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Part 1: Misconceptions About Energy Star Can Prevent Facility Managers From Seeing Its Benefits
By Angela Maas, Managing Editor
July 2014 -
What facility manager doesn't know about Energy Star? The program is now in its 20th year, and more than 20,000 facilities carry Energy Star certification. But as well known as Energy Star may be, more than a few facility managers have misconceptions about the program, which may be preventing them from taking advantage of resources that will help them to use less energy and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Excuse: My type of building uses too much energy to do well on Energy Star.
Hospitals certainly qualify as energy-intensive buildings, but Mercy Philadelphia Hospital has received the Energy Star designation four years in a row, scoring a perfect 100 on Portfolio Manager the last two years.
"It's funny because at first I wasn't looking for the Energy Star label," says Gerald Moyer, director of plant operations at Mercy Philadelphia. "In the latter part of 2008, I became this energy nut looking for ways to reduce utility costs throughout our facility. Like all other managers, I started out with lighting, mechanicals, HVAC setbacks and more." However, that changed about a year later when an article about Energy Star-certified buildings sparked his interest in the program. Using Portfolio Manager, Moyer says, allowed him to become "more aware of how this facility was performing and what it is capable of." The tool allowed Mercy Philadelphia, says Moyer, to look into areas within the facility that were energy hogs. The facility started with easy steps, including establishing an energy conservation team and its "Turn It Off" program. It implemented very specific measures — like correcting its power factor with capacitors — but also had a team making rounds and asking the general question, "Why are we doing this?" Asking that question really paid off. For example, the building, which was built in 1918, had been running its high-pressure steam at 90 psi. "As time went on, equipment became more efficient and didn't need 90 psi of steam," Moyer says. Instead, the facility found it was able to run steam at 60 psi, he explains — an adjustment that saved more than $125,000 during the year the hospital implemented it. "If it wasn't for Energy Star we wouldn't have been looking for it," he says.
Data centers also are notorious energy users, but that hasn't stopped BNY Mellon from using Energy Star to drive energy improvements in its data centers. The firm seeks the Energy Star label for all eligible facilities, including data centers, says Drew Schechtman, vice president, energy and sustainability manager, for BNY Mellon. "In our experience, Portfolio Manager is a useful tool for data center facility managers," he says. "The ability to benchmark versus other data centers and progressively make incremental energy efficiency improvements that are then reflected in Portfolio Manager ultimately drives significant energy savings and carbon reductions for BNY Mellon."
For Schechtman, gaining the Energy Star label is only one benefit. The benchmarking capabilities of Portfolio Manager provide an indicator of energy efficiency opportunities and a motivator to improve energy performance. "No matter how much energy a building uses, there are always ways to increase efficiency," he says.
Facility managers should remember that Energy Star rankings are based on the performance of similar buildings. "A building that uses more energy to run a 24-hour service will not be penalized for using more energy than a building conducting normal business hours," notes Jean Lupinacci, director of the Energy Star Commercial and Industrial Branch in the Climate Protection Partnerships Division at the EPA. "The same is true for a building needing more computer equipment or a school with a cafeteria. The Energy Star score takes into account the business activity in the building. If the building is not designed or operated efficiently, however, the score will reflect that."
Energy Star: No Excuses
Part 2: Time Commitment For Energy Star Portfolio Manager Is Work That Should Already Be Done
Part 3: Improving Building's Energy Performance Brings Additional Benefits As Well