Top-10 Products for Affordable Green Retrofits


By Tristan Roberts

Many cost-effective green retrofit strategies involve expert audits or operational changes (see "Cost-Effective Green Retrofits" for detail). Many opportunities are also available in key product areas. To highlight some of the best, we’ve combed through our GreenSpec Directory of green building products for this list of the Top-10 Products for Affordable Green Retrofits.

1. Fluid-Applied Roofing

Fluid-applied roofing products can be applied over an existing roof to extend its life and increase reflectivity, reducing cooling loads. If you have the budget, however, you’ll get even more savings by replacing the roof membrane and adding several inches of rigid-foam insulation.

2. Solar-Control Window Films

Window films from companies such as V-Kool and 3M are an excellent retrofit measure for reducing solar heat-gain, particularly for buildings with high cooling loads. Spectrally selective films can filter out half the heat of sunlight while allowing most of the visible light through.

3. Entryway Track-Off Systems

Dust and dirt carried inside on shoes adds to cleaning costs, shortens the life of floor finishes, and harms indoor air quality. Comprehensive track-off systems like those from Johnsonite and Arden Architectural Specialties are a good investment for mitigating these problems.

4. Low-Flow Showerheads

Aging showerheads using as much as 8 gallons per minute (gpm; 30 lpm) can easily be targeted for water and energy savings. Although the federal maximum standard is 2.5 gpm (9.5 lpm), models from Bricor, Delta, Niagara, and others offer satisfying showers with 1.6 gpm (6 lpm) or less.

5. Dual-Flush Flushometer Valves

As toilet flushing is the largest single use of water in most buildings, retrofits reducing that water use can pay off quickly. Products from Sloan Valve Company and Zurn Plumbing Products add a water-saving 1.1-gallon flush (4 lpf) option to conventional 1.6 gallon-per-flush (6 lpf) commercial toilets.

6. Duct Sealants

Leaky ducts created unplanned air flows that reduce thermal comfort and air quality while wasting energy. Duct mastics are a cheap, easy fix where access is possible. In retrofits of larger buildings, products like Aeroseal, which seal ducts from the inside with a polymer distributed through duct pressurization, can be cost-effective.

7. Condensing Boilers

Boiler replacement isn’t cheap, but neither is the waste from conventional atmospheric-combustion boilers. Especially if an old one is due for replacement, a high-efficiency condensing boiler may be in order. Boilers listed in GreenSpec offer up to 96% efficiency (with gas).

8. Lighting and Plug Load
Occupancy Sensors

Occupancy sensors such as those from Sensor Switch and Watt Stopper are relatively easy to retrofit and can quickly slash lighting energy use. Watt Stopper also offers power strips with occupancy sensors, suitable for controlling desk lamps and some office equipment.

9. Energy Dashboards

The Energy Detective (TED) and other “dashboards” for building energy and water resource use can be easily installed, and help target energy hogs within a building while encouraging energy-saving behavior.

10. LED Exit Signs

LEDs may not be cost-effective for ambient illumination retrofits, but in targeted areas like exit signs, their low energy use (as little as 1.8 watts, compared with 12W for compact fluorescent and 25W for incandescent) makes them good retrofit candidates.

April 1, 2009


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EBN: Feature - April 2009

Product Image: Isolé Plug Load Control
Watt Stopper/Legrand
Product Image: Sensor Switch Occupancy Sensors
Sensor Switch, Inc.
Product Image: Aeroseal
Aeroseal, LLC
Product Image: Zurn Dual-Flush Flushometer Valve
Zurn Plumbing Products Group
Product Image: EnvIRONtread II
Watt Stopper/Legrand
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1. Photo: Michael Lovullo/Niagara Conservation
2. Photo: Watt Stopper/Legrand
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