Monday, July 30, 2012

Introducing Tri-generation

Tri-generation is an extension of cogeneration, adding cooling to electricity generation and heat production. Tri-generation involves therefore the simultaneous production of heat, cooling and electricity. 

Tri-generation is specifically beneficial in a variable climate, such as Victoria’s (Australia), with strong heating demand in winter alternating with high cooling demand in summer.

Also, tri-gen has its greatest benefits when scaled to fit buildings or complexes of buildings where electricity, heating and cooling are perpetually needed. Such installations include but are not limited to: data centers, manufacturing facilities, universities, hospitals, military complexes, colleges, hotels and resorts.

Fuel is burnt in an engine which drives a generator to produce electricity. The waste heat from the engine is used for space, water or process heating, or can be converted to cold water for cooling through the application of an absorption chiller.

The trigeneration concept can also be used with solar photovoltaic cells. By removing and storing the heat from behind the PV panels, the heat can be used with an absorption chiller, cooling down the home.

An absorption chiller is basically an air conditioner driven by a heat source rather than electricity, utilizing excess heat and converting it into cold water or cold air. This is the same process as used in gas camping fridges.

Trigeneration brings significant economic, social and environmental benefits.
  • Greenhouse gas emission reductions of around 60% 
  • Overall energy efficiency typically 80% (compared to 30%): Additional efficiency is gained from reducing electricity transmission losses which are great when heat, cooling and electricity are produced individually. 
  • More affordable energy costs (CPRS mitigation) 
  • Improved energy security and reliability of plant 
  • Less electrical infrastructure to new sites (thermal chiller) 
  • Reduced daytime peak electricity demand: with tri-generation, electricity supply and demand are linked better, peak load demand can be reduced and security of supply is enhanced due to an increased number of diverse electricity generation alternatives. 
  • Building Rating improvement (NABERS) 
  • Network upgrade savings (plants run during daytime peak hours) 
  • Create new jobs

In addition, in some places such as the UK, trigeneration operators also benefit from the following:
  • Exemption from the Climate Change Levy (CCL) for self supply or supply over private wire networks 
  • CCL benefit (equivalent to the financial value of CCL Exemption) over public wires 
  • 100% Enhanced Capital Allowances 
  • 100% Exemption from Business Rates

Source: Moreland Energy Foundation
              UTS - Institute of Sustainable Future
              City of Sydney
              Clean Energy Council Australia

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Types of Accreditation Held by Key Respondents in Australia

Green accreditation is a public acknowledgement that an organisation has met agreed standards of CSR policies and practices. The business events industry was asked about what types of green accreditations they currently hold and their plans to seek accreditation over the coming years. Respondents were also asked about barriers to seeking accreditation. 

One third of total Audit respondents and almost half (46 per cent) of the key respondents reported holding at least one green accreditation from a list of 18 programs (refer to Chart 4). Green accreditation is considerably higher among large organisations employing over 100 people and international chains, where around 60 per cent hold at least one accreditation. 

The most advanced sectors of the business events industry in Australia in terms of CSR accreditation are Convention & Exhibition Centres and Venues, with two thirds (63%) currently holding at least one accreditation. More than half (56%) of accommodation providers, retailers and travel agents are also accredited. 

New South Wales and Victoria are leading the way when it comes to accreditation, reflecting that more operators are within these states and that it is a particular focus in these areas.

While ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) 14000, 14001 accreditations are held by 16% of Audit respondents and 25% of key respondents, most reported being accredited with at least one of a wide range of programs, including Australian travel and tourism accreditations, building-related accreditations and other more general green accreditations. 

There is no industry concentration around a particular Australian accreditation program. 7% are accredited with Tourism Accreditation Australia (TAA), which is the highest level of support for any one form of accreditation, followed by the Australian Building Greenhouse Rating (now NABERS Energy) at 4%. 

While no one Australian accreditation dominates, certain types are favoured by different sectors of the business events industry. For example, half of the Convention & Exhibition Centre respondents hold the Green Globe Bronze accreditation, and one quarter of attractions hold TAA accreditation and 10% of transport operators are Australian Building Greenhouse Rating accredited.

The Audit results show that levels of green accreditation among respondents in Australia are rising and are set to remain a focus over the next few years. Almost one third (31%) of total respondents report they are currently seeking accreditation, including three quarters of Convention & Exhibition Centres, and just over half (55%) of accommodation providers, venues and business events services. 

Green Globe Silver, Bronze or NABERS accreditations are the most popular in the industry, currently being sought by 35-50% of businesses. These businesses also have Green Globe Gold accreditation in their sights over the next five years. The Ecotourism Australia- Nature Tourism and Ecotourism Australia-Advanced Ecotourism are prized by attractions, with one fifth of this sector currently seeking them. 

Those sectors which have been slower to take up accreditation aim to do so over the next 12 months. Almost one third (31%) of transport operators and one quarter of attractions plan to get accredited, along with one quarter of industry representative bodies. 
One in five respondents has not yet initiated green certification or accreditation with the Audit results identifying a number of barriers to seeking accreditation: 
  • 30 % say they don’t have enough time to seek accreditation 
  • 28 % say they don’t have the information they need to seek accreditation 
  • 23 % say they lack guidance from industry bodies and/or associations, and 
  • 19 % say the accreditation process is too costly and requires too much effort to pursue. 
Some organisations like business event service providers do not believe they have a need to become accredited. These operators in the sector tend not to have regulatory or planning obligations to become accredited, unlike infrastructure operators such as venues and hotels. 

Of those organisations not yet accredited, half employ less than 10 people. 60% of this group reported that accreditation was of minimal value to their business, suggesting that the perceived costs of accreditation outweigh the benefits for smaller businesses. This view is shared by almost half of those with between 10-99 employees, and by 30% of large organisations. 
The Audit results show that two out of every three industry participants are not familiar with, or do not understand the different types of accreditation available. This lack of familiarity with accreditation programs naturally makes it difficult for industry participants to decide which are the most relevant for their business. 

Even where there is significant familiarity with a program, it may not be seen as relevant for that business. One third of respondents in the accommodation sector stated that the Green Building Council of Australia’s accreditation only related to new buildings. Similarly, one third of respondents were familiar with Ecotourism Australia’s Nature Tourism and Advanced Ecotourism accreditations, and one quarter with the Green Building Council of Australia programs, but commented that they felt these accreditation programs were not relevant to their organisation.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Green Advantage - Chain Hotels vs Independent Hotels

A recent study on green hospitality conducted by Washington State University noted that chain hotels have a distinct advantage over smaller independent hotels when it comes to implementing green initiatives. From the standpoint that larger chains have established corporate guidelines, purchasing restrictions and proprietary monitoring systems, this may be true.  However, independent hotels have much more to gain, and when accessing the right resources can actually develop more strength and flexibility in sustainable hospitality than the chain hotels. 

Because independent hotels don’t have ready-made green programs to rely on, they must take the initiative to boldly move forward on  the sustainability journey on their own. The good news is that there are resources available.  One of the most valuable and impactful decisions a hotel can make is to seek third-party certification.  A  hotel making a green commitment can use a scientifically developed standard such as Green Seal’s GS-33 standard as their guideline to ensure that they are implementing the green practices that make a difference for a hospitality operation. Using this standard as a green compass, hotel executives can be confident that their sustainability program is well-rounded and addresses the most impactful concerns. 

Some hotel chains have developed their own environmental tracking and measuring systems that they require each property to use.  However, there are other systems available that can help hotels track and measure utility, water, waste and recycling.  Independent hotels can use the EPA Wastewise ReTRACsystem to track their waste and recycling volume, as well as the Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track and measure their energy and water usage.  Both of these programs are free, provide benchmarking and analysis, and will also provide reports on related GHG emissions. 

One of the biggest advantages that chain hotels have is their power to enforce purchasing agreements, with preferred vendors and specific product requirements, which does not afford a hotel the option of selecting products that might be less expensive but have a greater environmental impact.  But this advantage may also limit a property from searching out new innovative products, services and solutions as they become available. 

While chain hotels may provide guidelines and resources, the responsibility of establishing a green culture at the property level remains with the on-site property managers.  With this being true, a chain hotel may have established green procedures, but may not be encouraging and monitoring daily green work habits.  Therefore, the shades of green between chain hotels may vary widely. 

On the marketing front, an independent hotel can truly establish its identity as a green hotel, whereas a chain hotel’s identity is established by the corporate marketing department.  Typically, the green marketing strategy of a hotel chain will be conservative, to protect against the risk of greenwashing accusations.  An independent hotel can take more control over their public image in marketing by consistently infusing a green message associated with their hotel name. 

Ultimately, when getting started with green initiatives chain hotels do have the advantage over independent hotels in that much of the groundwork is done for them.  However, while some chain hotels continue to pursue ongoing improvement, many will not progress above and beyond the corporate mandates, whereas independent hotels may be more likely to pursue and utilize third-party certifying standards, such as Green Seal and Green Key, which encourage and promote ongoing continuous improvement.  Both chain and independent hotels can take a stand for environmental stewardship and demonstrate green leadership by achieving third-party certification. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite Expansion

Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts has earned double Silver LEED certification at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, an all-season resort located just outside of Yosemite National Park in Fish Camp, Calif. Both certifications follow a yearlong project that expanded Tenaya’s banquet, event and meeting spaces and office area, plus added a destination spa.

Delaware North, which owns and operates Tenaya, followed a process laid out by its environmental program, GreenPath, to ensure environmental stewardship and measurable green practices. The company worked with Layton Construction Company and architect Peter Grove of Collaborative Design Studio.

The Silver LEED-certified expansion brings Tenaya Lodge’s total indoor meeting area to 15,000 square feet of flexible, full-service conference space. This includes a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, 4,500 square feet of pre-function space and 14 meeting rooms. Taking full advantage of its national forest setting, Tenaya’s outdoor function space features the new 3,000-square-foot Signature Grand Terrace and a 3,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion.

The new Ascent Spa at Tenaya Lodge also earned Silver LEED certification. The 10,000-square-foot destination spa features 12 treatment rooms, men’s and women’s dry saunas and steam rooms, three relaxation rooms, and a wellness center with exercise and fitness rooms. The Ascent Spa boutique features lines with indigenous, local and organic products.

“We are extremely proud that both of our construction projects earned Silver LEED environmental certification,” said Tom McCann, general manager for Tenaya Lodge. “Our banquet, event and meeting spaces are first-rate, and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the spa. Traditionally, spas are incredibly wasteful of water. So this is a significant achievement and speaks a lot about GreenPath and Delaware North’s dedication to environmental stewardship.”

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance. LEED focuses on key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

LEED certification is based on a series of points earned through each action completed to LEED standards. One of the ways Delaware North earned points was using several LEED-accredited professionals on the design and construction teams for the spa and conference center, such as senior project manager Mike Gilbert.

“It wasn’t possible to meet every point,” Gilbert said. “So when we couldn’t achieve a point, we lived up to the spirit of the point.”


• Water Efficiency: Based on similar buildings, the Tenaya Lodge spa and conference expansion reduced its water consumption by 40 percent. This was accomplished by using low-flow water closets, low-flow urinals and ultra-low-flow sink faucets.

• Energy and atmosphere: The Tenaya Lodge spa reduced its air-conditioning energy consumption 15 percent compared to a typical space. The Tenaya Lodge conference center addition is designed to reduce its total energy consumption 14 percent below the national standard. These facilities also use Energy Star equipment to minimize electricity consumption.

• Indoor Environmental Quality: Among the construction highlights are the use of non-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, and low-VOC carpet glue, sealants and caulking. None of the adhesives, sealants and paints used in the expansion emit harmful fumes. Extra effort was made to keep ducts closed while installing the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. This strategy kept the ducts clean and stopped the filter from recycling dirt and dust.

• Materials and Resources: Many of the materials used to construct the Tenaya Lodge spa and conference center contain recycled content. More than 20 percent of the materials in the building (based on material value) are recycled, reducing the environmental impacts of processing and manufacturing efforts. This includes the original office furniture. The majority of the wood used for the Tenaya Lodge spa and conference center was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and is formaldehyde-free. Wool carpet was used to provide a natural material. Locally-sourced materials were used as often as possible.

“One area where I think we made an outstanding effort was garbage,” Gilbert said. “We had an incredibly high diversion rate from the landfill.”

All of the construction waste and demolition debris was moved into a series of dumpsters in the hotel’s parking lot. All of the debris was sorted on site. About 89 percent of the debris was diverted from a landfill by recycling numerous dumpster loads of steel, concrete and carpet pad.

Delaware North’s GreenPath program contributed significantly to the silver LEED certifications by earning substantial points for innovation.

“The U.S. Green Building Council found GreenPath unique enough and innovative enough to satisfy its highest requirements,” said Roy Olson, vice president of facilities project management for Delaware North Companies. “GreenPath’s environmental standards, attainable goals and quantifiable results prove that Delaware North takes the time to follow LEED standards not only during the construction phase, but long after certification is granted.”