Photo Above by: Travis Roozee
My Father and me in his machine shop in the basement of the house I grew up in.
Frank Gerety, a genius engineer whose talents included knowing where to find a restaurant with paper tablecloths so we could make drawings during dinner
Tommy Gambetta, who inspired my love for apartment buildings
Buildings are my specialty, but I have also made some efforts in the transportation area. Here is a "tendem" bicycle my brother Neal & I built when we were teenagers:
More Bicycling Adventures:
Mission: Making buildings safer and healthier for people, more comfortable, more durable, and much more energy efficient.
The most important ingredient in making a building meet these goals: Integrity
25+ years experience making buildings energy efficient, using common sense approaches. I've worked on all kinds of buildings, but Apartment houses are my favorite. Here is when I started focusing on building energy efficiency: EastSideEnergyCompany
Why LEED Buildings Use More Energy Than Comparable Buildings, and How To Avoid the Same Results (in jurisdictions where LEED is not required by law).
The latest data shows that LEED rated buildings use 29% extra energy. Click Here for the article
The photo at right shows how much attention the article received soon after it was posted, making the problem of LEED buildings not saving energy perhaps the best known secret in our industry.
Read the e-mail the US Green Building Council sent to each chapter leader in response to the revelation that LEED buildings use more energy than comparable buildings: Click Here for e-mail, with rebuttal
Watch a video of my presentation about building rating systems at the Westford Symposium on Building Science, and see how 300+ serious building scientists respond: Click Here for Video
New York Times article by Mireya Navarro about LEED building energy use NY Times article
NY Post article by Jacob Gershman: NY Post Article
Measured Energy Saving From Work on Existing Buildings:
For 12 occupied apartment houses I worked on during the fall of 1990, oil consumption for heat and hot water went from 181,738 Gallons/Year to 95,882 Gal/Yr (except one building, where consumption units are Therms of Gas). Click Here to see fuel records taken from daily readings of calibrated oil tank gauges: Trafalger.pdf
Measured Energy Use by New Apartment Building with Mechanical Systems I Designed:
An East Village apartment building developed by Mary Spink is using about 15% of the heating and hot water energy (per square foot) according to the utility bills for the building, compared to the average measured in a survey of fuel records for 401 existing New York City apartment houses done in 1994. It should be noted that this is a flawed comparison because we are comparing our new building to existing buildings, and have not normalized the data for any differences in weather. With no data available on how much energy new NYC apartment houses use, we can only estimate how ours compares: perhaps ours is using maybe 20 to 25% of the heating and hot water energy of new construction buildings.
The buildings in the study used an average of 24 BTU/Square Foot/Heating Degree Day for heat, and over 100,000 BTU/Sq Ft/Yr for hot water. 299 East Third Street uses about 3.8 BTU/Sq Ft/HDD for heat, (calculations on link below) and about 14,962 BTU/Sq Ft/Yr for hot water (Jul + Aug x 6 / Sq Ft). Click to see the utility company billing records here: 299GasUseCalculationsfinal.jpg
The next tour of another, almost identical building is scheduled for next October. As we have been doing for years, we will give each attendee a copy of the latest year's fuel billing history downloaded from the Con-Edison website. Check back here or with Tour Info for exact time as the date approaches.
Energy Saving Services Offered for Buildings of all Types & Sizes:
Do you want your future to depend on continued low energy prices? Is your building as healthy and comfortable as it can be?
- Analysis of building energy use to find the most effective places to start saving. No magic gadgets, no black box software, just common sense. Heavy on the measurement, light on the computer simulation.
- Detailed specifications written for mechanical system installations or upgrades of all types: heating, cooling, ventilating. Details include sizes, brand names, and part numbers for each part, 3-D isometric piping diagrams, and wiring diagrams.
- Supervision of mechanical system installation work.
- Measuring of nearly anything building and energy related - electricity use, temperature, air leakage, infrared imaging, etc.
For more information, click on "e-mail" link at bottom of page.
Energy Efficient Building Design:
Together with my architect partner, we have designed over 70 energy efficient buildings, all built for zero extra cost over the cost of normal "code minimum" construction.
- Buildings designed to meet the very strict European PassivHaus (Passive House) design standard, which is for buildings so energy efficient they do not need a conventional heating system. The energy load is so low that it is met with solar gain, "waste" heat from people and appliances, and in the coldest weather, with a small amount of heat added to the incoming ventilation air. Some types of buildings can be PassivHaus buildings for no extra cost, others probably cannot.
- Buildings designed to eliminate most of the energy a normal building would use for space heating, cooling, and hot water heating, but which still need conventional, but greatly reduced heating and cooling systems.
- Renovations of existing buildings designed to meet either Passive House standards, or simply very energy efficient standards.
For more information, click on "e-mail" link at bottom of page.
Technical Information Section:
Energy Used by Pumps:
Selecting the correct size pump for an application can be difficult and time consuming. However, it is worth doing to avoid the extra cost of buying and installing an oversized pump, and of course avoiding the extra energy use. Click Pumps to download a free 20 page booklet that explains a math formula I invented that greatly simplifies calculations for sizing pipes and pumps for the desired flow.
Making Hot Water:
Accurately controlling the temperature of hot water while making sure nobody ever gets a cold shower can be difficult, but is worth the effort to avoid scalding and energy waste. Click here (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) to download a series of 4 articles on how to make hot water with an indirect water heater, which is one of my favorite ways. The articles were originally published by Heating/Piping/Air Conditioning Engineering Magazine, which is a good source of information on how to get mechanical systems to work.
For a free subscription click here: Subscribe
One-Pipe Steam Heating Systems:
Do the pipes bang? Do the radiators spit at you? Is one room freezing while the other is like a sauna? Many things need to work right to get the system to deliver heat evenly and quietly, but a Gifford Loop is a zero-cost upgrade that can reduce or eliminate these problems. Click Here for More Info.
Two-Pipe Steam Heating Systems:
These systems are usually found in taller apartment houses built before WW2, but are still being installed in some new buildings, and can be found in all sizes of buildings. Most of them deliver heat unevenly, which results in open windows and resultant energy waste. Most of the problems with these systems can be resolved with a system I came up with, which consists of installing radiator inlet orifices and abandoning the radiator steam traps. Here is a letter from someone who measured an impressive amount of energy saving with this method, and an article that explains how to do it: Orifices Article Additional energy saving and occupant comfort can be had by also installing thermostats on each radiator, as explained in this article: Thermostats Article These articles originally appeared in Boiler Systems Engineering, which is a supplement to HPAC Engineering Magazine. For a free subscription, click here: Subscribe
My Favorite Book on Solar System Design:
Click Here for the only book you'll need
Heat Load Calculation:
Performing a heat load calculation for each room in any building that is getting a new heating system is perhaps the most important, and most frequently overlooked step toward improving comfort and energy efficiency.
Heat Load Calculation Sample - screenshot
download MS Excel spreadsheet - editable
Elevator Electricity Use:
To see the measurements from the first ever study on how much electricity it takes to go for a ride on an elevator, click here to download spreadsheet:
Gifford Elevator Electricity Use
Energy Tracking Spreadsheet:
Is your house or building using more or less energy than it used to? Which building uses more total energy - the one that burns gas, or the one that burns oil? And how does this compare to electricity use? This spreadsheet automatically converts everything to the same units for easy comparison.
Energy Tracking Spreadsheet