NYSERSA Announces New Rebate Program

NYSERSA Announces New Rebate Program For Microturbines Providing Combined Heat and Power

The New York State Energy Research Authority (NYSERDA) launched its Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Acceleration Program for building owners who pay System Benefits Charges on their electric bills.

The program provides incentives for the installation of pre-qualified and conditionally qualified CHP systems by approved CHP system vendors in the size range of 50kW – 1.3MW.

Alpine is working with a number of clients on improving energy efficiency, power reliability and reducing energy costs by incorporating proven microturbine technology in new and existing buildings. Natural gas fired microturbines are safe, quiet and very energy efficient. Microturbine technology is a competitive and cost effective solution for generating electricity onsite. Natural gas fired microturbines generate electricity at significantly less cost than purchasing it through your current utility provider. The heat generated by these units can easily be harnessed for hot water boilers, effectively doubling their energy efficiency.

In the wake of recent severe weather, many building owners are looking for ways to improve the reliability of electricity and essential building systems. Microturbines and CHP systems can help buildings maintain essential building services when electric service is interrupted. For many businesses and building owners loss of power can be devastating and has real financial cost.

Microturbine projects that Alpine is involved with have paybacks of five years or less. New incentives make these projects even more attractive to our clients. Federal Tax Credits are also available for microturbines and CHP systems.

Contact Alpine to discuss how microturbines and CHP systems can improve energy efficiency and reduce your energy costs. For more information contact Frank Sherman at 888.512.5746 x21 or directly at 215.307.7769.

2013: The Year of Performance

by Frank Sherman,

2012 ends as a year of uncertainty. Uncertainty about the political landscape, uncertainty about climate change, and uncertainty about business have weighed heavily on our clients minds. At least the Mayan calendar did not end. What is certain is that 2013 looks to be a good year.

Energy plays a significant role as we look ahead to 2013. It is fuels and impedes business success. It causes global climate change yet holds many of the solutions to this crisis. The politics of energy reflect the transformation that is happening throughout our economy. Old ways are dying and old industries and business practices are becoming relics relegated to the LA Brea Tar Pits of time. The more entrenched businesses and industries become, the more they sink into the past. Innovation, technology, and new economic models are creating the next generation of great businesses, and their approach to energy is critical to their success.

Alpine is a forward looking company. We look at 2013 as a year for performance and it reflects our optimism for all the business opportunity we see across the country. We sense this in conversations with our clients and our colleagues. Businesses are looking ahead and planning for long term growth and success. 2013 looks like it will be the year of the long play, where smart investments position businesses for future success. Here are a few trends to take advantage of in 2013.

He Who Generates the Energy, Profits from the Energy. The Renewables Industry has made huge strides in the past few years and is transforming many sectors of our economy. Solar and wind are maturing technologies. Efficiencies are improving, systems are becoming more dependable, and costs are dropping dramatically. In many parts of the country solar is a smart investment.

Generating energy onsite has many advantages. Solar and wind are free resources for generating electricity that offsets electricity you otherwise pay for. Dollar for dollar, you come out ahead if you can generate electricity onsite. Many businesses are looking at rising future costs and investing their energy dollars in systems where costs are lower and predictable. We work with clients to make this easy and affordable as part of comprehensive strategy to improve business performance.

There are other options for generating energy onsite besides solar and wind. Microturbines and cogeneration is proving to be another cost effective strategy for managing energy costs, even for small and midsized businesses. The key to profiting from onsite energy generation is being smart about available energy resources and technology.

Conservation is like Gold. Moving forward, waste is the next great untapped resource. We generate plenty of it in all forms, especially energy. Visionary thinker Amory Lovins coined the term Negawatt Power in 1989, and slowly people have come to see its value. But now the gold rush is on!

Wasted energy costs businesses money, a lot of money. By some estimates 30%-50% of the energy used is ultimately wasted, costing businesses many thousands of dollars. Implementing an energy conservation program harvests those lost dollars all the while making businesses more profitable and successful. A good plan is strategic, incremental, and resourceful. Businesses of all sizes are benefiting from this type of planning by using inhouse resources and outside expertise. We spend a lot of time talking to clients about the business benefits of energy conservation, and see this as a major trend in 2013.

Energy Performance is the New Status Symbol. Businesses that “get it” now want to flaunt it, and that can be good for the brand. We are seeing more and more companies talking about energy conservation successes and the positive impact it is having on their business. They understand it is important to stock holders, investors and to their customers. Whether energy conservation is being socially responsible, or being green, it helps connect customers to their brand. It is smart business, and everyone likes to show how smart they are.

Energy performance as status symbol is being propelled by forward looking cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles that now require large buildings to benchmark and report energy use. New York City recently released data on building energy performance and it is instructive to see who the energy winners and losers are. In a hyper competitive market such as New York, operating out of a building with outstanding energy performance is a business status symbol.

Winning like the Biggest Loser. Coming out a recession where many businesses went under and most struggled to survive, making your business stronger and more resilient gives you a competitive advantage. Our fascination with reality-TV weight loss shows can provide us with some real world business wisdom. There is a lot of excess energy to be conserved, like excess fat to be lost, in buildings and building operations. The process takes commitment, perseverance, and is not without a certain amount of sacrifice and difficulty. The effort makes your business healthier and stronger. Some are able to do it themselves, but often we need a good coach to help us achieve our goal.

2013 is going to be the year for finding your energy coach, developing a plan to trim energy use and making your business healthier, stronger, and more competitive. Each business needs its own plan with goals that make sense. Increasingly, businesses are talking to us about being their energy coach. We see this trend continuing.

In spite of all the uncertainty in the nation as I write this, there is a growing optimism that 2013 is going to be a good year. Businesses are ready to do what it takes to succeed in the long term. Innovation, new technology, new business models, and new metrics for success are popping up everywhere. Businesses are harvesting energy savings to invest in the future. The biggest winners are making smart investments in energy conservation and technology. Expertise is out there with the tools and the resources to help businesses make smart energy choices. Find your energy coach. Perform like a champion and don’t hesitate to show it.


Frank Sherman is an architect and green consultant based in Philadelphia PA. Frank is East Coast managing partner of Alpine Green Solutions, a national green building and energy efficiency consulting company, and maintains a design and consulting practice Terrain Consulting+Design focused on green building design and construction. Frank is a green building expert, educator with Cleanedison, and aspiring beekeeper.

Solar Now Makes Sense

solar1Renewable Energy made huge strides in 2012 and will continue to grow in 2013. The price of installed systems keeps falling and now it makes good sense for small business owners and residential customers to invest in solar. In California and much of the Southwest, solar has become a winning proposition.

Nowhere is renewable energy’s success more evident than in the political howlings of the status-quo energy industry who would prefer solar and wind not compete with the fossil fuel-based infrastructure currently in place across the nation. The saying is true: “A good measure of your success is the number of detractors you attract”.

All successful established technologies in this Country started out as upstarts in competition with the dominant tyechnology of the day. Some were better able to compete, some leap-frogged their way to the head of the pack. Most benefited from subsidies and other forms of support from the Government. In the energy arena, oil & gas, nuclear, biofuels and renewables have and continue to be subsidized Federally. Lately a number of folks are questioning why the hugely profitable Oil & Gas Industry recieves the continued levels of subsidies that they do. Attention has been drawn to this issue primarily because of the howling of the anti solar and anti-wind lobby.

Be that as it may, the following repost, from Clean Technica, illustrates that in spite of the percieved inequity of support for renewables, solar and wind are becoming mainstream competitors in the energy industry, and customers stand to benefit from their success. The cost of solar and wind will continue to drop in the future as the price of oil & gas will continue to rise.

The lesson to be learned here is that he (or she) who generates the energy profits from the energy. Now more than ever, it makes sense for small business owners and home owners to invest in renewable energy systems. They are affordable, reliable, and can generate clean, cheap, and dependable energy for years to come.

A Thought on Subsidies

Via Clean Technica. By Zachary Shahan

Anti-wind and anti-solar folks (yes, there are a few out there — mostly tied to the fossil fuel industry) love to bring up renewable energy subsidies. However, there are so many reasons why they really shouldn’t be eager to do so. For example, fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies dwarf renewable energy subsidies.historical energy subsidies nuclear oil renewable energy

energy subsidies

Additionally, many indirect subsidies never even get counted in most subsidy analyses — such as the tremendous extent to which we subsidize oil through our military and the tremendous health externalities not included in the price of fossil fuels (neither of which are included in the price of fossil fuels).

But there’s another point which gets even less attention. Here’s a reader comment that I thought was worth a repost:

Yes, we have supported oil, wind and solar with subsidies. Look how that’s played out.

Wind, 30 years ago, produced electricity at $0.38/kWh. Now it’s producing at $0.04/kWh to $0.06/kWh and on its way down to $0.03/kWh in the near future. (Already, we’ve seen a 9.5x drop.)

Solar panels, 30-40 years ago, cost as much as $100/watt. Solar panels are now being manufactured for prices approaching $0.50/watt.  (That’s almost a 200x price drop.)

Oil, in 1946, was $18.89 a barrel (2012/current dollars) and in 2012 it’s running about $100 a barrel. (More than a 5x increase.)

Support for oil might have kept prices from rising further, but it has not made oil cheaper.

Support for wind and solar have made them much cheaper. Our investments are returning massive dividends.

Wind has gone down to 1/6th its early price, solar to 1/100th, and oil has risen by more than 5x. Exactly how has that oil subsidy worked out for us?

Image Credits: Climate Progress


The Future Will Not be Similar to the Past

By Frank Shermanreposted from TerrainCD.com/Blog

In light of all the significant weather events that have happened this year, culminating in the massive destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, it is worth revisiting a report co-authored in 2011 by the University of Michigan and the U.S. Green Building Council.

The report titled: “Green Building and Climate Resilience” is an in-depth analysis of the impact of changing climate conditions and the need for more resilient design strategies in buildings and communities. In the aftermath of Sandy, I wrote about the need for resilient design. This report supports much of what forward thinking building professionals are saying; Buildings need to be more resilient to the impacts of wind, rain, fire, flooding, drought, tornadoes and severe weather events.

“World climate change experts … have indicated that the world will almost certainly experience some degree of climate change no matter how quickly greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. This makes climate adaptation necessary”.

Regardless of on which side of the climate debate you fall, based on the types and intensity of weather events we have experienced in the recent past, and are expected to experience in the future, our buildings, infrastructure and communities need to be more resilient. Our built environment needs to withstand an uncertain climate future.

“While climate has always been integrated into the building professions, our codes, standards, and practices typically assume that the future will be similar to the past. Climate change requires that we update these codes, standards, and practices with the best available knowledge.”

Adaptation takes time. We ignore the science and the warnings. We squander the precious time we have to address the causes and effects of a changing global climate. You may want to deny it, but our planet is on a trajectory that does not bode well for future generations. If we are not willing to adapt, or make how and what we build more resilient, we put our our physical and fiscal well-being in peril.

Frank Sherman is an architect and green consultant based in Philadelphia PA. Frank is East Coast managing partner of Alpine Green Solutions, a national green building and energy efficiency consulting company, and maintains a design and consulting practice Terrain Consulting+Design focused on green building design and construction. Frank is a green building expert, educator with Cleanedison, and aspiring beekeeper.


Americans Used Less Energy in 2011

Americans Used Less Energy in 2011, & More Renewable Energy (via Clean Technica)

  A new study released by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) shows that renewable energy use in the U.S was up for 2011, while overall energy use was down. The decrease in energy use was partly due to more higher-efficiency energy technologies in the transportation and residential…

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Nope, No Climate Change Happening Here

By Frank Sherman                                                                                                               Co-posted with Terrain consulting+Design

The panic has already begun. I mean the media frenzy to hype the next weather event. Weather nowadays is the lead story, sad, but true. Check out CNN.com this morning; ‘Frankenstorm’ forecast for East Coast. This storm is huge! Likely to devastate the East Coast! Millions of people in its path! Tune in at 11:00 for updates on how to keep your family safe.

Courtesy of CNN.com

This storm, like most hurricanes is a serious event and we do need to be prepared. But this storm, like many recent storms is larger and more diffuse than the historical patterns of hurricanes. The weather is changing all around us and this year has been particularly telling for what global climate change has in store.

If you do not remember what a chorus of frogs sound likes, it starts with a peep or a croak; a single voice, then a chorus of voices, and eventually a cacophony that at times seems deafening. For those who pay attention to the world a new chorus of voices is growing. It is saying “Climate change is here, look around”. Sadly, the frogs have gone silent in many places, and the fear is over time our species may suffer the same fate. The weather is changing and that means something. To ignore it is flirting with disaster.

Global climate change takes many forms, some slow and imperceptible like the shift in growing seasons or the shift in habitat range of plants and animals. Slow change allows ecosystems and species to adapt and humans are nothing if not adaptable (interpret the sarcasm as you will). But we are also witnessing more rapid changes to which we will struggle to adapt in time. Extreme heat is bringing on wild fires and prolonged drought, ice is melting in the polar regions which for millennia have served as a global climate regulator, there are severe rain events which we have a fondness for naming; Katrina, Sandy, Frankenstorm, or wind, for which we find ever more exotic names for such as “Dorecho”. This list goes on, but it is undeniable that it represents the new global climate reality.

The world scientific community has extensively documented the changes we are experiencing. They cut across a wide range of scientific disciplines because global climate change is pervasive. This summer, a new study was published in journal Proceedings of the National Society of Sciences. Lead Author James Hansen is quoted as saying “This summer people are seeing extreme heat and agricultural impacts, we’re asserting that this is causally connected to global warming”. This is but one of the latest statistical analyses of changing weather and its causes. The consensus is that the science and the numbers do not lie. Our climate is changing, and is starting to outpace our collectively ability to adapt. Humans are not the passive species in this event. We are complicit in this change and must take responsibility for the consequences.

This is what the future of Climate change looks like. It is storms, catastrophes, escalating human and economic loss, and skyrocketing cost. It is the lead story on every channel most every night disguised local weather and breaking news. And that is an important point; it’s here, it’s local, it’s affecting us all directly and indirectly. Adapt if you can, hunker down if you can’t.


Frank Sherman is an architect and green consultant based in Philadelphia PA. Frank is East Coast managing partner of Alpine Green Solutions, a national green building and energy efficiency consulting company, and maintains a design and consulting practice Terrain Consulting+Design focused on green building design and construction. Frank is a green building expert, educator with Cleanedison, and aspiring beekeeper.

Green Jobs are Growing Our Economy

By Frank Sherman,                                                                                                         cross-posted with Terrain Consulting+Design

Jobs and economic growth are centerpiece topics of the current election cycle. What is not in that discussion is the role that green jobs play in rebuilding our economy. Green jobs are not only rebuilding America’s economy, but are transforming it as well. The rise of the “Clean Economy” is underway while the titans of the fossil fuel economy fight to maintain the status quo.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics came out with a report in March 2012 indicating that as of November 2011, there were 3.1 million green jobs in this country. The clean economy is clearly a sector of job growth. The Economic Policy Institute recently released an excellent study based on the BLS report titled: “Counting Up to Green: Assessing the green economy and its implications for growth and equity“. The report’s author Ethan Pollack states that the BLS data indicates several findings:

  • Greener industries grow faster than the overall economy
  • States with greater green intensity have generally fared better in the current economic downturn
  • Green jobs are accessible to workers without a college degree
  • Manufacturing plays a strong role in the green economy
  • Green jobs go beyond the renewable energy industry

Although there is still some general confusion about what constitutes a green job, the BLS data and the EPI report underpin a strong argument that the Country’s future economic health is tied to the growing clean economy.

The American workforce, hard hit by the Bush era policies and ensuing great recession, is retraining for new jobs. New job opportunities, as evidenced by emerging data, are in the green job sector. In response to this trend, state worker retraining programs, universities, community colleges, not-for-profits, and private sector training companies such as CleanEdison are providing the training and skills green jobs require. The decline in company investment in employee skills-training has been evident for the past decade. The new paradigm is for workers to seek out the training they need from other sources.

As more and more people take the initiative to develop  marketable skills for a growing clean economy, the inevitable question arises: Where are the jobs? EPI’s report provides some answers:

Opportunities are out there. Green jobs are powering our Country’s economic recovery. Green jobs and the clean economy are the catalyst for a shift that will transform America’s economy in the 21st century. The transformation across a wide swath of industries, from transportation and manufacturing, to financial services, hospitality and retail is already underway. Entrepreneurship is harnessing green technology to create new companies and whole new  industries. Green jobs are out there for workers with the skills and vision to succeed.

Graphics courtesy of the Economic Policy Institute, all rights reserved.

Frank Sherman is an architect and green consultant based in Philadelphia PA. Frank is East Coast managing partner of Alpine Green Solutions, a national green building and energy efficiency consulting company, and maintains a design and consulting practice Terrain Consulting+Design focused on green building design and construction. Frank is a green building expert, educator, and aspiring bee keeper.

Fields Northfield Volvo Awarded LEED Silver

It’s Official!  Fields Volvo Northfield has been awarded LEED Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Fields Volvo Northfield is Volvo North America’s first LEED Certified facility, and the newest addition to the Fields Auto Group’s award winning family of dealerships.

Fields customers expect quality and performance from the cars they sell. Now customers can expect the same quality from the service and facilities they operate. LEED Certification is the benchmark for environmental performance and design, and Fields new facility at 770 Frontage Road in Northfield is a shining example of quality design and performance worthy of the Volvo name.

When it comes to fuel economy the building is as efficient as the cars they sell. The new facility uses 35% less energy than a normal building of its size. It generates over 5% of the electricity it needs annually from solar panels located on the roof of the facility and from  wind turbines mounted in a rain garden next to the service lounge.

When it comes to water, the building does its share not to waste a precious community resource. The facility will collect almost 468,000 gallons of rainwater a year and uses that water to flush toilets and irrigate the site. They are able to reduce the amount of public water we use by a whopping 81%! You can see the water storage tanks outside the facility, and there is an additional tank under the garden that allows Northfield Volvo to store 14,000 gallons of rainwater at a time.

Not only do they harvest rainwater to use in their facility, but they also have installed low-flow plumbing fixtures to conserve as much water as possible. Together, these systems help Northfield Volvo save water and money while helping the community and the environment.

Good design, safety, and quality construction are hallmarks of Volvo automobiles. Fields new facility reflects the same commitment to design, safety and quality.

Their new building is designed to take advantage of natural daylight, and uses advanced lighting technology to showcase its cars and create a pleasing environment. They use high efficiency fluorescent and LED lighting, sensors and controls, and provide daylight throughout the facility. The building is heated and cooled using highly efficient equipment in ways that provides comfort to customers and employees, all controlled by a system designed to save energy.

The new building is healthy and safe by design. They made sure to use materials that are non-toxic and promote good indoor air quality. During construction, they followed a plan designed to protect workers and employees, as well as the building itself from mold, moisture and contaminates. The materials and finishes they chose for the new facility release little or no contaminates that pollute the building.

Fields worked closely with the design team and general contractor to insure that the construction of our new facility met high standards for quality and environmental responsibility. 95% of the building waste generated during the construction of the new facility was recycled and diverted from going to a landfill, and over 26% of the materials used in the building have recycled content.

51% of the materials came from local and regional manufactures, which reduces the pollution caused when shipping materials and helps support the regional economy. They made sure that most of the wood used throughout the building came from certified sources that sustainably manage and protect our forests.

Northfield Auto Group is proud of our award for environmental responsible design and construction of their new Northfield Volvo dealership. LEED Silver Certification demonstrates their commitment, as well as Volvo North America’s commitment to providing  customers with the quality and performance they expect. We invite you to come see their new facility for yourself. Tour the building, take a test drive, and see why Fields Northfield Volvo is a leader in sales and service; and now a leader in environmental responsibility.

Small Businesses Need to Be Smart and Efficient

Small business owners are being squeezed in all directions. Customers are spending less, costs keep going up, and margins continue to shrink. To succeed in small business today you need to work smarter and run your business more efficiently.

That’s good general advice for running your business, but it is particularly true when applied to building operations and energy. Most small business owners are behind the curve when it comes to improving building performance and reducing operating costs. It takes money to save money, and lately, the money is just not there. Sound familiar?

“Most small business owners are behind the curve when it comes to improving building performance and reducing operating costs”

Surprisingly, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little effort and a little help from a good consultant like Alpine Green Solutions, smart business owners are reducing their energy costs, increasing their profits, and improving the value of their properties. In many cases there is little upfront cost, and the improvements start generating savings within just a few months.

Sound too good to be true? Most businesses resign themselves to the fact that the energy they use every month is a fixed cost, and that fixed cost keeps going up. In fact, most of us end up paying for energy inefficiency every month, much to the utility providers benefit. Businesses tweak their usage here or there, but never achieve lasting cost reductions without significant investment in new equipment, and money is tight.

The Alpine program uses a whole building approach to tackle this challenge. We analyze energy usage, assess your building, equipment and how it operates, we repair and tune-up HVAC and refrigeration equipment, we improve the efficiency of lighting, we install controls and monitoring to make sure everything operates efficiently, and we educate employees and building occupants about how they can help save money and make the business more profitable.

Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for the small business owner. Alpine provides a customized, turnkey program that includes project financing. The program is cashflow positive for the business owner within months of completion. Options range from simple five-year lease agreements, to longer term Alpine Energy Partners agreements that include all new equipment and full maintenance packages. Many small businesses opt for a shorter term lease agreement, but for owners of older buildings with aging equipment, the Alpine Energy Partners agreements are a cost effective way to do capital building improvements. In each case, businesses spend less on energy every month.

When profit margins are tight, a reduction in annual energy costs is significant to the bottom line. Smart business owners know that with a little ingenuity, the right approach, and programs from folks like Alpine Green Solutions, they can increase profits and add value to their business.