By George Harvey
RenewAire is a company based in Madison, Wisconsin that manufactures energy recovery ventilation (ERV) Products. Their products bring fresh air into a building, and vent stale air out. In that process, however, they recover most of the heat from the exiting air and use it to pre-heat the air coming in. They may also moderate extremes of humidity.
ERVs are important for just about any building with good air sealing. Since good air sealing may be the single most important aspect of energy efficiency in buildings, it is easy to see their importance. We will have an article on ERVs and how they work in the next issue of Green Energy Times. In the meantime, however, there are some interesting things to consider about RenewAire and its facilities.
RenewAire was founded in 1978 as Solar Specialists, by three people who were very much interested in renewable energy generally. In those days, solar photovoltaics were priced at about $55 per watt, too expensive to be very important to anyone, aside from serious experimenters. Solar thermal, however, was already at a point where it was practical in some real-life situations, and that was where Solar Specialists started.
In a short time, more products were added to the company’s product lines. Wind turbines became important products, and the company put up over a hundred of them. The company also put up the first grid-tied photovoltiacs in Wisconsin. ERVs were added in 1983 and that line developed strongly. Finally, in 1995, the company found that ERVs had become such a great part of its line that it spun off all products other than ERVs into a separate company.
The company continued its interest in other facets of efficiency and renewable power. When its new plant was built, in 2005, the company got it certified under the EnergyStar, LEED, and Green Globes programs. Doug Steege, who was one of the Solar Specialists’ founders and is now the RenewAire’s Vice President of Business Development, explained the reason why the building was certified three times. “We needed to go through certification,” he said, “to learn about the process.” The management wanted to get the experience it would need to understand what its customers were going through with certification.
RenewAire’s long-time attachment to renewable and sustainable power led it to procure their electricity from companies with dedicated renewable energy sources. These include Madison Gas and Electric Companies Green Power for Tomorrow and from Sterling Planet’s, Green-e Wind renewable energy certificate programs.
Now, RenewAire is 100% wind powered. The electricity for the company is coming from the grid, but by buying renewable energy credits, RenewAire is specifying how that energy is produced and paying a bit extra for the privilege. It is all coming from wind farms, and a recent certification from the WindMade program makes that clear. Steege says of this, “There is no trick to this. Most customers can get 100% wind power if they want to. It is just a matter of doing it.”
RenewAire’s website is renewaire.com.