Sustainable / Energy Systems
Which Sustainable Energy System Is Right For Me?
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Designed as an energy savings device, daylighting resembles a skylight in appearance but there the similarity stops. A daylight is designed to harvest all available daylight via the top lens and pass it down a highly reflective shaft to the bottom diffuser lens and into the interior of the building. The top lens harvests daylight all day long from every angle. The reflective shaft ensures that a minimum of light is lost in the transfer, and the diffuser lens distributes the light evenly in the building interior without shadows or “hot-spots”.
Studies suggest that people function better in natural light as opposed to artificial light, and this system is claimed to be especially beneficial in classrooms.
Once the light level inside the building is sufficient, power can be shut off to the artificial lights either manually or automatically saving energy.
Solar power is generated by various designs of solar panels ranging from rigid panels to flexible strips. The efficiency in converting sunlight to DC power varies and there is no one-size-fits-all scenario in this industry. The solar panels of any style are installed facing south where possible and in full sunlight. Roof-tops make an excellent space for solar panels but where space permits many installations are in open areas at ground level or on carports. The DC power generated needs to be converted to usable AC current through equipment called an inverter. Most cities require disconnects on the AC and DC sides. Power is produced when sunlight is present, there is no power generation in the dark. Also, power generation is automatically disconnected in the event of power disruption on the electrical grid. Battery back up is a possibility but is a very expensive addition and is generally reserved for off-grid locations such as a remote cabin. Solar power is usually used as supplemental power and to lower the peak energy demands upon which many energy tariffs are calculated.
Originating in Europe as a means of managing storm water, the concept is gaining in popularity in the USA. Although storm water management is still very viable, especially in the eastern USA, the concept has merit in this day of enlightened thinking about energy usage as they act as roof-top insulation. As a side benefit where space and access allows they also form areas for the building tenants to recreate. Green roofs generally come in two categories ; MODULAR, where the plants are in shallow trays which allow flexibility in design and roof areas contained in a border where the engineered soil is placed and then planted.
Cool Roofs came into vogue in the late 1990′s as energy costs started to rise. Their principal design requirement is a reflective surface with heat emissive qualities to reduce heat absorption into the building interior. In the early 2000′s this type of roof was mandated in CA for electrically air conditioned commercial buildings with a roof slope of less than 2:12