TowerPinkster is a firm of architects and engineers committed to design integrity, quality, and environmental responsibility. We turn possibilities into reality...and that's called making it real. To see learn more about our projects and services, visit us at

Friday, February 26, 2010

Saving Energy = Saving Money

“At TowerPinkster we’ve made a commitment to sustainability. From the design of our Kalamazoo office—the first LEED certified facility in Southwest Michigan—to the hybrid cars we drive, we are dedicated to leading by example as good stewards of our environment. And, when saving energy saves money, it makes perfect business sense!”

Arnold Mikon, FAIA
President and CEO

Tough economic times often require difficult decisions to be made. But what if you could significantly improve your organization’s bottom line without cutting staff, reducing salaries or causing discomfort? What if in the process of implementing these cost-cuts, your organization also improved productivity, showed responsible citizenship and—just for good measure—helped save the earth? Smart energy usage in your existing facility can do just that.

Buildings Are Biggest Users
Approximately 37% of the energy and 68% of the electricity produced in the United States annually is consumed by buildings. As much as 25% of building energy use is wasted. That’s a lot of lost green—money, that is.

Click here to read the full article, or view additional white papers on other topics at our website.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Classroom of the Future

TowerPinkster’s, Matt Slagle, AIA, LEED AP, recently partnered with Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Architect and Design Supervisor, Alex Smart, to create a “Classroom of the Future” submittal for an international design competition: The Open Architecture Network Classroom Challenge. The result was collaborative design that challenges traditional learning environments and explores the use of new technology and sustainable products.

TowerPinkster’s mission for “Classroom297” was to inspire GRPS students and staff to re-imagine their classroom, transforming it into a cutting-edge learning environment. The classroom had to support 36 students and state-of-the-art technology while remaining flexible enough to respond to a multidisciplinary curriculum.

Flexibility and Furniture
Experience tells us that if a room takes more than a few minutes to change, it never changes. And if we only make the furniture mobile, the technology wiring acts as a leash. Our team’s solution was the design for a “twisty” table which features a fixed, rotating leg through which wiring can be run. It can also be positioned to easily transform into different configurations. Bamboo cabinets house computer equipment, open shelving stores hands-on teaching tools, and curved walls create a better acoustic environment. Covered in “Idea Paint”, the walls become markerboards, so kids are actually encouraged to write on the walls.

Click here to read the full article, or view additional white papers on other topics at our website.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Building Envelope Design

“A high-performing building envelope is an important element in an energy efficient building. In addition to saving energy, it protects the building and contents from the intrusion of moisture and provides added comfort for its occupants.”

Gary Johnson, AIA, LEED AP

The Envelope

Tough economic times often require difficult decisions be made. But what if you could significantly improve your organization’s bottom-line without cutting staff, reducing salaries or causing discomfort? Start off on the right foot by taking a good look at your existing facility’s envelope.

Don’t Turn Back the Clock
In the energy crunch of the 1970’s, many buildings had miniscule windows, insulated panel systems and unacceptably low ventilation rates giving rise to “sick-building syndrome”. Airborne contaminants remained indoors and the lack of natural light produced depressing spaces. fortunately, technological advances have made it possible for today’s approach to design to improve occupants’ productivity and health while achieving energy saving goals.

Click here to read the full article, or view additional white papers on other topics at our website.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Economical Electrical Usage

TowerPinkster Corporate Office - Kalamazoo, MI “There are so many creative and impactful ways to save energy. The very first step is to educate yourself on where the energy is being used and how you can control it.”

Don White, PE, LEED AP
Electrical Department Manager

See the Light
What if in the process of improving your organization's bottom line, you could improve productivity, show responsible citizenship and—just for good measure—help save the earth?
Smart energy usage in your facility can do just that.

Go Outside with LED
There is good reason that LED lighting is quickly becoming a viable lighting source, particularly in interior applications. Replacing a 400-watt metal halide parking fixture with a 257-watt LED fixture has the same light output with a 55% energy savings. LEDs require less maintenance than other lamps and, lasting more than 100,000 hours, have a simple payback of seven years.

Install Multiple Meters
Multiple meters can help determine where the energy is being used. This allows you to set a baseline of energy use which can be used to establish measures that control consumption.

Turn Off Equipment
Studies show that electronics can make up to 20% of a building’s electrical load. Turn computers off overnight. During the day, instead of the screen saver mode, set computers to sleep mode which lowers the energy usage to about 6 watts.

Click here to read the full article, or view additional white papers on other topics at our website.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Congratulations Tom Mathison!

Congratulations to Tom Mathison, FAIA, REFP, for his receipt of AIA Michigan's Robert F. Hastings Award, an annual award that recognizes an individual’s outstanding contributions to the architectural profession. Recipients are individuals who are committed to improving the urban environment and who have made a significant contribution to the improvement of architecture.

Tom has served in many capacities for AIA Michigan including the National Board of Directors and in 2004 was elected Vice President. During this time, he helped to develop a nationwide strategic plan for issues of education, emerging professionals and diversity. He also represented AIA on the National Board for AIA Students and on the Intern Development Program Coordinating Committee. In 2005, Tom was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows, and received the prestigious Gold Medal from AIA Michigan. He is now on the AIA Practice Academy Advisory Task Group and is involved with NAAB accreditation teams for colleges of architecture across the U.S.

Tom also founded the AIA Michigan Mentoring Network to bring Michigan’s practicing architects together with students at the state’s colleges of architecture at a critical time in their educational careers. The Michigan mentoring model has since been duplicated in other AIA components across the country.

Congratulations, Tom!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Saving Money Through Heating and Cooling Efficiency

“Selecting the right HVAC equipment for a facility is half the battle. Maintaining and monitoring that equipment and challenging established energy useage habits can result in significant reductions in your energy consumption.”

Hans Korendyke, PE, CSI, CDT, CIPE
Senior Mechanical Engineer

New Construction
HVAC systems account for 39% of the energy used in commercial buildings in the U.S. The selection of high performance equipment for new construction can result in considerable energy, emissions and cost savings.

Systems Selection
Appropriate equipment selection must take into account the correct sizing to maximize efficiency, the owner’s plans for future expansion, the location of the equipment, and the sizing and routing of duct and piping systems to minimize pressure losses (energy required for distribution). And high performance systems don’t have to be expensive. Typically a 30% reduction in annual energy costs can be achieved with a payback period of three to five years.

Click here to read the full article, or view additional white papers on other topics at our website.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Energy Saving Tax Incentives

“EPAct is another way of raising the bar when it comes to energy-efficient design. Similar to LEED, it will push the industry to provide more efficient light fixtures and HVAC systems. TowerPinkster strives to stay ahead of the curve in sustainable design, and in the case of EPAct, our clients can reap the financial rewards."

Lentz Becraft, PE, LEED AP
Electrical Engineer

Federal Tax Incentives
The EPA’s Energy Policy Act of 2005 created tax incentives to improve building energy efficiency across the U.S. The “Commercial Building Tax Deduction” establishes a federal deduction equal to the energy-efficient expenditures made by commercial property owners, subject to a cap. The deduction can be claimed directly by the owners or, in the case of Federal, State, and local government facilities or public schools, by the project designer.

How Does it Work?
A deduction of up to $1.80/SF is available to owners or designers of new or renovated buildings that save at least 50% of the lighting, heating, and cooling energy of a building that meets ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001. Partial deductions of up to $.60/SF can be taken for measures aff ecting any one of three building systems: the building envelope, lighting, or heating and cooling systems The partial deduction for energy-efficient lighting is the easiest to claim and to document, as no computer simulation is required. HVAC deductions can also be readily achieved, although energy modelling is required to verify efficiency. Unfortunately, the requirements for an energy-efficient building envelope can be costly and difficult to meet. As a result, only a small percentage of buildings will receive the full $1.80/SF deduction. Certifications and documentation of expenditures and energy savings must be obtained after project completion and prior to tax submittal.

Click here to read the full article, or view additional white papers on other topics at our website.