Brady Energy Services Digs Into Geothermal
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Aaron Rittenhouse is the senior solutions account executive with Brady Energy Services, a company that provides energy systems and building solutions for commercial and industrial facilities across North Carolina. The commercial-industrial-institutional contractor is preparing to become more deeply entrenched in the renewable energy market, specifically geothermal.
The main reason, said Rittenhouse, is to help clients take advantage of particularly beneficial tax credits and incentives. For instance, he said, a relatively new state tax credit offers a tax credit of up to 35 percent of the installed cost, up to a cap of $2.5 million. This, combined with the federal incentive for renewable energy systems, can lead to a potential 50 percent tax credit.
In addition to this, “The efficiency and utility savings realized by the use of geothermal technology has made this a desirable solution for the operation of commercial buildings,” said Randy Katz, Raleigh general manager.
The company works with customers on:
• Lease to own.
• Shared savings.
• Performance contracting.
• Utility rebates.
• Grant money.
• Tax incentives.
Part of the services the contractor provides is to pinpoint the most advantageous cost benefits and help clients apply them to their projects. According to Rittenhouse, the company helps in a variety of ways, particularly through knowledge and information tools. “Knowledge is the key to a sustainable building,” the company states on its website.
Some public sector clients, he added, need to use a third-party ownership contract. This gives the third party (in this case, the contractor) ownership of the system, plus the rebates that will pay it back.
Rittenhouse cited a few programs to be aware of when it comes to rebates, tax credits, and other incentives:
• Check out desireusa.org/incentive, which provides state-by-state incentive analyses in all sectors. It is regularly updated, he said.
• The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which includes water, lighting, and HVAC, has been extended through 2013.
The requirements for meeting the terms of these various programs can be complicated. Rittenhouse said Brady handles it by using a team approach. The team includes a measurement verification engineer, project manager, management with overall accountability, and an executive decision-maker.
In addition to financial considerations, there are limitations that need to be considered when it comes to large geothermal applications. The first is space. Traditional horizontal loops require a lot of land. Pond loops or vertical loops may be the solution, he said.
Even though it is possible to retrofit an existing commercial-industrial building to a geothermal technology, “it can become cost prohibitive,” he said. Green new construction applications tend to have a better payback.
In general, it is a solution for clients “who have a requirement in terms of using renewable energy, but they don’t have the funds,” Rittenhouse said.
The new market focus is just getting off the ground, Rittenhouse said. “We hope that before the end of 2011, to have a geothermal project with a public or private sector client.
Earlier this year, the contractor announced that Tony Dillon had earned certification from the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA).
Dillon has been with Brady for 12 years. He serves as a project manager for the Raleigh office. With his certification, he will supervise the installation and maintenance of geothermal systems for Brady across North Carolina.
The company’s assistance extends into the system’s operation; to help make sure that it meets design expectations. They cite research from the “FEMP O&M Guide, July 2004,” showing that regular maintenance can reduce energy consumption 5-20 percent.
The company also provides energy calculations to help building owners and asset managers maximize their energy resources by providing integrated energy solutions to achieve cost savings.
Brady was recently awarded a contract to make mechanical system improvements to the North Carolina Museum of Art East Building, for the Norman Rockwell exhibition that will be displayed in Raleigh. The $5 million in upgrades were necessary to control humidity fluctuations to ±5 percent, which prevents deterioration of paintings and artifacts. The project has already produced $2.1 million in utility and maintenance savings during the past three years, exceeding performance contract projections.
“Without the upgrades to the East Building, many traveling exhibits, including the American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, Monet, and the Egyptian exhibitions, could not come to the state capital,” said Larry Wheeler, director for the North Carolina Museum of Art.
In April, Brady reported the independently audited, annual energy savings to the state of North Carolina. For the third year, actual energy savings have exceeded performance contract projections. The $50,000 per month average savings reflects a 60 percent reduction in utility expenses for the museum.
“We are very pleased with the results,” says Randy Katz, Raleigh general manager of Brady. “Breathing new life into the East Building means that the museum is able to offer North Carolina residents the opportunity to see some of the greatest masterpieces locally.”
This is the state’s first capital improvement project funded by guaranteed energy savings. Facility upgrades to the East Building began in 2005 and were completed in January 2007. The performance contract guarantee is for 12-year savings totaling more than $6 million in utility and maintenance costs.
For more information, visit www.bradyservices.com or call 800-849-1915.
Sidebar: Brady Services
Brady is a supplier of Trane Integrated Comfort SolutionsTM and services for commercial and industrial buildings in North Carolina since 1962. This family-owned company partners with customers to design and maintain their facilities. The company is headed by Jim and Joe Brady, along with 300 associates.
Publication date: 01/10/2011