Our building is energy efficient and eco-friendly
When we set out to design the office for our new medical dermatology practice, we asked the architect to come up with the most energy efficient building possible. We also requested that he incorporate our rural Nebraska roots into the design. The end result is a structure that borrows the designs and formal cues found on the family farm as well as in simple rural structures.
We incorporated our Nebraska rural values which include energy optimization, energy cost savings and most importantly long-term sustainability. To explain, our spatial arrangement capitalizes on the use of natural daylight as well as low energy use LED bulbs. To power the building, we harness the energy of the sun with a 2,500-kilowatt solar panel array. By using a combination of occupancy sensors, LED lighting, ambient energy recirculation venting and high efficiency insulation, the building is a net energy producer! This means that on most days, the solar panels generate enough electricity to power the building while also sharing unused electricity with our surrounding Lincoln community!
“Taking care of patients and our community!”
– Gina Weir, MD 2020
Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting is found throughout our building. LED bulbs utilize 75% less energy than regular incandescent light bulbs. To explain, incandescent bulbs generate light by passing electricity through a filament. The filament generates not only light, but also heat (up to 90% of the energy used). In contrast, LEDs produce light exciting electrons to create photons, which generate almost no heat. Another benefit of LED lighting is that it lasts about 25 times as long as a standard filament light bulb. So, over the estimated lifespan of one LED bulb, you can save 25 regular light bulbs from ending up in a landfill. Even with a higher up-front cost of installing LED lighting, we end up saving money by reducing our energy waste. Plus, we decrease the amount of garbage that would have gone into our local landfills.
By placing motion sensors throughout our building, we minimize energy wasted on lighting unoccupied rooms. Some studies suggest this can reduce energy consumption by up to 22%. While our lights can still be operated manually, we don’t have to rely on someone remembering to turn the lights off.
Energy Recovery Ventilation
The air you breathe matters to Dermatology Associates of Lincoln. That is why we utilize the Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) by Renew Aire. ERV is a process that optimizes energy efficiency by reusing otherwise wasted heat and humidity. With ERV, the load on our heating and air-conditioning system is reduced and can lower our energy costs by up to 40% each year. In the summertime, outside air entering the building is pre-cooled and dehumidified. Then in the winter, the air is pre-heated and humidified. Indoor air quality is improved when the stale indoor air is vented to the outside. At the same time, outside air is HEPA filtered before it enters the indoor air system. Air cross-contamination is prevented because the indoor and outdoor airstreams are kept completely separate. To learn more about the Renew Aire ERV system you can read their handout online here.
Photovoltaics (solar panels)
Dermatology Associates of Lincoln worked with SWT energy to install the largest privately owned solar panel array in Lancaster county. We installed the most efficient models found in the region, which are said to be able to withstand up to 110 mph winds. The 2500-kilowatt solar panels located on the south facing roof of the building are connected to the Lincoln Electric System (LES) grid. This means that when the building is not utilizing all of the power it generates from the sun, it can redirect power into the public utility grid for other LES customers to use. This helps increase Lincoln’s use of green power sources.
Natural stone and recycled materials can be found throughout the interior and exterior of our building. We used low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints and building materials during construction to maximize air quality. As an added benefit, low VOC paints and materials are found to be safer for the environment.