A few years back, we started up a company called GreenSweep, to focus on retrofits for energy conservation. Our two biggest contracts were with South Georgia College and Savannah Tech, saving each of those campuses about a million kilowatt hours per year, mostly through re-lamping existing lights and adding vacancy sensors and enhanced controls. Along the way we learned how to calculate energy savings and return on investment for the cost of the improvements. Applying that knowledge to a wide variety of technologies, and learning which ones paid back the fastest, proved to be of great value to our future designs. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be a very profitable business model, as most of our clients proved to be too cash-strapped to make the investments due to the then raging Recession.
During this same time frame, we designed the new regional headquarters for Georgia Power on Reynolds Square in historic Savannah. With the encouragement of Cathy Hill, Area Vice President, we were able to help make South Georgia’s first LEED Platinum building. This was accomplished with a fully manifolded variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heating and cooling system, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic systems, integrated daylight, and a whole host of other energy and water saving technology. In the end it is a marvelously comfortable place to work, and also won an award from Historic Savannah Foundation for its historic preservation achievement. Again, we learned a great deal from this experience about how to make things work, and who to work with to get things working.
Now we are using this energy conservation wisdom in all of our work, whether historic rehabilitation or new construction. One example is a new hotel for NorthPoint Hospitality that we are designing with extensive green roofs that capture rainfall, eliminate pollution, conserve energy, and make rooftop views that will be meadows for hotel guests. Landscape Architect Stella Matthews is helping us to make sure it all will be functional and beautiful.
If you’re an energy miser, or a green geek, like us, keep an eye on this segment of the Gunn Meyerhoff Shay blog for upcoming articles on how these technologies actually get designed, built and maintained. If you are a building manager, and want to save at least 30% of your current energy bill, let us know, and we will show you how to get a rapid pay back on your costs.
Save yourself some cash, while you help save the planet!