Monday, October 20, 2014

RESNET issues HERS index credits for drain water heat recovery technologies

Editor's note: Progressive Engineer published a company profile on RenewABILITY Energy in the September/October issue. You can see it at

Builders and homeowners now have a new, cost-effective way to reduce their Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index scores. Drain water heat recovery (DWHR) technology uses outgoing warm drain water to pre-heat incoming cold fresh water. The result is that the primary water heater uses less energy to provide domestic hot water for the home and, at the same time, increases the effective hot water capacity.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that water heating is the second largest energy use in single-family homes and multi-family buildings across America. DWHR technology is recognized as an energy-saving measure, and many utilities currently have incentive programs for adoption of DWHR technology.

RenewABILITY Energy developed and has been manufacturing the Power-Pipe DWHR technology for over 10 years. CEO and founder Gerald Van Decker states, “Including DWHR technology in new homes has become common practice for many builders in Ontario in the last few years, and over 35,000 homes now have the Power-Pipe. In fact, the Power-Pipe will be included in at least one out of every three new homes built this year in the Toronto region. A HERS Index credit has been available in Canada for over two years. I’m pleased that American builders and homeowners can now use DWHR technology to reduce their HERS Index scores by 1 to 3 points, dependent upon a number of factors including house size, location, and DWHR rated efficiency.” RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network) has designed a spreadsheet tool that calculates and permits for a HERS score improvement by installing DWHR technology. It accompanies approved HERS software. The RESNET DWHR tool, along with background information, can be found at:

The Power-Pipe primarily saves energy from showers, which use up to 80 percent of the hot water in homes, apartment buildings, and health clubs. The Power-Pipe works with any type of water heating system and is also used in many commercial operations such as hotels, hospitals, laundry facilities, and restaurants as well as industrial processes. Typically the Power-Pipe reduces water heating energy consumption by 20 to 35 percent, though smaller units save less and the larger units can provide up to 48 percent energy savings in the average home. Putting this into perspective, whole-home energy consumption is usually reduced by 4 to 7 percent and as much as 10 percent.

“Decreasing energy costs for American homeowners is an effective way to increase a family’s quality of life,” says Van Decker. “Power-Pipe DWHR systems enable homeowners to cost-effectively save a significant amount of energy, helping to reduce monthly household expenses and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 200 pounds per person per year with natural gas water heating, which is a yearly reduction of more than an average adult’s weight. It is a great carbon weight-loss technology!”

The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) was founded in 1995 as an independent, non-profit organization committed to helping homeowners reduce the cost of their utility bills by making their homes more energy efficient. RESNET is responsible for creating the national training and certification standards for HERS Raters and Home Energy Survey Professionals, both of which are recognized by federal government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. mortgage industry.

The HERS Index was created by RESNET to give homeowners and buyers a standard by which they could measure the efficiency of homes they currently own or want to purchase. To arrive at a home’s HERS score, a Certified HERS Rater first performs an energy audit on the home. The audit data is compared against a reference home of the same size and shape and which would comply to the 2006 International Energy and Conservation Code (IECC). The lower a home’s HERS score, the more energy efficient the home. For more information on the HERS Index visit: The HERS Index is used by many counties for energy code compliance, used to assess Energy Star for New Homes compliance, for LEED for Homes and a number of other home labelling programs. It can also be used as an alternative compliance path under the 2015 IECC. MLS in a number of States now includes HERS Index Scores for the homes that they list.

Founded in 2000, RenewABILITY Energy manufactures the Power-Pipe DWHR system in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada with American operations based in Hazelton, PA. The systems are sold across Canada, the United States, and Europe. For more details, please visit

Monday, October 13, 2014

PSI appoints three engineers to principal consultant

Professional Service Industries (PSI) has announced the appointment of Bryan Sy, P.E.; David Barndt, P.E.; and Jonathan Sink, P.E. as principal consultants for its Construction Materials Testing Service line. Sy will be the primary principal consultant for PSI’s offices in McKinney, Fort Worth, and Dallas, Texas. Barndt will serve as the primary principal consultant for PSI’s offices in Waukesha, Green Bay, Chippewa Falls, Menasha, Ripon, Wisconsin and Eagan, Minnesota. Sink will be the primary principal consultant for PSI’s Tampa, Florida office.

Sy earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Tennessee. Based in PSI’s McKinney office, he serves a dual role as district manager and has been with PSI since 2007.

Barndt has more than 20 years of experience in geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing, and environmental consulting.  He earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin. Based in PSI’s Waukesha office, he serves a dual role as senior vice president and has been with PSI since 1981.

Sink earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida. He serves a dual role as senior engineer and manager of Tampa’s Construction Services Department and has been with PSI since 2012.

PSI provides a wide range of environmental, engineering, and testing services, including environmental consulting, geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing and engineering, industrial hygiene services, facilities and roof consulting, NDE, and specialty engineering and testing services. Headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, PSI operates from some 100 U.S. offices with about 2300 employees.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Virginia Tech's Amy Pruden receives innovation award and grant for her work in water quality

Amy Pruden, professor of civil and environmental engineering and associate dean and director of interdisciplinary graduate education in the Graduate School at Virginia Tech, has received the 2014 the Paul L. Busch Award, which includes a $100,000 research grant.
A well-recognized researcher in her field, Pruden has proven instrumental in developing a new way of thinking about controlling aquatic pathogens and expanding the use of recycled water. She has an international reputation in applied microbial ecology, environmental remediation, and environmental reservoirs of antimicrobial resistance.
The Busch Award comes from the Water Environment Research Foundation's Endowment for Innovation in Applied Water Quality Research. The foundation cited her efforts that have contributed significantly to water quality research and its practical application in the environment. The grant given with the award supports work that will bring new benefits to the water quality community and the water-using public they serve.
"The global future of water security will be focused on reuse. The issue of antibiotic resistance will not just go away. Science is needed, and solutions will be forthcoming because of Dr. Pruden's work," says Joan Rose, Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research at Michigan State University and a member of the selection committee. "Expanding the use of recycled water such as treated wastewater is key to achieving water sustainability," Pruden says. However, public health concerns about the reuse of water must be addressed first.
"Wastewater is of special concern because it receives domestic, hospital, and other waste that can contain antibiotics, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and antibiotic resistance genes that can persist or even multiply through treatment and recycling of water," Pruden says. "Antibiotic resistance is a critical and worsening global health threat."
"We have new tools -- the next generation DNA sequencing tools, which have just come online in the last five or so years," Pruden says. "They are providing unprecedented information about microbes in all sorts of environments, including 'clean' drinking water. These tools have really surprised us by showing us the numbers and diversity of microbes. There can be thousands of different species of bacteria in a household water supply."
Pruden said the funding from the award will be used "to help the water industry achieve an innovative and practical approach to achieving water sustainability while also addressing consumers' concerns about the real and growing problem of antibiotic resistance."
Pruden was already among a team of Virginia Tech researchers investigating the challenges presented by four often deadly pathogens that have been documented in household or hospital tap water. They proposed fighting or displacing these opportunistic pathogens with harmless microbes -- a probiotic approach for cleaning up plumbing. Their findings were the subject of a journal article focusing on four opportunistic pathogens that are emerging as a public health concern. 
Legionella is the infamous cause of deadly Legionnaires Disease and milder Pontiac Fever. Mycobacterium avium complex causes a pulmonary disease that is the most expensive waterborne disease in terms of individual hospital visits. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections. Pathogenic free-living amoebae are a group of microorganisms that enhance the growth of bacterial pathogens in water by hosting the pathogen, particularly Legionella and M. avium, protecting them and providing a place for them to multiply. This research was published in the Aug. 20, 2013 online issue of the American Chemical Society journal, Environmental Science and Technology. Virginia Tech's Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science( is sponsoring this work.
In terms of her work with resistance genes, Pruden is among the first researchers who have identified antibiotic resistance developing through environmental sources. For example, when an antibiotic is consumed, researchers have learned that up to 90 percent of the substance passes through the body without metabolizing. This means that the drug can leave the body almost intact through normal bodily functions. 
So, in the case of agricultural areas, excreted antibiotics can then enter the stream and river environments through a variety of ways, including discharges from animal feeding operations, fish hatcheries, and nonpoint sources such as the flow from fields where manure or biosolids have been applied. Water filtered through wastewater treatment plants may also contain used antibiotics. Consequently, these discharges become "potential sources of antibiotic resistance genes," says Pruden, also a 2007 Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering and a 2006 National Science Foundation CAREER Award recipient.
Pruden is also a current investigator on a $300,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation Environmental Sustainability Program to study the residential hot water infrastructure, looking at the overlapping and sometimes at-odds issues of public health, water savings, and energy savings.