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In California, electrification—providing for all energy needs with electricity by switching from fossil fuels, such as natural gas or propane, for space and water heating—is taking the building industry by storm. With the passage of AB 32 in 2006, the state has a mandate to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. With just one year to go, building decarbonization is seen as critical to meeting this goal.

In Wyoming we're not yet hearing much about electrification. With some of the lowest electricity rates in the country, a majority of residential buildings in Teton County are already all-electric. If we could switch those from electric resistance to heat pump equipment for space heating and water heating, we'd save ratepayers lots of money and extend the capacity of our local utility to meet future growth without having to increase rates.


I’m on board with electrification because it simplifies infrastructure and contributes to a future clean energy grid. And with current heat pump technology, it’s usually cheaper to operate all-electric buildings compared to those using natural gas or propane. Read on to learn about our proposed all-electric, zero energy Passive House multifamily housing project here in Jackson Hole—it’s feasible even in this extreme climate zone! Also meet our two newest hires and save the date for exciting upcoming events.


Katy Hollbacher

Principal & Founder, Beyond Efficiency

What's a fact or best practice that would surprise readers? 

The Beyond Efficiency Team Reveals...
Katy Hollbacher, Principal: Lowest U-value (best thermally insulating) glazing is not always the best choice for a project in heating-dominated climates; it usually comes at the expense of solar heat gain (SHGC). When higher solar gain glass is appropriately integrated into south façades—including proper shading—it can contribute valuable needed heat on cold winter days and reduce space heating requirements by 30% or more compared to slightly better U-value glass that rejects much more solar gain. Elimination of needed energy ALWAYS makes sense no matter how you feel about electrification or fossil fuels!
Dan Johnson, Sustainability Architect Leader: It's more important in 2019 in California to get rid of gas heating, hot water and appliances than to install solar panels. In the past we were told that gas was cheap and clean and that electricity was dirty, but this has come full circle in the last decade. To protect our health, safety, and climate, it's important now to systematically retire gas infrastructure—even more time-sensitive than adding more solar PV to the grid.
Jennifer Love, Senior Sustainability Engineer: Often when I suggest switching to all electric, the reaction is "NO way! It is wasteful and expensive to use electric resistance for heating spaces and water." To which I say "Correct! Please, don't do that. There is a new game in town!" Going all electric means using modern technology, heat pumps and induction cooking. These state of the art technologies use far less energy than the electric options of ye olden days and let you cook with as much finesse as your gas stove ever did. Be open-minded!
Katie Dahlgren, Project Success Manager: Teton County, while in the coal producing state of Wyoming, enjoys a majority of clean electricity through its energy cooperative, Lower Valley Energy (LVE), who purchases its electric power from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Over 80% of BPA's energy sources come from hydropower. LVE members also have the option to sign up for Green Power, which comes from 100% renewable resources, including Low Impact Certified Hydro and regional wind farms. While limiting  energy consumption is step one in reducing your carbon footprint, you can also understand the source of your energy and opt in for cleaner options when possible.
Jack Kerby-Miller, Sustainability Consultant: According to this article printed in Scientific American, natural gas line losses typically account for 0.5-3%, and occasionally up to 10%, of the total gas distribution. 95% of the natural gas lost from these lines is methane, which has a global warming potential 25 times that of CO2. Even when you aren’t using natural gas, the distribution system is leaking methane into the atmosphere. For comparison, electricity line losses average about 5% of electrical distribution. The resulting wasted CO2 emissions for electricity depend on the regional grid generation mix and range from 0.7 lb per therm in California to 3.1 lb per therm in Wyoming (national average 1.5). The carbon impact of natural gas lost in transmission depends largely on the age, design and maintenance history of the distribution system, ranging from 0.4 lb per therm to 8.2 lb per therm.
Jayant Patil, Energy + Systems Specialist Manager: It is more affordable to save energy by optimizing energy performance than creating new sources of energy to meet the demand.
Laken Allen, Operations Manager: I recently learned that buildings and the building construction sectors account for nearly 40% of global energy consumption and total direct and indirect CO2 emissions. Zero energy buildings, like the one we proposed for this project, could improve energy efficiency by 43% between now and 2040 with effective introduction of building codes.

New staff profile: Jayant Patil

Energy + Systems Specialist Manager in Berkeley
by Laken Allen   

Jayant holds a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nevada and is a Certified Energy Manager. He brings more than 12 years of diverse experience in energy efficiency, measurement and verification, and energy audits in commercial, small industrial, and K-12 educational facilities. Get to know Jayant!

Q: What's your favorite thing about working at Beyond Efficiency?
A: The quality of projects

Q: What advice do you have for someone interested in making their building more energy efficient or comfortable?
A: Start with the basics, reduce infiltration and make your building as compact as possible

Q: What are the most exciting trends you see today in sustainable building, and outside of the building industry?
A: The advancement of HVAC technologies that aid users in altering thermal comfort needs with ease

Q: Coffee or Tea?
A: Tea

Q: What's a recent work accomplishment you're really proud of?
A: I have been involved with a huge energy audit for one of the largest school districts in the US. I feel proud to have completed the engineering analysis on my own in a very complex environment of operating conditions

Q: Where's your favorite place in the world?
A: The foothills of the Himalayas

Q: And finally, what would you do if you weren't helping create enduring human-centered buildings?
A: I would probably be teaching at college after finishing my PhD in Mechanical engineering

New staff profile: Laken Allen

Operations Manager in Jackson
by Laken Allen   

Laken holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and brings a diverse background in event planning, customer relations, project management and interior design to the Beyond Efficiency team. Get to know Laken!

Q: What's your favorite thing about working at Beyond Efficiency?
A: Knowing that we are helping to create a better planet

Q: What advice do you have for someone interested in making their building more energy efficient or comfortable?
A: Call Beyond Efficiency!

Q: Pancakes or Waffles?
A: Today, waffles

Q: What's an amazing accomplishment most people don't know about?
A: I've climbed the Grand Teton

Q: Where's your favorite place in the world?
A: That’s such a hard question! The upper Green River lakes hold a very special place in my heart, but Cuba is one of the coolest places I’ve ever travelled to

Q: And finally, what would you do if you weren't helping create enduring human-centered buildings?
A: I'd start an eco fishing lodge with my husband

Learn more about Jayant, Laken and their teammates
 

Blog highlight: Permanent Affordability Through Passive Design + Renewables
by Katy Hollbacher

Beyond Efficiency is proud to be on the team led by Onion Flats Development, and supported by Love | Schack Architecture and GE Johnson Construction Company, vying for the rights to develop multifamily housing at 105 Mercill Avenue in Jackson, Wyoming. Our team’s proposal stands above and beyond the other finalists from the standpoint of its all-electric, zero energy, Passive House and LEED Platinum performance assumptions.

Is it technically feasible to achieve such high levels of performance in Climate Zone 7 (in the U.S., only northern Alaska is more extreme)? Yes! You just need to follow the same logic for solving any problem effectively: first, identify and understand the root of a problem so that you can eliminate or mitigate it. Applying this logic to the problem of high space heating demand in buildings (the largest component of energy use for a multifamily building in Jackson) means starting with passive strategies that serve to minimize heat losses. These include compact and simple building forms, thicker wall insulation, triple-pane windows, high envelope airtightness, and elimination of thermal bridges (structural steel beams extending outside to support balconies are a no-no unless they’re thermally isolated). After incorporating these measures, ventilation-related heat losses now dominate—so we provide heat recovery ventilation to ensure a continuous supply of fresh, filtered air that requires 80% less energy than without heat recovery. These measures combine to slash heating energy usage by at least 70% compared to conventional practices. Not magic, just physics!

Read more...

Noteworthy Events

We'll be presenting, attending, or wishing we were there

Dan Johnson to present at Zero Carbon Retreat

July 25-26, 2019 
Zero Carbon Retreat, Arcata, CA
Beyond Efficiency's Dan Johnson will be giving a presentation on modeling electric buildings for Energy Code compliance at the Redwood Energy ZNE Retreat. The two day in-person and free online conference will feature a line up of 25 experts for deep technical dives into their fields.


July 18, 2019 
Habitat Dream Builders' Luncheon, 
Jackson, WY

Every year Teton Habitat hosts the Dream Builders’ Luncheon in July in support of their current and upcoming building projects. This year will celebrate “The Power of Home” and the many benefits of stable housing for parent’s children, members of the workforce and the community.

July 25, 2019
GreenerBuilder, San Francisco, CA
Hosted by the Pacific Region Communities of the USGBC, GreenerBuilder is a one-day conference and expo for green building professionals. The annual event unites all of the key players in greening the Pacific Region’s built environment—including architects, engineers and contractors—to discuss industry trends, new research and emerging technologies.

September 10, 2019 
Mountainside InstituteVictor, ID
Mountainside Institute presents How & Why to Maximize the Nutrients of the Sun Living in High Elevation. 
 

Join us for Green Drinks JH!

July 23, 2019 
Green Drinks JH, Jackson, WY
Green Drinks JH is a quarterly gathering for people and the planet. This informal, environmentally-related summer networking event will be co-hosted by Beyond Efficiency and Habitat for Humanity and will focus on sustainable, affordable building and workforce housing in Jackson. The event encourages discussion, education and general awareness surrounding such topics as sustainability, best business practices, conservation and energy efficiency. 


September 12-14, 2019 
AIA Women's Leadership Summit, 
Minneapolis, MN

Reframe, Rethink, Refresh. The AIA WLS is a gathering where female architects and designers can contribute unique perspectives in an environment that facilitates conversations about challenges within the industry.

September 19-21, 2019
AIA Western Mountain Regional Conference, Jackson, WY
Resonance is "the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating.” Similarly, thoughtful architecture enriches the lives of users, of a community, and sets an example for society of the positive influence of a physical environment on the human condition. Resonance in architecture combines an echo of history with a vision of an undiscovered future in perpetuity.

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