Did you know that Atlanta’s energy consumption affects the building health of people living in Alabama?
The Greenlink Group makes discoveries about energy consumption and its impact on Americans well-being across the globe.
Dr. Matt Cox is the CEO of The Greenlink Group. The Greenlink Group is a clean energy research and consulting company based out of Atlanta, Georgia specializing in energy efficiency, renewable energy and urban sustainability.
They are most notable for their ATHENIA model, a fully-integrated power system dynamics model. Through creative and interactive tools, it conveys the impacts of clean energy actions for clients.
ATHENIA isn’t just an energy model,
it’s a Social Benefit Cost Analysis.
It looks at the hourly consumption to hourly supply and evaluates the impact of energy generation on the emissions of seven pollutants. It then enables scenario analysis based on the observed monetary and epidemiological outputs.
Local Atlanta Impacts
Atlanta has adopted to move to 100% clean energy. The Greenlink group developed a tool that enables the city representatives to see how they can vary the renewables to reach 100% clean energy, allowing one to change the amount of residential solar, utility solar, commercial solar, etc.
When all renewable energy sources were pushed to the max in the model, it fell short. Solar Renewable Energy Credits would make up the remaining 34%.
Nation Wide Impacts
Atlanta Better Building Challenge (ABBC) has over 500 participating building participating in the challenge. The program records how much energy was saved year to year. The image below shows the 2016 energy savings (the difference) that the ABBC made as modeled by the Greenlink Group. For example, at the program’s peak it was saving 11 megawatt hours of energy.
The Greenlink group was able to take the hourly data (energy savings) and match it to Georgia Power’s loads in order to calculate the avoided damages. They found that the biggest beneficiary of the ABBC program was actually Alabama due to the amount of power that Georgia Power purchases from Alabama and the amount of coal-fired plants in Alabama.
Check out the map below! The darker the color, the greater impact. The impact of the ABBC challenge on public building health spreads all the way North to Maine and all the way West to Texas! How incredible is that?
This map is interactive! Click here and scroll down to check it out.
What does it take to decommission coal plants?
Energy efficiency, low natural gas costs, concern for public health and the penetration of renewable energy are pushing coal to a less favorable form of energy production. The cost of decommissioning is bore by the utility companies or the state, and a struggle is figuring out how to dispose of coal ash, the toxic pollutants that are created as a result of burning coal. Coal ash is hazardous waste that causes cancer, reproductive problems asthma, and developmental disorders.
It is possible that coal plants would become superfund sites. A superfund site is a federally designated brownfield, great candidate for LEED project site because a builder receives tax breaks for cleaning up the pollutants.
Interested in learning about your own state’s energy efficiency? Click here to use the EPA’s *Free* COBRA Health Impacts Screening and Mapping Tool.
Want to learn how to design net zero? Check out Design Features of Net Zero Emission Buildings.