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Spring Equinox happened today at 3:58p.m. Ahhhh! I am more ready for winter to be over this year than I can ever remember. With record-breaking snowfall in February and sub-zero temperatures in early March, followed by rapidly warming temps that have made for treacherous ice and a busy E.R. at St. John’s Hospital (not that I’d know anything about that…) I just can’t wait to get on with spring.

This May also marks Beyond Efficiency’s ten year anniversary. We’ve grown gently over the years and have established ourselves as highly respected consultants who value technical excellence, collaboration and the questioning of assumptions. And at this milestone, after three children and a move from California to Wyoming, I am incredibly motivated to “up our game” and really see what we can do to maximize impact not only in our business locations, but throughout the world. Our team is smart and passionate and creative; if others can do it, we can too.

Read on to learn more about our engineering services, newest hires, and heat pump water heaters in cold climates. HAPPY SPRING!!
Katy Hollbacher
Principal & Founder, Beyond Efficiency
Climbing trees and reaching new heights at our 2019 retreat at Miller/Knox Regional Park in Richmond!

Why should clients hire us for mechanical design?

The Beyond Efficiency team reveals...
Jack Kerby-Miller, Sustainability Consultant 
We approach better building design from a holistic perspective and understand the importance of performance on occupant health, happiness, and productivity. We know that mechanical design is intrinsically linked to building envelope performance, and that the best and most cost-effective outcomes can be achieved through the integrated consideration of both systems.
Katy Hollbacher, Principal
Any competent engineer can jump in and engineer systems that meet the loads—that part’s easy enough. But there’s an art to asking the right questions to ensure a client’s goals and priorities are understood, and that the end result meets their expectations (for zoning, controls, aesthetics, construction budget, operational efficiency, all-electric or zero energy synergies, etc.)
Katie Dahlgren, Sustainability Engineer 
Mechanical systems play a big role in the comfort, energy efficiency and overall user satisfaction of every building—whether a guest house or an office building. Our engineers view each design as an opportunity to collaborate with the team to create enduring human-centered buildings that the owners and users will love to operate, live, work or play in.
Mrigesh Roy, Energy Engineer Manager
Our team looks at building systems with innovative design strategies to create high performance buildings. We carefully consider occupant comfort, life cycle, maintenance cost, and implementation to determine the most appropriate solution with lowest impact onto the environment.
Dan Johnson, Senior Sustainability Architect 
Our approaches and strategies for engineering stem from the same great holistic thinking you've come to expect from Beyond Efficiency. Our in-house work in this area now extends into fully engineered construction documents for mechanical and plumbing systems for our range of project types including single-family and multifamily, commercial, educational and municipal.
José Rivero, Sustainability Engineer Manager
The best mechanical designs require a holistic and integrated approach that is intimately aware of the building’s envelope and program.  Our engineers are uniquely positioned to deliver the absolutely best systems for the health of the building and its occupants.
Jennifer Love, Senior Sustainability Engineer 
We are forward thinking, focusing on what is best for the immediate occupant and the larger built environment. We are not about the status quo , we are about building responsibly for the future.
Scott Wayland, Senior Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical engineering is an integral aspect to sustainable design. We consider Indoor Environmental Quality as a critical aspect to creating enduring human-centered buildings, and this is the foundation of our professional services. The mechanical engineer is an essential team member, and participation in the early stages, when most of the vital decision making is made, is indispensable. 

New staff profile: Jack Kerby-Miller

Sustainability Consultant in Berkeley

by Katy Hollbacher
After majoring in Chemistry and Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, where he designed and built prefabricated zero energy and LEED Platinum homes through U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competitions, Jack worked in sustainable design consulting and the prefab housing industry. Get to know Jack!

Q. What’s your favorite thing about working at Beyond Efficiency?
A. Working with people and organizations who are genuinely passionate about doing the right thing by people and the planet. Also, my colleagues' intellectual curiosity and willingness to question the status quo and re-evaluate assumptions based on new information.

Q. What are the most exciting trends you see today in the sustainable building industry?
A. Making energy consumption smarter: monitoring building and occupant performance and providing feedback, incorporating storage and demand response to build a more resilient grid.

Q. What’s an amazing accomplishment most people don’t know about?
A. Hiking overland from the lowest to the highest point in the contiguous united states in 5 days, 7 hours.

Q. What’s a secret talent that no one knows about?
A. Remembering and reciting poems that fit the moment, people & place. Also, 我会说中文.

Q. Where were you born?
A. Green Brae, California.

Q. Where’s your favorite place in the world?
A. The family farm where I grew up next to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan.

New staff profile: Scott Wayland, P.E.

Senior Mechanical Engineer in Berkeley

by Katy Hollbacher
Scott has been focused on sustainability since his college days, studying solar energy and advanced thermodynamics while at Cal Poly. He brings over twenty-five years of experience with HVAC, energy consulting and solar design to Beyond Efficiency. Get to know Scott!

Q. What’s your favorite thing about working at Beyond Efficiency?
A. I am excited about contributing to the company's corporate focus on creating enduring human-centered buildings by applying my extensive knowledge and experience as a Mechanical Engineer.

Q. What are the most exciting trends you see today in the sustainable building industry?
A. Looking back at how far we have come in the last few decades, the most promising trend is that green building design and indoor environmental quality features are now driven by the owner's desires just as much as they are by simple payback or code requirements.

Q. What’s a recent work accomplishment you’re really proud of?
A. I am proud every time I successfully solve a difficult design or construction problem to the satisfaction of the client.  I'm also proud when I can present an option that is unconventional or off everyone's radar, and it gets adopted and incorporated with appreciation of the team.

Q. What would you do if you weren’t empowering people to create enduring human-centered
A. I would start a Belgian style focused small craft brewery!

Q. Where were you born?
A. San Francisco.

Q. Where’s your favorite place in the world?
A. My next destination.

Learn more about Jack, Scott and their teammates

Blog highlight: Heat Pump Water Heaters Are for Cold Climates, Too!

by José Rivero
I left Berkeley for Truckee, a small town near Lake Tahoe, on a mission to raise my kids in the mountains and help create high performance buildings in a cold climate. While living and practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past decade, the case for weaning existing buildings off natural gas or propane through electric heat pump water heater (HPWH) conversions—or engineering new all-electric buildings with HPWH and eliminating the infrastructure for natural gas or propane all together—has become increasingly compelling.

Different climate = different solution, or not? While I moved from a temperate climate zone (CZ 3 based on California’s sixteen climate zones as defined by Title 24) to a cold mountain climate zone (CZ 16) with an open mind to new approaches, I’m finding that HPWH technology can be designed to work in Tahoe too. Replacing an aging gas water heater with a HPWH, or specifiying a HPWH for new buildings, is a feasible way to join the renewable energy future. And with some utilities such as Truckee Donner offering rebates as much as $3000 dollars for a conversion, it can be free from additional upfront costs.

Besides cost, performance is often another concern from building professionals and homeowners alike. Especially in cold climates, the question is inevitably “But will it work in the winter?”—and the answer is YES! As you can see in the chart below, this particular HPWH by Sanden can perform down to 5°F without a reduction in water heating output and still double the efficiency of a conventional electric resistance water heater. On a net annual basis, its efficiency is even better:

Read more... 

Noteworthy events

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

March 20, 2019
Green Drinks JH, Jackson, WY

Green Drinks JH are fun quarterly gatherings for people and the planet. Today's theme was the Sustainable Destination Certification program that Jackson Hole is pursuing. By the time you read this the event will have passed; get in the loop for future events here!

March 21, 2019
Water Conservation Showcase, San Francisco, CA

For 15 years running, hundreds of advocates, researchers, business leaders, product manufacturers and government officials have gathered to address the most pressing water issues and challenges facing the state of California. Free event runs from 9-6.

April 30–May 3, 2019
Living Future unConference 2019, Seattle, WA

This is is the forum for leading minds in the green building movement to make strides toward a healthy future for all. ILFI’s focus this year on Collaboration + Abundance will allow the green community to bring our unique backgrounds, experiences, and personalities together to celebrate successes, brainstorm solutions, and work toward a living future.

May 4, 2019
Women Build 2019, Jackson, WY

Beyond Efficiency is proud to be a Platinum sponsor for this year's event for Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Teton Area, and we'll be onsite at The Grove Phase III wielding hammers in May. Join us!!

Beyond Efficiency at East Bay Electrification Expo
Dan Johnson and Jack Kerby-Miller hosted a table at the inaugural Expo, which was hosted by the Ecology Center, StopWaste and City of Berkeley with the generous support of BayREN. The purpose of the event was to demystify electricity-based strategies for space heating, domestic water, and cooking. Goals of electrification include reducing greenhouse gases and making homes and communities healthier and safer.
May 10-12 + 18-19, 2019
Certified Passive House Designer/Consultant (CPHD/C) Training, Los Angeles, CA

Are you ready to design comfortable, resilient and healthy buildings that are optimized for an all-renewable energy grid? This course provides tools, techniques and tips for how to do this for all building types. With five days of in-class instruction, and additional e-learning modules that can be completed at one’s own pace, participants will get a thorough grounding in the critical aspects of Passive House design and construction.

Participants will be able to apply the lessons learned directly to their real-world work experience, and join a team in making Passive House buildings. On successfully passing the exam, participants will receive a five year registration as an internationally accredited Certified Passive House Designer or Consultant.
Learn what we can do for you
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