January 23, 2007

Cutting Energy Use, Emissions

By: by Eric Anderson, Times Union


ALBANY - Plants on building roofs are among the techniques designers at Albany-based Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering P.C. are using to cut energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, the company has launched a new energy-services group as a way of focusing its attention and efforts on the techniques it has been developing over 30 years.

EYP will disclose the group's formation today. It will include between 10 and 15 people to start, and will be based at the company's Albany headquarters.

"With rising energy costs and a growing concern for the environment ... we need to pay more attention to energy consumption and what it might mean to the environment," said Tom Birdsey, EYP president and chief executive. "More of our clients are asking for this."

Birdsey said the new practice will work closely with Capital Region companies involved in emerging energy technologies, mentioning Latham-based Plug Power Inc. (fuel cells), Halfmoon-based DayStar Technologies Inc. (thin-foil solar cells), and the Lighting Research Institute at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.

But while the new technologies may be attracting notice, "the most cost-effective way today to deal with these issues is to be a little more efficient in your energy use," he said.

And cutting energy consumption also cuts costs, he said. "The beauty of this is, we can demonstrate to people this makes good business sense," Birdsey said. "Many buildings were designed with the intention of minimizing construction costs rather than life-cycle costs, including energy use, or simply in ignorance of energy-saving considerations."

Much of EYP's work has been on improving existing buildings. But it also designed a building for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration that has a green roof system, with plants and soil that insulate the building and add oxygen to the air.

EYP will offer energy modeling and audits, master planning, and sustainable design and alternative energy services.