NEWS IN THE WORLD OF POWER AND INTEGRATED BUILDING SYSTEMS
Retrofitting a Senior Living Facility to Be Greener
Solar Trains Could Be the Next Electric Vehicles
> GREEN GENERATION SOLUTIONS
(GreenGen), Bethesda, Md., retrofitted
assisted-living facilities over several
years to be greener and more energy-efficient, according to a December article
in Facility Executive. Since 2013, the
pilot program turned several 24/7 senior
living accomodations owned by a Real
Estate Investment Trust (REIT) into
GreenGen, which works to implement
customized energy solutions to lower
operating costs while improving
sustainability, identified how to reduce
greenhouse gases, water and electricity
consumption, all while minimizing the
impact on the residents.
After the first year with the retrofitted
materials, the savings on energy and
water costs were more than $20,000, a
17. 3 percent reduction in utility operating
costs, according to the article. These
savings will lead to a net payback of 2. 7
years. The final gross investment was
approximately $61,000, which amounts
to $636 per room.
GreenGen retrofitted the building
controls; cooling tower; and heating,
ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC)
and lighting systems, according to the
article. GreenGen also tried to reduce
electricity consumption in areas where
residents were not present or where the
demand of the facility was less than the
full capacity of the building systems.
Several retrofitting solutions were
integrated into the facilities. To lower
energy consumption, variable frequency
drives were installed on the facilities’
condenser water loop, almost 200 faucet
pressure controllers and occupancy
sensors, according to the article. More
than 250 fixtures and lamps were also
retrofitted. LED fixtures were installed,
and T12 lamps were converted to T8.
Occupancy sensors were added in offices
and “back-of-house” areas. Variable
frequency drives were also added to the
HVAC system and then integrated into
the building management systems.
GreenGen analyzed base load
kilowatt-hour and peak kilowatt
consumption in the assisted-living
facilities through their utility bills and
smart meters. It determined whether
the available utility rebate program
could be used to maximize any return on
investment. One assisted-living facility
received almost $8,000 in rebates from
the utility energy-efficiency rebate
program, according to the article.
REIT wanted to use energy to
drive value for its national real estate
portfolio. GreenGen evaluated the
project’s performance with submetering
equipment at the load and main meter.
This also allowed it to identify real-time
savings from efficiency solutions. The
pilot retrofitting solutions are being
implemented across the assisted-living
facilities owned by REIT.
> THE EVOLU TION OF renewable-energy technologies is full of
surprises. No industry appears untouched, and new possibilities
emerge all the time. For example, the confluence of solar power,
storage and electric vehicles is revolutionizing the dynamic of
energy consumption and transportation. The transformation
doesn’t stop there.
Consider the case of railway solar. In an essay for the online
portal Green Tech Media, environmental author and advocate
Tam Hunt examines the untapped potential of solar panels in
the railway sector. The energy savings and the reduction of
carbon emissions dwarf that of electric vehicles.
Hunt cites studies that reveal electric trains are 50–75
percent less polluting than single-passenger cars and trucks and
use comparably less energy per passenger-mile.
Trains have the added advantage of carrying many people.
They have always been promoted as a solution for traffic
congestion. Electric trains are much less polluting than their
fossil-fuel-burning cousins. Add solar power to their profile, and
the efficiencies are tremendous.
the benefits of
putting solar on train
parking lots and on
canopies over or
adjacent to the tracks.
“Electric trains are so efficient that a single 300-watt (W)
solar panel can provide up to 7,000 miles of an individual’s
commuting miles per year, or 5 to 20 miles per day,” Hunt said.
The railway infrastructure’s generating capacity is also vast.
“One mile of train tracks can support 1 megawatt to 3
megawatts of solar panels,” Hunt said. That’s enough to provide
a whopping 2 million to 6 million passenger-miles of train travel.
In contrast, Hunt said, “The equivalent miles from one 300W
solar panel for a regular electric car would be just 1,600 miles
per year, or about 40 percent of the national average for U.S.