A Look at Buildings and Energy Use Carbon Footprints

The concept of a “carbon footprint” has been widely circulated in the media for the last couple of years—particularly as global warming has become such an urgent topic of discussion for people other than Al Gore. Essentially, a carbon footprint is a representation of the total carbon emissions for a given person, organization, building, or operation.

Residential buildings have carbon or energy footprints—in fact, residential and commercial buildings comprise 40 percent of the U.S. energy market—and understanding what makes up a co-op or condo building’s footprint is the first step toward reducing the building’s environmental impact and saving that building’s residents money.

According to an article about Agilewaves on CEPro.com, a website that caters to professionals in the custom electronic business, “lighting gobbles up 11.7 percent of a typical home’s electrical bill. Another 11 percent of the electrical cost is attributable to the HVAC system.”

While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the concept of carbon footprints, we decided to talk to one anyway. Peter Sharer led NASA’s software team, developing the Mission Control System for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. Now, he’s CEO of Agilewaves, a software company whose flagship product, the Resource Monitor, determines the ecological footprint of a property in real time, monitoring each electrical circuit, water line, and the main gas line, as well as temperature in key locations throughout the building. The Resource Monitor is a low voltage control system that can keep gas/water/electrical usage within prescribed limits. Rather than just monitoring usage, Agilewaves’ invention can actually mitigate change in the building by raising the thermostat or lowering the shades, among other things. In addition, Sharer says, Agilewaves is the only system that extends to new types of conservation technology such as solar thermal, rain water and grey water catchment, living roofs, etc.”

The Cooperator: What factors comprise a residential building’s carbon footprint?

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