spotlight on agriculture
Swine farms could hog more of the biogas market
February 1, 2013
There is significant potential for biogas production in the United States. A recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's AgSTAR program estimates that there are nearly 5,600 swine farms that could incorporate anaerobic digestion systems into current operations. So, why are there only 23 systems in operation on U.S. swine farms today? Find out what Joe Kramer of the Energy Center and Amanda Bilek of Great Plains Institute discovered when they examined barriers and opportunities for biogas production system use in the swine industry. Here is an overview of the white paper funded by the Energy Resources Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the U.S. Department of Energy Southeast Clean Energy Application Center.
The primary barrier to adoption of digesters on swine farms is financial. Systems have high upfront costs, demand the time and attention of farm personnel and require construction of additional structures. Digesters have several benefits that do not show up on company balance sheets and are therefore undervalued or ignored.
If the primary economic barrier is addressed other barriers could quickly fall away. Increasing the price for energy produced from these systems is likely to be an important component to address the economic barrier. In addition, there are ways to increase revenues from digester operations and lower costs. Recognition of a positive net benefit stream will lead to more systems being used.
Removing the barriers to greater adoption of digesters in the swine industry will require detailed analysis of the costs and benefits. Incentives to improve the economics of system implementation and biogas production may be required, along with amplified communications about successes and lessons learned from early adopters.
Download the full white paper: Anaerobic digestion on swine operations: assessing current barriers and future opportunities (pdf).
Trend watch: Residential building market yields bigger crop
February 1, 2013
National data sources show housing starts and completions were up in 2012 compared to 2011:
Immerse yourself in the residential building community
Join us at the eleventh annual Better Buildings: Better Business Conference in Wisconsin Dells from March 6-8, 2013 and take your residential building knowledge to the next level.
Hear what past attendees had to say when asked these questions:
New construction case study
G&W Electric builds new sustainable habitat
February 1, 2013
This is an excerpt from the full case study available for download (pdf).
After years of searching for a new headquarters and manufacturing center, G&W Electric Co., a supplier of power automation systems, switchgear and cable accessories, relocated from Blue Island to Bolingbrook, Illinois.
The move allowed the business to double the space of its headquarters and manufacturing facility. G&W undertook a major renovation and expansion of an existing building, pledging to build a state-of-the-art high performance facility. The renovation and expansion not only helps G&W meet the demand of its growing customer base and maintain its industry design standards, but it also improves the working environment for its staff of more than 400 employees.
To support its pledge, G&W established ambitious sustainability goals and pursued Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.
When G&W considered how to make the 371,000 square foot facility more energy-efficient, they contacted the ComEd and Nicor Gas New Construction Service. The New Construction Service supported G&W and its architectural and engineering team early in the design process by providing energy and economic analysis and other technical assistance at no cost. The New Construction Service identified various energy conservation measures and modeled the building's energy use to illustrate the impacts of the design prior to building renovation and construction.
Several energy modeling iterations were completed, including analysis that predicted the energy savings associated with improving roof insulation, window properties, lighting in the manufacturing areas, process related air compressors and the HVAC system.
The energy savings measure with the greatest impact was the lighting design, which came in 65 percent better than the IECC 2009 code baseline at 0.47 watts per square foot.
This analysis helped lead to a cost-effective and energy-efficient building that G&W will now call home for another generation.
For more information, please visit the ComEd and Nicor Gas New Construction Service website. For information on the Energy Center's technical assistance services, please download our statement of qualifications (pdf).
targeted research, technical assistance and education
Member project roundup
February 1, 2013
Every year, the Energy Center's member utilities fund a variety of efforts that tap the skills and talents across our organization. Research projects allow our members to continually improve their program offerings by keeping abreast of efficiency-related developments in technology, behavioral and market research. Technical assistance from our buildings team lends valuable insight early in the design process, when it's most critical. And member-funded training raises awareness of energy saving approaches and gives building professionals the skills they need to implement new technologies and operate systems more efficiently.
We appreciate the opportunity to provide our members with research, technical assistance and training on areas of specific interest to utility staff and customers. Here is a snapshot of some of the Energy Center's member-funded work currently underway or recently completed.
The School District of Jefferson, Wisconsin participated in WPPI Energy's New Construction program and received energy modeling and early design assistance from the Energy Center's buildings team. The project, a renovation of Jefferson High School, has resulted in a 334 kW peak demand reduction, annual energy savings of 190,000 kWh and annual energy cost savings of $95,000. For more details, download the press release (pdf).
For information on these events and others, please visit our Energy Center University website.