Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’

ACRP Releases HMMH-authored Report on Energy Projects and Airports and Airspace

Friday, April 25th, 2014

by Stephen Barrett

HMMH is pleased to inform clients and colleagues of the official release of Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 108 “Energy Technologies Compatibility with Airports and Airspace.” This report is the first in a series of ACRP Reports on energy and airports that are expected for release in the next year. The HMMH-authored report reviews the aviation industry’s experience with a variety of energy technologies including solar, wind, oil and gas drilling, and traditional electricity generation and transmission, and provides guidance for future projects to avoid impacts on airports and airspace. The report is timely given the country’s focus on domestic energy production to serve economic and national security interests and to diversify energy generation sources toward cleaner fuels, including renewables. The guidance will also help airports as they consider opportunities to lease out underutilized non-aeronautical property for energy production.

ACRP Report 108

TRB e-circular “Critical Issues in Aviation and the Environment” published

Friday, April 18th, 2014

By Mary Ellen Eagan

TRB recently published Circular E-C184: “Critical Issues in Aviation and the Environment.” The following summarizes the content of the e-circular.

“Critical Issues in Aviation and the Environment 2014” consists of twelve individually authored sections, representing the authoring experts’ opinions on issues that address the major environmental components affected by aviation activities, sustainable solutions that have evolved and continue to be developed to minimize environmental impacts, and the key processes that link aviation and the environment.

Readers of prior e-circulars in this series may notice that we no longer include a stand-alone section on “sustainability”.  This is because the Committee believes that sustainability is a cross-cutting issue that affects all topics in the environment – it is a way of operating, not an “issue”.  We have added several new topics to this volume:

  1. Natural resource management:  Airports are challenged to address natural resource management issues related to wildlife hazards, natural resource revenue generation (e.g., timber, minerals, energy), and water conservation.
  2. Renewable energy:  this section addresses major issues airports should consider when identifying and developing renewable energy alternatives.
  3. Public Health:  an emerging issue that several airports are facing is the need to develop health impact assessments and health risk assessments to respond to community concerns regarding the impact of airports on communities.

The individually authored sections of this e-circular represent the viewpoints of the attributed authors.  Members and friends of the TRB Environmental Impacts of Aviation Committee have also reviewed and contributed comments to these sections.

Many thanks go to the authors (listed below, by paper):

Environmental Impacts of Aviation on Human and Natural Resources  

  • Noise: Natalia Sizov (Federal Aviation Administration), Brad Rolf (Mead & Hunt), Mary Ellen Eagan (Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc.)
  • Air Quality: John Pehrson (CDM), Warren Gillette (Federal Aviation Administration), Brian Kim (Wyle), Prem Lobo (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
  • Climate Change: Judith Patterson (Science College, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada ), Mohan Gupta (Federal Aviation Administration), Rangasayi Halthore (Federal Aviation Administration), Anuja Mahashabde (The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA)
  • Water Quality: Dean Mericas (Mead & Hunt), John Lengel (Gresham Smith & Partners), Richard Davis (Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.)

Sustainable Solutions to Address Environmental Challenges

  • Climate Change Adaptation Planning and Preparedness: John Lengel (Gresham, Smith and Partners), Kristin Lemaster (CDM Smith), Judith Patterson (Concordia University), Andrea Schwartz Freeburg (Federal Aviation Administration)
  • Natural Resource Management: Dean Mericas (Mead & Hunt), Sarah Brammell (Environmental Resource Solutions)
  • Renewable Energy: Steve Barrett (Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc.), Bruno Miller (Metron Aviation), Phil Ralston (Port of Portland)
  • Aviation Alternative Fuels Development And Deployment:  Bruno Miller (Metron Aviation), Steve Csonka (CAAFI), Kristin Lewis (Volpe Center/RITA, Jim Hileman (FAA), Mark Rumizen (FAA), Nancy Young (Airlines for America), and John Heimlich (Airlines for America)

Processes and Tools for Implementing Sustainable Solutions

  • Environmental Review under NEPA:  Mary Vigilante (Synergy Consultants), Brad Rolf (Mead & Hunt), John Putnam (Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell), Donald Scata (FAA), Betsy Delaney (First Environment), Barbara Thomson (First Environment)
  • Environmental Management Systems And Sustainability Measurement: Mary Vigilante (Synergy Consultants), Brad Rolf (Mead & Hunt), John Putnam (Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell), Donald Scata (FAA), Betsy Delaney (First Environment), Barbara Thomson (First Environment)
  • Aviation Environmental Modeling Tool Suite:  James Hileman (Federal Aviation Administration), Christopher Roof (USDOT RITA)
  • Research Needs in Public Health In Aviation:  Burr Stewart (Burrst), Andrew Dannenberg (CDC), Brian Kim (Wyle), Daniel Jacob (Federal Aviation Administration)

 

Tidal Energy Project Report Published

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

by Steve Barrett

HMMH’s technical report entitled “Environmental Effects of Sediment Transport Alteration and Impacts on Protected Species: Edgartown Tidal Energy Project” has been published at www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1059377/ by the U. S. Department of Energy.

The Town of Edgartown Massachusetts holds a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) providing it with exclusive rights to develop a tidal energy project in Muskeget Channel. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, HMMH, on behalf of the Town, is managing a comprehensive study of the marine environment in Muskeget Channel and assessing the potential impacts of the tidal project on indicator species and habitats. HMMH is also working under separate state funding with the New England Marine Renewable Energy Center at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (UMASS-D) to undertake siting and engineering studies as funding becomes available.

Read more about this project on our website.

Let the sun shine!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

by Phil DeVita

Recently I installed a photovoltaic (PV) solar system on the roof of my house to generate electricity.  Some of you may be thinking “I have always thought of putting in a solar system but the costs seemed too high.”  I had similar reservations until I recently read an article in the Boston Globe about a west coast solar company (SunRun) which was offering to install and operate solar residential PV systems for minimal money down.  What’s the catch?  You have to buy the power generated by the system from SunRun at a fixed price over an 18-year period.  I thought this was an interesting concept, but I was still skeptical and had a lot of questions.

First, we should step back and see how this all came about.  When I bought my house many years ago I knew there was good potential for solar, evidenced by the annual baking of my backyard.  The main roof is oriented to the south with minimal shading during the late morning and afternoon (ideal solar production hours).   I thought this would probably be a great place for a solar PV system.   I researched a couple of systems but the price was a little too high.  Other priorities took precedent, so I put the idea on the backburner for a few years until I came across this article on SunRun.

After reading the article, I was intrigued and made an appointment with Alteris Renewables (the local representative for SunRun).  Alteris came out to my house and looked at the orientation and pitch of my roof, surface area, solar resource, shade, etc. and confirmed my initials thoughts that my roof would be an ideal candidate for solar.  Alteris took my last couple of electric bills and made some calculations to determine the adequate size of my system (kW) which would determine the number and size of the panels.  The results were computed on the spot and out popped a 5.5 kW energy plant, enough to power approximately 80% of my electricity needs.  This is great you say, but what about the price?   With SunRun, you have the option to purchase the system out right or with a little money down, SunRun will install and operate the system and the homeowner purchases the electricity at a set price over an 18 year period (also known as a power purchase agreement).  I was familiar with the PPA option through our research developing the FAA Solar Guide; however, I had not heard the concept applied to residential applications.  This seemed to be a much more affordable option; however, by not owning the system, I would not reap the total benefits (i.e. free electricity and RECs).   I sat down with both options and laid out the pros and cons of each.

Owning the system

 Pros

  • You get free electricity (i.e. no PPA) and net metering benefits (i.e. spinning the meter backwards for electricity generated but not used);
  • Tax credits available from the Federal Government along with state incentives to subsidize the costs; and
  • Additional revenue potential from generating renewable energy credits (RECs) produced by the system which can be sold on the trading market.

Cons

  • You own the system.  Responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the system;
  • The inverter alone can cost $5K to $10K and is good for about 10 years; and
  • High investment cost.

Leasing the System

Pros

  • 3rd Party is responsible for the operation and maintance of the system;
  • Guaranteed production from SunRun and stable electricity costs each year;
  • Lower investment costs.

Cons

  • Do not get credit for the RECs;
  • 18 year PPA commitment.

I did some additional research and carefully weighed each option and decided to pull the trigger on the PPA plan.  It was an attractive plan for me where I would not have to worry about the maintenance of the system (peace of mind), minimal investment upfront, guaranteed production, fixed cost for my electricity (lower than what I was currently paying), and still have the net metering capability. 

Alteris ordered all the equipment and the system was installed over a two day period.  My system consists of 30 panels which are tied together and run to an inverter in my basement which is then tied to my utility meter.

Having the system has been a great learning tool for my kids to teach them about renewable energy and climate change.  It is also a talking point in the neighborhood where people come up to me and ask about my system and how it’s operating.  Many of my neighbors say, “Hey I like your system, I want to get solar panels for my house”.  Unfortunately, solar is not for everyone.  You need to have good southern exposure and unimpeded sun during the peak hours for it to work efficiently.

My system has been operating for about 7 months and to date I have generated over 3,576 kilowatt hours of electricity, equivalent to operating a television for 25,007 hours, the energy to power 26 computers for one year, or the energy to power 99 homes for one day. 

Even though I do not care for the summer heat, I do realize that when it’s hot and sticky outside, that hot summer sun is helping to offset my utility bill and reduce GHG emissions, which are good things.

So let the sun shine!

Thank you for your service

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I protested the Gulf War.  Both of them.  But my post today is about the military, and what I think we can learn from them.

You might ask why.  Well, first of all, it’s Veteran’s Day today, and while not an official HMMH holiday, it is certainly on my mind.  So before I go any further, I’d like to acknowledge HMMH’s veterans.  They are: Nick Miller, Bob Miller, Bob Behr, and Everett Heller.  Thank you all for your service.

One of the reasons I have been thinking about “military heroes” over the last few months is because despite my tendency toward pacifism, I find myself often in the company of veterans and increasingly admire them, not only for their service, but also for some of the traits that endear them to me.  This became very clear to me this summer, when Steve Barrett and I had the pleasure of entertaining a few clients over dinner – unconsciously, it turns out that I had invited three former military helicopter pilots.  Dan Frazee from San Diego Regional Airport Authority, who was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and subsequent Marine 1 helicopter pilot for Gerald Ford; Bill Willkie of CH2M HILL was a navy helicopter pilot in the post-Vietnam era, and Roy Fuhrmann of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is still an active reservist, and most recently served in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  All three flew different aircraft, different missions, and served in different conflicts but the things they share are remarkable:  to a man, they are gentle, humble, and soft-spoken.  They are thoughtful, unflappable, reliable, and relentlessly positive – I don’t know that I’ve ever heard one of them gossip or complain even the tiniest bit – somewhere along the lines I think they have just learned that life may be too short to waste time on negative “stuff”.   In any case, it seems they have their priorities in the right place and I have much to learn from them.

Harvard Business Review Cover

Harvard Business Review Cover

As it turns out, Harvard Business Review has been thinking about this as well, and this month devoted an entire issue to “Leadership Lessons from the Military”.   There are several excellent articles in this issue, and I will attempt to summarize one or two key thoughts here:

First, the notion of common mission and purpose.  What is good for the individual is not necessarily good for the company.  Mission must come first, self-interest last.  Creating company value, not the pursuit of private value, should drive leadership actions.  To that end, here’s a good opportunity to revisit HMMH’s mission statement:

HMMH solves complex problems affecting our environment. We develop and apply innovative technical tools, communicate effectively, and delight clients.

How are we doing on that mission statement?  Our diversification into areas such as renewable energy and NextGen environmental planning confirm for me that we’re on the right track.  HMMH is committed to our expansion in these areas – it is the future of the company, and we’ll continue to support our investments in these areas – they have already seen strong returns – and I am convinced that is why we have not had layoffs over the last couple of years while most of our peers in the industry have.  Over the last year or so, I’d say we’ve had mixed success in the tools department:  our new onboard sound intensity measurement system is a great example of teamwork, learning from others’ experience, and focused deployment of resources.  On the other hand, our corporate risk-aversion and too deliberate decision-making process has significantly slowed our uptake of new technology, such as cloud computing.   I believe we need to rededicate ourselves to innovation.  We still “delight clients” as evidenced not only by our improved Dun & Bradstreet Client Satisfaction survey, but also the Zweig White Best Companies to work for survey, in which HMMH staff indicated that being a client-focused organization is of extreme importance.

HBR also had a long article on how strategies for negotiation in high-risk military environments can be employed effectively in business.  We often are engaged in high-stakes conversations – with clients, in public meetings, or even within HMMH.  I found it quite interesting, and think it’s worth sharing a summary of the five strategies they identified:

1.  Get the Big Picture:  When engaged in high stakes conversation or negotiation, start by soliciting the other point of view.  What you learn will help shape objectives of the discussion.  On the client front, one step we’ve taken is to conduct a client interview at project initiation as part of our client satisfaction survey process.

2.  Uncover and collaborate:  By learning the other party’s motivation and concerns, we will be in a much stronger position to propose solutions and invite our clients and colleagues to improve upon them.  Instead of asking “What do you want?” we should be asking “Why is that important to you?”  Some of the discussion at our leadership retreat over the next couple of days will be trying to get at exactly those questions, to enable us to work more effectively as a team. 

3.  Elicit Genuine Buy-in:  Use facts and the principles of fairness, rather than brute force, to persuade others.  Instead of close-mindedness, we should appeal to fairness, by asking “What should we do?”

4.  Build Trust First:  This means dealing with relationship issues head-on and making commitments to encourage trust and cooperation.  I was at the Airport Consultants Council Annual Conference this week.  Ron Peckham – C&S’s President and CEO and this year’s ACC president has a number of favorite quotations.  One of them that always resonates (and which he used on Monday) is this:  A careful conversation is a wasted conversation since it hindered a robust conversation that wanted and needed to happen.  

5.  Focus on Process:  Consciously change the game by not reacting to the other side.  Take steps to shape the negotiation process as well as the outcome.  In high-stakes negotiations, we naturally want to avoid harm to ourselves or constituents; this often creates pressure to give in on critical issues.  The resulting agreement, however, may create an exposure to risk far beyond the immediate threat. 

My takeaway from the military, then is this:  we need to remain true to our mission and be sure that everyone knows and understands it.  In addition, we need most importantly to stay true to our values, which have not changed through all our new initiatives:

  • Serve Clients
  • Be Honest
  • Respect Others
  • Build Value
  • Use Teams
  • Seek Growth
  • Have Fun