Two new additions have been added to the Melink Corporation’s Green Features. Steve Melink has recently purchased a Chevy Volt, an alternative energy vehicle that offers two sources of energy. The electric source is a battery that allows him to drive gas-free for approximately 35 miles. There is also an onboard gas generator that produces electricity to allow Steve to drive an additional 375 miles on a full tank of gas. With the electric vehicle charging station at the Melink Corporation headquarters, Steve is always ready to go!
The other new addition to the Melink family is a system of batteries installed in our plant. A 25kW lead-acid and lithium-ion battery storage system reduces peak-demand charges in the summer and winter. When our net-zero energy building creates excess energy, it is stored on the batteries first before sending any additional energy back to the grid. Like a good cup of coffee, the batteries help us get started in the morning when our energy usage begins to increase.
Melink Corporation's net zero energy green headquarters is located in Milford, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. Known for being only one of a handful of LEED Platinum buildings in Ohio, Melink has led the way in the green revolution with its focus on conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy. The building itself has become a destination for the local community and students as well as companies interested in learning how to save energy and create healthier environments for their employees.
The 30,000 square foot facility includes 20,000 square feet of offices and meeting space, and 10,000 square feet for a light manufacturing plant. When the building was completed in 2006, it was awarded LEED Gold NC (new construction) certification, the first for an office building in Ohio. Through continuous improvement and the addition of solar PV and wind power, Melink was awarded LEED Platinum EB (existing building) certification in January, 2010. In 2011, it became net zero energy.
Below are some highlights of Melink's green features and a more detailed list is available here. If you are interested in touring Melink, please contact us at 513-965-7300.
To achieve LEED certification when first built, the Melink headquarters building was designed with a southern-facing orientation to maximize daylight as a natural source of light, maximize solar heating during the winter and minimize cooling in the summer. The restrooms, stairwells, and storage rooms are located on the east and west ends of the building to minimize sun glare and hot spots and provide added insulation to the environment.
The roof over the manufacturing plant area was reduced in height to minimize HVAC operating costs, with ceiling fans used in the summer for convection cooling and during the winter to reduce stratification (heat rising to the ceiling and cool air falling to the floor).
To help create a net-zero energy building, pre-cast concrete walls with R-19 insulation, a roof membrane with R-30 insulation, and high-performance exterior windows all work together to maximize solar reflection while minimizing convection losses. Metal doors are covered with foil-backed bubble insulation and the plant's bay doors are sealed and insulated to minimize infiltration when opened for shipping and receiving purposes.
Extensive use of exterior and interior windows provides employees with natural daylight and reduces Melink's need for electrical light. Skylights and low-profile workstations in the center of the building allow natural daylight to permeate the office environment and provide an open office atmosphere.
Exterior sun shades were installed on the south windows to reduce solar gain during the warmer months and increase solar gain during cooler months. Mini-blinds were installed on south windows to serve as sun screens and light "shelves" by creating an angle that reflects sunlight up towards the ceiling during winter afternoons when the sun is low.
All office, conference room and bathroom lights have automatic control sensors to turn lights on when a room is occupied and off when unoccupied for a programmed amount of time, however manual controls are also available to turn lights off if adequate light is available for working. Employees also have the ability to use a 13-watt task lamp which provides enough light without adding significant head load to the office space.
Exterior building lights are controlled by time of day, photocell, and motion sensor so they only illuminate when needed. Sidewalk lights are solar powered and exterior parking lot lights turn on an hour after dusk and turn off an hour before dawn.
Melink burns no fossil fuels and instead uses 28 geothermal wells to heat and cool the building. Over 5 miles of underground piping provides the office with a stable temperature year-round, and variable-speed water circulating pumps and differential pressure sensors save pump energy during partial-load conditions with 25% minimum speed setting.
Melink monitors its power usage via an electrical distribution system which includes sub-meters for each section of the building to allow separate monitoring of HVAC, lighting, and plug loads. Monitoring also includes trending of key building health parameters like temperature, CO2, lighting levels, geothermal water temperature and flow-rates.
Sink faucets have infrared sensors for automatic on/off operation and aerators to reduce water usage. Waterless urinals in the men's restrooms use zero water (versus 1 gallon per flush for conventional urinals) and the toilets have dual-flush capacity. Melink estimates its water usage is 40% less than conventional buildings of the same size. The septic system with leech fields promotes a self-sustaining mentality and eliminates the need for a sewer line.
A solar thermal system was installed for the second floor gym showers to minimize the need for electric water heating. The system is interconnected with the geothermal loop to dump waste heat to the heat pumps during the winter to improve efficiency. For the showers in the manufacturing plant, a heat pump was installed to minimize the need for electric water heating since the building has no gas service.
Melink installed six different types of solar photo-voltaic (PV) systems on its roof to test performance and ease of installation and maintenance for our customers. Melink also has seven (7) of its own pre-engineered Ingrid® 2kW ground-mounted solar PV systems, one 25.5kW ground-mounted solar array, and one 11.8kW solar canopy installed on the corporate campus.
The thick concrete walls of the building serve as a massive solar collector and heat sink on sunny days, allowing heat to be slowly released into the building at night when it is cooler outside. It also has an auxiliary electric meter to have the capability of "spinning" backwards so on the weekends when there is little to no electric load, power can be fed back to the grid.
Southwestern Ohio is not known for high winds and to address this challenge Melink installed a low-wind turbine to complement the solar PV systems to generate power at night and when the sun is not shining.
During construction, Melink set up a recycling system for paper, glass, plastic, and metal, and much of the building was constructed out of recycled materials. Melink employees currently recycle, reuse or compost 90% of its waste. This was one of the activities that helped us reach a 99 Energy Star rating.
The 9-acre headquarters is relatively self-sustaining and does not require irrigation or maintenance other than minor lawn cutting and tree pruning. The courtyard offers paver sidewalks, gardens and wood benches, and there are two separate patio areas with lawn furniture near a pond and river to facilitate outdoor lunches and meetings on nice days.
Wood-pellet stoves were installed in the main conference room and library to supplement the heating system and further reduce its reliance on electrical power from the grid.
Melink prides itself on providing a healthy working environment for its employees and our net-zero energy LEED Platinum building helps us achieve that goal. A fitness room and green library were built on the second floor to promote healthy living and continual education on the green movement. Outside views are available to most everyone from their offices and offices and workstations are approximately the same size to ensure everyone feels equally valued as a team member.
Kitchens were set up to focus on employee comfort and energy efficiency. Thermos-type coffee pots allow coffee makers to be turned off after brewing and still keep the coffee hot for hours. A dishwasher minimizes use of paper cups, plates and plastic utensils and saves 20% of the water normally used when hand-washing dishes. Melink also provides washable dishes for employees to use and compostable cups for visitors.
In addition, Melink promotes green awareness and offers incentive programs. Employees are encouraged to bike or car pool to work, rewarded with close-to-the building alternative vehicle and car pool parking spaces. The company leases hybrid cars for regional supervisors, technicians, and the leadership team, and incentives are also provided to employees to purchase their own hybrids. Everyone is encouraged to bring in their energy bills for the company bulletin board to display their progress in conserving the energy they use at home.
Melink promotes continual improvement in an effort to reduce its impact on the environment. As a result of these environmental innovations and its focus on employees, Melink has become an innovator we hope other companies will look to when setting their own corporate sustainability and lifestyle goals.