December 16, 2010

Going the Extra Mile–Hunt Briggs Shares Tips about Energy Efficiency

With a deadline of just ten weeks, Hunt Briggs, an intern with the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corp Fellowship, has been charged with a daunting assignment: analyze and identify opportunities that will reduce Biltmore Park Town Square's carbon footprint. Despite a looming deadline, Briggs is enjoying the program: "I'm just excited that the community is thinking about ways to reduce their carbon footprint," pointing out that it is an ongoing and ever-evolving process. Of course, it has to start somewhere, and Biltmore Park Town Square is a wonderful match.

As a participant in the LEED-ND program, Biltmore Park is already outfitted with low-flow plumbing fixtures, a solar panel hot water system for the Hilton Asheville, EnergyStar appliances in residences, and, of course, the benefit of the walkability and nature conservation inherent in the New Urbanism design. Town Square, however, is eager to continue its efforts towards becoming more efficient and sustainable.

Briggs will focus on three office buildings in Biltmore Park, including Volvo, Netriplex, and One Town Square. He will evaluate their control systems, assess their infrastructure, conduct financial analysis of potential energy-saving investments, and research new technologies. From turning off computers at night to installing solar panels, Briggs points out that every part helps. Of course, he also hopes that people will consider energy usage beyond the workplace. While he is helping businesses produce less waste and reduce bills, there are also things that individuals can do to conserve energy at home. Here are a few of Briggs' tips for reducing energy demands at home:

  • Crank up the dial! For every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer, you can save 2-3% of cooling energy. In the winter, set the thermostat at the lowest comfortable setting.
  • Fix air leaks, drafty doors/windows, and leaky insulation. When insulation sags or gains moisture, it stops working.
  • Heat/cool zones inside of your home. Many people condition the air throughout their homes but spend most of their time in only a few rooms. Close doors and vents!
  • Lower the temperature on your hot water tank to 120 degrees. Many are factory set much hotter than is necessary.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs in fixtures that you use often. You can move them to fixtures that you use infrequently in areas such as basements and workshops.
  • Replace older appliances with EnergyStar rated appliances. Usually, the best time to upgrade an appliance is at the end of its useful life, but some devices are so wasteful that it would be wiser to replace them immediately.
  • Turn off lights, televisions, computers, and other appliances that you are not using. Often this simply involves learning new habits, but occupany sensor or timers can simplify the task.