Bryan Cordill

Commercial construction professionals should specify with low emission propane generators for increased resiliency  A new study from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) emphasizes the need to accelerate decarbonization today with clean energy sources like propane. The analysis, Power Generation: The Emissions Shifting Problem looks at the recent trends in power generation and how propane Read more

Commercial construction professionals should specify with low emission propane generators for increased resiliency 

A new study from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) emphasizes the need to accelerate decarbonization today with clean energy sources like propane. The analysis, Power Generation: The Emissions Shifting Problem looks at the recent trends in power generation and how propane systems can offer a low emissions and resilient solution for commercial construction professionals and their customers.

“Popular opinion has been that electrification of everything is the only solution for the climate crisis,” said Dr. Gokul Vishwanathan, director of research & sustainability at PERC. “Unfortunately, this is a very simplistic one-dimensional proposal for an extremely complex multi-dimensional energy and climate problem.”

Climate change induced severe weather events coupled with natural disasters has led to electrical grid failures. Commercial propane generators provide supplemental power for a building’s electrical loads when power from the electric grid is interrupted.

Unexpected outages have increased as the U.S. places growing electricity demands on a century-old grid. In fact, the United States endures more blackouts than any other developed nation. And according to federal databases at the Department of Energy (DOE) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the number of U.S. outages lasting more than an hour have increased steadily over the past decade. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) conducted an analysis and on average, a person in the US went over eight hours without electricity in 2020. That’s more than twice as long the average American went without power in 2013, the year that the EIA started keeping track. This loss of power to commercial buildings can impact vital systems like smoke and fire detection, elevators, refrigeration units, heating and cooling equipment, health and safety equipment, communications, and many other applications.

To combat those failures, reliance on diesel power generation has increased, creating a bigger emissions problem and degradation of local air quality. Propane power generation equipment, including backup generators and combined heat and power systems can help businesses increase safety and resiliency, avoid economic losses, and reduce emissions allowing businesses to retain their clean operation even with a power failure.

“Replacing diesel assets with propane-powered equipment will continue to push us toward significant air quality improvement and decarbonization,” said Vishwanathan. “It is markedly important to just not focus on electrification of all sectors but on a diversified portfolio that accounts for both market dynamics and consumer preferences.”

The analysis presented the following findings:

  • There is a tremendous reliance on diesel generators for commercial and microgrid applications. Sales of diesel generators have significantly increased due to electric grid disturbances caused by severe weather events, exacerbating local air quality concerns.
  • Propane can displace diesel generators in these markets and significantly improve local air quality, particularly by mitigating nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
  • Combined heat and power solutions offer both power and heat (and/or cooling), while providing significant reductions in nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide emissions.

“We know that customers are not only looking for a reliable power solution, but they’re seeking clean equipment with a low emissions profile, too,” said Bryan Cordill, director of residential and commercial business development at PERC. “Propane is a stable, portable energy source that can help support Americans even when the grid goes down, ensuring continuity of operations. Plus, using propane every day in your facilities helps reduce the strain on our fragile electric grid and the more diverse America’s energy mix is, the more reliable it is.”

Read the complete study and learn more at Propane.com/Research.

Increase efficiency, lower emissions with a clean energy source made in the USA  This Earth Day, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is reminding builders, architects, engineers, and contractors that propane-powered systems can help buildings reduce emissions and their overall carbon footprint. “Achieving sustainability goals in new construction or renovation projects is a team Read more

Increase efficiency, lower emissions with a clean energy source made in the USA 

This Earth Day, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is reminding builders, architects, engineers, and contractors that propane-powered systems can help buildings reduce emissions and their overall carbon footprint.

“Achieving sustainability goals in new construction or renovation projects is a team effort, requiring input from the builders, architects, engineers, and contractors as well as from the owners, operators, and facility managers who run and occupy buildings,” said Bryan Cordill, director of residential and commercial business development at PERC. “As states and municipalities continue to adopt more demanding emissions standards, it’s important to consider the emissions profile of a building’s systems and appliances—and the energy source powering them.”

Commercial construction professionals and their customers frequently look for reliable, available power solutions with a low emissions profile. Ensuring a sustainable operation is more important than ever as commercial sites try to become better environmental stewards, making propane-powered systems like furnaces, boilers, backup generators, and water heaters an even more compelling choice.

For example, propane water heaters use less source energy and generate fewer greenhouse gas (GHG), nitrous oxides (NOx), and sulfur oxides (SOx), emissions than conventional electric resistance water heaters. When compared to electric heat pump water heaters, propane water heaters have comparable source energy and GHG emissions, with significant reductions in SOx, according to data from the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and PERC.

Propane-powered backup generators produce considerably fewer emissions than their diesel counterparts. Propane burns cleaner than diesel, reducing NOx and SOx emissions, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide. Data from the Department of Energy (DOE) shows diesel produces 16 percent more carbon dioxide emissions per unit of energy than propane. Additionally, when propane is stored on site, either above or below ground, there’s no risk for land or groundwater contamination. Diesel, on the other hand, has the potential to contaminate soil if it spills or leaks.

“Versatile propane systems can meet the demands of a wide variety of commercial spaces like restaurants, schools, warehouses, hospitals, office spaces, and retailers” said Cordill. “And because propane is an independent and highly portable energy source that works well with other clean energy sources, businesses can rely on it for clean power and energy resilience–not only on Earth Day, but all year long.”

To learn more about how propane can help construction professionals meet environmental and efficiency goals this Earth Day, visit Propane.com/Commercial-Buildings-and-Construction.

Propane and solar can work together to play a large part in national energy conversation Solar Appreciation Day is Friday, March 11, and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is sharing ways that construction professionals and their customers can use propane and solar energy together to reduce their carbon footprint. “Solar PV, an intermittent Read more

Propane and solar can work together to play a large part in national energy conversation

Solar Appreciation Day is Friday, March 11, and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is sharing ways that construction professionals and their customers can use propane and solar energy together to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Solar PV, an intermittent electricity  producer, is a low-emission, renewable energy source,” said Bryan Cordill, director of residential and commercial business development at PERC.  “However, relying only on solar power can be difficult in regions due to a variety of reasons like the amount of daylight hours during winter or tree cover. Propane can help.”

Currently, propane is used by nearly 12 million U.S. households for home heating, water heating or cooking, and by thousands of American businesses. The more propane appliances a business or home has, the lower the amount of solar power needed to operate lights or  charge cell phones. Hybrid systems that run on propane and solar can be tailored to a project’s unique needs, providing lower first costs and reduced ongoing energy costs and emissions.

Large, sustained power outages have continued over the last two decades according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In 2021, more than 8.6 million people experienced a power interruption. Severe weather-related problems have driven much of the increase in large outages shown, as reported by the DOE. In response, consumers are investing in alternate power solutions. This increased demand for clean energy sources is why construction professionals need to be knowledgeable about different energy sources, like solar and propane.

“We need to consider a mix of energy sources (propane, solar, electric, natural gas) to keep our homes and businesses running,” said Cordill. “We can do that with a low-carbon emissions energy source—propane is here now to make that impact. A diverse energy mix ensures reliability during critical events, like severe weather.”

For contractors interested in improving a home’s carbon footprint in an affordable and reliable way for customers, propane is a viable energy solution. When propane is used with solar power systems, emissions are reduced, and reliability is increased. Discover more about the environmental benefits of propane at Propane.com.

Explore the benefits of propane CHP and micro-CHP systems Driven by the climbing costs of electricity and increasing grid outages, consumers and businesses are searching for affordable, reliable energy solutions. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) created a new resource for residential and commercial construction professionals that outlines the benefits and capabilities of propane-powered combined Read more

Explore the benefits of propane CHP and micro-CHP systems

Driven by the climbing costs of electricity and increasing grid outages, consumers and businesses are searching for affordable, reliable energy solutions. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) created a new resource for residential and commercial construction professionals that outlines the benefits and capabilities of propane-powered combined heat and power (CHP) units.

A propane-powered CHP unit uses a propane engine to power a generator that produces electricity. It then uses the heat that’s generated for home or building heating and to heat water. Available in a wide range of capacities, CHP systems are ideal for single-family homes, apartment buildings, small businesses, utility power, and large commercial and industrial applications.

“CHP systems offer residential and commercial customers an energy solution that’s environmentally friendly, affordable, and incredibly reliable—plus, many won’t go down with the electric grid,” says Bryan Cordill, PERC’s director of residential and commercial business development. “Vulnerabilities in our electric grid are causing Americans to seek other reliable energy options, and we want them to know they can rely on propane anytime, anywhere.”

The free, downloadable brochure details some of the key benefits of propane-powered CHPs, including:

  • Propane-powered CHP and micro-CHP systems outpace the efficiency and emissions of traditional heating or water heating systems, surpassing energy savings from even the most efficient boilers.
  • In commercial micro-CHP systems, propane units reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent compared with diesel diesel and 50 percent compared with electric.
  • Propane models reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 13 percent compared with natural gas and 50 percent compared with electric.

Download PERC’s new brochure to learn more or visit Propane.com.

Propane CHP units offer resiliency, efficiency, and environmental protection Driven by the rising costs of electricity and increasing frequency of power outages, homeowners across the country are searching for energy solutions that are affordable, efficient, and reliable. When it comes to efficiency, there’s no doubt that micro-combined heat and power (micro-CHP) beats electricity supplied over Read more

Propane CHP units offer resiliency, efficiency, and environmental protection

Driven by the rising costs of electricity and increasing frequency of power outages, homeowners across the country are searching for energy solutions that are affordable, efficient, and reliable.

When it comes to efficiency, there’s no doubt that micro-combined heat and power (micro-CHP) beats electricity supplied over the grid. No longer limited to industrial and manufacturing applications, high-efficiency CHP systems have been making their way into more project types—including residential homes—through smaller micro-CHP units.

The basics of CHP and micro-CHP systems

The concept behind the micro-CHP system is simple: The unit replaces a traditional furnace or boiler and water heater with a single appliance that produces both hot water and heat as well as electricity for use in the home. Because the unit runs on propane and many units can start without power from the grid, it offers resilience and energy independence in the event of a power outage without the need for a standby generator.

Suppliers and builders who work with the technology say it can add up to considerable savings over time based on factors such as home size, location, and local electricity costs, but the value of CHP and micro-CHP units can be found nationwide.

Available in a wide range of capacities, CHP systems are ideal for single-family homes, apartment buildings, small businesses, utility power, and large commercial and industrial applications. For example, 1-3 kW units are ideal for 1,800-2,500 square foot single-family homes, 3-10 kW units work well for single-family homes with greater heating loads (like pool heating) and multi-family commercial and light industrial applications, and 10-50 kW units can power residential apartment buildings and commercial buildings (like restaurants).

Micro-CHP systems offer unmatched efficiency

A propane-powered CHP and micro-CHP unit’s total efficiency far outpaces the efficiency of traditional heating or water heating systems, providing operational savings from even the most efficient boilers.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the electricity that comes to a typical single-family home in the U.S. is only about 33 percent efficient. That’s because the heat used to generate it in a coal- or gas-fired power plant is lost, as is some of the electricity during transmission over high-voltage power lines.

Compare that to micro-CHP, which uses an on-site gas- or propane-fired engine to generate electricity while capturing the engine’s heat to produce hot water. These systems are typically 60 to 80 percent efficient, with some systems nearing 90 percent efficiency, according to the EPA.

CHP units are clean and environmentally friendly

Propane-powered combined heat & power (CHP) units produce significantly fewer harmful emissions, making it a better option for everyone—including customers. And as construction professionals know, environmental considerations continue to grow across the residential market.

Notably, the micro-CHP unit can reduce a home’s carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 50 percent, or 4.2 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Additionally, propane models reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 13 percent compared with natural gas and 50 percent compared with electric.

To determine if propane is the right fit for your next residential project, visit Propane.com.

Bryan Cordill is director of residential and commercial business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at bryan.cordill@propane.com.