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Keepin’ it GREEN

You’ve heard of, “Keeping up with the Joneses,” right? Or maybe you’ve heard of the more modern, “Keeping up with the Kardashians?” In its basic form, the phrase refers to the natural process of comparing yourself to others. Coined during the post WWII consumerism explosion, the phrase referred to buying things to be viewed as more financially secure than your neighbors. We wanted to, “Keep up with the Joneses,” because they had everything.

So, what does this have to do with being “green”?

By using this theory, we can challenge organizations to lower energy consumption. Just last month, Bruner was awarded 2nd place for its energy conservation program. Turns out, we saved our clients 2.9 GWH of energy in 2013. This energy savings puts us in the top 10% when compared to other energy contractors in the area. Through this Business Incentives program, AEP Ohio encourages businesses to compete with each other for the most energy savings, which in turn helps clients/consumers reduce operating costs and helps reduce consumption overall.

Two weeks ago, Bruner’s Energy Engineer, Stephanie Drenten spoke to students at The Ohio State University about this topic and phenomenon. As a guest lecturer for the College of Engineering’s Sustainability Seminar course, Drenten spoke about creating a sustainable world by conserving energy. She started the conversation by sharing global statistics on energy consumption from the Energy Information Administration, which states that global energy consumption will increase 56% by 2040.

Now, think of the Joneses.

In our world today, we have developed nations and developing nations. The developed nations continue to use the majority of energy resources available, while the developing nations, or third-world, is left behind. These nations are trying to keep up with modern niceties. Drenten explained that as they develop, the energy needs of these nations will skyrocket. The world will be consuming more energy than it can produce. We might need more planets to accommodate the growing population and its energy demands1.

In lieu of packing up our belongings and heading to Mars, Drenten shared a different idea. Why don’t we use behavioral science to urge others to keep up with the green movement? In the TED Talks video “How Behavioral Science Can Lower Your Energy Bill” Alex Laskey, founder/president of Opower, uses this “Keeping up with Joneses” technique to save utility customers more than $250 million and 2 terawatt hours (Twh) of energy in one year—enough to power two moderately sized cities! To do this, he told utility users how they were matching up when compared to their neighbors, in terms of energy consumption.

World UsageThere’s nothing better than a little friendly competition. Laskey said, “If something is inconvenient, even if we believe in it, moral suasion, financial incentives, don’t do much to move us — but social pressure, that’s powerful stuff.” By using this social mindset energy conservation efforts will be more effective. Drenten shared metrics comparing the United States to its neighbors. In the last twelve years, the United States has dropped energy consumption by 18%, but it’s no match for Germany and France, each of which use about 45% less energy per capita than the United States.

After sharing that statistic, Drenten challenged the engineering students to identify solutions for this growing energy problem and they had great ideas on how to bridge the gap. Some of the ideas included cutting oil consumption, limiting the transportation and use of coal, more incentives for residential energy reduction, and recycling efforts. “It was refreshing to see the students so engaged and empowered,” said Drenten.

Now the real question: Do you use more energy than your neighbor?

Alternative Energy and Its Impact on Infrastructure

Ohio’s alternative energy portfolio standard and the shale gas boom have helped to drive investment in Ohio’s clean energy infrastructure, creating job growth and investment opportunities.

Bruner, in partnership with OCCAEE, hosted an event where representatives from the alternative energy and power distribution sectors discussed their current and future development plans.  Topics included solar power, wind power, downstream natural gas applications and cogeneration.


Mark Gundelfinger, Manager, Alternative Energy Resources, AEP
Matt White, Legal Counsel, IGS Energy
Dave Dwyer, Project Engineer, Solar Planet
Monica Jensen, Vice President, Development, Windlab

conceptual recycling symbol

During the conversation it was very clear that Senate Bill 58 was top-of-mind. The bill calls for a revision of Ohio’s clean energy legislation.

On one side, the energy providers, AEP Ohio and IGS Energy, were proponents of the bill, as it would partly compensate the utility companies for power sales that they will lose due to the reduction mandate of 22% by 2025.

On the other side, the renewable providers, Solar Planet and WindLab, were opponents of Senate Bill 58. The State of Ohio regulates that half of renewable power must come from Ohio sources, making Ohio a desirable state for this industry. Senate Bill 58 would eliminate this part of Ohio’s clean energy laws and undercut renewable energy growth in Ohio.

Since the luncheon, Senate Bill 58 has been put on hold and will be revisited in 2014. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Bill Seitz, has not been able to garner enough support to put the bill to a full chamber vote. Seitz responded by saying that he’s “just begun to fight,” so the dispute is far from over.

CEM in the House!

John Herold, Project Manager, is officially a Certified Energy Manager (CEM)! John is part of Bruner’s Performance Solutions Group, that works to optimize HVAC service plans, conduct energy master planning, and make efficiency improvements to client facilities.

The CEM designation, accredited through the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), is the most widely recognized energy management certification in the world. Bruner currently employs three energy professionals that hold the CEM certification, with John being our newest CEM, and one professional that holds the Energy Manager In Training (EMIT) certification.

*The EMIT certification is for energy professionals that demonstrate the technical strengths needed to hold a CEM certification, but need more field experience. 

Energy professionals that pass the CEM exam have a high level of knowledge and experience within the energy industry. Herold, having over 15 years of experience in this industry, has always worked to provide efficient solutions for clients. We are very proud of his achievements and new certification—great job, John!

AEE has been a leader in developing Energy Managers for over 30 years and Bruner is proud to be a partner. AEE describes the CEM designation as “an individual who optimizes the energy performance of a facility, building, or industrial plant. CEM® is a systems integrator for electrical, mechanical, process and building infrastructure, analyzing the optimum solutions to reduce energy consumption in a cost effective approach. CEM’s are often team leaders and help to develop and implement their organizations’ energy management strategies. CEM’s have gained increased recognition within the energy industry and by companies looking to strengthen their competitive position by having a CEM on staff.”

Interested in learning more?

Attend the next Ohio Capital City AEE event:

OCCAEE sponsors a panel discussion on
Alternative Energy and Its Impact to Ohio’s Infrastructure

November 20, 2013

11:30 AM – Networking
12:00 PM – Panel Discussion

Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center

2201 Fred Taylor Drive
Columbus, OH 43210

*Event presented by Columbus SMPS Chapter (Society for Marketing Professional Services)



10 HVAC & Energy Efficiency Fun Facts

A little knowledge doesn’t hurt anyone! We’ve been collecting fun facts about the HVAC industry over the past few months from various credible sources, and thought collectively they would make a masterpiece. So read on and you will probably find something out you didn’t know before!

1. Factors such as rightsizing, system updating, and types of refrigerant used can significantly affect HVAC efficiency.

2. An electronic air cleaner is 40x more efficient than a standard throwaway filter in removing unwanted particles from your home.

3. A variable speed heat pump can trim energy costs by as much as 40%.

4. You can increase the efficiency of your home by up to 30% by investing in proper insulation and sealing air leaks around windows and doors.

5. In NYC, it is estimated that poorly fitted air conditioners cost buildings $130 million to $180 million a year in extra fuel consumption!

6. An oversized HVAC system increases installation costs, wastes energy, and costs more in overall operating costs than a correctly sized system.

7. 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off – so unplug and conserve!

8. The Romans were the first civilization to use any type of warm-air heating system.

9. The first air conditioner wasn’t for people’s comfort! The first modern air conditioner was invented by Willis Carrier in 1902 for a publishing company in Brooklyn. The machine kept temperature and humidity low so that paper didn’t expand and contract. Carrier never intended for his invention to be solely used for comfort!

10. The top 3 commercial energy uses in the US are: lighting, space heating, and space cooling.

Is it Greener to Retrofit than Build New?

We all know that building new green buildings is always a hot idea, but experts have been pushing the idea that retrofitting existing buildings with green upgrades provide more environmental benefits. Your first thought may be new = better however, there is now proof that these experts are correct from a report released earlier this year. The report found that it is unequivocally greener to retrofit an old building than construct a new green building, no matter how many high-tech bells and whistles are in the new construction. The report was drawn from “The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse” project which was commissioned by Preservation Green Lab.

Elizabeth Heider, chair of the board of directors at the USGBC said “The thought was in order to build green you have to build new.” However, the report numbers add up in favor of retrofits. The report states:

  • It can take between 10 and 80 years for a new energy-efficient building to overcome, through more efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts that come from construction.
  • Environmental savings from re-use are between 4 and 46 percent over new construction when comparing buildings with the same energy performance level
  • The negative environmental impact of retro green for human health was between 12 and 38 percent less than for new construction
  • When it comes to ROIs, retros showed a 19.2% increase in ROI versus 9.9% for new buildings

Case in point, retrofitting is the way to go! Bruner has a successful track record of helping our customers retrofit their mechanical systems for over 50 years. Let us assist you in developing a retrofit solution that works best for your building by contacting us today!

5 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Cost

Temperatures are high, but these techniques will help you keep your energy costs low:

  1. Reduce HVAC System Operations When Building or Space is Unoccupied
    1. Minimize direct cooling of unoccupied areas by turning off fan coil units and unit heaters, and by closing the vent or supply air diffuser
    2. Turn fans off
    3. Install system controls to reduce cooling/heating of unoccupied space
  2. Minimize Exhaust and Make-Up Air
    1. Keep doors closed when air conditioning is running
    2. Properly insulate walls and ceilings
    3. install thermal windows to minimize cooling and heating loss
  3. Implement a Regular Maintenance Plan
    1. Check fans for lint, dirt, or other causes of reduced flow
    2. Schedule HVAC tune-ups (with us!) – the typical energy savings generated by tune-ups is 10%
    3. Replace air filters regularly
  4. Upgrade Fuel-Burning Equipment
    1. Install turbulators to improve heat transfer efficiency in older fire tube boilers
    2. Install automatic combustion control systems to monitor the combustion of exit gases and adjust the intake air for large boilers
    3. Install electric ignitions instead of prior lights
  5. Evaluate Boiler Operations
    1. Investigate preheating boiler feed water
    2. Adjust boilers and air conditioner controls so that boilers do not fire and compressors do not start at the same time but satisfy demand
    3. Use hot water from boiler condensate to preheat air



Build Green with LEED for Schools

The LEED for Schools Rating System recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools. Just to clarify, LEED stands for: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Schools is the recognized third-party benchmark for high-performance schools that are healthy for students, comfortable for teachers, and cost-effective for budgets.

Studies have shown that students learn better in a quiet, comfortable, and properly lit environment. Because of this and many other factors, greening our schools has become a high priority.

LEED is not meant to be used as the only measure in determining whether a project is green, and in order to achieve green goals it is essential that design teams (including owners and contractors) take an integrative approach and view the project as a whole.

Using an integrated design approach, LEED promotes improved practices in:

  • Site selection and development
  • Water and energy use
  • Environmentally preferred materials, finishes, and furnishings
  • Waste stream management
  • Indoor air quality and occupant comfort
  • Innovation in sustainable design and construction

Bruner is currently working with Dublin City Schools in an effort to promote LEED for schools–check out our project page for more information. With this project alone, Bruner has been recognized by AEP Ohio for our “commitment to energy efficiency and the environment”. As a result of our collaboration, Dublin City Schools will reduce energy use by 739,410 kWh per year and reduce CO2 emissions by 632.8 tons, which equals as many as 100 cars off the road per year! Consider LEED for your school, and contact Bruner to find out what we can do to help.



Excelling with Energy Dashboards

Many software programs come with dashboard features these days, and many facilities professionals fail to use this feature to the fullest potential.

What are dashboards, anyway?

Dashboards are a great way to turn raw data into actionable, presentable information that’s easy to share with others. The visualization dashboards provide can also be particularly effective and useful for tying several sets of data together and better impacting you bottom line.

Why should I, as a facility manager, use dashboards?

I’m sure you know that facilities are not perfect when it comes to operations and processes. Constant improvement and maintenance is necessary. Dashboards provide you with additional insight into the processes of your building, which in turn allow you to uncover new ways to make your facility run more efficiently.

What’s so special about dashboards?

The availability of intelligent instrumentation enable facility managers to extract much richer facility operational data than in the past. In the past, you may have integrated your data in a spreadsheet, and that spreadsheet may have even contained some pattern and trend visualizations thanks to spreadsheet tools. However, today’s dashboards take this visualization to the next level. Now you’re able to include multi-dimensional charts, time-series charts, gauges, and other displays, which make it easier for your audience to focus on key performance indicators.

Bruner Makes List of Top gridSMART Solution Providers

AEP Ohio’s gridSMART program proved greatly beneficial to our customers in the year 2011. Bruner submitted 60 rebate applications and earned our customers more than $300,000 in incentives. We look forward to topping those numbers in the year 2012!

gridSMART Solution Provider Infographic

Phase Out of T12 Lamps

It’s finally happened: T12 lamps will be phased out of production starting July 2012. This has been a long time coming since the U.S. Department of Energy’s fluorescent lighting mandate stopped the production of the magnetic ballasts most commonly used for the operation of T12 lamps in July 2010.

The Good News

There is large energy savings when switching from T12 to T8 lamps – up to 33% in energy costs per fixture. Even better news is that if you make the switch before July, AEP’s gridSmart program offers rebates for switching from T12 to T8 or T5 lights.

How to Prepare

Begin discussing your options for replacing your T12 lights. If you complete the T12 project or get the pre-approval in before July and then you have 90 day to complete.

Need Help?

Contact us! We can assist you in replacing your T12 lamps, and evaluating your energy consumption in the process. There may be even more savings out there for you!
If you’ve already switch out your T12 lights, check out our commercial energy savings e-book for more tips to decrease your energy consumption and your utility bills!