Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Earth Hour 2014

On March 29th, over 162 countries and territories participated in Earth Hour, an annual international lights-out event organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Earth Hour asks individuals, businesses and governments around the world to turn off their lights for one hour to raise awareness about the need for urgent climate change action.

In the U.S. and Canada, global landmarks participated including: the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Empire State Building in New York, and the CN Tower in Toronto.

For more information, please visit:  

Spring Preventive Maintenance: Cleaning Condenser Coils

March 20th marked the official first day of Spring! After enduring a tough winter in numerous parts of North America, many of us welcome the change in seasons. However, warmer weather often correlates to higher utility costs to maintain a comfortable temperature in your building. 

There are solutions to bring down these costs and reduce your overall energy consumption. One important component of annual spring preventative maintenance is cleaning the condenser coils on your facility's HVAC units. During warmer months, the condenser coils move a significant amount of air. Over time dust and dirt accumulate on the coils and if the coil is dirty, the fan in the coil can't move as much air as required for good performance and efficiency. This leads to increased electricity costs and may shorten the life of the outdoor condensing unit. 

Cleaning the condenser coils will help the unit cool more efficiently and reduce power consumption while extending the life of the unit. It is important to clean the coils early in the year, before the AC unit is needed for the summer. Contact  Stroh Corporation for more information before the temperatures heat up.  

Five Hidden Sources of Energy Loss

Potential sources of energy loss are often hidden. Did you know leaks from ductwork and steam traps can waste energy? In addition, improperly tuned building controls can increase your heating and cooling costs.

Here are five sources of energy loss:

  1. 1. Duct System: Leaky ducts can lead to higher heating and cooling costs. While some leaks are easy to locate, testing systems can help to identify the extent of system leakage by finding hidden leaks.

  2. 2. Building Controls: Controls are designed to save energy. However, it is important to inspect and adjust building controls regularly to account for changes in building occupancy, seasonal changes, and to ensure that sensors and controls are integrated properly. A well-tuned building control system can save up to 30 percent on heating and cooling costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  

  3. 3. Steam Traps: Industrial plants and many commercial facilities use steam for process and space heating. In steam systems that are not maintained regularly, up to 30 percent of steam traps may have failed, wasting energy by allowing live steam to escape.

  4. 4. Transformers: Distribution transformers reduce high-voltage power line electricity to the lower voltages needed for the electrical equipment in your facility. Transformers lose energy by being energized 24 hours per day, 365 days per year to serve a varying load.

  5. 5. Personal appliances: Discourage the use of personal appliances such as space heaters by maintaining building temperatures at a comfortable range of 68°F to 78°F.

Reduce your operating costs and improve overall efficiency by uncovering these energy losses. Read the entire article by visiting Duke Energy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guidelines for Energy Management: How to Develop Your 2013 Energy Plan

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers a proven strategy for superior energy management with tools and resources to help each step of the way. Based on the successful practices of Energy Star partners, these guidelines for energy management can assist your organization in improving its energy and financial performance while distinguishing your organization as an environmental leader. 
Make a commitment. To be successful, an energy plan requires the full support of management, and must include goals and objectives, both short-term and long-term.
Assess performance. Evaluate mechanical and building systems and examine your energy bills over the last 3 years. 
Put your plan into action. With goals in place, develop a detailed action plan for reducing waste and improving overall energy efficiency.
Evaluate progress. Compare energy use data and the activities carried out as part of the action plan to your performance goals.
Recognize achievements. Publicizing energy saving improvements will motivate staff and provides positive publicity for your organization.
As you look ahead to 2013, remember that saving energy is one of the most effective ways to lower operating costs and improve your bottom line. Contact Stroh Corporation to discuss ways to trim your budget by implementing an energy plan. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Consider Incentives for Existing Buildings, Too

Consider Incentives for Existing Buildings, Too
Further Tax Credits for “Green Buildings” and Senate File 2046

This past week the Business Record published an article by Bill Dikis regarding green buildings for healthy initiatives and tax credits for LEED Certified buildings. Different levels of LEED “benchmarking” would result in higher percentages of tax credits. It is important to note that while most people’s perceptions are that to become a LEED building, it has to be designed and built that way. However, there are also LEED benchmarks available for existing buildings that are updated or retro fitted to improve their use of “natural resources”.

Two well-known Des Moines examples are the new Blue Cross Blue Shield facility which received the highest level LEED benchmark for a new structure, and the rehab of our old library, now the World Food Prize building, which also achieved the highest rating of Platinum for an existing structure. Both buildings earned these ratings through many hours of engineering and design work through talented architects like Mr. Dikis, and many hours of filling out extensive forms and paperwork to receive the rating.

Certainly these buildings deserve some extra incentive to help justify the time, expense and efforts to attain this rating. A LEED building is designed and built in a manner which should result in decreased operating expense, with a reasonable payback over a “standard” building. However, the task of retrofitting a building and the actual application process has become a disincentive for many building owners to undertake the task.

The EPA also has a benchmarking system for existing buildings based on energy usage. The process is comprised of a building survey to determine which measurement factors the building will be compared against. For example, the type of building, the number of computers in use, the location, and size are a few of the details gathered on the survey. Then the past 12 months of energy use (gas, oil, electricity) are submitted with the survey. The building is then compared against other buildings in a similar climate, type, etc., and then a cost per square foot determines the ranking. Any building rated 75 or higher (meaning on a scale of 0-100, the building ranks in the 75th percentile or better than similar buildings), qualifies for Energy Star designation. This is very similar to the Energy Star you see on appliances and electronics. Once that rating is achieved the building can be submitted to officially receive that designation from the EPA. The final step is to print off several forms and the report, and have them reviewed and certified by a Professional Engineer. These are then submitted to the EPA and in a few weeks the facility receives official approval and a plaque to post.

A much more simple process, but it still identifies a facility that is operating efficiently, also using less of our natural resources. While it does not necessarily mean it is a healthy building like a LEED building is designed to be, and does not take into account all the qualifiers that a LEED building must utilize, it does offer a more palatable process for most building owners to improve or maintain their building. While the benefits of an Energy Star building are less pollution, energy use, and the resultant cost savings, would a tax credit be appropriate for Energy Star rated buildings be warranted? More often than not, HVAC maintenance, controls and lighting can often have very short capital payback and long term energy savings. That alone might be enough justification. If Senate File 2046 rewards a LEED building, which also receives payback on operating costs, should an Energy Star rated building be included? Interestingly the Energy Star rating is only for a 1 year period, which means each year it is reevaluated to make sure it is still performing at 75% or higher against other similar buildings. That by necessity means the building must continue to be properly maintained and as new more efficient technology becomes the standard, the building must “Keep up with the Joneses” to retain their rating.

While minimizing energy use and the carbon footprint is the right thing to do for our environment and health, often the decision is an economic one. The fact that buildings use a very large percentage of our total energy and may be one of the easiest to “fix”, should we apply a little extra nudge in a tax incentive to help justify improvements and equipment maintenance?

Monday, April 30, 2012

8 Ways to Prepare your facility for Spring

The warm spring and perfect weather may have you daydreaming about golfing, biking, and enjoying the sunshine.
But, this is no time to neglect the needs of your facility. Avoid costly and timely equipment repairs and save money through these eight tips.
  1. Inspect your facility's cooling equipment to ensure it's ready for a long (and possibly harsh) summer.
  2. A clean condenser coil will maximize your equipment's efficiency during the cooling season.
  3. Change your equipment's air filters. Clean air filters improve performance year-round.
  4. Adjust outdoor lighting to meet the longer periods of daylight. Don't have automatic timers? We can help you with that!
  5. Check window and door weather stripping to avoid cooling the outdoors. This will also help to keep the humidity outside from seeping indoors.
  6. Now is also a great time to make certain your ice machines are clean and ready for the increased demand.
  7. Have your boilers cleaned and checked for leaks to ensure they are operating at peak efficiency.
  8. Consider upgrading your equipment to more efficient models. Air conditioners today use 30%-50% less energy than units made in the 1970's. Even if your equipment is only 10 years old, you may still save 20% on your cooling costs by upgrading to newer models.

Make certain your equipment is ready for the warm weather ahead. With some careful preparation, you will be able to enjoy more of the sunshine and spend less time worrying about equipment failure. Call Stroh Corporation for any of your mechanical, electrical, plumbing, or energy saving needs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stroh Corporation Receives Leading GreenSTAR Designation

Stroh Corporation has been approved by the Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) as a GreenSTAR energy solutions provider.
Barbara Dolim, LEED AP and Executive Director of MSCA explained the value of the GreenSTAR designation stating, “This designation clearly demonstrates a company’s commitment to energy solutions, sustainability and environmental responsibility.” This exclusive designation is truly an accomplishment that is only awarded to contractors after careful review and criteria have been met. Ms. Dolim noted that there are only 48 companies in the nation that have received this designation and Stroh Corporation is currently the only one in the state of Iowa.

“This is a further testament to the expertise and forward thinking of Stroh Corporation”, stated Bob Blaskovich, General Manager of Stroh Corporation. “Receiving GreenSTAR designation shows that we are devoted to our customers and our environment through sustainability and energy savings.”

Stroh Corporation is a premier commercial service provider founded in 1935 specializing in mechanical, electrical, plumbing and energy services throughout Iowa and Nebraska. 

Contact Stroh Corporation to discuss how we can help save you money and reduce energy consumption in your facility.