It’s Earth Day!
As we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, we take a look back at the history of Earth Day and what it has accomplished in the last 52 years.
Before Earth Day was even a thought many Americans were consuming vast amounts of leaded gas due to driving massive and inefficient automobiles. At that time there was little care of the consequences nor concern about how this affected the environment. Senator Gaylord Nelson, credited with creating Earth Day, recognized the need to address this issue. He used the momentum from the Vietnam anti-war protests to establish teach-ins, which brought to light the hazards of air and water pollution. Even though we still have a long way to go, much progress has been made. Earth Day is now celebrated all over the world and is recognized in 141 countries. The establishment of Earth Day is responsible for the creation of many government organizations, such as, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
As we look at our world today, many state governments are seeing the urgency to ease the pollution being caused by their own cities. States such as New York have issued local policy changes to try and alleviate the burden these cities are having on the climate. They have instituted two important policy changes. Beginning in 2024, Local Law 97 (LL97) will put a cap on carbon emissions and Local Law 154 (LL154) will require all new construction projects to be all-electric.
Of course, there is opposition to these measures. Some say the changes required are too expensive, that the current technological infrastructure isn’t ready for gas free buildings, or carbon markets aren’t developed enough. Yes, these are all topics we need to research and understand, but these policies like the politicians that create them come and go, but people will continue to move toward to a more efficient, energy conscience future. This is the essence of the idea behind Earth Day, which is essential to our existence as a planet.
Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from energy consumption are still issues we are grappling with, and energy efficiency is an effective and proven way to accomplish this. We should acknowledge the important work that Engineers do to accomplish this goal. Smith Engineering recently completed a project that substantially reduced the customer’s energy use through the targeted incorporation of best-practice control optimization approaches of the building’s mechanical infrastructure. This included AHU optimization with static pressure and supply air temperature resets, chilled water optimization with optimized equipment staging, condenser and chilled water temperature resets, flow optimization, and chilled water delta T improvements, read more about this here. The savings from these changes impacted the building’s energy use by 20%.
The creation of one day to celebrate the Earth is a great starting point. It serves the purpose of bringing attention to the damage that is caused by pollution, but one day a year is not enough. Climate change awareness needs to be brought to our attention 365 days a year. A renewed sense of concern for the ramifications caused by pollution is needed. We are moving in the right direction, but this important work needs to be continued on this issue that affects us all equally.