Tag Archives: Efficient energy use

Federal Buildings Add Requirements

2012-12-07_11-09-43-300x1782Federal agencies are now required to install building energy meters and sub-meters, as well as water meters at agency buildings where cost-effective and appropriate, according to a memo reported in FEDweek.

The agencies now must ensure that any agency buildings metered for energy and water performance must have that data entered into the EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager to improve performance and allow benchmarking.

The memo encourages the use of a “Green Button” standard as part of agency energy management practices. The Green Button system was developed by the North American Energy Standards Board for providing online access to energy bill accounts, usage and energy consumption data to customers to help with business and usage management.

December 19, 2013 by William Opalka | Energy Management News

Empire State Building Exceeds Energy Efficiency Savings

Empire-StateThe energy efficiency program at the Empire State Building has exceeded guaranteed energy savings for the second year in a row, saving $2.3 million, according to the team that developed the energy efficiency program comprised of the Empire State Building, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

In 2009, the Empire State Building began a comprehensive retrofit at the property. In 2011, the building beat its year-one energy-efficiency guarantee by 5 percent, saving $2.4 million. In year two, the property surpassed its energy-efficiency guarantee by nearly 4 percent. As with the first year’s results, all information and monitoring and verification reports can be viewed atwww.esbsustainability.com.

The core base building energy-efficiency retrofit at the Empire State Building is complete, with the balance of the projects to be finished as new tenants build out high-performance workspaces. Once all tenant spaces are upgraded, the building will save $4.4 million a year, at least a 38 percent reduction of energy use.

The retrofit has attracted new Empire State Building tenants over the past two years, including LinkedIn, Skanska, LF USA, Coty Inc, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, and Shutterstock. These tenants sought space that reflected their sustainability values, provided more comfort for employees, and allowed them to monitor and control their energy use.

The retrofit project focused on eight improvement measures addressing core building infrastructure, common spaces and tenant suites. Improvement measures performed by Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle included the refurbishment of all 6,514 windows, installation of insulation behind all radiators, a chiller plant retrofit, new building management systems controls, new revenue-grade meters serving the entire building, and a web-based tenant energy management system.

In late 2012, some energy efficiency data in New York City revealed that some old structures, such as the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, had higher Energy Star scores than some newer so-called “green” buildings.

No cookie-cutter formula for improving energy efficiency at health facilities

Deanna Fourt, Director of Energy Efficiency and Conservation for Island Health

Deanna Fourt, Director of Energy Efficiency and Conservation for Island Health, enjoys the new ER in Nanaimo where they have implemented Solar shades, a dispersement ventilation vent, B.C. wood first ceilings, low density lighting, and a natural light courtyard.
Photograph by: Lance Sullivan , Special to The vancouver sun

In most facilities, changing a lightbulb is a pretty simple task. But in a hospital, even minor tasks can be complicated.

“Trying to change a light bulb in a hospital is not trivial when you’re talking about infection control challenges and patient impact,” Jeff Whitson says. “In a simple office building, you don’t have the same challenges. That’s what I love about what I do. In a hospital setting, improving energy efficiency isn’t as simple as you might think.”

Whitson is the Key Account Manager for the health sector in B.C. It’s his job to help provincial health authorities who are part of the BC Hydro Power Smart Partner Program maximize the energy efficiency of their facilities.

“Every authority and facility is different and unique,” he says. “There’s no cookie-cutter formula.”

Through their partnership with BC Hydro, health authorities commit to devising a long-range Strategic Energy Management Plan. An Energy Manager helps the organization meet its goals.

Whitson talks to his energy managers “every single day,” he says, as part of ongoing collaborations on existing projects and identify new opportunities.

“We always have a running project list of good ideas in each health authority,” Whitson says.

Those ideas might come from the Energy Manager, the nurses, or any member of the employee base. “We have a good methodology to get those good ideas on paper. Then we strategize which ones we’re going to move forward with and those we’re going to park for a while.” At any given time, he might have anywhere from 50-75 projects going across the province. “There’s lots of project management involved in what I do, and lots of follow-up discussions on project status.”

Whitson estimates that more than 50 percent of those projects are based around upgrades or changes to lighting (infrastructure and controls) and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning).

“They can be small lighting retrofits to more complicated equipment replacements,” he says.

Many of the hospitals in the province are decades-old, and face the problem of aging infrastructure. A Strategic Energy Management Plan can help.

“A lot of these hospitals have been around a very long time,” Whitson says. “Equipment breaks down and they have to upgrade. And budgets are challenging – there’s lots of pressure on balancing the budget. Most hospitals don’t get a lot of capital to improve existing infrastructure.”

Which is where he comes in. “The partnership with BC Hydro works really well. If I can work with the health authorities to provide part of the funding, it makes those projects a lot easier to implement.”

BC Hydro Power Smart Partner Program incentives aren’t restricted to older facilities. New builds, like the recently opened pediatric emergency department at Surrey Memorial Hospital, can go through the BC Hydro New Construction program.

“We’ll do detailed energy modeling, just to make sure we encouraged the developers and the authorities to make the building as energy efficient as possible,” Whitson says. “We try to squeeze as much energy out of the building before it’s even built.”

As part of its overall Power Smart Partner Program, BC Hydro highlights organizations that are leaders in their sectors. To reach this level, “executive support and engagement from the senior levels down” is vital, he says.

“If you don’t have that you don’t get very far.”

A Strategic Energy Management Plan that outlines a strategy and implements elements every year needs to be in place as well. And “you have to have employee engagement, with all the employees going in the same direction,” Whitson says.

The Leadership in the BC Health Authorities continues to support BC Hydro’s Workplace Conservation Awareness program. This program engages and encourages all employees to share energy saving ideas that help to reduce unnecessary electrical consumption in Healthcare. “It is a critical component to our overall strategy for energy savings and often low cost or no cost to implement.”

We have had some amazing success by engaging staff in and it continues to build momentum across all different environments.”

The BC Hydro Power Smart Partner Program helps large businesses across British Columbia make energy efficient changes to their organizations that will create financial savings and change behaviors towards energy use. “The end objective of the partnership is to embed energy efficiency as part of the organization’s ongoing culture,” says Power Smart Partner Program Manager Paul Seo. 

In this series, we’ll look at how the Power Smart Partner Program is teaming up with these sectors to make a difference in their approach towards energy conservation.

Easy Ways to Improve Building Efficiency

A recent FirstFuel survey covering 60 million square feet of U.S. commercial building space has revealed that the majority of operational improvements for energy efficiency can be made with very little or no cost to building owners.

Although investing in facility retrofits can help with operational efficiency, an upgrade isn’t the only way to enhance system performance.

This research also found that the vast majority of low- and no-cost energy-efficiency improvements are still untouched in many medium and large U.S. commercial buildings.

Here are three easy operational improvements you can make today without spending money or retrofitting existing systems. These suggestions may seem like no-brainers, but the FirstFuel study proves that a large number of commercial buildings still haven’t implemented them.

HVAC/Equipment Scheduling
Equipment start-up and shutdown don’t always match building occupancy levels. The bottom line: If a building is empty, the HVAC system doesn’t need to be operating to maintain comfortable temperatures. More than 50% of the commercial buildings analyzed by FirstFuel have equipment ready for occupancy at least one hour before people actually arrive (and the equipment runs for at least one hour after tenants or occupants leave for the day). According to FirstFuel, switching to day-only operations can use up to three times less energy when compared to energy use for 24/7 HVAC operations.

Check Doors and Windows
To minimize air loss, make sure all doors (both traditional and automatic) and operable windows seal completely. If they don’t, check weatherstripping and make adjustments accordingly. Most automatic doors can easily be adjusted by in-house facilities professionals to ensure proper closure.

Clean Lamps and Fixtures
When it comes to building maintenance and cleaning, are you remembering the building systems overhead? According to BetterBricks, just cleaning lamps and fixtures can improve lighting output by 10% to 60%. Both lamps and fixtures gather dust very quickly due to heat and static charge. When dust and dirt build up, the amount of light reflected on these surfaces lessens, and less lighting output is provided. As a result, you end up turning on more fixtures to provide the lighting levels you need. Because cleaning existing lamps and fixtures improves lighting output, you may be able to turn off, dim, or delamp to save energy. Dirt and dust can also cause lamps to operate at higher-than-normal temperatures, which may shorten expected useful life.

Read about more low-cost or no-cost building improvements here.

Take your building efficiency to the next level?

Have you implemented all three of these operational changes? Are you seeing savings as a result?

Energy Savings: the Data Are in the Details

Energy managers know that every commercial building is complex. The upside to that complexity is that many of these buildings offer large energy efficiency potential. Through identifying efficiency opportunities in thousands of commercial buildings to-date, we have confirmed a simple premise. A commercial building’s energy use data set is like a fingerprint: no two are exactly alike.

With that in mind, energy managers need a smart strategy for understanding and capturing efficiency opportunities. Here are a few tips:

1)     Don’t just look across the road – A recent slew of energy management tools suggest that energy managers can design energy efficiency strategies based on comparisons to buildings with a similar size and use-profile. Don’t be tempted to compare your efficiency achievements with building operators overseeing other properties.

Our research has shown that ‘like-building’ hypothesis may prove true for the residential sector or the smallest commercial buildings such as pizza shops. But for most of the commercial sector, even very similar buildings can have vastly different energy-use profiles, and it’s important to tailor your strategy accordingly.  Take for example the two buildings highlighted in the infographic below, both of which operate near Chicago with similar sizes, sources of heating/power, assets, and Energy Use Intensity. Their strong resemblance on the surface disappears with a deeper dive into the building’s true energy usage patterns.

While a “like-building” analysis using benchmarks or past databases might suggest that these buildings have similar opportunities, in fact, Building #1 has nearly twice the annual savings potential as Building #2.  It also has more operationally-focused energy conservation opportunities coming from lighting controls, HVAC/plug controls and cooling set points. In contrast, Building #2 would benefit most from a lighting retrofit, making its energy reduction opportunity more about asset improvements than about operational changes.

Looking even deeper, an even larger difference is noticed in how energy is used throughout the building. Cooling usage dominates Building #2 (48% vs. 18%), while Building #1 has more usage going to lighting and plug loads. These breakdowns are part of what drives the differences in recommendations.  It’s worth noting that these unique building results came from advanced analytics applied to their meter data, leading us to the next tip…

Every Building Has Its Own Story To Tell

If all buildings have their own story to tell, how can you effectively approach each and every one?

2)     Real data doesn’t lie – Greater availability of high frequency consumption data coming from commercial building utility meters, coupled with recent advancements in data analytics provides a completely new way to understand energy performance. This data is just as available as square footage and EUI, but much, much richer.  Using consumption data as a starting point for understanding your usage gets you to the source of energy (in)efficiencies. It is not uncommon for data analytics to uncover, for example, a simultaneous heating and cooling issue that a building operator is adamant doesn’t exist. That is, until he goes and double checks the air conditioning systems.  You can’t hide from what the data reveals.  Although it may be uncomfortable to see the truth,data and advanced analytics provide great insights into ways to save energy and money in your building.

3)     Go deep and be objective – not wide and subjective. Many energy efficiency initiatives start with an audit, so the quality of information gained from that step is critical. Sending in a team of people with hard hats and clipboards to record the minutiae of energy use, from how often the mechanical equipment is shut down to how many times the building automation system is manually overridden, may be the first choice. However, in some situations, it may not be the best. Besides being an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, those kinds of audits may be led by individuals with differing experience, motivation, and techniques.  Numerous studies have shown that onsite audits yield highly inconsistent results, mostly because it’s hard to make consistent auditors.

Think about audit partners that can strive for objective consistency each and every time they analyze a building. There are firms that can provide that level of deep and specific building detail without requiring all those boots on the ground. An even better approach may be to perform the analytics first and then provide those results to the energy audit team, therefore enhancing the overall process.

4)     Put your utilities on speed dial – It is becoming common knowledge that many utility companies have significant monetary incentives for increasing building energy efficiency. So, it’s time to take full advantage. Every commercial energy manager should know who runs the efficiency programs within their utility providers, and should be in regular touch to better understand their buildings’ energy use profiles and savings opportunities, and available incentives.

Like all relationships, however, the energy manager-utility relationship is a two-way street. The better data and insight that utilities have on your energy usage, the better job they can do to help you realize savings. As the infographic above contends, every commercial building in a utility’s portfolio is different, and you should look to partner with your utility to identify the right kinds of operational and asset-based cost savings opportunities.

5)     Go public. Making your buildings’ energy performance part of everyone’s business is, well, good business. Providing energy audit results to your constituents – from tenants’ facility personnel to your preferred energy contractors to your own CFO – is crucial in ensuring that efficiency projects don’t fall by the wayside.

Why is transparency so important? Because it enables you to demonstrate not just the hows of energy efficiency (e.g., turning off the lights at 6:00 p.m. will save 10,000 kWh of energy) but also thewhys (e.g., turning off the lights at 6:00 p.m. saved the company $1,500 in energy costs last month, enabling us to purchase better equipment for our staff or our tenants). Most important, making energy use and savings data available helps make a stronger business case for energy efficiency projects.

Every building has its own story to tell, and the plotline is in the detail revealed through analytics. Data that lives deep within the lighting, power, HVAC and water systems in every building should be mined, analyzed and presented in a way that shows the value that energy efficiency projects can unlock. By looking at each building’s unique energy fingerprint, you can find hidden opportunities for efficiency and cost savings without always having to putting on a hardhat.

Article By: Swapnil Shah is CEO of FirstFuel.