Tag Archives: Setpoint Systems Corporation

New Setpointers

Setpoint Systems Corporation is proud to announce some new employee additions to our already exemplary team. All four new team members have already earned their Master Certification in George U in an impressive 3-1/2 weeks.

Please welcome them to our team.

Jeff
Construction Account Manager, Colorado

Jeff has worked in construction for 16 years, primarily as a General Contractor. Most of his career has been in estimating. Some of the projects he’s worked on include the Colorado capitol building, the Children’s Hospital, plus several other hospitals, schools, and most major universities throughout the metro area.

During his freshman year in college, he went to Nebraska for one year on a baseball scholarship. However, he missed the mountains and returned to Colorado to get his degree at Colorado State University in Construction Management.

Jeff is a native Coloradan who enjoys snowboarding, camping, softball, and gardening. He has been married for eight years to Shaana. They have two kids, a 7-year-old girl named Adasen and a 4-year-old boy named Ethan. They keep him pretty busy.

Jeff enjoys interacting with people and is looking forward to selling for Setpoint Systems. He is also looking forward to meeting Mechanical Contractors from a different angle.

 

Jerome
Account Manager, Minnesota

Jerome successfully completed our five-week Setpoint Systems training as well as achieved his Delta Control’s George University Master Certification, and has joined our office in Burnsville, Minnesota as the Service Account Manager.

Prior to joining Setpoint Systems, Jerome worked in electronic component distribution for 16 years.  Five years as a Tech Support Rep, five years as an Interconnect Product Manager, and the last six years as the Interconnect and Electromechanical Product Group Manager, where he and his team managed over 175 suppliers.  Prior to that, Jerome was an electronic communication and security system technician in the Air Force. He has earned associates degrees in both Electronics and Business Management, and has also completed  his Internal ISO Auditor Certification.

He has been married for 22 years to Susan. They have one daughter, Emily, and two stepdaughters, Erica and Erin, plus eight grandkids. In Jerome’s free time, he enjoys woodworking, target practice, ice fishing, cooking, plus making beer and wine. Jerome, how about some samples?

 

Rance
Account Manager, Colorado

Rance has spent most of his career selling electronics recycling and end-of-life asset management recycling services with a local firm and as an independent consultant. During that time he spent one year in the technical training side of refineries and chemical plants out of Houston before deciding to return to Colorado.

He holds a BS from Texas State University in Applied Sociology (research degree), as well as an MBA. He is an avid reader and has always been a geek when it comes to learning about new technologies and advancements in the science world.

 

He currently lives on the west side of Lakewood with his seven-year-old boxer rescue dog and enjoys spending the majority of his free time snowboarding, hiking, camping, and fishing in the mountains.

He is excited to join the Setpoint team as a Service Account Manager in Denver because the most rewarding part of his career has been establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships with clients, becoming a resource in solving their problems, and being a vendor who has made a positive impact on their organizations.

He believes that he will be able to not only continue this career path here at Setpoint but expand and improve upon it for years to come.

 

Buster
Application Engineer/Estimator, Colorado

Buster is supporting the sales staff with estimating and will then roll into engineering projects.

He has been in the temperature controls business for 23 years. During that time, he worked in purchasing, built panels, created job drawings in AutoCAD, designed and engineered projects, and estimated jobs. He also assisted in temperature controls installation, plus performed check tests and start up of systems.

Early in his career, he worked for a defense contractor as an electronics technician on a missile program. Prior to that, he was in the Air Force as an electronics technician working on fighter/bomber aircraft.

Buster has been married for 27 years to Elizabeth. They have a daughter, two sons, and two grandkids. He enjoys woodworking and gardening. He recently completed remodeling his kitchen and bathroom.

Buster is excited to learn the Delta Controls System and is happy to be part of Setpoint Systems.

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.

Steps Beyond Simple Payback To Justify Large Energy Efficiency Investments

When top management relies solely on simple payback based on energy savings, it can be difficult to justify energy efficiency projects involving very large capital investments. Those projects may be uncovered by energy audits, which — with current state legislation and energy incentives — are becoming an increasingly popular means for identifying and implementing campus and building renewal projects. Energy audits help facility managers identify ways to reduce energy consumption by changing the operating schedule of HVAC or lighting devices. Audits can also help justify replacing inefficient, aging, or failing equipment within a building.

Simple payback calculation is sometimes used to determine if the change in schedule or replacement is required. The simple payback is typically calculated by dividing the annual energy savings for each project by the capital cost to replace or modify the piece of equipment. If there are any incentives or rebates, they are subtracted from the capital costs.

When top management relies solely on simple payback based on energy savings, it can be difficult to justify projects involving very large capital investments. The simple-payback approach does not present the whole picture of the value of the upgrade.

There are several ways to try to overcome the limitations of that approach. One is to bundle projects, so that work with very quick payback periods helps to balance upgrades with much longer paybacks. Another step to help show management the entire project value is to include other factors in the analysis, like maintenance savings and deferred capital (the cost to replace a unit in kind if the unit is beyond its useful life). These factors need to be calculated very carefully to ensure that they are realistic.

The importance of this broader approach can be seen from a project conducted under the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ energy reduction program. The program aims to reduce energy consumption by 25 percent for all state-owned-and-operated facilities. The state used the simple payback method based only on energy savings (energy, rebates, and incentives) savings. The projects are expected to have a simple payback of 15 to 20 years or less to justify the investment.

A large state university evaluated under the program had identified a project with an energy savings of 21 percent and a simple payback of 19 years based upon energy consumption only. The university had to sell this project to its board and would have found it difficult with a simple payback of 19 years, but the university was also able to include the savings for deferred maintenance and deferred capital. The inclusion reduced the simple payback from 19 years to less than 9 years. (At the time of this writing, the contribution from utility company incentives and rebates for this campus was not included because a substantial amount of the design was not yet completed).

It’s important to note that there were more than 150 energy conservation measures identified in this project, with simple paybacks ranging from 6 months to more than 50 years. When all of these were considered under one umbrella, the overall project had a simple payback that was in the range of the total system requirement. Bundling helped to move forward projects with long payback periods; this is carefully programmed so that the overall project is still able to maintain an acceptable payback period.

Let’s Connect. Collaborate. And Partner Together! Let’s maximize your energy efficiency investments together: info@setpointsystems.com

Experience Shows Value Of Smart Building Measures, But Obstacles Remain

Facility executives say that money often is the biggest obstacle to smart building strategies. Tom Walsh, chief engineer for Transwestern Commercial Services, stresses this includes not just first cost, but also return on investment (ROI). “We prefer ROIs in two to three years,” Walsh explains. He also looks for energy improvements that will increase the value of the building.

The survey results bear out the extent to which a lack of financial resources can be an obstacle to smart building strategies. While only 3 percent of respondents say smart building technology is not available today, 69 percent say they don’t have a budget for smart building strategies. What’s more, having staff resources — another budget issue — is an obstacle for roughly half of respondents. (See Figure 2)

Figure 2. What are the obstacles to development and implementation of smart building strategies in your organization? R=469

We don’t have a budget for smart building strategies: 69%
We don’t have time/staff to implement smart building strategies: 49%
Smart building strategies cost too much: 24%
I’m not familiar with smart building strategies: 19%
Top management does not support the use of smart building strategies: 18%
Information about smart building technology is not readily available: 8%
Smart building technology is not available today: 3%
Other: 7%

Thomas F. Smyth, director, facility services at Cobbleskill Regional Hospital, also believes another obstacle is education and training. “How much quality training is available from the company that sold you that system?” Smyth asks. “Sometimes the training is free. Sometimes training is so expensive you cannot afford it.” On the topic of training, Smyth also believes refresher courses are valuable both for existing facilities staff and for new hires.

Kristina Moores, an associate at Arup, an engineering and design firm, thinks the biggest obstacle to smart building strategies is not all building systems are tied into the building management system, followed closely by the lack of user education. “There are many vendors selling smart equipment and programs, but the new software may not allow for coordinated systems and points reporting from existing building systems,” Moores points out.

Experience With Smart Building Systems

Although funding has posed a hurdle to wider implementation of smart building measures, the survey shows that those measures have paid off with gains in energy efficiency and sustainability. Among facility executives who have implemented smart building strategies, a large majority has found that those measures aid efforts to boost energy efficiency and sustainability. (See Figures 3 and 4.)

Figure 3. Have steps you’ve taken to make your facilities smarter also improved energy efficiency outcomes? R=826

Yes: 82%
No: 4%
Haven’t taken steps to make the facility smarter: 14%

 

Figure 4. Have steps you’ve taken to make your facilities smarter also improved sustainability outcomes? R=830

Yes: 69%
No: 11%
Haven’t taken steps to make the facility smarter: 20%

It’s worth noting that fairly significant numbers of facility executives say their organizations haven’t taken steps to make the facility smarter. When those organizations are factored out, the vote for the value of smart building measures is even stronger. Looking strictly at respondents who have taken smart building measures, 96 percent say those steps improved energy efficiency, and 86 percent say they improved sustainability.

These results are in line with the experiences of those who are familiar with smart building strategies. Facility executives and independent experts alike have seen that smart building strategies can improve building performance, increasing overall energy efficiency and assisting in sustainability efforts. In addition, the savings in energy costs can improve the bottom line.

According to CABA statistics, advanced smart building strategies can reduce energy use as much as 50 percent compared to unimproved buildings, “with the most efficient buildings performing up to 70 percent better than conventional properties,” says Zimmer.

With smart building strategies, energy efficiency isn’t achieved at the expense of occupant comfort. “If you put the effort and brainpower into your BAS, you can get what you are looking for in controlling the comfort level and also keeping a handle on the energy side of things,” says Smyth.

Provided senior management buys into the smart building strategy, implementation and execution are thought out, and accountability exists, “smart building strategies can significantly lower operational costs through optimizing building functionality across different systems such as lighting, HVAC, security, elevators, etc.,” says Rob Murchison, co-founder of Intelligent Buildings, LLC. Murchison also points to the importance of retrocommissioning and continuously commissioning the building, as well as monitoring and measuring progress.

Key strategies that enable energy efficiency and sustainability ideally use BAS and building energy management systems from building inception, suggests Zimmer. On-going commissioning also is critical. “Through the use of these technologies and techniques, building owners and managers can realize many financial benefits, including lower energy costs, lower maintenance costs, and lower repair and replacement costs,” he explains.

It’s important for facility executives to present a complete picture of the economic value of smart building measures when seeking funding. “Building managers can use life-cycle costs analysis to calculate the cost of a building system over its entire life span,” notes Zimmer. The life cycle process analyzes the long-term impact of construction and infrastructure costs on forecasted operational costs throughout the expected life of the property.

Importance of People in Smart Building Strategies

Experts agree that people play a crucial role in smart building strategies. For Shircliff, the three pillars of a smart building strategy are buildings, people, and technology. “The buildings must be enabled and the people, including process, aligned to best leverage newer technologies and basic information technology (IT),” he says.

Smyth believes a program that focuses on educating employees and hospital staff is essential. Communicating what smart building strategies are being implemented can be accomplished by an email that explains the precise situation, according to Smyth. “Let’s say we want to turn off all computers when they are not in use,” says Smyth. “So we show how many kilowatts per hour can be saved and how that adds up as we get more cooperation. Then we may show what that savings can represent. For instance, we may be able to add another piece of equipment for our patients.”

Walsh also believes keeping building occupants informed helps in energy conservation and sustainability efforts. He uses a newsletter to tell building occupants how much paper is being diverted from landfills, the advantages of using automated faucets, and even the benefits of variable frequency drives.

Like Smyth, Walsh has found informing building occupants encourages them “to pitch in with everyone else. We also get more feedback and that is a good thing.”

Zimmer sees a smart building strategy as combining IT, equipment, and the efforts of highly skilled people.

“The universe of technology solutions that create an intelligent building has evolved considerably over the last decade,” says Zimmer. “Innovations in energy-saving solutions, smart sensing, remote monitoring, automated diagnostics, as well as a myriad of Internet-based solutions have made their way into the domain of intelligent building solutions. The solutions allow buildings to become more responsive to the needs of occupants. The solutions, however, do require oversight by professionals with a high level of expertise.”

Medical Center Uses BAS for Smart Energy, Sustainability Strategies

Located in central Texas, Dell Children’s Medical Center is part of the Seton Family of Hospitals. The 503,000-square-foot medical center has achieved LEED Platinum certification for new construction.

Acting as the heart of this accomplishment is a building automation system (BAS) that efficiently integrates numerous facility systems and devices. From a single workstation, technicians can monitor and control indoor air quality, HVAC operation, and utility distribution. An energy management system also integrates the fire alarm system and provides air handling system control.

Alan Bell, Seton’s director of design and construction, reports that “with our building system we’ve been able to achieve about 17 percent better efficiency than ASHRAE standards, which was the target for our LEED rating.”

The medical center’s BAS supports complex smart building strategies for energy conservation and sustainability. For example, integration with variable frequency drives in combination with underfloor systems drives energy costs down. In addition, chilled water consumption is monitored, kilowatt-hour use is calculated, and run time on all pumps is managed by the BAS.

Let’s Connect. Collaborate. And Partner Together! Info@setpointsystems.com

Temperature Complaints Are Most Common, Restroom Complaints A Distant Second

The single biggest complaint or request made to respondents of the Building Operating Management survey was temperature, with 68 percent of respondents saying this was their No. 1 issue, with restrooms coming in at a distant second at 10 percent. Temperature is also the largest daily source of complaints — 16 percent of respondents say they field a hot/cold call every day.

Facility managers are often more than a bit jaded in the temperature department. Iain Schlenkermann, director, Manassas facilities, with American Public University System, says he remembers one cold call that started out normally enough, with a technician going down to the space armed with an IR gun, ready to educate the local occupants. But the temp calls started rolling in every half hour and cranking the thermostat was having no effect. By the time the HVAC tech could diagnose the problem, it was 52 degrees in the space.

“A lot of times we thought they were crying wolf,” Schlenkermann says of hot/cold calls in the past, “but we’ve gotten better at investigating temperature reports. And we refer to them as employees ‘reporting information’ rather than ‘complaints.’”

Creature Comforts

Even though the primary response to a complaint should be to try to be responsive and find a suitable solution, sometimes you have to draw a line. For Kristina Descoteaux, vice president with Colliers International, the line was drawn at the Charmin. She recalls a time when the president’s assistant at an owner-occupied building where she was the property manager called with a particular request. Could Descoteaux please go to a drugstore and purchase Charmin for the president’s bathroom because the standard-issue toilet paper was too harsh? It was early in her career, and for a second she hesitated. Is that what petty cash is for, she remembers wondering.

Of course, making TP runs was not going to happen, but Descoteaux worked with the assistant to find a suitable alternative that could be stocked via normal channels just for the executive floor, with the overage directly billed back to the president’s office.

“If a tenant comes in with a special request, it really comes down to what you can run through the building as an operating expense and what really needs to be billed back,” she says.

Another time, she had someone saying that the space was making her sick. In response to the complaints, Descoteaux had the space and the ductwork cleaned, and two different environmental agencies came in and said the space was fine. But the individual kept complaining. Finally they had to sit down with one of the lease administrators for the account to say they’d done everything that the lease required and there was nothing to indicate anything was wrong with the space, which was accepted by the tenant. “It’s all about how well you can communicate that you’ve done all you can,” she says.

Having policies in place to dictate both the escalation and de-escalation steps when responding to a complaint is important, says Kit Tuveson, a facility management consultant, Tuveson & Associates. “Without proper policies, the FM team has no power to say no and everyone else has the power to say yes,” he says. “There has to be some prioritization, some gating, and some feedback. And anybody who wants to buck that system has to get their management’s authorization.”

Let’s Connect. Collaborate. And Partner Together! Learn how to not only manage occupant complaints, but minimize or eliminate them! Info@setpointsystems.com

Wildlife Can Be Popular Or Pests, But Either Can Cause Occupant Complaints

Pesky wildlife can cause occupant complaints that the facilities management team must handle. But sometimes, wildlife complaints aren’t based on pests, but popularity.

Managing relationships is not limited to humans, when you’re the FM. Canada geese can be pests, so you’d think a story involving them would be about complaints around their noise or waste. But Joan Woodard, president and CEO of Simons & Woodard Inc., has the opposite problem. Her tenants love their geese and ducks, almost too much. A series of five man-made lakes at one of her properties in northern California has become a very popular stopover for migrating birds, with a pair of geese and some ducks routinely using it as a nesting ground.

In their concern and exuberance for their wilderness mascots, Woodard’s tenants have had rather unusual requests. The lakes have a bulkhead that’s about six inches above the water, and the tenants get distressed that the babies will not be able to clear the barrier. One tenant even went as far as standing in one of the lakes with his pant legs rolled up, attempting to scoop the ducklings onto dry land, which of course would not do — for the ducklings, himself, or the property management firm.

One strategy Woodard uses to try to stem the seasonal requests is to issue a newsletter to the tenants educating them on the importance of leaving the wildlife undisturbed. Using the newsletter, they distributed information about little ramps and small stone steps that had been constructed for the ducks after the wading incident, so they might navigate the lakes with ease. Of course, the birds don’t actually use them. “The tenants were happy we took that extra step, but then they wanted management to instruct the ducks on how to use the ramp,” she says.

Though they declined that request, Woodard says they were happy to try to accommodate the requests around the geese and ducks. “From the moment they become tenants, we’re trying to make them feel this is their daytime home and that they’re part of a community,” she says.

Let’s Connect. Collaborate. And Partner Together! Learn how to not only manage occupant complaints, but minimize or eliminate them! Info@setpointsystems.com

Energy Department Launches Funding Portal

U.S Department of Energy

U.S Department of Energy

The Energy Department has launched a new Financing & Funding portal on its web site to help financiers and developers of energy technology and projects find applicable programs.

The Energy Finance Working Group created three parts: resources for businesses; resources for projects; and additional resources. Information on financing a new energy business can be found at:

Funding or financing a new project resources are at:

The additional resources area provides links to related information and federal government programs, such as Grants.gov, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

More at: http://www.energymanagertoday.com

Delta Controls – ORCAview Tip- Analog Totalizer

Analog Totalizer

Analog Totalizers are used to calculate the accumulated quantity of a measured variable according to that measured variable’s rate. For example, by using an Analog Totalizer you could determine how many kWh of electrical consumption you have if you’re measuring electrical demand in kW. To do this you would simply enter the Monitored Object, select Hours as your conversion rate and kWh as your units.

Singapore Takes the Lead In Green Building in Asia

Singapore's Parkroyal on Pickering hotel displays its green credentials in the form of an artfully tiered façade dotted with tropical ferns and creeping vines. Along with an efficient cooling system, its green perks include rainwater harvesting, lighting sensors, and high-performance window glass and hot water pumps. (Photo credit: Patrick Bingham Hall)

Singapore’s Parkroyal on Pickering hotel displays its green credentials in the form of an artfully tiered façade dotted with tropical ferns and creeping vines. Along with an efficient cooling system, its green perks include rainwater harvesting, lighting sensors, and high-performance window glass and hot water pumps. (Photo credit: Patrick Bingham Hall)

 

Singapore Takes the Lead
In Green Building in Asia

By encouraging the adoption of innovative architectural design and energy-saving technologies, Singapore has emerged as a model of green building in Asia — an important development in a region that is urbanizing more rapidly than any other in the world.

by mike ives

At street level, 313@somerset looks like any other glittering mall in downtown Singapore. But on closer inspection the eight-story building has skylights, solar panels, energy-saving elevators and escalators, highly efficient air-conditioning units, and software that monitors the building’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Across town, a new hotel, Parkroyal on Pickering, displays its green credentials in the form of an artfully tiered façade dotted with tropical ferns and creeping vines. Along with an efficient cooling system,  its green perks include rainwater harvesting, lighting sensors, and high- performance window glass and hot water pumps. Entering the wood-paneled lobby, which has a wall of tropical mosses, a visitor is reminded of a rainforest — no matter that the building lies in the heart of the banking capital of Southeast Asia.

These structures underscore Singapore’s commitment to greening its built environment through generous incentive schemes and a building-rating tool that encourages such improvements as sun-shading exteriors, water-efficient fittings, computer modeling of energy flows and carbon emissions, and highly efficient air conditioning and ventilation systems. Since the rating tool launched in 2005, Singapore’sBuilding and Construction Authority (BCA) has certified 1,534 new buildings and 215 pre-existing ones. Together they account for more than a fifth of gross floor area in this island city-state, which has a population of five million and is roughly half the size of New York City.

“As we become more and more urbanized, we want to make sure our built environment is sustainable,” says John Keung, the BCA’s chief executive.

There is wide agreement among development specialists that promoting green building in Asia has the potential to produce large energy savings and make polluted cities more habitable while partially mitigating the impacts of global warming. The United Nations reports that 40 percent of people in the Asia-Pacific region already live in cities, and by 2050 the figure could reach two thirds. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that in the coming decades Asian countries will lead increases across the developing world in building-sector emissions from energy use. In China alone, according to the global consultancy McKinsey & Company, the urban population may expand from 572 million in 2005 to 926 million by 2025, requiring the construction of four to five million new buildings.

Against this backdrop, Singapore has emerged as a model of green building for planners and developers across much of the Asia-Pacific region, where poor design reigns and developers have historically seen little incentive to invest in sustainability, according to Asia-based architects and sustainability experts. Singapore’s BCA is now marketing its rating tool,Green Mark, as a brand in Southeast Asia, China, and parts of tropical Africa — even in countries, such as neighboring Malaysia, where local rating tools offer competing certification systems. Some consultants say the rise of Green Mark is a direct challenge to LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, the rating tool of the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED also is expanding in Asia.

In the fight to reduce carbon emissions, the economic boom in Asia underscores the importance — and the limits — of reducing energy use in commercial and residential buildings. Even with Singapore’s aggressive push in the green building sector, non-industrial electricity consumption in Singapore increased by roughly 23 percent between from 2005 to 2011. That growth was due largely to robust economic expansion, with Singapore’s GDP doubling during that time. The government aims to achieve a 35 percent reduction in the energy intensity of its economy by 2030, which — depending on the rate of economic growth — does not necessarily mean the city-state will be using less electricity overall by that date.

The phrase “green building” suggests basic universal characteristics, such as an attention to energy use and attempts to bring a building in tune with its environment. However, it is also a somewhat fluid concept, and certifiers define green buildings differently in Singapore than in the United States or Europe. Notably, Green Mark places a comparatively larger emphasis on installation of technologically intensive cooling units, arguing that reducing energy consumption is essential in a tropical city where air-conditioning represents a large part of electricity demand. But some experts wonder if Singapore’s approach will eventually encourage an unsustainable dependence on air conditioning as an essential design component. Country-specific rating tools under development in Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries, they say, may be more effective at promoting vernacular designs that emphasize passive technologies — such as optimization of shading and ventilation — and a sensitivity to a building’s carbon life cycle.

“Ultimately the goal in these tools is to reduce the (environmental) footprint,” says Deo Prasad, a professor of architecture at the University of New South Wales in Australia who has studied sustainable building policies across the Asia-Pacific region. As Green Mark matures, he adds, an open question for Singapore is: “Are you getting hooked into the energy consumption being absolutely necessary for comfort?”

Singapore, which gained independence from Malaysia in 1965, has long styled itself as a “garden city.” The city-state was built on swampland that has few energy resources, and its founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, made a point of prioritizing environmental conservation. In 2005, the government extended its hands-on urban development policies to its building sector. The centerpiece of that policy shift was Green Mark, a rating tool modeled partly on LEED guidelines. But unlike LEED, which emerged in the private sector and is based on a flexible set of sustainable design principles, Green Mark was launched by a government agency and designed largely to reduce energy and water consumption.

The BCA markets Green Mark as a win-win for businesses and the environment. A recent study by the government and researchers at the National University of Singapore found that a sample of office buildings designed to meet Green Mark standards shaved about 11.6 percent off total operating expenses on average while boosting a building’s capital value by 2.3 percent. The BCA also reports that while new Green Mark buildings typically cost up to five percent more, most developers recoup their initial investment within seven years through energy savings. It helps that in 2009 the agency pledged 100 million Singapore dollars, or about $80 million, to landlords over five years to pay for efficiency audits and install energy-efficient cooling units, motion sensors, and shading devices.

Singapore-based CapitaLand, Southeast Asia’s largest developer, says investments in green-building technologies have played a central role in reductions since 2008 of 11.7 and 16.1 percent, respectively, in the company’s energy and water consumption, and a 16 percent reduction in its carbon emissions — all for a savings of about $28 million. “Our sustainability objectives are guided by the belief that lowering the environmental footprint of our developments through innovation creates value for our stakeholders,” says Tan Seng Chai, CapitaLand’s group chief corporate officer.

The BCA says it plans to certify 80 percent of the city’s buildings by 2030, and several consultants say the goal is realistic. However, the BCA has struggled to incentivize efficiency upgrades in existing buildings, and Green Mark’s success may slow when its five-year incentive scheme for those buildings ends next year, according to Ng Eng Kiong, president of the Singapore Green Building Council, a consortium of 450 building professionals and suppliers of green products and services.

Mark-certified buildings now exist in Asia and Africa, according to the BCA’s John Keung. Officers at four green building associations across Southeast Asia say Green Mark’s success has partially influenced how they developed their local rating tools. “In Singapore everything is driven by the economy,” Ng says, and a future economic downturn as serious as the 2008 financial crisis could potentially reverse some of Singapore’s green-building gains. The BCA reports that some of the city-state’s older buildings have a lifespan of just 10 to 15 years — a fact that could further deter long-term investments in sustainability.

Energy consultants say Singapore, which sits on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, has lately emerged as a testing ground for ventilation and air-conditioning technologies that Western and Asian manufacturers plan to sell in China and the rest of Asia. Green Mark’s success, the consultants add, is also a boon for some local businesses and an encouraging example for neighboring countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam, that are just beginning to green their building sectors. More than 400 Green Mark-certified buildings now exist in Asia and Africa, according to the BCA’s John Keung. Officers at four green building associations across Southeast Asia say Green Mark’s success has partially influenced how they developed their local rating tools.

However, Green Mark is a system designed exclusively for a prosperous urban metropolis, and it may not be directly applicable in countries with different political systems, environmental conditions, and standards of living, say green-building experts. “So if you have a house made out of bamboo, it may be the greenest house ever, but using that particular rating tool, you can’t get certified,” explains Ar Sarly Adre Sarkum, vice president of the Malaysia Green Building Confederation. With this in mind, a few rating tools have emerged in recent years that attempt to capture country-specific nuances. For example, a new tool in Indonesia pays more attention to a developer’s choice of building materials, many of which are typically sourced from within the country.

Sustainability experts say that for the moment it is too early to tell how these local tools will fare, and their success will depend partly on the degree to which local governments offer related incentives to developers. Muiz Murad, CEO of Green Earth Design Solution, an environmental consultancy in Kuala Lumpur, says that in all likelihood there will be a healthy coexistence, with a few developers choosing to certify through both a local and an outside rating system. Green Mark is currently very popular in Brunei, he adds, but in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, the international rating tool of choice is LEED. That, he says, is largely because multinational corporations have internal policies that require them to choose LEED.

 

US Building Automation Market Primed for Growth

Could Help Commercial Structures Cope with Rising Energy Costs
The U.S. market for building automation equipment is set to grow by more than 40 percent within a five-year period ending in 2017, spurred by the need in commercial buildings for more efficient energy consumption, according to a new report from IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS).

With electricity rates on the rise, driven by increasing wholesale prices and investments in renewable sources of energy, demand for lower energy consumption in buildings is bound to occur, the findings in the report entitled “Building Automation Equipment” suggest.

All told, the U.S. building automation systems market will reach a projected $1.65 billion by year-end, up 5 percent from $1.57 billion in 2012. Solid growth ranging from 7 to 9 percent will follow in the next four years, with industry revenue forecast to hit $2.24 billion by 2017, equivalent to a 43 percent increase from 2012, as shown in the below figure.

The spiraling cost of electricity is a major factor in the operational efficiency of a commercial building structure, which explains why building automation systems could play an important role. Prices for U.S. retail electric power will increase by 8 percent from 2012 to 2020, IHS CERA forecasts, with a sizable proportion of the increase in price related to the investments being made by the market in renewable energy.

A similar story is unfolding in Germany, where the Energiewende policy is promoting the move away from nuclear and fossil-fuel power generation and toward renewable sources of energy. Such investments are driving up the cost of energy overall and adding pressure to the already stretched operational budgets of many commercial and government organizations.

“With budgets cut and many large companies struggling to grow at more than 5 percent on an annual basis, the higher cost of electricity could prove to be a major headache for commercial and government building owners,” said Sam Grinter, market analyst for the Building Technologies group at IHS.
The solution to rising energy prices

In particular, buildings consume huge quantities of energy through heating, ventilation and cooling, Grinter noted. “Making buildings as efficient as possible is crucial to driving down energy consumption. And one way to increase energy efficiency is to install an integrated building automation system,” Grinter noted.

Building automation systems centrally manage the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems of a structure. Compared to more basic mechanisms, building automation systems can save a considerable amount of energy consumption, via scheduled periods of heating or through cooling controlled by a thermostat, to cite two examples. Some vendors of building automation systems claim that energy savings of more than 30 percent can be obtained when evaluated against conventional HVAC systems.

This is why building owners will increasingly look to building automation systems to achieve savings on energy consumption, especially as the cost of electricity keeps going up, IHS believes.

www.ihs.com