x

Energy-saving tips for a more efficient summer

Summer is finally here! While the long days, abundant sunshine and warm evenings make this many people's favorite time of the year, it can also be one of the most challenging periods in terms of energy efficiency. In the summer heat, homes lose cool air faster, air conditioners have to work harder and pool pumps and sprinklers are active more often, causing energy loads - and bills - to skyrocket.Luckily, there are a number of simple habits homeowners can adopt to manage their summertime energy usage. Here are a few to get you started:  Keep your kitchen cool For many people, the stove is a staple for home cooking. However, even turning on the element for a few minutes can radiate heat throughout your kitchen, forcing your air conditioner to fight even harder. Instead of firing up the stove, try using you microwave whenever possible. Not only does it contain heat much better than a stove-top element, but it can cook food using two-thirds less energy, according to the California Energy Commission's Consumer Energy Center. Not only is it important to keep excess heat out of your kitchen, but you should also take steps to keep cool air where it belongs. Every . . . Read More

x

California ranks among most energy-efficient states

It's no secret California is one of the nation's leaders in energy efficiency. From energy-saving legislation to green product innovation, we pride ourselves on setting a high standard. With the largest population and most active economy in the country, it's also not a surprise our energy needs are equally impressive. That being said, a new report revealed that California handles this demand well, ranking among the most efficient states in the nation. The report, authored by environmental advocates Next 10, compares state energy production, consumption and spending. While California leads the United States in total energy consumption, the report found, it's not the country's biggest spender on energy. And, relative to its population, The Golden State's expenditure and consumption stand out as exceptionally low. "The Golden State's per capita energy spending and consumption are exceptionally low. "Next 10 suggests our low consumption per capita is due in part to relatively high energy prices, which serve to temper demand. While California's energy prices sat above the national average by more than 3 cents per kWh in 2013, the average cost of energy in Texas and Louisiana were significantly lower than the mean, according to the report. Both of those states ranked among the top five . . . Read More

x

The business case for energy efficiency

Consuming 40 percent of the nation's energy, releasing 30 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions and using nearly 13 percent of all safe drinking water in the U.S, the building sector is the country's largest energy consumer and emitter of greenhouse gases, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.While this alone might seem like enough incentive for the design and construction industries to prioritize energy reduction, the scale of such a shift would be so massive that most companies end up intimidated by the investment they would need to make to achieve net zero energy usage.To combat this natural hesitation, it's helpful to consider the business benefits organizations can expect from following energy efficiency best practices."Green building can improve efficiency by 30 percent." Energy SavingsAs energy prices continue  their steady climb, building owners stand to gain significantly from going green. According to Gregory Kats' Greening Our Built World, green building can improve efficiency by as much as 30 percent over conventional buildings. While it can cost between $3 and $9 more per square foot to build these spaces, Kats estimates the savings total four to six times the original cost.Occupancy incomeAchieving energy efficiency certification can also help buildings improve their . . . Read More

x

On-Demand Efficiency (ODE) Program

Many multifamily buildings rely on central hot water systems serviced by inefficient, continuously running pumps, wasting gas, increasing electrical usage and reducing the life of the entire water distribution system.  Recognizing the significant savings opportunity, Benningfield Group designed a program for the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) called On-Demand Efficiency (ODE) that is FREE to qualifying SoCalGas customers. The program provides a free on-demand recirculation pump control for the building’s water heating system, as well as free installation. After the pump control is installed, recirculation is controlled based on demand in the building, rather than continuous recirculation. Residents can access hot water just as easily as if the system were running all day, every day. Depending upon the size of the building and the number of units, the gas and electrical savings can be considerable. Use of the controller also helps reduce greenhouse gases. So far, the ODE program has served over 3,200 apartment complexes with more than 104,000 individual units. The Benningfield Group works with manufacturers, distributors and contractors throughout the SoCalGas territory to administer the program. We also created a custom, online tracking database that allows us to track status, create reports, monitor inspections and store data relating to program . . . Read More

x

BayREN Codes and Standards Program

The BayREN Codes and Standards program helps Bay Area counties reduce their energy usage through improved building design and construction. The collaborative program supplies local governments with the resources they need to achieve full compliance with and enforce the California Energy Code, including best practice guides, checklists, policy support, targeted training and on-site support. Benningfield Group supports the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and consulting firm BKI as a subcontractor on the project, implementing in-field and technical support. At the start of the project, our team focused on finding ways to help jurisdictions ensure compliance. We spent hours conducting interviews, participating in ride-alongs and reviewing project plans in an effort to determine both the key challenges to enforcing the energy code training, tools and guides that would benefit each county, then tracked their effectiveness as they were implemented. To ensure the performance of the program’s training offerings, we also conducted a region-wide survey, looking for gaps in understanding of the energy code and its enforcement. From this information, we worked with BayREN to develop several training programs that would address these specific issue areas. Our current focus is on the development and delivery of BayREN’s extensive building department training program, with a focus on . . . Read More

x

AmericasMart Atlanta

AmericasMart Atlanta is a large merchandise mart in Atlanta. This is a wholesale marketplace that retailers attend in order to select what merchandise they want to sell. We maintain and enhance the AmericasMart website using the Joomla framework with custom modules and templates. We also create and maintain all related database-driven applications including the company's mobile app. These applications include dynamically created exhibitor lists, dynamic building floor plans of showrooms, invoicing, payment processing and online exhibitor data. Read More

x

Robin Wells

For Robin, the Software Program Manager position is all about connecting with clients on a one-on-one level, getting to know their needs and ensuring they receive the highest-quality support and products. She puts that client focus to action in the many technical, lead and support roles she handles here at Benningfield Group, including project development and management, primary and secondary research and technical writing. She also manages multiple software projects, for which she schedules software work and provides support to users and clients. Robin has been with Benningfield Group since 2011, when she was inspired to put her people skills to work and add to our lively, client-centric culture. Besides her work at Benningfield Group, Robin has earned a bachelor of arts in philosophy from UC Santa Cruz, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential as well as a master of arts in education from UC Davis. It should come as no surprise, then, that she loves to drink coffee! Robin's greatest passions are her two sons, who inspire her to live by one of her favorite Greek proverbs: "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." Read More

x

Lynn Benningfield

As CEO of Benningfield Group, Lynn's direction and support play a critical role in assisting our staff as it leverages specialized knowledge to help clients. A logical thinker with an entrepreneurial spirit, Lynn relishes in the challenges and adventure that arise on the job every day as they afford her the opportunity to solve problems and drive growth. Lynn brings to Benningfield Group a wealth of experience including growing and selling another firm, working with policy makers to assist in designing energy efficient buildings and in researching, developing, advocating and applying energy codes to all types of buildings. As her husband Bruce was building a software consultancy company of his own, Lynn saw an opportunity to put their two specialties together, collaborating to form Benningfield Group. Lynn works closely with the energy industry to create software products and tools that help make acquiring and displaying data simple and clear. Lynn's passion for helping small things flourish extends outside of her professional life as well -- Lynn also loves trying to grow succulents. Her other passions include bicycle riding, travel and keeping up with her wonderful grandchildren. Lynn holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from San Diego State University. Read More

x

Bruce Benningfield

A principal in charge of software and engineering services, Bruce lends his decades of experience creating integrated data and workflow management systems to helping Benningfield Group clients implement efficient, cost-effective software solutions. As lead developer and project manager on a number of large accounts, Bruce specializes in providing custom software design, database design and software development services for internet-based, database-driven applications, as well as works with our staff engineers to develop scalable analysis tools. These systems save businesses time and money by allowing them to share and save data, automate their reporting functions and augment their security. Before founding Benningfield Group, Bruce spent two decades building his expertise in the computer programming and IT industries, developing and supporting web-based data collection, analysis and display software at companies such as CableData, Realogic and Autovia. Bruce holds a Master of Science in Computer Science from Sacramento State University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from San Diego State University.Outside of the office, Bruce enjoys soaking up the sun with a bike ride or a round out on the golf course. At home, you can often find Bruce chopping away in the kitchen — he loves cooking Bon Appétit style for friends and . . . Read More