Upstate NY Office Makes More Energy Than It Takes
Northeast winters can challenge even the greenest of buildings. Solar panels struggle on dreary days. Insulation is tested by subzero temperatures.
So the owners of Hudson Valley Clean Energy are laying claim to a conservation coup. Their unremarkable looking headquarters 90 miles north of New York City is “zero net energy,” meaning it makes more energy than it takes over a year.
If the claim is verified in the coming months by the advocacy group Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, the company is eligible for a $10,000 prize for the “best” net-zero energy building from New England to Maryland. Just as importantly, company president Jeff Irish and vice president John Wright will get official bragging rights for a building that runs an electricity surplus in the Northeast.
“This can be replicated for any size commercial building,” Irish said. “Any doctor’s office, a lawyer’s office, a small store.”
Irish and Wright run this business designing and installing renewable energy systems for homes and business around the Hudson Valley. It made sense to practice what they peddled when they began building their own 5,472 square foot office and warehouse in 2006. Once they moved in, they attempted to run an energy surplus over one year, beginning July 2, 2007.
Power comes from solar panels on the roof’s south slope. Under a “net-metering” program, the building draws electricity when the sun is absent and pushes it back into the grid when it’s bright. Water is heated by a separate solar panel.
Heat and air conditioning comes from a geothermal system that loops liquid from 500 feet below ground. The system relies on a steady subterranean temperature of around 55 degrees to help keep the office space cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
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