Deep energy retrofits of existing structures are an absolute must for meeting any reasonable carbon emission reduction goals, but cost-effective retrofits are challenging, to say the least. Taitem teamed up with King + King Architects to bring a five-building, 40-unit, two-story, wood-framed apartment complex in upstate New York to a net zero energy and Passive House level of performance.
The conference is hosted by SUNY ESF in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council NY Upstate and the Syracuse CoE and will focus on Net-Zero building.
Participants represent many industries including architecture, engineering, construction, consulting, deconstruction, landscape architecture, government, higher education, K-12 education, state agencies, real estate, and management firms. If you haven’t already, REGISTER HERE.
Taitem Engineering is grateful to its clients for supporting the growth of solar energy. The Taitem team continues to believe wholeheartedly in the vital role of solar in achieving local, state, and global climate goals. Taitem is proud of the quality work it has done installing solar for homes and businesses across the region — with more than 300 solar PV installations over 6 years, totaling 3.6 MW of capacity.
After much deliberation and consideration of alternatives, Taitem has decided to close its solar installation division. Since 1989, Taitem’s core competency has been consulting engineering. This decision reflects a commitment to Taitem’s energy and sustainability consulting and design engineering services, which are in greater demand than ever before. Taitem will continue to provide solar engineering and commissioning and will maintain a solar service team for operations and maintenance.
Installation staff will be at work through February 2019 installing solar PV systems already under contract. Taitem’s 10-year workmanship warranty on solar PV arrays remains in place for all installed systems, and the company is retaining staff, led by Dave Tedeyan, for service needs. Manufacturer equipment warranties will remain unchanged.
The anticipated effective date of the closure is February 28, 2019. Taitem staff is implementing a careful transition plan to make sure that clients’ needs are met, employees are well supported and all administrative matters are addressed.
Several of Taitem’s solar employees will remain with the company working in our Energy+Sustainability and Quality Assurance departments. Dave Tedeyan, the solar service manager, will be available for technical support and to resolve any service or warranty issues with manufacturers such as SunPower.
For the many people and businesses who have referred friends to Taitem for solar in the past, the company extends its thanks. Referral fee payments for recent site visits and closed contracts will be mailed soon.
Taitem President Lou Vogel shared, “We are so proud of our awesome solar team and the award-winning quality work they have done over the years. Going forward, Taitem Engineering will maintain and expand its core consulting services in energy efficiency, sustainability and building design, and help to develop carbon reducing solutions grounded in building science. The company will keep up its active contributions to the Ithaca community and to clean energy and green building efforts locally, statewide, and beyond.”
Service Manager Dave Tedeyan and President Lou Vogel and are happy to discuss any questions and concerns with Taitem’s many clients, friends and solar advocates in the community.
While the hillside location of Ithaka Terraces was a challenging spot for construction, developer Ed Cope and architect Noah Demarest make creating an all-electric Net Zero Energy condominium complex look surprisingly do-able. Prospective homebuyers, and energy geeks, have a chance to tour and learn more during Open House events on May 12 and 13. Read our interview with developer Ed Cope below.
The twelve new homes at 215 Spencer Rd, just 3 blocks from the Ithaca Commons, are inspired by the traditional architecture of the Greek island of Ithaka half a world away. They also demonstrate what best practices in green building make possible. The building designs are so energy efficient that an off-site solar farm will generate all the electricity needed to heat, cool, illuminate and power appliances in all the homes.
In the last two weeks, both the City and the Town of Ithaca accepted a new Green Building Policy report, creating a framework to promote sustainable development. While that is a vision that extends to 2030, Ithaka Terraces embodies many of the attributes today that the Green Building Policy seeks to encourage. STREAM Collaborative and Taitem Engineering authored that policy report, and the two firms had the opportunity to walk their talk on the design team for Ithaka Terraces.
We recently sat down with the developer Ed Cope to learn more about his vision:
When you started thinking about this project, what were the goals you had in mind?
EC: All my life I’ve been an environmentalist, particularly committed to energy efficiency and alternative energy. I live off the grid and installed solar panels back in 1984. I volunteered on the County’s Environmental Management Council. And I got into real estate, owning and renting properties through PPM Homes, an Ithaca property management company. Ithaka Terraces was a chance to build homes for people who want to enjoy an active urban lifestyle and do the right thing for the planet.
Why did you choose this spot for the Terraces?
EC: It’s a convenient location close to the Commons, parks, Ithaca College, Wegman’s and big box shopping areas along Elmira Rd. I agree with the City that urban infill is important as the City grows. This steep brushy hillside was part of the land the City had purchased to widen Spencer Rd. They tore down the rundown old apartment building, and the only new re-use that made sense was multifamily.
How did you prioritize the sustainability features for the overall design?
EC: My motivation is to provide the maximum possible state-of-the-art sustainable living with the highest emphasis on achieving net-zero energy while keeping the condo cost competitive with the market. Our solar farm 15 miles east made it an easy choice to go all-electric and avoid fossil fuels completely. Sustainable features include the use of air-source heat pumps, conduction ranges, LED lighting, electric water heaters, Low-E windows, super-insulated walls and roofs, smart temperature monitoring devices, and other energy-saving devices. We worked with NYSERDA’s New Construction Program, which provided some design guidelines to help achieve our goals.
For instance, the foundation is constructed of R23 Insulated Concrete Forms, providing continuous insulation on both the exterior and interior of the walls below grade and partially above grade. The slab is insulated with R15 rigid foam. The building features nominal 12-inch thick double stud exterior walls with a total of R39 continuous dense packed cellulous insulation and 18 inches of R63 loose fill cellulous insulation in the attic.
As led by Javier Rosa, PE, Taitem’s structural engineering design process supported maximum energy efficiency, by continually evaluating impact on the building’s energy performance. Two examples are:
• Wood wall studs were spaced farther apart than usual, to accommodate more cavity insulation
• Window and door headers were designed with 2 plies of wood members to ensure enough insulation to avoid thermal bridging (often headers are left completely uninsulated, causing a significant amount of heat loss.
What do you think your condo owners will like most about the Terraces?
EC: These homes support an active and climate conscious lifestyle so people can live their values every day. They support trends of the future that say we will be driving less, own fewer cars (and those will be electric) and be actively connected to the walkable urban community. Homebuyers will appreciate that they can get some clean energy options at half price – for example, I’m splitting the cost of optional Electric Vehicle charging stations and upgrades to induction stove tops.
What’s your favorite walk from Ithaka Terraces?
EC: The first is heading over to the west end of the Commons, the gateway to downtown. I walk that all the time. The second is up the hill to Turner and Hillview Place. It’s like a little Europe, with buildings up the hillside leading to two lovely, tucked-away pocket parks.
It’s clear that PPM Homes and the design team behind Ithaka Terraces are committed to empowering homeowners to live sustainably, and to enjoy all that downtown living has to offer. Ten of the twelve condos are still available, and visitors can tour them during the Open House on May 12 and 13.
Green building is an accelerating trend, spurred by new codes and requirements from New York State and Tompkins County. Both the Town and City of Ithaca are also developing new green building policies. There is a lot to learn, and municipal officials need to keep pace with developers, architects and contractors who are planning and permitting new multifamily housing projects. This workshop will help municipal staff and board members get up to speed with an overview of current green building technologies, terminology and codes.
Participants will learn the right questions to ask when reviewing proposed new housing developments. The format combines lecture with a green building features tour of the TREE neighborhood and a hands-on case study. The Town of Ithaca and the City of Ithaca will offer annual training credit for Planning Board members. Certificates of Completion will be presented to all attendees. Learn@Ecovillage is hosting the free workshops, in partnership with Taitem Engineering and the Tompkins County Planning Department. Funded by the Park Foundation.
Ithaca property rental company Viridius turns to Taitem for a solar energy solution to grow the business bottom line and achieve their sustainability mission of Earth Friendly Rentals. Owners Zöe Hare and Stuart Staniford describe the process and why they chose local solar installer Taitem Engineering. Stunning aerial views of their Snyder Hill property show the 21.5 kW ground-mount photovoltaic array. State-of-the-art technology for design and data collection, paired with Taitem’s accessible community presence, are key benefits for Viridius. Tenant Michael Lenetsky couldn’t be happier.
The Southern Tier AIDS Program does incredible work to prevent the spread of HIV and provide care management services for HIV+ individuals. Taitem is again a CorporateSponsor for the 19th annual Ride for Life around Cayuga Lake on Sept. 9. Please join us in supporting this essential community organization by donating to our team’s fundraising goal of $7,200 and/or volunteering on Ride day.
Taitem recently toured the Ithaca office of STAP. We learned that almost 100 staff members in 3 offices serve clients and run programs in 8 counties. Because HIV often spreads intravenously, STAP has become a leader on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. For instance, the Syringe Exchange Program reduces harm to users of both legal and illegal drugs and stops the spread of many diseases, including Hepatitis C. We saw the big machine that sterilizes the used sharps and chops them into little bits before they are properly disposed of as non-hazardous waste.
We also saw how a Narcan kit works to deliver the antidote naloxone if someone has overdosed. STAP distributed 2,000 Narcan kits in 2016! There were 310 overdose reversals reported as a result. More impressive stats:
As engineers we appreciate numbers. As people, we appreciate the warmth, compassion and commitment so clearly expressed by the staff we met during our tour. We hope you will make a donation, volunteer and hold the clients, staff and community of STAP in your heart.
For architects, building professionals and anyone who wants to learn what it takes to create affordable homes and a net zero energy footprint, this event at the newly-completed Hemsin House in Ithaca will be educational and inspiring. On Wednesday, July 12, the New York Upstate Chapter of the US Green Building Council will host a tour and presentation by owner-designers Courtney Royal and Umit Sirt, both sustainability professionals at Taitem Engineering. Event details and registration.
Hemsin House, on a hilltop overlooking Cayuga Lake, is a cost-effective, healthy home for the couple and their two young children while also serving as a sustainability showcase. Solar panels on the roof generate enough electricity to heat, cool, and power all appliances and lighting in the course of a year, and help the house earn the Energy Star and LEED Zero Energy designations. A 15% window-to-wall ratio, optimitized building envelope design, use of local hardwoods, water conservation methods, low VOC paint and finish materials, and even landscaping will help the home attain LEED for Homes Platinum status.
Tour attendees can earn continuing education credits: 1.5 LU from the American Institute of Architects and 1.5 hours from the Green Building Council Institute.
This two day training will focus on design and construction details to achieve net-zero energy use in new buildings. Approved for continuing education credit with AIA and GBCI. Join Ian Shapiro, founder of Taitem Engineering and co-author of the book Green Building Illustrated (Wiley, 2014) and Liz Walker, co-founder of EcoVillage Ithaca, and Executive Director of its educational arm, Learn@Ecovillage, as they address fundamentals and strategies for zero energy design. EcoVillage and cohousing concepts will be covered as well as site visits to homes and commercial community buildings at EcoVillage’s three cohousing neighborhoods, emphasizing different green building approaches, styles and details, culminating in the newest neighborhood called TREE, one of the largest Passivhaus development in North America, which includes a number of net zero homes.
The training fee includes lunch, a copy of Ian Shapiro’s book Green Building Illustrated and Liz Walker’s book EcoVillage at Ithaca: Pioneering a Sustainable Culture. A limited number of scholarships are available for students, women and low-income participants.
What people are saying:
“Excellent seminar! Very valuable.”
“EcoVillage is an excellent place to see first hand the topics covered at this seminar.”
“Ian is an accomplished speaker – excellent way of fielding questions, positive connection with audience. Presented topics in a way that could be easily understood.”
Learn the fundamentals of design to achieve net-zero energy in new buildings, including heating/cooling options, hot water strategies, insulation and window design, lighting and electrical load for net-zero.
Learn specific construction details which help to achieve net-zero energy, including techniques to achieve low infiltration and to minimize thermal bridging.
Understand the concepts of cohousing and ecovillages as examples of neighborhood level design for sustainability.
Learn options for measuring and verifying net-zero performance, and approaches to maintain persistent net-zero performance.
Liz Walker Liz Walker, Executive Director of Learn@EcoVillage and Co-Founder has provided vision, leadership and prodigious hard work since the founding of EcoVillage at Ithaca in 1991. As collaborator, she has helped launch Gaia Education which teaches sustainable community development around the world.
Ian Shapiro started Taitem Engineering in 1989. He has led applied energy conservation research projects, many design and energy projects, and has delivered workshops in the areas of energy audits, managing energy projects, and the energy code. Ian’s presentations and workshops are impactful and highly recommended.
This course has been approved for 14 AIA LU. This education session may be self-reported by LEED Professionals for 14 GBCI CE hours.
For questions and to register, contact Liz Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org
When should you call a structural engineer? Listen to the latest episode of WHCU’s House Call and hear host Susan Lustick chat with Taitem’s senior engineer Yossi Bronsnick about the importance of a structural inspection and what to look out for in your general home inspection.