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Quick Reads on LEED

1. Challenges Seeking LEED Status in Older Buildings

Pursuing certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system can create major challenges for maintenance and engineering managers. The task is even greater when the institutional and commercial facilities date back to the days of Thomas Jefferson.

“It certainly presents a challenge for us to access the HVAC and lighting systems to repair and replace them without causing any further damage to the building,” says Ryan Taylor, zone maintenance superintendent for central grounds at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, whose responsibilities include many of the original buildings designed by Jefferson. “We have to work closely with our historic preservation team to make sure we’re following the appropriate procedures and using proper materials for the repairs. We work closely with them to identify major problems that we need to focus on and make sure we’re taking the right steps to prepare them properly so those buildings can be preserved.”

The university has 23 LEED-certified buildings — including one building at the platinum, four at the gold, and 12 at the silver levels — and infuses sustainability and LEED into its capital development process, from pre-planning to post-occupancy. The maintenance department plays a central role in the LEED-certification process from the development stage.

“On the maintenance side, we are involved in the design review process and work with the architects and engineers to make sure the systems being installed are maintenance-friendly,” Taylor says. “It’s a combination of looking at LEED and looking at maintenance-friendly systems that we can continue to maintain once the building is constructed or renovated.”

2.  Is LEED Broken?

Today’s tip of the day is about what we can learn from LEED’s critics.

Oftentimes, the natural response to criticism is to get defensive, dig in your heels, and then counterattack. But that is usually less productive and more polarizing. To avoid such a reaction and instead open a dialogue is the key finding common ground and moving forward.

With that in mind, one of the more fascinating sessions at Greenbuild 2013 was titled “What We Can Learn From LEED’s Critics.” The session, presented by Tristan Roberts of BuildingGreen, Rob Watson of ECON Group (and who carries the “Father of LEED” moniker), and Pamela Lippe of E4 Inc., broke LEED criticisms into three main categories, and then examined the validity of each, and how USGBC has responded.

The first criticism is that the LEED process is broken — this covered both the rating system development process, as well as the certification process. To address the first, USGBC says it has maintained an open, iterative process to the rating system development process, as evidenced by the more than 20,000 public comments over six comment periods, and then the 86 percent approval when LEED v4 was put to a vote. They‘ve also drastically cut down on the time between submission and certification — 85 percent of projects are ruled on within 25 days of submission. That’s a vast improvement.

The second criticism is that LEED is not vigorous enough. You hear this one a lot from the vocal critics who say a LEED certified building isn’t any better than a traditional. USGBC is working diligently to compile more LEED data — now requiring all LEED registered projects to submit five years of water and energy data — to show that LEED buildings are, indeed, more environmentally responsible than traditional. During this discussion, Rob Watson unleashed the quote of the conference: “If your building isn’t performing, it’s your fault. Not LEED’s.” How true.

The third criticism is that LEED is too complex and too expensive. You commonly hear this from folks who think LEED certification is simply “buying a plaque” and that the constant updates to LEED make it impossible to keep up. No one would deny that LEEDv4 is a giant step forward in terms of rigor, but that’s what is needed to move the market, says USGBC. And as for “buying a plaque,” reasonable minds can disagree on the value of certification itself, but USGBC has always said that a third-party review is what really motivates projects teams to stay the course and follow through.

3.  LEED Dynamic Plaque May Lead To Better LEED Performance

Today’s tip of the day is about the performance of LEED certified buildings, and the new LEED Dynamic Plaque.

One of the hallmarks of a high-performance building is one that performs, highly. If that sounds to you like some sort of Jedi Mind Trick of circular reasoning, you’re not totally wrong. But there’s still much to unpack there — especially when you consider the long-standing snipe about supposedly high-performance, LEED-certified buildings that they were more about the checklist, and less about the actual performance.

Last year, at Greenbuild, concurrent with its roll-out of the new LEEDv4 system, which emphasizes performance and human health, U.S. Green Building Council also re-introduced its new vision for how buildings will be scored and monitored in the future: the LEED Dynamic Plaque. (Video of USGBC’s Scot Horst’s presentation is here.)

The LEED Dynamic Plaque — the concept was first introduced at Greenbuild 2012, but now, there is actually a real, live plaque being piloted in USGBC’s own Platinum space — gives users a real-time display of how the building is doing in the areas of water, waste, energy, transportation, and human experience. So now longer will LEED be a set-it-and-forget-it proposition – every user of the building from Day 1 forward will be able to see how the building is performing. And therefore, everyone will know whether or not it truly is a high-performance building as a LEED certification seemingly promises.

While transparency of data for all seems like a great idea in theory, the idea of the LEED Dynamic Plaque may make more than a few facility managers nervous. What if the building isn’t actually performing as intended? Who gets the blame?

But progressive facility managers see any data as an opportunity, especially when that data specifically shows opportunity. The LEED Dynamic Plaque will show occupants and upper managers alike — far outside the confines of a budget-request power point or an energy data spreadsheet — that the organization has a building it can be proud of.

4.  What Is High-Performance Building?

Today’s tip of the day is about the meaning of the term “high-performance building.” “High-performance” is actually a much more encompassing, and frankly, more accurate, term than “green” when it comes to describing the buildings facility managers own, manage, and maintain. But what does “high-performance” actually mean? Does it mean LEED-certified buildings that are energy and water efficient? Facilities that are people-friendly and get high marks from occupants for creature comforts? Highly automated, integrated buildings that turn big data into big efficiency gains with smart analytics? The answer, of course, is yes. A high-performance building is all of those things and more. The key to a high-performance building is optimization and integration of all things — whether fan speeds or fire safety, whether landscaping or lighting efficiency. It means thinking on both a micro and macro level about how building systems interact, and how building occupants interact with those systems. Yes, “high-performance” does tend to have a bit more to it than the traditional definition of green (a building that is environmentally responsible). Thinking about making a building “high-performance” means considering aspects of the building— fire/life-safety, ADA compliance, communication plans, even art work or other occupant-focused “bonuses” — that were certainly also considered in a green building, but may not have been emphasized. “High-performance” is how those in the industry will think about and define successful buildings in the future.

Source: Facilitiesnet

10 Smart Building Myths Busted

Smart buildings are a no-brainer and more affordable than most building owners and investors realize.

Smart buildings have been proven to save energy, streamline facilities management and prevent expensive equipment failures. Yet, to many property owners and investors, the value of smart buildings remains a mystery. The fact is, in most buildings, we can demonstrate a strong business case for strategic investments in smart building systems and management technologies.

Not everyone is aware that the tremendous advantages of today’s affordable smart building management technologies easily justify the cost. The following are 10 myths about smart buildings, along with the facts:

Myth #10: Smart Building Technologies Are Expensive.

Myth Debunked: Smart building technology investments typically pay for themselves within one or two years by delivering energy savings and other operational efficiencies. One smart building management pilot program we worked on, for example, generated a positive return on investment within several months.

Myth #9: Smart Buildings are Only About Energy.

Myth Debunked: A smart building management system often can detect when a piece of equipment is close to failure and alert facilities personnel to fix the problem. Knowing the right time to repair or replace equipment extends machinery life, and reduces facility staff, operations and replacement costs. More dramatically, smart building management systems can prevent full-scale building system failures—potentially embarrassing to a Superbowl stadium host, but life-threatening in a hospital or laboratory.

Myth #8: Smart Buildings and Green Buildings are the Same Thing. Myth Debunked: Smart buildings maximize energy efficiency from building systems and ensure air quality, while a complete “green” sustainability program includes strategies beyond building automation systems. So, while “smart” and “green” features may overlap, they are not identical concepts. The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) explains the difference in Bright Green Buildings: Convergence of Green and Intelligent Buildings, a comprehensive report authored with Frost and Sullivan.

Myth #7: Industrial Facilities or Laboratories Can’t Become Smart Buildings.

Myth Debunked:  All types of buildings—whether residential or commercial—can be built or retrofitted to become highly automated and smart. Even highly specialized facilities such as laboratories can be outfitted with smart building technologies.

Myth #6: Smart Buildings Can Only Be New Buildings.

Myth Debunked: Some of the smartest buildings in the world are not new at all, but have demonstrated the return on investment in smart technologies. The Empire State Building, for example, has exceeded projected energy savings for the second consecutive year following an extensive phased retrofit begun in 2009.

Myth #5: Smart Building Technologies are Not Interoperable.

Myth Debunked: In the past, building automation equipment and controls were designed as proprietary systems. However, affordable new technologies, such as wireless sensors, now make it possible to gather data from disparate systems produced by any manufacturer.

Myth #4: Smart Systems Don’t Make a Building More Attractive to Tenants.

Myth Debunked:  Anything that improves energy efficiency, reduces occupancy cost and improves productivity is valuable to tenants, as numerous studies and surveys attest. Tenants and their advisors increasingly expect smart building features such as zoned HVAC, sophisticated equipment maintenance alert systems, and advanced security systems. As reported in JLL’s October 2012 Global Sustainability Perspective, smart systems provide benefits for tenants—and tenants recognize the benefits.

Myth #3: Without a Municipal Smart Grid, a Building Can’t Really Be Smart.

Myth Debunked:  It’s true that smart buildings gain functionality when supported by advanced electrical grids installed by municipalities and their utility company partners. But even without a smart grid, owners and investors can draw a wide range of benefits from smart buildings and a smart building management system that can monitor entire property portfolios.

Myth #2: Smart Buildings Are Complicated to Operate.

Myth Debunked: Combined with a smart building management system, a smart building is often easier to operate and maintain than a building that lacks automated systems. A smart building management system can integrate work-order management applications; pull equipment repair and maintenance data into performance analytics; and pinpoint equipment issues to a degree not humanly possible. For example, a smart building management system can diagnose a programming problem that has been undetected for 15 years, enabling facility managers to resolve a recurring equipment malfunction.

Myth #1: Smart Buildings Are a No-Brainer.

Myth NOT Debunked: This myth isn’t a myth at all — it’s actually true. As affordable new technologies are adopted, tenants are beginning to expect smart building features—and owners and investors are beginning to realize the return on investment in smart systems.

Leo O’Loughlin is senior vice president of Energy and Sustainability Services at JLL, the global professional services and investment management firm offering specialized services to clients that own, occupy and invest in commercial real estate. With 20 years of energy and sustainability management expertise, Leo helps clients incorporate energy and sustainability concepts into operations and project management, reducing energy consumption, utility expense and carbon emissions. He specializes in creating and analyzing project structures for energy efficiency, central utility plant and energy services outsourcing programs, managing the multi-disciplinary development of energy infrastructure assets and retrofit projects. He also manages business development, commercial structuring, financial and technical analyses and implementation of energy-related projects. Previously, Leo was an executive at several leading California energy companies. He holds an MBA from San Diego State University and a BS in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. 

Source: http://www.energymanagertoday.com/10-smart-building-myths-busted-0100847/


Today’s facility and IT managers are facing multiple challenges in managing corporate facilities. The corporate facility includes various areas such as the commercial building, manufacturing floor, warehouse, remote sites, and data center. All of these corporate facilities require different attention from the managers to meet the corporate sustainability goals set forth by the executive team. Goals that mainly revolve around reducing CapEx and OpEx costs by performing energy reduction, capacity planning, equipment life-cycle-management, and provide a productive and collaborative work environment that the manager has to deal with on a continuous basis.

These top-of-mind issues require accurate data collection, and are converted into useable information to enable smart decision-making. At the same time, the manager is asked to perform all of his or her daily activities with less staff to reduce overhead cost. This “do more with less” phenomena requires the manager to utilize the latest Information Technology to gain insights into areas that need improvement through the use of Building Automation Systems and benchmarking against industry metrics. A good Building Automation System empowers organizations to reduce operational and capital expenses, improve visibility of key operational data, and enable sustainable, energy efficient facilities.

Building Automation System describes the system of controls that has the advanced functionality to monitor, manage and control building equipment.  Types of equipment include water, gas, electricity metering, heating, ventilation, air conditioning equipment, lighting, surveillance, access control, digital signage, and fire life safety monitoring. In most cases, each system operates in silo with little or no communication to each other. Each of the systems gathers data individually and stores the data with its own format, thus requires the facility manager to compile all the data manually from several locations to gain visibility to the condition and usage of the facility. This introduces many problems with facility management in wasted resource and time, questionable accuracy of energy accounting, and inconsistency in the reporting metrics.


Tridium Broadens Market from Building Automation to the Internet of Things

DiCosmos makes DataEye announcement.

The senior leadership of Tridium laid out its strategic vision for the company to expand its presence in the Internet of Things this morning during the opening of the 2014 Niagara Summit in Las Vegas. While maintaining its commitment to its core market in commercial building automation, the Richmond, Va.-based technology firm outlined plans to move into adjacent markets involving building and infrastructure facilities such as data centers, industrial buildings and smart cities.

“We’ve been connecting devices from the very beginning. We were building the Internet of Things before it was even called the Internet of Things,” said Chief Technology Officer John Sublett in addressing the crowd of roughly 1,500 comprised of customers, re-sellers and other participants in the fast-growing Niagara ecosystem.

Tridium remains committed to building automation as its core market, said President Nino DiCosmo, as demonstrated by its development of the next-generation Niagara 4 framework. That upgrade, which should enter the Beta testing phase later this year and launch by the first quarter of 2015, will provide ease-of-use upgrades to bolster the productivity of developers and re-sellers, superior visualization and reporting tools, a new user interface and security enhancements.

Although Niagara has been deployed in settings outside of building automation, the company has never made a major push into adjacent markets like the one DiCosmo described. In a collaboration with Geist, a provider of power, cooling, monitoring and management solutions, Tridium is moving into the data-center market, which is expected to see a 12% compounded annual growth rate through 2016. Likewise, Tridium has targeted industrial buildings and smart cities.

Between the electric grid, parking lots, traffic management, water and waste-water utilities, the smart-cities market accounts for a market of roughly $6 billion a year and is forecast to grow 16% annually through 2016. Tridium’s position in commercial and industrial buildings — which interface with public power grids, utilities and transportation systems — makes the sector a logical extension.

Among major news announced this morning, DiCosmo said the company has acquired DataEye, a cloud-based analytics engine for improving energy efficiency; a “brand refresh,” that includes new logo, corporate colors, website and social media outreach; and plans to build a Niagara marketplace to promote solutions provided by all players in the Niagara marketplace as well as to enable companies to share chunks of software.

View original article here: http://www.niagarasummit.com/tridium-broadens-market-from-building-automation-to-the-internet-of-things

LEED v4 Expands Acoustic Performance In Multiple Areas

n addition to Schools and Healthcare, LEED Building Design and Construction (BD+C) v4 expands acoustic performance into several other variations of the rating system, such as New Construction, Data Centers, and Hospitality. LEED Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) v4 also includes a new EQ credit for Acoustic Performance.

LEED BD+C v4 EQ Prerequisite: Minimum Acoustic Performance (Schools only). This Schools-only prerequisite ratchets up the v2009 criteria by specifying a maximum HVAC background noise level of 40 dBA. A new requirement requires high-noise sites to implement measures to mitigate sound transmission into core learning spaces (including between spaces).

Core learning spaces at or over 20,000 cubic feet will need to reduce the reverberation time in accordance with the 2002 NRC-CNRC Construction Technology Update No. 51, Acoustical Design of Rooms for Speech (or local equivalent). Spaces under 20,000 cubic feet must either exhibit sound-absorbent finishes (NRC rating of 0.70 or higher) that equal or exceed the ceiling area, or teams must confirm conformance to ANSI Standard S12.60-2010.

LEED BD+C v4 EQ Credit: Acoustic Performance (1 point). Unlike the Schools-only prerequisite, this credit also applies to LEED for New Construction, Data Centers, Warehouses & Distribution Centers, Hospitality, and Commercial Interiors. There is Schools-specific credit language and the two-point Healthcare-2009 EQc2 credit is also parsed.

New Construction, Data Centers, Warehouses & Distribution Centers, Hospitality, and Commercial Interiors Criteria: Teams shall minimize HVAC background noise per the 2011 ASHRAE Handbook, HVAC Applications, Chapter 48, Table 1 or AHRI Standard 885-2008, Table 15 (or a local equivalent). Teams must calculate or measure sound levels to confirm compliance. The credit also references the ASHRAE 2011 Applications Handbook, Table 6 (or a local equivalent) for maximum allowable HVAC noise levels resulting from sound transmission paths.

Next, teams must meet the composite STCc ratings and reverberation time requirements as tabulated in the LEED credit language. Lastly, for large conference rooms and assembly spaces, teams shall address the need for sound reinforcement systems. If needed, teams shall meet the specified Speech Transmission Index (STI) or Common Intelligibility Scale (CIS) rating, keep sound levels at or below 70 dBA, and maintain specified sound-level coverage. For projects that use masking systems, the design levels must not exceed 48 dBA.

Schools Criteria: Building off of the schools-specific prerequisite, HVAC background noise levels may not exceed 35 dBA. The credit also requires projects to meet ANSI Standard S12.60-2010, Part 1, except windows — which must have an STC rating of at least 35 unless noise levels can be verified to justify a lower rating.

Healthcare Criteria: The healthcare-specific criteria is basically the Healthcare-2009 EQc2: Acoustic Environment criteria with some minor revisions to the credit language. The two basic options remain:

Option 1: Address speech privacy, sound isolation, and background noise (1-2 points).

Option 2: Acoustical finishes and site exterior noise (1 point).

LEED O+M v4 EQ Credit: Occupant Comfort Survey. Even the Occupant Comfort Survey credit within LEED Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M) v4 requires an acoustic evaluation. This underscores the green building industry’s increasing understanding that our sense of hearing plays a significant factor in comfort, wellness, and the ability to perform in a space.

Daniel Overbey, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is the director of sustainable design practices for Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects in Indianapolis. He can be reached atdoverbey@bdmd.com.

LEED-EBOM Commissioning Credits Focus On Maintaining Efficient Operations

LEED for New Construction currently provides elements that help link design and construction to operations, but because many are voluntary, they are typically underused. The most apparent opportunity exists within two areas of the Energy and Atmosphere category. The enhanced commissioning credit in the New Construction rating system specifically helps to bridge the gap from the end of design and construction to the operational phase. Specifically, incorporating commissioning activities such as opposed season systems testing generates a track record of operations and performance to analyze and troubleshoot ahead of long-term operations. Commissioning credits in LEED-EBOM pick up right where the New Construction system leaves off, leveraging the fact that, as performance decay never stops, neither should commissioning to help maintain efficient operations.

Even if a building was never commissioned in the first place, the best place to focus efforts is probably in the associated commissioning credits of LEED-EBOM. Either picking up where the design and construction commissioning agent left off, keeping the same commissioning agent on board for the early years of operation, or starting from scratch with the commissioning activities outlined in LEED-EBOM will likely provide substantial gains in operational efficiency. If it is possible to retain the design and construction commissioning agent during the operational phase of a building, it will be easier to incorporate knowledge about design direction, challenges, obstacles, and strategic success into the building’s operational life and future performance successes. Otherwise, building staff hired late in construction, or even after a building is occupied, will not gain the benefit of a building’s early history and lessons learned. Each building is unique in regard to where it has been and where it is going operationally, and the longer design and construction team members can stay engaged with building operations the better.

The other Energy and Atmosphere credit that can contribute significantly to optimized operations pertains to energy metering. The design team can properly segregate branch distribution to the various types of loads in a building, like lighting or HVAC, and provide the associated meters to aid the analysis of energy consumption. However it is the owner/operator of the facility who should still follow through with an annual program to fine tune performance over time. It may come as a surprise to many that for the most part, typical design practice provides very few tools to properly manage the energy-consuming systems in a building. Whether your building included system-level metering to begin with or not, LEED-EBOM incentivizes incorporating meters to measure “major end uses that represent 20 percent or more of the total annual consumption.” We can’t manage what we don’t measure, and a comprehensive metering program goes a long way in ongoing system management and troubleshooting of the issues that become routine in many buildings leading to reduced energy consumption over time.

LEED v4 Offers More Stringent Acoustical Standards

Typically, the term indoor environmental quality (IEQ) evokes considerations of healthy indoor air along with visual and thermal comfort. Adequate ventilation, indoor pollution source control, equitable controllability of lighting systems, and access to daylight and views appropriately draw focus as key concepts for design teams endeavoring for optimal indoor environments. However, the high-performance design community is now beginning to recognize the importance of acoustical comfort as an important sensory influence in assessing IEQ. As part of that recognition, the new LEED v4 offers more stringent acoustical standards.

Loud sounds and ambient environmental noise can be detrimental to the experience of a space, but recent research is going beyond anecdotal evidence to prove just how vital acoustical performance can be for the success of a project — especially schools and healthcare facilities.

Performance And Health

When noise levels in a classroom are too high, students and teachers lose the ability to intelligibly understand each other. According to the United States General Accounting Office (GAO), more than 28 percent of elementary and secondary schools exhibit unsatisfactory environmental noise conditions. In a GAO study of 21,900 schools, concern over acoustics was rated higher than ventilation (27.1 percent), physical security (24.2 percent), indoor air quality (19.2 percent), heating (18.9 percent), or lighting (15.6 percent).

The detrimental effects of poor acoustical environments spread beyond learning environments. Another study, published in the British Journal of Psychology, asked workers to perform two tasks: 1) memorize and then recall a piece of prose; 2) undertake simple mental arithmetic. During the test period, workers were subjected to recordings of general office noise. The research found that the accuracy of the subjects’ work was reduced by approximately 67 percent when exposed to the recorded office. A later study found that 57 percent of workers in an office environment have their concentration negatively affected by nearby sounds and background noise.

Beyond annoyance or decreased productivity, the effect of poor acoustical environments may also impact health.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) examined evidence from large-scale epidemiological studies linking the population’s exposure to environmental noise with adverse health effects and established a link between road traffic noise and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including myocardial infarction. In fact, an emerging body of work is beginning to establish a link between exposures to environmental noise and sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment in children, and Tinnitus, among other human health concerns. A facility’s acoustic performance matters for reasons of comfort, occupant performance, and human health.

Tips For Success

Acoustics have been a niche concern for so long that many are uncomfortable with the topic. The following considerations will help achieve good acoustic performance:

Engage an expert: An acoustician can prove very helpful in achieving specific acoustic performance criteria. Alternatively, a mechanical engineer with a specialized knowledge in acoustics can be effective. This acoustic expert should work with the project team to help conduct a site analysis, implement strategies, perform calculations, and take field measurements.

Identify referenced standards: LEED v4 permits a reasonable degree of flexibility within the acoustic performance credit framework. Referenced standards can be bypassed in lieu of local equivalents. Teams should determine the appropriate standards early in a project and commit to them.

Define the criteria early: Teams will be most successful if acoustics are planned for early in the design process. Different user groups have unique requirements that need to be carefully documented. Teams should match appropriate strategies to specific criteria.

HVAC background noise: Determine specific acoustic and HVAC needs, then assign and coordinate design and performance criteria. This will affect what mechanical equipment is selected.

Sound isolation: Complete the calculations during the design phase. Identify or calculate STCc ratings for all assemblies. Verify calculations after substantial completion of construction. Measure the Noise Isolation Class (NIC) for all assemblies.

Reverberation time: A metric heavily influenced by design specifications, criteria should be identified and coordinated. The entire team should have a general understanding of spaces with sensitive or otherwise atypical reverberation time requirements.

Thanks to our friends at Facilities.net for this article!

5 Ways Going Green is Great for Buildings

A recent study of facility management executives found that 5 percent had certified a green building before 2012, but that 29 percent plan to certify one in 2013. That growth in the market for green buildings will ripple through the industry. Over the next ten years, buildings will become more grid-responsive, resilient, efficient, energy-positive and networked.

Grid Responsiveness
A survey indicted that 14 percent of U.S. building organizations currently participate in demand response programs. Building energy consumption can be continuously adjusted throughout the day to reduce demand at critical times.

To withstand natural disasters, there is an important role for distributed energy systems and smart building controls.

“The new approach would define policies and technical requirements for how to incorporate smart grid technology, microgrids, building controls and distributed generation, including CHP, with two-way flow networks into the grid. … This approach would allow building controls to provide a minimal level of service such as basic lights and refrigeration during emergencies,” the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding strategy noted.

Building efficiency improvements in lighting, HVAC and controls are the most popular improvements and more than two-thirds of organizations have addressed these in the past year.

There is a growing trend in building design to go net zero or energy positive. In fact, California has included net zero as an energy goal for 2030 for commercial buildings. The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Army have also set energy-positive goals.

Smart buildings provide data and information needed to measure, monitor and manage building performance.

View Full Article in: Rocky Mountain Institute

Deferred Capital Renewal Can Be Used To Justify HVAC Upgrades

Facility managers should determine if deferred capital renewal should be part of the analysis to justify large energy upgrades.

An example of a deferred capital savings is the evaluation of installing a new boiler as compared to maintaining the existing boiler. A 20,000 pound per hour (pph) boiler with mud and steam drums (the heart of the boiler) may be in good condition, but the boiler tubes could be thinning and need to be replaced. The cost to retube and recase this boiler is approximately $350,000. In this example, the recasing and retubing of the boiler will not increase the boiler efficiency of the system. Also, the existing boiler is assumed to have an efficiency of 75 percent.

A newer boiler with stack economizer could have an efficiency of 85 percent and the cost to install this boiler is approximately $1.2 million. In 2012, the average national cost for natural gas was approximately $8.15 per thousand cubic feet or approximately $8.00 per million BTU. Assuming the boiler operates at full load for 2,500 hours, the increase in efficiency would save the facility approximately $62,000 per year in natural gas costs. The simple payback to replace the boiler without the deferred capital is 19.4 years (capital cost of $1.2 million and an annual savings of $62,000 per year). However, if the analysis took into account the $350,000 cost to recase and retube the boiler, this would reduce the capital cost from $1.2 million to $850,000 and the corresponding simple payback would be reduced to 13.7 years. The cost to recase and retube the boiler should be included in the analysis because this work needs to be completed to maintain the operation of the system.

Another example is the replacement of a 30-year-old water chiller. Typically, chillers installed at this time were constant speed units. Based upon ASHRAE numbers, the average service life of a water-cooled chiller is 23 years. That does not mean that, once a chiller has been in service for 23 years, the unit will fail, but rather that a plan for the chiller replacement should be in place based on that average service life. A 450-ton constant speed water-cooled chiller has been designed to have a chiller efficiency of 0.70 kW/ton, but because of the age of the equipment the chiller could be de-rated to an efficiency of 0.81 kW/ton, assuming a 0.5 percent per year degradation. A variable flow chiller unit can be selected to operate with an efficiency of 0.50 kW/ton. Based upon the unit operating at full load condition for 1,500 hours and an electric rate of $0.08/kWh, the annual savings for installing the VFD unit is approximately $16,700 per year.

The cost for the new VFD chiller system is estimated to be $250,000. This would correspond to a simple payback of close to 15 years. If the analysis included the cost to replace the unit with a constant speed chiller (assuming the cost of $203,000), the difference in capital costs is only $47,000 and the simple payback would be reduced to 2.8 years. Even if the analysis assumed that the constant speed chiller was installed with the original efficiency (0.70 kW/ton) the simple payback is still 4.3 years.

It is difficult to identify the deferred capital savings in terms of simple payback when evaluating equipment that still has useful remaining life. The cost to replace the equipment cannot be simply subtracted from the cost of the energy conservation measure. However, a complete life cycle cost analysis can be completed to identify the most economical approach.

Andy Jones, PE, is mechanical engineer/project manager at RMF Engineering. He can be reached at andy.jones@rmf.com.

Maintenance Savings May Help Justify HVAC Capital Investments

Once a bundle of projects has been identified, facility managers should also determine whether a reduction in maintenance expenses can legitimately be anticipated. Facility managers should determine if deferred capital renewal should be part of the analysis to justify large energy upgrades.

An example of additional maintenance savings that will lower the simple payback is a lighting project that changes out incandescent bulbs to CFL or LED bulbs. The typical lifespan of an incandescent light is approximately 1,200 hours, while a CFL has a life span of 8,000 to 10,000 hours and a LED light has a life span of 20,000 to 50,000 hours. The cost of the material and the time for repeatedly replacing the bulbs should be included in the analysis to identify the entire savings for the energy conservation measure.

Another maintenance savings example is replacing building pneumatic controls with a direct digital control (DDC) system. Pneumatic control systems use compressed air, which is typically generated by a compressor (or series of compressors, depending on the size of the system; some rare installations use nitrogen or other bottled gas). Typically the annual maintenance can be 40 man-hours for inspections and the scheduled monthly maintenance service required.

If this work is completed by a third party it is easily tracked and identified, but it is more difficult to identify the hours if this work is completed in house.