltec demonstrating energy management and environmental performance applications that any organization can implement and afford.
With increased emphasis in building performance and higher expectations for lowering consumption and demonstrating a commitment to higher performance, energy management technologies are becoming more and more popular. Furthermore, with new state laws requiring buildings to benchmark and report their ENERGY STAR scores, more operators and managers are being forced to take a look at their overall performance–and address inefficiencies in their operations.
Halligan’s article outlines three applications that do three entirely different things that can help your organization benchmark performance—and at very reasonable (or free) prices: MelonPower.org (ENERGY STAR benchmarking), HVAC ASHRAE 62.1-2010 (measures air quality and minimum ventilation rates) and ecoInsight Mobile Audit for iPad (performs energy audits).Read the remainder of Halligan’s article here.

MelonPower.org has powerful analytical tools to identify ways to save energy, as well as tools to help you complete Energy Star Benchmarking on your buildings