North Carolina Middle School Generates More Energy Than It Uses

Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County, N.C.

Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County, N.C., was designed to be an energy-positive building. It generates 40 percent more energy than it consumes. Photo: Mathew Carbone Photography

When Robbie Ferris first presented the idea of a school building that generates more energy than it uses, people were skeptical. Now he can point to Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County, N.C., as proof that a high-performance school building can go well beyond net zero and generate 40 percent more energy than it consumes.

Ferris is the president of SfL+a Architects and manager at Firstfloor, a development company that specializes in public-private partnerships and design-build-operate agreements. “We designed the building, we own it and we lease it to the school district,” he says. “We monitor all of the systems remotely. One of the reasons we do that is because when you put really high-performance systems in buildings, you have to make sure they are operating at peak efficiency. It can take time to make sure everything is optimized.”

Three years after completion, Sandy Grove Middle School is outperforming its energy models, and the building continues to win accolades. It recently received Energy Star 100 Certification and has been recognized as the nation’s most energy positive school.

“Sandy Grove Middle School is a perfect example of a high-performance facility,” says Ferris. “With the public-private lease-back model, everyone wins. The students receive a quality school, it fits in to the school system budget, and it is energy efficient to help both total cost and our environment.”

The building’s systems were designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, and that includes the roof, which features an array of photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity. “We wanted a roof that would last 30 years,” Ferris notes. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of success with TPOs, and metal roofs as well. This particular client wanted a metal roof look from the front, but they were very open to a membrane roof on other parts of the building. We made the decision to put the metal roof on the front of the building and a TPO on the wings at the back of the building.”

On this project, the warranties were important considerations, along with durability and energy efficiency. SfL+a specified a standing seam metal roof system manufactured by Dimensional Metals Inc. and a TPO system manufactured by GenFlex. “Obviously, if you’re putting a couple of million dollars’ worth of solar panels on your roof, you want to make sure you have a roof that is going to be problem free.”

A Smooth Installation

The installation was a challenging one, but everything went smoothly, notes Aaron Thomas, president and CEO of Metcon Inc. Headquartered in Pembroke, N.C., Metcon is a full-service general contractor that specializes in energy positive commercial buildings, so it was perfectly suited to serve as the construction manager on the project.

Photovoltaic panels were installed

Photovoltaic panels were installed on both the standing seam metal roof and the TPO system. The systems on the low-slope roof sections are fully ballasted, and both sections were installed without penetrating the roof system. Photo: SfL+a Architects

Thomas and Ryan Parker, senior project manager with Metcon, coordinated the work of subcontractors on the job, including the Youngsville, N.C. branch of Eastern Corp., which installed the TPO and metal roofs, and PowerSecure, the solar installer on the project, based in Wake Forest, N.C.

The roof systems covered 85,000 square feet, and Sharp PV panels were installed on both the metal roof and the TPO system. Solar panels were also installed on freestanding structures called “solar trees.” Each solar tree is 20 feet tall, 25 feet wide and weighs 3,200 pounds.

“The TPO roof system was upgraded to an 80-mil product due to solar panels being added to the roof,” Parker notes. “It was 100 percent ballasted on the low-slope sections, with slip sheets being used below the racking on the TPO roof.”

On the metal roof, clips manufactured by S-5! were used to affix the solar racking to the seams. “There are no penetrations for the frames, and penetrations for the electrical wiring went through vertical walls, not the roof,” Parker says. “There were no penetrations anywhere in the roof system, which made all of the warranties that much easier to keep intact.”

The biggest challenges on the project, according to Parker, were coordinating the different scopes of work and ensuring all of the manufacturers’ warranty considerations were met. “We had two different kinds of roofs, both coupled with solar panels,” Parker says. “Like any rooftop with photovoltaic products, there had to be special attention paid to the warranties of all parties involved. Both Genflex and DMI were closely involved in coordinating details to ensure that the owner achieved a great roof free of defects.”

The building’s systems were designed for energy efficiency

The building’s systems were designed for energy efficiency, and the roof features an array of photovoltaic panels to generate electricity. Photo: Mathew Carbone Photography

One key was developing a detailed schedule and keeping everyone on it. “We would meet once a week and huddle up on how it was progressing and what else needed to be done,” Parker recalls. “We found that by using a collaborative submittal sharing platform, all of the varying parts and pieces could be checked by all parties to ensure compatibility.”

There were multiple safety concerns associated with combining solar panels to the roofing system, so everyone had to be on the same page. “The roofing subcontractor and the solar subcontractor performed a joint safety plan that utilized common tie off points,” Parker notes. “The job had zero lost time.”

“Everyone coordinated their work and it was a great team effort,” Ferris says. “It was one of the smoothest jobs I’ve ever seen. We have not had a single leak on that project—not a single problem.”

Proof Positive

For Ferris, the greatest obstacle on energy-positive projects convincing members of the public and governmental agencies of the benefits. “The biggest challenges had nothing to do with construction; they had to do with just doing something new and different,” he says. “The toughest challenge was getting the school board, the county commissioners, the public and the review agencies on board. It took a very long time—and lots of meetings.”

Photo: SfL+a Architects

Now Ferris can point to Sandy Grove as an example of just how a high-performance school building can pay huge dividends. “As soon as you see it in real life, you’re on board,” he says. “It’s very exciting for people to see it. If we can get people to the school, they’ll walk away convinced it is the right thing to do.”

With Sandy Grove, the school district has a 30-year lease with an option to purchase. Ferris believes the lease model is the perfect solution for educators. “We’re responsible for any problems for the life of the lease,” he says. “If a problem does come up, we usually know about it before the school does because we monitor the systems remotely online.”

“In their world, buildings are a distraction from educating kids,” Ferris concludes. “This is one building that is not a distraction.”

TEAM

Building Owner: Firstfloor, Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C., Firstfloor.biz
Architect: SfL+a Architects, Raleigh, N.C., Sfla.biz
Construction Manager: Metcon Inc., Pembroke, N.C., Metconus.com
Roofing Contractor: Eastern Corp., Youngsville, N.C.
Photovoltaic Panel Installer: PowerSecure, Wake Forest, N.C., Powersecure.com
Metal Roof System Manufacturer: Dimensional Metals Inc., DMImetals.com
TPO Roof System Manufacturer: GenFlex Roofing Systems, GenFlex.com

Pressure Sensitive Tape Council Opens Calls for Abstracts for TECH 40 Technical Seminar

Pressure Sensitive Tape Council (PSTC) opens Calls for Abstracts to its TECH 40 Technical Seminar, taking place during the 2017 Tape Summit from May 15-19, 2017 at Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas, NV. Submitting an abstract allows participants to share industry expertise and leadership, all while supporting the PSTC event. Chosen abstracts and subsequent final papers will be highlighted at TECH 40 in Las Vegas.

Topics include ideas on processes, materials, technology, test methods, applications, environmental issues and more – all related to advancing the science of pressure sensitive adhesive tapes in the building construction, alternative energy, packaging, transportation, medical/healthcare industries.

The abstract submission process has been upgraded with a more user-friendly interface. Those interested in participating can visit www.pstc.org/TECH40Papers to submit an abstract. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 29, and applicants will be notified if their work has been selected in late fall 2016. In the event that applicants should require deadline flexibility for submission, contact PSTC directly at info@pstc.org.

The Pressure Sensitive Tape Council is an organization of pressure sensitive tape companies, complying with manufacturing standards in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

AIA Comments on the Passing of the Energy Policy Modernization Act

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The legislation repeals targets for reducing fossil fuel consumption in federal buildings contained in Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by then-President George W. Bush.

AIA President Russell Davidson, FAIA, says: “Cutting fossil fuel consumption in new and renovated federal buildings by 2030 is clearly something we can achieve as a nation. My fellow architects are already designing buildings that are “net zero” consumers of energy. According to government statistics, better designed buildings have already saved our country approximately $560 billion in energy costs since 2005.

“Therefore it makes no public policy sense for Congress to cave in to the oil and gas lobby and kill requirements to reduce fossil-fuel consumption in federal buildings. As we have noted before, residential and commercial buildings account for almost 40 percent of both total U.S. energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Last December, nearly 200 nations, including the U.S., committed in Paris to reducing the planet’s carbon footprint.

“Uncle Sam must continue to be a leader worldwide in energy conservation and reduced dependence on the use of fossil fuels. Yet we are effectively abrogating this role with this short-sighted vote, which will continue to hold federal taxpayers hostage to the whims of global energy markets.

“We were gratified by the White House’s announcement in December that the President would veto the House energy legislation, specifically citing the repeal of Section 433 as one of several major objections. We hope that lawmakers come to their senses and strip this provision from any final bill.”

MiaSolé and SolEnergy Enter into Representation Agreement

SolEnergy LLC has entered into a representation agreement with MiaSolé in which SolEnergy will represent MiaSolé in Louisiana, Maryland and North Virginia. SolEnergy offers innovative, mission-critical solar power and energy solutions that provide customers guaranteed savings, NetZERO design options, cutting-edge energy storage systems, remote building energy metering and controls, energy system retro-commissioning, and advanced energy-efficiency options. These flexible, scalable systems are tailored by SolEnergy to meet and exceed the energy needs of today’s growing businesses.

SolEnergy will offer MiaSolé FLEX modules, efficient thin-film lightweight flexible modules with an efficiency rating of more than 16 percent. MiaSolé FLEX modules bond directly to the roof surface with a simple peel-and-stick adhesive. The low-profile FLEX module provides superior wind resistance and a seismic advantage over traditional rack-and-panel systems where their higher profile increases the likelihood of damage in a hurricane or earthquake, making FLEX modules the ideal solar solution for solar carports and commercial buildings. This adhesive approach eliminates the need for racking and reduces labor and logistics cost to provide a 20 percent lower BOS cost than traditional glass solar systems. In addition, the MiaSolé Flex modules use innovative bypass diode technology that enables better shade performance. The FLEX-02 Series module is IEC 61646 & IEC 61730 and UL 1703 certified.

UN Climate Conference Agreement Will Impact Energy Efficiency of Buildings

The agreement from the U.N. Climate Conference will dramatically impact the energy efficiency of buildings in the U.S. becoming standard operating procedure for new construction and making deep retrofits worth the time and effort.

According to the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, there are approximately 6 million commercial buildings in the U.S., comprising 87.4 billion square feet. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average commercial building wastes 30 percent of its energy consumption at a cost of more than a trillion dollars of wasted energy.

PIMA President Jared Blum, serving also as vice chair of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, led a delegation of renewable and energy-efficiency business leaders to the COP21 meeting in Paris. Blum and the other leaders participated in briefing sessions given by the U.S. negotiating team, as well as in workshops as technology and policy experts.

“COP21 has indeed resulted in an unprecedented operating commitment to reduce CO2 emissions for the 196 countries attending,” says Blum. “Coupled with the recently passed Clean Power Plan here in the U.S., we expect to see building designers and scientists reevaluating how to get existing buildings to perform.”

Blum participated in the COP 21 in a number of different ways:

  • Provided the opening statement, the Intervention, at the Plenary Technical Working Group for Governmental Delegates.
  • Held meetings with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and a U.S. Senate delegation offering business input to the conference leaders.
  • Participated in a panel discussion with representatives of the wind industry and other efficiency advocates.

“Of real difference this year is the shift in the attitude of the business community towards this effort. The prices of solar- and wind-energy technologies have fallen dramatically, energy storage R&D is making significant progress, and energy-efficiency practices and policies have definitively demonstrated that economic growth can be separated from energy use,” adds Blum. “I believe that realization was one of the reasons this conference was a success.”

Owens Corning Releases Ninth Annual Sustainability Report

Owens Corning announced strong progress in reducing its environmental footprint and improving the environmental impact and transparency of its products. The company released these results in its ninth annual sustainability report.

“We are proud of what we accomplished this past year, further reducing our environmental footprint and expanding our positive handprint by introducing new solutions to the challenges of climate change, energy consumption and infrastructure development,” says vice president and chief sustainability officer, Frank O’Brien-Bernini. “Today, our global enterprise operates with 46 percent less absolute greenhouse gas emissions than our peak in 2007, and we are developing ways to make additional reductions. We are committed to expanding our impact through sustainability and collaborating with others to further our progress.”

The report also highlights the company’s global philanthropic work, joint efforts with customers and suppliers to improve sustainability, and analytics on its handprint. All of these support the goal of becoming a net-positive growth company. All of these support the goal of becoming a net-positive growth company.

“We’ve begun to explore handprint opportunities along the social dimensions of human health and employee well-being,” O’Brien-Bernini says. “Continued safety progress and advances in health and wellness help our employees and their families live to the fullest each day.”

Building on the successes of its first 10-year sustainability goals, this is the fourth year Owens Corning has reported against its 2020 goals.

Other highlights of 2014 progress include:

  • Industry-leading track record of safety performance, which earned Owens Corning the 2014 Green Cross for Safety medal from the National Safety Council.
  • Sustained environmental footprint progress, including intensity reductions of 34 percent in greenhouse gas and 65 percent in toxic air emissions from its 2010 baseline.
  • Facilitated 2.4 billion pounds of end-of-life recycled shingles and consumed 1.3 billion pounds of recycled glass, year-over-year increases of 33 percent and 15 percent respectively.
  • Launch of the WindStrand high-performance glass fiber roving and Ultrablade fiberglass reinforcement fabric products, which enable longer and lighter wind blades. This advancement supports the continued growth of economical wind energy for low-wind sites.
  • Participation in community programs at more than half of our worldwide facilities. This included increasing access to basic health and educational needs for more than 19,000 children in India, China and Mexico.
  • Collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health to strengthen its wellness programs.
  • Placement in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the fifth consecutive year and named Industry Leader in Sustainability for the second consecutive year.
  • Perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for the 11th consecutive year.

Owens Corning’s 2014 Sustainability Report is consistent with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines known as GRI-G3.1. GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines set a globally applicable framework for reporting the economic, environmental and social dimensions of an organization’s activities, products and services.

Research Helps Industry Organizations Conclude Ballasted Roofs Provide Energy Savings

During the last decade, the roofing industry has been increasingly impacted by two strong forces: first, rising energy prices with no real end in sight, and, second, increasingly stringent building codes and regulations, designed to limit emissions, reduce energy use and mitigate the impact of urban heat islands.

The first definitive study to measure the energy-saving potential of ballasted roofs was done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., in 2007.

The first definitive study to measure the energy-saving potential of ballasted roofs was done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., in 2007. PHOTO: EPDM Roofing Association

The industry response has also been two-fold: In some instances, new products have been created, such as lower VOC adhesives, primers and sealants, self-adhering membranes and a wider variety of reflective membranes. At the same time, roofing professionals have taken a close look at some of the products that have been in use for a generation. Using rigorous science, they have tested these tried-and-true products to see how they measure up against the new standards. And in many cases, they’ve found that products that have been in use for decades are delivering great results in this new, energy-sensitive environment. Case in point: ballasted roofing, which has been available since the early 1970s, is turning out to be a great choice to meet 21st century needs.

2007 Study

The first definitive study to measure the energy-saving potential of ballasted roofs was done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., in 2007. Andre Desjarlais, ORNL’s group leader of Building Envelope Research, and his colleagues had just completed work in which “we had done a fairly substantial comparison of different cool roof technologies, both membrane types, as well as coatings,” Desjarlais says. At the request of EPDM manufacturers, working together at the newly founded EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), Bethesda, Md., as well as manufacturers within Waltham, Mass.-based SPRI, Desjarlais designed and implemented a second study to assess the performance of ballasted roofing. “We undertook a study to effectively expand what we had done earlier on coatings and membranes,” he says.

Other factors also encouraged ORNL to generate data about ballasted roofing. The California Energy Commission, Sacramento, had just revised its codes, essentially defining roofs with high reflectance and high emittance as the only choice of roofing membranes that would deliver high energy savings. Desjarlais believed this definition of a “cool roof” might be inaccurately limiting roofing choice by excluding other roofing materials, such as ballasted roofs, that would deliver comparable savings.

The California Energy Commission, Sacramento, had just revised its codes, essentially defining roofs with high reflectance and high emittance as the only choice of roofing membranes that would deliver high energy savings.

The California Energy Commission, Sacramento, had just revised its codes, essentially defining roofs with high reflectance and high emittance as the only choice of roofing membranes that would deliver high energy savings. PHOTO: EPDM Roofing Association

In addition, in Chicago, a new Chicago Energy Code was adopted as early as 2001 “with high reflectivity and emissivity requirements that limited severely building owners’ and managers’ roof system choices”, according to a paper presented in 2011 by Bill McHugh of the Chicago Roofing Contractors Association. At the roofing industry’s request, a reprieve was granted, giving the industry until 2009 to come up with products with a reflectivity of 0.25.

Faced with that 2009 deadline, the Chicagoland Roofing Council, Chicago Roofing Contractors Association and Rosemont, Ill.-based National Roofing Contractors Association began in 2001 to conduct research on products that would help to meet the city’s goal of creating a workable Urban Heat Island Effect Ordinance while giving building owners a wider choice of roofing products. As part of their effort, the industry coalition turned its attention to the energy-saving qualities of ballasted roofing and coordinated its work with the research at ORNL.

Desjarlais points out the concept of thermal mass having energy benefits has been accepted for years and has been a part of the early version of ASHRAE 90.1. “Thermally massive walls have a lower insulation requirement, so there was industry acceptance of the fact that using mass is a way of saving energy,” he says. “But we had a hard time translating that understanding from a wall to a roof. Whether you do that with a concrete block or a bunch of rocks doesn’t really matter. The metric is no different. Roofs or walls.”

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FERC Report: Renewable Energy Sources Provide More than 75 Percent of U.S. Generating Capacity

According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower combined provided more than 75 percent (75.43 percent) of the 1,229 MW of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service during the first quarter of 2015. The balance (302 MW) was provided by natural gas.

Specifically, during the quarter, eight new “units” of wind came on line with a combined capacity of 647 MW—accounting for 52.64 percent of all new generating capacity for the quarter. It was followed by 30 units of solar (214 MW), one unit of geothermal steam (45 MW), and one unit of hydropower (21 MW). Five units of natural gas provided the new capacity from that sector.

FERC reported no new capacity from biomass sources for the quarter nor any from coal, oil or nuclear power.

The numbers for the first three months of 2015 are similar to those for the same period in 2014 when renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) provided 1,422 MW of new capacity and natural gas 159 MW while coal and nuclear provided none and oil just 1 MW. Renewable energy sources accounted for half of all new generating capacity last year.

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.92 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water—8.53 percent, wind—5.65 percent, biomass—1.38 percent, solar—1.03 percent, and geothermal steam—0.33 percent. Renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.11 percent) and oil (3.92 percent) combined. Moreover, as noted, total installed operating generating capacity from solar has now reached and surpassed the one-percent threshold.

“The trend lines for the past several years have been consistent and unmistakable,” notes Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Each month, renewable energy sources—particularly wind and solar—increase their share of the nation’s generating capacity while those of coal, oil and nuclear decline.”