Melink’s second headquarters in Milford, Ohio, will be one of the greenest buildings in the world. Not only will it double the office and manufacturing space of our current 30,000 square-feet facility, it will serve as a model on how to design and construct affordable Zero-Energy Buildings (ZEB) of the future. Why is this so important?
Commercial buildings and homes consume over 60% of the energy in the United States and, therefore, represent a majority of our country’s carbon footprint. Though the building industry is on a path to achieve Zero-Energy on all new construction by the year 2030, it will be very difficult to convert the millions of existing buildings to Zero-Energy before 2050.
Unfortunately, because of global climate change, we may not be able to wait that long. We need cost-effective solutions now. The 17 hottest years on record have occurred over the last 18 years, and the trend is getting worse over time. Climate disasters from floods to fires are becoming more frequent and severe as a result. In fact, more and more scientists are saying this could become an existential threat.
Yes, solar and wind power have gone mainstream over the last 10 years and that is good news. And many utilities, businesses, schools, and government entities are starting to jump on the bandwagon. But renewable energy still only makes up about 20% of our country’s energy mix. Coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear make up the rest. We need to go from 20% to 80% renewables within the next 10-20 years.
One way to speed adoption is not wait for fickle governments and regulated utilities to solve this problem. It’s time for the business sector to lead and create the clean energy economy of the 21st Century. This means small, medium, and large companies like ours need to start making the necessary investments now. Together, we can and must wean ourselves from dirty fossil fuels.
To be clear, this is not just about protecting the environment. It’s about saving our planet and life as we
know it. It’s about investing in our security, health, and economy. Who doesn’t want to be safe from more natural disasters in the future? Who doesn’t want to be secure from flooding coastlines and mass human migration? And who doesn’t want more jobs and long-term economic growth?
Therefore, this epic problem should also be viewed as a tremendous opportunity for humankind to finally work together on something that is bigger than any one person, political party, or country. We can either smartly invest trillions of dollars now … or stupidly pay hundreds of trillions and likely lose millions of lives later. We all know what our children and grandchildren would say.
What does this have to do with our HQ2? Everything. Our new building will not be just another green project to say we "walk the talk" at Melink. Our building will be about showing architects, engineers, and contractors how to design and construct affordable ZEBs of the future. In other words, it will be about helping revolutionize the building industry for the 21st Century.
How will we accomplish this?
We are going to show that one can invest a small premium of 15-20% over and above a conventional, code-compliant building, and make it Zero-Energy. The message being: If Melink can do it, so
can everyone else across the country. I believe developers, architects, and engineers from across the land will want to see and hear how we did this. I believe our customers will want to see and hear how we did this. The return on investment will be too good for them not to.
How is this different than HQ1?
We invested a slightly larger premium of 25% over and above a conventional, code-compliant building. We also made these investments to an existing building — slowly over time as we could afford them. This HQ2 project will show we can do it for an even lower premium if we smartly design the building and take advantage of the most recent innovations.
Features will include several of the best ones we incorporated here in our HQ1. For example, we will
have an even more highly-insulated building envelope; we will have the next generation of window and door systems; and we will have a larger solar canopy over the parking lot.
While we can't share too many details at this time because of the proprietary nature of our innovations, we promise we will push the envelope in ways that will make HQ2 one of the most innovative green buildings on the planet. More details will be provided in the near future.
And we will have many other features that won’t necessarily pertain to energy, but will make the building more comfortable and inspiring. For example, we will have more open work spaces, more windows and skylights, and a green wall or water feature. And we will have an area to educate visitors on the history of HVAC because to see the future you have to know the past. Last, we will have a spirit wear shop to reward customers with gifts to memorialize their visit.
As far as timing, the building will be completed by the end of this year and we plan to hold a grand opening at a future time, where we can publicize our initial findings from our building.
How are we going to pay for HQ2?
I am taking advantage of what is called a PACE loan to invest in the energy efficiency and renewable energy features of our new building. In essence the capital is provided upfront and paid back over 25-30 years through an assessment on the property taxes. This is a great financing tool that we also want to share with the world.
In conclusion, if we’re not part of the solution, who and what are we? As experts in the building industry, if we don’t help raise the bar, who will and when? We’re certainly not going to rest on past laurels and let the world pass us by. We’re going to lead and make a difference.