October 30, 2014 Newsletter
National Parks Go Green
National Parks in the Washington, D.C. area will be getting an overhaul to become more energy efficient. The National park Service will be implementing 81 individual projects aimed at energy efficiency and water conservation.
With the 23-year Energy Savings Performance Contract awarded to Siemens Government Technologies, the NPS will be able to achieve this with no upfront costs and be able to accumulate cost savings. The hope is to have federal facilities generate 20 percent of their energy from renewable energy by 2020.
In the National Mall and Memorial Parks they will install intelligent lighting systems with remote monitoring capabilities. The lighting system will adjust to natural lighting conditions and allow park staff to know when a new light bulb is needed. New lights are projected to help the National Mall to reduce energy use by 13 percent in the first year.
In water conservation efforts at President’s Park, the sprinklers will have monitored sensors, only turning on when the grass is in need of water. This will help in reducing the park’s energy use by 36 percent during the first year.
Solar panels will be installed on the visitor center’s roof at the Monocacy National Battlefield. These will be used to provide all of the energy for the visitor center. The panels will also be used by park rangers to educate visitors about climate change and renewable energy.
At the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts there will be intelligent lighting systems and energy-efficient bulbs installed in the Filene Center. Along with being energy efficient, these lights are designed to recreate the ambiance and historic feel of the amphitheater.
Lighting Up the Room
Finding the best way to light up a room can be tricky. It is used not only for function, but also as ambiance. To bring both mood and function into a room, lighting goals must be established.
Task lighting is used to put focus on an area where work is being done such as a kitchen prep area or office. Ambient lighting is used to light the overall space. Most rooms combine these two to serve many different purposes in the room.
Kitchens are a great location to install both ambient lighting as well as task lighting, such as under counter lights. For rooms with high ceilings, recessed lighting works well, especially when attached to dimmer switches. Lamps can be a wonderful source of light but when purchasing lamps, height and shades must be a consideration. Select an appropriate lamp height to avoid having the light shine directly into someone’s eyes when they are sitting next to it. Heavier, darker shades will bring a completely different mood than a lighter lamp shade.
To illuminate artwork on the walls or a special architectural feature, accent lighting is key. Different wattages can also be used to create a variety of different effects. 75-watt bulbs are good choice for ceiling fixtures and lamps, but for decorative pieces 25- to 40- watt bulbs will better serve the purpose.
Depending on the room, the lighting needs will differ. Eco Electric can help configure and install the perfect lighting solution for any home.
Many people follow advice to keep their outside lights on at night to deter intruders. Lately, there has been some debate about whether this actually deters crime or is a waste of energy.
Improved lighting is thought to reduce crime rates at night because potential offenders might be seen when committing a crime. Additional lighting also encourages residents of the neighborhood to spend more time outside, which increases informal neighborhood watch parties. In addition, better neighborhood lighting can improve community pride and willingness to intervene when a crime is being committed. City governments and police are more determined than ever to keep crime under control and this additional lighting is thought to deter potential offenders who no longer see the area as a hot spot for crime.
On the other hand, some people believe improved lighting could actually increase crime. At night, with more neighborhood lighting, people are more willing to spend time outside, leading to more empty homes, which are easy to target. It becomes easier to see inside cars to find valuables and could attract possible offenders from surrounding areas.
A review of studies done in the United States and the United Kingdom showed that improved street lighting affected the decrease of property crimes more than violent crimes.
Another alternative to consider is motion sensor lights. These lights that only turn on when motion is detected seem to be a good fit for warding away unwanted prowlers while it’s dark outside. They can startle possible intruders, alert residents of someone outside and save energy all at the same time.
Not sure which type of lighting is best for your situation? Let Eco Electric help.
Energy Efficiency in the US
In the last year, the United States saved enough energy to power 2 million U.S. homes or 24 million mega-watt hours. This is primarily due to the influx of money going into energy-efficiency programs in the last few years.
Massachusetts was at the top of the energy efficiency list, followed by California, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. These states have been focusing on energy-efficiency programs in their utilities, transportation policies, building codes and government initiatives.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, North Dakota came in last, right behind Wyoming and South Dakota. Not surprising, since North Dakota is booming with gas and oil industries at the moment.
Idaho landed 30th on the energy efficiency list. Idaho’s Transportation policy score was 1 out of 9 points, while it’s combined heat and power score was 0.5 out of 5 points. They scored better in building energy codes with 5.5 out of 7 points and state government initiatives with 3.5 out of 7 points. Idaho actually improved its score by a point from 2013, and seems to keep progressing each year.