Posts Tagged ‘energy waste’

MSCA Musings: Following Up After the Conference

October 27th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Guest post by Jim Crowder, BuildingAdvice CEO, as excerpted from last week’s Building Monitor e-newsletter. If you would like to receive the Building Monitor in the future, you can sign up here.

We just returned from the Annual MSCA Educational Conference in beautiful Colorado Springs. It was a well organized event chock full of useful sessions that will help members improve their performance.

It also marked the passing of the Association leadership torch from Thom Brazel, Hill York, to Woody Woodall, W.L. Gary Company.

Thom helped drive association awareness of the opportunity energy services provides the HVAC industry. Under his leadership, and with the support of Barb Dolim’s MSCA staff, Thom helped create a new vision for the MSCA GreenSTAR program that will help members incorporate energy solutions into their core service offerings. Not only is the association planning to provide tools, but they are developing an impressive training program to educate members.

We at BuildingAdvice applaud Thom and the rest of the association for providing the leadership the industry needs to make commercial building owners and operators aware of how valuable HVACs can be in helping to eliminate energy waste in commercial buildings.

No industry is better positioned to provide these types of services to commercial buildings. Energy expenses represent 30% of the controllable operating cost of a building. HVAC and lighting combined typically constitute about 75% of the total energy spend.

BuildingAdvice CEO Jim Crowder

So, who can deliver real, measurable value to building owners? It’s not the janitors or the elevator guys! We look forward to working with Woody, Barb and the rest of the MSCA team as they move into this lucrative field.

Building Advisor’s Note: Have you seen the MSCA’s new YouTube channel? Check out their first video below.

How to Uncover Cost Savings Potential Through Reduced Ventilation – Without Compromising Occupant Comfort

April 12th, 2010 by Lucas Klesch

We in the energy conservation sector would like to take a moment to thank mechanical design engineers for giving us such an vast opportunity to save energy in existing buildings. By simply reducing the amount of outside air that is brought into a building for conditioning, energy services providers can nearly guarantee a sizeable drop in operating costs for commercial buildings. No disrespect, engineers – we know you have a strong directive to meet ASHRAE requirements and code basics. But because nearly every mandate ends up getting oversized, energy service providers, contractors and consultants have a lot of opportunity.

I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen a commercial space that actually needed to add more ventilation to the space. I am sure there are more existing facilities that are underventilated , but in the majority of situations in my experience, this is not the case.

In nearly every building I have seen (ballparked at 300+), the carbon dioxide pattern follows one of two patterns. One shows rising and falling carbon dioxide levels which correspond with increased occupancy, as shown in the graph below. But even here, the high points of CO2 are still below the levels at which ventilation should be recommended. The other common pattern is a flat line all the way across, reflecting no change in carbon dioxide levels regardless of occupied or unoccupied time.

The key to looking at overventilation as a conservation opportunity in commercial buildings leads to a discussion of the building’s economizer. An economizer is a system that allows a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to supply up to 100 percent outside air to satisfy cooling demands, even if additional mechanical cooling might be required.
The first question to ask is, if the building has an economizer, is it functioning properly? We know that many of the control sensors and algorithms for economizers have a program bias which causes them to kick on too early. Once this is understood, then you can take a look at whether the dampers, which are supposed to control the flow of outdoor air into the building, are stuck open. Another contributing factor to consider is if the building is porous to the outside environment either due to cracks or a “leaky” building envelope. 

The simple fix is to reduce the overall ventilation rate one of two ways. One is through direct damper positioning and increased control. The other is by using demand control ventilation, which optimizes the amount of ventilation based on actual carbon dioxide levels rather than assumed ones. Modulation of the fan through variable frequency drives can help in this opportunity, as can reducing the fan size.

In either case, you’ll see some energy reduction from downsizing your fan’s power draw. Couple that the major savings resulting from downsizing your building’s demand to condition outside air, and you’ve got low hanging fruit for energy service providers.

Lucas Klesch is a Product and Building Expert at BuildingAdvice,developer of innovative technologies to assess and improve building energy performance. Read more at The Building Advisor blog.

The Power of Lighting Controls for Energy Savings Top 5

July 27th, 2009 by Lucas Klesch

Lighting controls, like any control system has the power to realize a significant amount of savings because you can control specific times when the lights can and cannot be used.  Lighting systems in buildings are typically designed to provide to much light for today’s needs, they usually do not take into account the use of natural daylight, and they are left on when no one is using them.  Lighting controls can address all of these wasteful issues and with reliable paybacks of less than 2 years in many cases.

The top 5 use of lighting controls are:

  1. Scheduling automatically turns lights off or to dimmed levels based on the time of day.
  2. Occupancy sensors turn the lights off when a room or space is vacant.
  3. Daylight harvesting dims or shuts off lights when enough daylight is present to satisfy light levels.
  4. Demand response/load shedding reduces light loads at peak electricity price times.
  5. Personal light controls allows users to dim lights their preferred levels.

What is “wasted” energy in buildings?

January 6th, 2009 by Jim Crowder

If you want to reduce energy usage in commercial buildings, it seems like one of the first things you’d need to do is to figure out where energy is currently being wasted. So, what does that mean? What does it mean for energy to be “wasted”?

To help think about that, look at the purpose of a building. Here’s an analogy that most people are familiar with – cars. The purpose of a car is to provide personal transport from one place to another. Yes, of course I realize that to auto enthusiasts, a car is much more than the simple, utilitarian device I just described, but think of why the car was invented. It takes energy to enable a car to provide this transport. So, wasted energy would be energy that is not actually used to transport people (for example, leaving a car running in a driveway) or it describes a situation where the same task could be accomplished more efficiently without sacrificing the intended purpose (for example, an engine that burns a lot of fuel.)

A non-residential building is a place where tasks or activities are done and organizations are run. So, wasted energy would be energy that does not further the effort of getting the tasks or activities done. It’s more than keeping lights on and power outlets working. Occupant comfort matters – people are more productive when they are in a comfortable environment. Wasted energy in a building is energy that is not used to accomplish the tasks and activities, to further productivity. One glaring example (pun intended) is leaving lights on at night and during weekends.