Retailer IKEA has long been a company committed to renewable energy and that rings true again with the installation of a massive solar array atop its new Burbank, California store.

The store’s 71,000-square-foot solar array consists of a 646 kW system, built with 1,872 panels, and will produce approximately 1,033,000 kWh of electricity annually for the store, which will help save 726 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

IKEA now has a solar presence atop nearly 90% of its U.S. locations, with a total generation goal of more than 42 MW. The company owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings – as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement) – and globally allocated $2.5 billion to invest in renewable energy through 2020, reinforcing its confidence and investment in photovoltaic technology. Consistent with the goal of being energy independent by 2020, IKEA has installed more than 700,000 solar panels on buildings across the world and owns approximately 300 wind turbines, including 104 in the U.S.

This month IKEA also announced it will install 5,500 solar panels atop its Jacksonville, Florida store, which will produce about 2.75 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and help reduce 2,133 tons of carbon dioxide.

In March, the Swedish retailer announced it has added fuel cell technology to a store in Connecticut and expects it to deliver about 50% of the power needed for the store to operate. Though the retailer already operates fuel cell systems at five of its California stores, the new installation at its New Haven, Conn., facility represents the first on the east coast. An Ikea store manager said the move will cut the store’s energy costs in half.

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The Wiseman Company, a real estate development firm, can attest to that belief. The company recently contracted with Sunworks to install a 370-kilowatt solar system on the company’s construction site in Fairfield, California.

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The Sunworks project includes the installation of a “Park N’ Shade” carport structure, which provides a modular installation framework for solar panels while minimizing construction costs and accelerating completion. Sunworks anticipates installing 850 SunPower 435 watt panels partnered with Solectria inverters resulting in a space-saving solar array which reduces The Wiseman Company’s electricity expenses.

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The solar installation is scheduled for completion in 2017 and is expected to produce nearly 96% of the property’s electricity needs within its first year of operation.

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In June, Shorenstein Properties announced it had reduced its energy use by 20% in 2016, saving the company around $6.5 million in energy expenses while improving tenant satisfaction. Also in June, a California condominium association announced it has seen an 80% reduction in energy costs just one month after installing LED lighting.

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The Scion Vineyard and Winery in Rutherglen, Australia, is tapping into the local abundant sunshine for more than growing grapes for its wines. Rising infrastructure costs prompted owner and winemaker Rowly Milhinch to install a new hybrid solar energy system for powering the business.

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Established in 2002, the winery sits on eight acres south of the Rutherglen township, a small town in northeastern Victoria. About 18 months ago, Milhinch committed to investing in a hybrid system that includes a solar array, a battery storage bank, and a back-up diesel generator that has the capability to use biodiesel, he told the Border Mail. A smart energy management system maximizes efficiency for Scion, which produces reds, whites, rosés, and dessert wines.

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In addition to setting up the hybrid solar system over the past two months, the winery installed a Tesla charging station in the parking lot adjacent to the tasting room, called the Cellar Door. That means renewable energy from the new hybrid solar system can go into recharging vehicles for Tesla-driving visitors. The first vehicle recharged was actually Tesla Model X, according to the winery’s Facebook page.

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Others in the industry are turning to renewables and new systems for increasing energy efficiency. Last year Jackson Family Wines in Santa Rosa, California, received an Environmental Leader Award for its installation of 21 Tesla Energy stationary energy storage systems, which created 4.2 megawatts of storage capacity in total. Earlier this year, Sierra Nevada Brewing installed a 1-MWh commercial-scale Tesla Powerpack battery system and a 2-megawatt solar array at its plant in Chico, California. And last month, Monticello Vineyards in Napa, California, put in a solar system that the winery expects will offset 95% of its utility bill, saving the company thousands each month in electricity costs.

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Even in bad weather, the Scion Vineyard and Winery’s solar panels in a paddock next to the vineyard can provide a third of the energy needed for the business. Milhinch estimates that the hybrid system will make the winery’s energy bill 30% of what it was prior to installation.

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“What wasn’t competitive to do three or four years ago is now a viable option,” Milhinch told the paper.

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The South Central Local Schools in Ohio worked with Energy Optimizers, USA on energy efficient upgrades and retrofits in 2013. Those changes have been paying off. Over the past three years, the school district to the southwest of Cleveland has saved more than $104,000 in utility costs, Energy Optimizers, USA announced.

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The project involved retrofitting the school district’s lighting systems with lower wattage fluorescents, and making energy efficient upgrades to the kitchens. Prior to 2013, the district was shelling out $127,000 annually for energy, and now annual utility costs are at $101,450, with savings normalized for weather, Energy Optimizers USA says. Electrical consumption for the school district is also down 31.3%, the company reported.

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Over the past several years, Ohio has become a hotspot for energy efficient retrofits and upgrades to schools. In 2011, the US Green Building Council recognized Ohio for having the most LEED-registered and certified school projects of any state. A number of projects, including the retrofits and upgrades for South Central Local Schools, have been funded through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s House Bill 264 energy conservation program.

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Just a few weeks ago, the Springfield Local School District in Akron announced a new project — also with Energy Optimizers, USA — that is expected to save more than $82,000 on annual utility and operational costs.

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Energy Optimizers USA, an energy efficiency and energy savings company based in Tipp City, Ohio, is guaranteeing energy savings for the South Central Local Schools project for three years.

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The SmartAerator Tornado automatically regulates aeration levels and remotely monitors the wastewater processing performance of the Tornado aerator. This proprietary technology is a system of controls, sensors and variable frequency drives designed to significantly reduce the amount of energy required to aerate wastewater. Designed to work with the Tornado aerator, this technology is sold as a retrofit kit or with new aerators. Ideal projects are those that require large horsepower aerators and projects with multiple aerators where energy savings would be significant.

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Fluence says the anticipated payback period for a typical SmartAerator installation is about two years for projects with several, high-horsepower Tornados working on site.

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The SmartAerator comes equipped with a dashboard for tracking and reporting aerator performance, monitoring the aeration process and transmitting wastewater analytics to supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and mobile devices. It constantly samples wastewater oxygen levels and other process parameters while regulating aeration intensity depending on the wastewater’s characteristics at any given time. This eliminates over-aerating and conserves power, saving significant energy costs.

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Fluence offers an integrated range of services across the complete water cycle, from early stage evaluation, through design and delivery, to ongoing support and optimization of water-related assets, the company says. The group has core operations in North America, South America, China, the Middle East and Europe.

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Don’t Ignore the Water/Energy Connection

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Eastman Chemical is one company that takes the water/energy connection seriously, having recently updated its energy management program to include water, a resource that previously stood as an independent target. The company’s management has said the firm could not ignore link between water and energy. With that in mind, Eastman Chemical conducted a water assessment pilot at its Springfield, Massachusetts, plant in 2016 to identify potential projects, develop a process for assessing opportunities, and identify knowledge gaps, according to the company’s recent sustainability report, “Innovating with Purpose.” This year, the company is evaluating and implementing results of the study, while initiating a second study evaluating the reduction of municipal water at its Kingsport facility.

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Canada could reduce stationary energy consumption by up to 15% by 2035, driven in part by changes to lighting, computer and HVAC equipment in the commercial sector, a new report finds. Doing More with Less: Energy Efficiency Potential in Canada, was recently published by the Conference Board of Canada, an independent, not-for-profit research organization focused on economics, public policy, and organizational performance.

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The CBoC’s report looked at recent studies that attempt to quantify Canada’s energy potential, and used that information to determine what energy-intensity improvements would mean for future energy consumption. One of the findings was that lighting, computer and HVAC equipment “hold the most promise” for energy savings in the commercial sector. This means that companies willing to focus on these areas should be able to significantly reduce energy consumption.

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The report also suggests that electricity and natural gas utilities in the country will likely play a significant role in improving energy efficiency, especially through incentive programs to install energy-efficient equipment, conducting energy audits, and performing retrofits.

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Looking at planned utility spending, the CBoC report says that the utilities referenced in the studies they used expect to invest approximately $2.24 billion on demand side management programming between 2017 and 2024 — with the caveat that the actual investment will probably be much higher. Time will tell how Canadian utilities respond, and whether businesses in the country can expect increased energy improvement assistance.

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Canada ranks as one of the most energy-intensive OECD countries, the think tank points out. However, electricity in the country currently comes from sources that are approximately 80% renewable or very low emissions, according to the CBoC. Those sources could be close to 100% renewable by 2035, their analysis says. The CBoC doesn’t anticipate energy demand lowering in absolute terms in the future, but sees potential for energy demand growth to be inhibited through improvements to efficiency across the board.

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Earlier this summer, a Canadian manufacturing plant received more than $140,000 for energy conservation efforts from a community-owned utility services provider, and the country’s largest communications company began offering energy management as a service.

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Nagle Energy Solutions (NES) announced its garage-ventilation control system is capturing a 96% reduction in the energy consumed by a sizeable mechanical ventilation system installed recently at the City & County of San Francisco’s Sutter Stockton Garage.

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The garage demand-control ventilation (DCV) system shaves more than 770,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year from Sutter Stockton’s baseline energy consumption, providing an operational cost savings of $116,000 a year, not including future utility rate increases.

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Since commissioning the DCV system at Sutter Stockton, real-time data logging shows it is limiting the energy consumed (measured in kilowatts) by five, new Huntair Fanwall motor units and nine, new stand-alone garage-fan motors providing fresh air in to the garage — and possessing a combined 150 horsepower (HP) running 24/7 — to just 4% of their total full-load capacity.

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The NES System also slashes — by 96% —utility fees that otherwise would be incurred running Sutter Stockton’s mechanical ventilation system 8,760 hours per year (24/7) with no means of motor control in place. Doing so would consume in excess of 800,000 kWh annually, which at the garage’s utility rate of $0.15/kWh, amounts to $10,000 a month or $120,000 a year in electric utility fees.

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The energy consumed by the garage’s mechanical ventilation system is now limited to less than 2,700 kWh per month, which amounts to an average, monthly cost of $400. At this rate, the energy savings captured by the system throughout its 15-year lifespan will generate a minimum cash inflow exceeding $1.7 million — again, not including future utility rate increases.

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The new system will be able to to:

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Energy efficient initiatives in parking garages are cropping up across the country. In July, the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. announced it is upgrading its LED lighting — a move that is expected to cut energy consumption at the cultural arts center by 75%.

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Bledsoe County Schools in Pikeville, Tenn. has reached a $500,000 energy savings milestone as a result of a comprehensive facilities improvement project focused on energy efficiency.

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Bledsoe County Schools partnered with Schneider Electric to conduct a comprehensive energy audit and install $1 million in infrastructure and efficiency improvements across its five schools and Board of Education building. The customized energy efficiency solution included a district-wide energy management system. The system allows facility staff to monitor and control all district buildings from a single location. The school also replaced outdated lighting in classrooms and gymnasiums with high efficiency lighting that provides a brighter, safer learning environment.

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“Over the years, we’ve used energy savings to create a learning environment where our students thrive, all at no cost to our local community, said Jennifer Terry, Director of Schools for Bledsoe County.

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Furthermore, the project was funded through an energy savings performance contract (ESPC), which uses projected utility savings to pay for infrastructure improvements. This enables cash-strapped school districts to tackle deferred maintenance projects without raising taxes in the local community.

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In addition to annual energy savings, the project has also made a substantial environmental impact on the community, removing 4,329 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

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Schools across the country are increasingly committing to energy efficient improvements. Solar PV and energy storage-powered air conditioning has been installed in schools on Hawaii’s island of O’ahu. Officials at Waialua High and Intermediate school partnered with SimpliPhi Power, Ameresco Solar and Haleakala Solar for the project.

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Other school districts that have seen savings related to energy efficient improvements include:

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Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District (Los Angeles County, CA)

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Thomasville City Schools (Thomasville, GA)

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Crenshaw County Schools (Luverne, AL)

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Monroe County Schools (Monroeville, AL)

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Santa Paula Unified School District (Santa Paula, CA)

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The California Energy Commission (CEC) unanimously adopted energy-saving targets as mandated by the Clean Energy & Pollution Reduction Act (Senate Bill 350). The CEC report concludes that meeting the energy-savings target is well within the state’s grasp. Current and planned initiatives—such as advancing building energy codes and equipment efficiency standards as well as voluntary energy efficiency programs—are projected to fall just 4% short of the estimated target.

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This is part of the state’s efforts to meet its target of doubling statewide energy efficiency savings by 2030. The National Resources Defense Council writes that Energy efficiency is critical to accomplishing the state’s clean energy vision as it cuts energy waste, saves customers money, and reduces the cost of renewable energy targets by lowering the overall need for electricity.

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Much of the untapped energy efficiency potential to meet the targets can be achieved by improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings, as well as appliances and other devices used in those buildings, as laid out in the Energy Commission’s Existing Building Energy Efficiency Action Plan.

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The California Public Utilities Commission recently announced that the state’s major utilities are on track to meet or exceed the its target of 33% renewable energy by 2020 and investor-owned utilities project they will actually get to 50% by then.

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The state’s gains in renewable energy capacity come at a time when major manufacturers in the United States have ambitious goals around inexpensive renewable energy, but struggle to access the clean energy they need. In September, David Gardiner and Associates found that of the 160 largest global manufacturing companies with a national footprint, 25% had established renewable energy targets. More than a dozen are aiming for 100% renewable energy.

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We are accepting submissions for the 2018 Energy Manager Today Product and Project Awards. The final deadline is December 15, 2017. Learn more here.

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Nagle Energy Solutions (NES) says that its garage-ventilation control system at the Japan Center in San Francisco reduced energy consumption by 97%. Real-time data logging shows that the patent-pending NES system is lowering energy usage for ventilation from 1.25 million kWh to 38,300 kWh annually, according to the company.

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“The NES system provides a recurring operational-cost savings in excess of $250,000 per year, not including future utility rate increases,” the company says.

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Originally constructed in 1968, the Japan Center garage includes a two-level main and single-level annex structure covering 300,000 square feet altogether. Before the NES system was installed in March 2017, the garage had 45 fan-motor units that were 5-horsepower each. In addition to replacing those motors, NES added variable frequency drive technology.

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The NES system controls the rate of ventilation in the main and annex garages based on carbon monoxide concentrations at a given juncture, the company explained. “BACnet-communicating NES carbon monoxide sensors provide instantaneous feedback to NES controllers, which then relay speed commands — via variable frequency drives — to the garage’s exhaust and supply fan motors, increasing and decreasing motor speeds in proportion to carbon monoxide readings.”

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As NES points out, recent updates to California Energy Code required the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to upgrade mechanical ventilation systems at some of the city’s older garages, including the one at the Japan Center.

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“With the NES system controlling it, the garage’s kilowatt demand has decreased considerably,” Rich Hashimoto, corporate manager of the Japan Center Garage Corporation and president of the Japantown Merchants Association said in the NES announcement. “Our estimates show the NES system will actually reduce our building operation costs by more than $5,000 from the prior year.”

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Golden Gateway Garage in San Francisco, which NES commissioned in July 2016, has consistently produced energy savings between 90% and 93%, the company says. Last August, NES announced that its system at the San Francisco City and County Sutter-Stockton garage had achieved 96% energy savings.

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One of the major sources of energy consumption and operational cost for an enclosed garage is the mechanical ventilation system, NES Founder and President Frank Nagle told Energy Manager Today. Due to drawbacks in traditional ventilation systems, an increasing number of states are revising their energy code requirements for ventilating commercial garages, he added.

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“California, Washington and Oregon now require continuous ventilation in the garage even when a carbon monoxide sensor system is in place,” Nagle says. “These states have placed a heavy emphasize health and safety while recognizing the ability of innovation to further the capacity of control systems to save energy while improving operational efficiencies.”

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Mark your calendars: The 3rd Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference takes place May 15 – 17, 2018 in Denver. Learn more here.

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