This blog is the final entry in a series describing various renewable and energy efficient technologies. If you missed the overview, click here and you’ll be able to catch up.
Irrigation and other outside water usage can be expensive if you use a lot of it. Water coming from an outside spigot or hose is the same as the treated water inside a building so no matter what you use it for, it costs the same. If you use a lot of water for outside irrigation or as part of your work production, installing an underground reservoir to contain runoff rainwater is a practical way to store free water. With a rainwater harvesting system you can reap the water from rainy Aprils and unleash it whenever you need it without metering charges.
In a correctly designed, safe and engineered collection system, rainwater is directed from downspouts and grates built into the ground into an underground bladder. An agitator prevents the water from becoming a Petri dish and keeping it covered (or buried underground) reduces loss from evaporation. Installing the right pump to pump the water out on demand is the final step in harvesting your water “crop”.
Rainwater collecting (or rainwater catchment) is a smart economic decision for these businesses in particular:
- Golf courses can reduce their operating costs and still keep the courses green by installing a rainwater harvesting system. In addition, it keeps water runoff from nearby streams and other water resources reducing the spread of pesticides and fertilizers.
- Companies with large vehicle fleets can harvest water for washing cars and work trucks – low cost and accessible water especially when water restrictions are implemented.
- Corporate offices with expensive and extensive landscaping and lawns can use the stored water as a primary source for sprinkler systems.
- Any business using rainwater harvesting can use their forward thinking as a public relations tool – impress your customers, your neighbors and employees!
- Areas with water use restrictions can disperse their stored crop on their own terms.
Rainwater harvesting is a straightforward renewable system that allows properties to potentially slash a budgeted cost without any negative impact to their business.
Final Thoughts on Renewable Energy
As you’ve been reading, moving forward with any renewable energy technology has benefits well beyond just saving and generating money. The image you can establish with your employees, clients and community is impressive and personal satisfaction is priceless.
And, remember to think of more than one option! The combinations of technologies that save energy or create energy are endless but planning is crucial so that you can incorporate your goals as your company grows or ages. Whether it is a 5, 10, or 15 year plan, thinking today about what should happen when you need a new roof, new windows, better lighting, new landscaping, new parking and new buildings will help you meet your goals at the lowest ROI.
If you have questions, feel free to ask them below (I will answer), or visit the Pfister Energy website for more information. I’m in New Jersey but Pfister Energy is virtually everywhere – we can help!
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so does that mean if an energy efficiency system is stolen, it is probably working? A rainwater harvesting system was stolen in Philadelphia, and some folks in the city’s water department likened the theft to a backhanded compliment.
The city of brotherly love implemented a series of rain barrels as one part of a solution to Philadelphia’s water runoff problem. However, many of the barrels were stolen, leading Chris Crockett, the Philadelphia Water Department’s deputy commissioner of environmental services, to attribute the crime to a sign of the system’s success.
“You know when you’ve arrived when people value something enough to steal it,” Crockett told the National Geographic.
However, despite the setback, Philly is not giving up in its efforts to resolve their water runoff problems. In the months following the theft, the city installed new rain barrels in addition to a number of other rainwater solutions including green roofs, porous paving and storm-water planters.
In April, Philadelphia received an enormous boost from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), signing an agreement that will result in a $400,000 investment into the city’s green city clean waters program. Additionally, the Philadelphia water department has taken $1.2 billion from water and sewer billing revenue and invested it into a 25-year green infrastructure project.
This ambitious initiative received an enormous amount of praise, and many around the country are turning to Philadelphia to lead nationwide water management initiatives, just as Chicago has led wind-energy efforts.
City officials may never find who stole the original rain barrels, but they must be commended for recovering and moving forward with finding clean water solutions. How is your city managing rainwater runoff? Is it a barrel of monkeys or are there true sustainable plans in the works?
by Chris Grablutz
How can you successfully apply different or multiple renewable energy technologies? Pfister Energy is based in the Garden State, one of the most diverse in terms of people, culture, and landscape. As a resident of NJ and Project Manager at a renewable energy business, I often think about how renewable energy can help the wide range of businesses located here and what industries can increase productivity, revenue, and image with the adoption of one or more clean, green or efficient technologies.
- How can photovoltaics (solar energy), wind energy, daylighting, solar thermal, green roofs, and rainwater harvesting affect the bottom line for small and large businesses?
- Is ROI (return on investment) the only factor to be considered? Can energy-related thinking benefit employees, the employer, clients and the neighboring community?
If you are a business owner, financial expert or facilities operator, this blog is the start of a short series of posts that describe each of the technologies below in lay terms. I will also include some benefits unique to the technology or to different industries and applications.
Photovoltaics – also called PV, solar power, solar energy and solar system (like the planets but not). Solar panels are usually mounted on racks or directly glued to the roof (different module types) of a building. In some cases, the racks are actually on the ground. When the sun shines (year-round), the solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity to offset the power used in your building. End result? Your business will need significantly less power from the utility!
Wind Energy – also called wind turbines or sometimes just turbines. These high tech spinning devices harness the mechanical energy from the wind to create electrical power. The more wind turbines you install, the more energy you create and the less electrical power you’ll buy from the utilities.
Daylighting – Bring natural light into your building with an engineered skylight. While this technology doesn’t create energy it can make a significant reduction in your total power consumed. Just like buying Energy Smart appliances, this is one easy way to lower your electric bill and create an improved working environment.
Solar Thermal – Similar to solar electric, solar thermal technology heats water and / or air that can be used to heat a liquid for process applications or heat the building (or makeup air). To maximize space and dollars even more, solar thermal can be easily combined with solar electric (PV) to become an integrated system that really puts your roof (or wall) to work while slashing utility bills.
Green Roofs – Think of an oasis on the roof of your office…a carpet of natural beauty that protects your building from the relentless radiation of the sun and provides a retreat from the cubicle existence. Not only is it “cool” but green roofs are cooling because they reduce utility bills by insulating the top floor. Cool!
Rainwater Harvesting – A re-use of natural resources, rainwater collection systems divert and safely store rainwater so that it can be used for outdoor activities such as irrigation, car washing etc.
Armed with information and ideas, my hope is that you will act upon some of my observations about each technology. Maybe you’ll be interested in more than one! If you have questions or need some technical information (science and engineering is what I do), just ask or give me a call.
Stay tuned for my next blog…Solar Energy for Businesses: What You Need to Know.