Posts Tagged ‘energy’

by Robin McKillop

shopping for a high-efficiency clothes washer

Shopping for a high-efficiency clothes washer (photo by Richard Wheeler)

Buy a qualifying high-efficiency clothes washer and get $50 from MMWD, plus another $50 from PG&E. You’ll enjoy a total savings of $100 immediately—and water and energy savings over the life of your washer. Models that qualify for these rebates are the most efficient washers on the market today. They use at least 60 percent less water and 50 percent less energy than washers that simply meet federal standards. Some models use as little as 12 gallons of water per load of laundry. At this rate the savings can really pile up!

For information about MMWD’s clothes washer rebate program visit marinwater.org/rebates.

For information about PG&E’s clothes washer rebate, click here (then scroll down for rebate information).

The MMWD and PG&E rebate programs are administered independently. Please check with PG&E for complete information about their rebate program.

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by Jon LaHaye

Solar panelsAs of June 15, 2012, MMWD’s solar photovoltaic arrays on the Administration Building and in the Corporation Yard have generated a combined 1,000 MWh of clean, renewable energy. The solar arrays were installed during the summer of 2009 and began operating in August and September of that year.

The Corporation Yard arrays, which supply all the buildings except the Water Quality Lab and the Operations Center, have produced slightly over 100 percent of the energy needs for that portion of the Yard. The Administration Building array has produced about 45 percent of the energy use of the district’s office building.

In addition, by this coming month MMWD will have enrolled all of its 236 electric accounts in Marin Clean Energy’s “Light Green” 50 percent renewable electricity option. The district began using Marin Clean Energy in 2010 and converted 203 accounts by last year. Now that Novato, Ross, Larkspur and Corte Madera have joined Marin Clean Energy, we are able to convert our remaining accounts. Most of the energy MMWD uses is for pumping water into and throughout our 147-square-mile service area.

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by Robin McKillop

California Youth Energy Services (CYES), in partnership with MMWD, is offering free Green House Calls for Marin homeowners and renters through April. Each visit includes an energy- and water-use assessment, plus a mini-retrofit with water-efficient showerheads, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), retractable clotheslines and more.

A program of the Berkeley-based, nonprofit Rising Sun Energy Center, CYES provides green job training for youth ages 15 to 22. This innovative program started in 2000, when Rising Sun taught a residential energy efficiency workshop at Berkeley High School. The students, inspired and empowered, decided they wanted to do more than just talk about climate change. They resolved to carry their newfound knowledge out into the community, and CYES was born. With support from the City of Berkeley, Rising Sun launched a pilot program which hired 15 youth. They managed, over a few weeks, to serve 300 homes with free energy and water conservation services. Since then, the program has grown exponentially, hiring and training 830 young people and serving 16,000 homes in Marin and the East Bay.

The youth are chosen for their enthusiasm, ability to work in teams, and self-motivation. They work in pairs composed of a minor and a youth aged 18 or over, so that there is always a legal adult on each assignment.

Over the past decade, CYES has evolved into a successful community-based green services program. It works alongside a number of other local programs to increase mutual benefits and referrals. Local partners include the East Bay Energy Watch and Marin Energy Watch Partnerships, as well as many of the water utility districts and municipalities in the Bay Area.

For more information about CYES, please visit the program website at risingsunenergy.org/content/cyes.html. To schedule your free appointment, contact Travers McNeice at mcneice@risingsunenergy.org or (415) 532-7566.

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by Shasta Phillips

When MMWD’s Water Conservation Department is deciding which showerhead to give out during our Conservation Assistance Program (CAP) surveys, occasionally I am asked to take home a few different high-efficiency showerheads for some real-world testing. How am I qualified to test these showerheads? For those of you who don’t follow competitive showering, here are some of my credentials:

  • Considered by many as a child prodigy of showering, I took my first shower at the age of one.
  • At age three, while many kids my age were splashing around in the bath with rubber duckies, I was showering at an 8th grade level. 
  • In 2007, I set the North American record for most efficient shower.   

Shower Testing Factors

Shower force, contrary to what the name implies, has nothing to do with Star Wars. It is, however, the speed at which the shower water contacts the showerer. One way to test shower force is to visually measure the straightness of the water stream. There’s an old saying in the biz regarding shower force: the straighter the stream, makes the shower supreme. (Okay, I actually just made that up, but maybe it will catch on.) 

Spray coverage is also very important. Spray coverage is the amount of measurable area wetted by the shower. Many people believe that the spray coverage is weaker here on the West Coast (due to the East Coast coverage bias), but fortunately this is untrue.

Shower force and shower coverage combine to give you another factor: perceived water volume. This is a measure of how well the showerhead can trick you into thinking you are standing under a Hawaiian waterfall.  

Manufacturers of efficient showerheads continue to amaze me with their ability to do more with less. New technologies such as infusing the shower water with air, amplifying the speed of the water, and controlling the size of the water droplets allow these new showerheads to give you great force, coverage and perceived water volume, all while saving you water and money. 

Savings Potential

Heating water is a very energy-intensive process. Reducing the water used in the shower will save you money on both your water bill and your energy bill. If an average family of four replaces their old showerhead with an efficient one, they can realize savings of up to $250 dollars annually on utility bills. That’s enough to buy half an iPhone!

What About Your Showerhead?

Unsure as to whether your showerheads are efficient or not? Well, through our Conservation Assistance Program, one of MMWD’s conservation specialists will test your showerheads and, if found to be inefficient, give you efficient models free of charge. Yes, free! Don’t even try to calculate the return on investment on that deal because I’m pretty sure it will involve dividing by zero. Also, while at your property, we can evaluate your irrigation, check for leaks, and give advice on other ways to save water and money. If you’re interested in having a free water-use evaluation at your home or business, please contact the Water Conservation Department at (415) 945-1523. 

If you’re interested in buying an efficient showerhead on your own, here is a website detailing some extensive efficient showerhead testing. Note: I am providing this link as a courtesy and do not ensure the accuracy of any claims made by said website (I always wanted to go to law school). 

And remember, with hard work and dedication you, too, can join the ranks of the showering elite.

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by Bob Fairchild

In 2009, while planning for a major computer system upgrade to take advantage of improved technology, MMWD faced several obstacles. The biggest initial obstacle was that our server room did not have the cooling or electrical capacity to house the additional servers that would be needed for the transition. The type of upgrade we were doing required us to keep the existing system running while we built the new system in parallel on new servers. Fortunately, a relatively new technology called virtualization had emerged that provides the ability to run many servers on one physical machine. Virtualization is basically software that allows us to get a bigger bang for our hardware buck by having servers share costly CPUs and memory in a very efficient manner. So, instead of adding costly cooling and power to our server room, we decided that the only way for us to complete our upgrade was to add virtualization to the project and ultimately reduce our cooling and power needs.

In July of 2010 we successfully completed our planned system upgrade thanks in large part to our talented staff and virtualization technology. Since the initial upgrade project, we have continued to virtualize other servers within our data center. To date, we have virtualized about 80 percent of our servers and have plans to virtualize a few more. While we have added many virtual servers, our physical server count has dropped dramatically. This has saved thousands of dollars in hardware investments and will continue to save money in the future. Additionally, the energy load for our server room has dropped by 45 percent. We estimate the energy savings alone to be over $20,000 per year because of server virtualization. Of course, this reduced energy use has the added bonus of helping the district achieve its strategic goal of reducing its carbon footprint.

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by Keith Bancroft

Explore the essential connection between water and the built environment at the 8th Annual Water Conservation Showcase on March 22 at the Pacific Energy Center, 851 Howard Street in San Francisco. This all-day event is being presented by the U.S. Green Building Council – Northern California Chapter in partnership with PG&E and East Bay Municipal Utility District.

Expert speakers will educate you on the latest water conservation issues and technologies, with a particular focus on the built environment and Northern California. Exhibitors will display innovative technologies and products, alongside government agencies and nonprofits providing information about programs and services. Network with thousands of professionals and key decision makers, including architects, brokers, contractors, developers, engineers, energy and sustainability experts, and representatives from government agencies, non-profits, planning departments, product manufacturers, professional associations, utility districts and more.

Join us for this event, free to all attendees! Learn more & register at www.usgbc-ncc.org/wcs.

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by Keith Bancroft

GreenPlumbers USA is now offering all five of its training workshops online.  This will allow those interested in completing the 32-hour accreditation program to avoid the hassle of travel and to work on their own time, at their own pace. The program is certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is composed of the following five workshops:

GreenPlumbers is an innovative national training and accreditation program that assists plumbers in understanding their role in the environment and public health. The organization’s goal is to train and deploy thousands of plumbers to promote the benefits of water conservation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The focus is on changing consumer and plumbing behavior through the use of energy efficiency and water-saving technologies.

Please visit the GreenPlumbers website for more information.

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