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Prepare for 2017’s new Title 24 regulations

Approximately, every three years, the California Energy Commission (CEC) revisits its energy efficiency  standards, augmenting the building code to align with recent technological advancements and the state's new efficiency goals. The commission underwent this process again this year, identifying areas for improvement in both new construction and retrofits for residential and nonresidential properties. With this most recent set of revisions, the commission is striving toward a pair of new state efficiency targets: achieving net zero energy for new residential construction by 2020 and for new commercial construction by 2030. Referred to as the 2016 version, these standards will go into effect January 1, 2017, which gives contractors just a few months with which to become familiar with the new building requirements. Before we dive into what's new for the 2016 Standards, let's take a step back and review the overall goal of these standards. What is Title 24, Part 6? Title 24, Part 6, is the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards which exists to conserve electricity and natural gas consumption throughout the state. Among the many benefits of reduced consumption, Title 24, Part 6 specifically seeks to prevent the state from having to build additional power plants to supply unchecked demand, according to the CEC. To manage consumption, Title 24, Part . . . Read More

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New climate legislation could add fuel to California’s economy

When most people think about the economic effects of green building, they think about the cash that homeowners, property managers and businesses save by reducing their use of natural resources and energy. After all, California's energy-saving programs saved its residents nearly $90 billion on their energy bills between 1973 and 2013, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. However, sustainability's impact goes far beyond patching the hole in end users' pockets. The Golden State's commitment to energy efficiency over the last decade has spurred as much as $48 billion in economic growth, according to new analysis by nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). The group attributes much of this stimulus, as well as the creation of about 500,000 jobs, to the goals set forth by a piece of legislation known as AB 32. Signed into law in 2006 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, AB 32 stipulated that the state would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, achieving 1990 levels by 2020. Since then, California has played host to dozens of new climate policies and seen countless energy-saving innovations arise out of the desert, events to which E2 attributes much of the state's economic growth.  According to E2, California's aggressive energy goals have helped . . . Read More

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Water efficiency linked to ‘surprisingly large’ energy savings in new study

In every green building project, designers put countless hours into developing a plan that not only limits the structure's demand on the grid but also reduces its reliance on natural resources. New research from the UC Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency now shows just how linked those two goals may be, finding reduced water usage can lead to substantial cuts in both energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. To make this connection, researchers analyzed the effect of urban water usage limits mandated to counter California's ongoing drought. By reducing urban water usage by 25 percent between June 2015 and February of this year, the state saved about 922 gigawatt-hours of energy - enough to power 135,000 homes for an entire year, the LA Times reported. Plus, it saved an additional 220,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to taking about 50,000 cars off the road, according to GreenBiz. "Reduced water usage can lead to substantial cuts in both energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions."In fact, during peak summer months reducing water consumption alone saved as much energy as most other major energy efficiency programs in California combined, the LA Times reported. Further, water-related savings came with just one-third of the price tag compared . . . Read More

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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

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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

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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

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Brent Boli

As a project manager, Brent takes the lead on a number of initiatives here at the Benningfield Group. Brent's technical approach to problem solving makes him a valuable asset to both his clients and our project teams. Brent currently serves as the lead for our On Demand Efficiency Program, which helps SoCalGas® provide its customers with controls for inefficient central hot water systems to reduce their costs and energy usage. He also manages our web enhancements program for the California Public Utilities Commission. Before coming to work with us in March 2016, Brent developed his analytical skills as a Research Assistant for the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at the Dallas Theological Seminary, where he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree. Brent received his Bachelor of Arts from California State University Sacramento. When he's not busy working on his dissertation, Brent enjoys spending his time outside of work playing and learning new games in the company of his friends.   Read More

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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

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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