Depending on the publication or organization you consult, our atmosphere has sucked up enough energy-related emissions to bring us near, at, or past a point of no return where rising sea levels, heightened temperatures, and poor air quality wreak havoc on everything from weather to life itself.

Today, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) –the head honcho of greenhouse gases–sits at about 398.55 parts per million (ppm). Many scientists believe 350 ppm is a safe level of CO2, with some claiming 400 ppm makes the consequences of ‘too little, too late solutions’ irreversible. Others claim 450 ppm is the number to fear. Regardless, when our air hits a concentration of 1.4% CO2, we will stop breathing. At 400 ppm, we are 5% of the way there.

How much of a challenge is it to cut back on energy use? Let’s face it: As a species, we already use a lot of energy, but human advancements on the horizon only see us needing more. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, the average American used about 313 million btus of energy in 2011. To visualize this, imagine the energy present in 335,861 slices of cheese pizza or needed to process 306,862,745 Google searches. Since all that cheese isn’t going to power our vehicles, and nobody is going to stop using the Internet, our new fuel of choice must be energy efficiency. Do we dare think optimistically about this? The EPA claims, “It is not too late to have a significant impact on future climate change and its effects on us. With appropriate actions by governments, communities, individuals, and businesses, we can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution we release and lower the risk of much greater warming and severe consequences.”

Simply put: The game might not be over, but it’s crunch time.

So how can we prevent more CO2 emissions from disrupting the atmosphere? Well, you could …

  • Eat less beef. It takes almost 60 lbs. of CO2 emissions to produce 2 lbs. of beef. Vegetarian burrito, anyone?
  • Spend less time gaming. Every hour your video game system is powered down results in 29 lbs. fewer CO2 emissions.
  • Bring your own mug. Not using disposable coffee cups for a week results in 1.25 lbs. fewer CO2 emissions.

Peanuts, you say? Go big or go home, and take your hands off my steak? Done. This is where energy-efficient building performance can take the lead via new and retrofitted commercial and residential structures. Standard recommendations include tightening building envelope, installing programmable thermostats, and choosing energy-efficient lighting. While those are important considerations, we can still go bigger. Haglid Engineering believes there isn’t enough attention given to Air-to-Air Energy Recovery Ventilators for regulating indoor air quality and temperature. For those unfamiliar with the concept, ERVs precondition incoming air to room temperature, ditching 90% of the heating and cooling load that you already paid for and recovering it from air you’re going to exhaust.

In the past, Energy Recovery Ventilators were accused of average efficiencies that required additional heating and cooling with a resulting greater cost. That’s because most ERVs run at about 50% thermal efficiency. Consequently, the additional HVAC equipment needed to complement the unit could easily be much more expensive than the unit itself. But times have changed–at least at Building Performance Equipment, LLC. BPE’s ‘Long-Ass’ ERVs boast 80% – 98% thermal efficiency in preconditioning outdoor fresh air with exhaust air. The benefit? In many cases, the resulting indoor air is close enough to room temperature that you do not need supplemental heating and cooling. So, while BPE’s units might cost more than traditional ERVs, they could actually provide the least expensive installed cost compared to other technologies.

How big is this news? Let’s return to our numbers game. For every BPE-MIR-XE-2000 Long-Ass ERV installed in a commercial or residential structure, 3.24 standard cars worth of CO2 emissions are taken off the road each year. Roughly, if just 100,000 such units were installed in retrofitted structures, that’s 320,400 cars off the road for a total of 3,652,560,000 lbs. of CO2 that does not make its way into the atmosphere … for each year of use. When you consider that commercial building stock in the United States sits at about 4.9 million, to say nothing of residential structures, well, you do the math!

Talk is cheap, especially when the tech needed to take real action against climate change is already available. And if you can save money on energy as well? Installing BPE ERVs becomes a no-brainer. Contact BPE, Inc. (201.722.1414) to discuss how your commercial building or home can become part of the solution.