4 FM quick reads on Energy Efficiency
1. Easy Steps for Energy Savings in a Tough Economy
Today's tip is about relatively simple things you can do to grab a few pieces of energy savings here and there to meet the constraints of pared down operational budgets. As we all know, there's still a lot of economic uncertainty, so check these things first.
First, make sure all controls are working properly and setpoints are programmed for optimal energy savings. This may seem like a no-brainer, but experts often talk about how common it is for facility managers to assume controls are fine after they've been installed. Controls are not a set-it and forget-it technology. The facility must be constantly tuned and checked to make sure everything is working properly. One facility manager at a high school even programs his BAS every Monday morning based on the activities in the school that week. That way, he ensures that lights and air conditioning and heating aren't being used when the building's empty.
Ensure that equipment is right-sized. One facility manager cut his monthly gas bill in half simply by using a smaller steam boiler for humidification. The oversized boilers that were designed and installed in the facility were used as backups for the two weeks or so per year that they were needed.
One final tip: Always ask occupants for suggestions on ways to save energy. They may have the best ideas — and just aren't sure who to tell. You could even offer some sort of incentive for an idea that works and saves X amount of dollars. Make it an "we're all in this together" scenario.
2. How Dashboards Can Promote Energy Efficiency
Today's tip is about how to use an energy dashboard to help understand how your facility uses energy. As facility managers are being held more accountable for quantitative and very specific data on how their facilities are performing, dashboard offerings have become more available. Indeed, now there are products that truly run the gamut from simple to incredibly sophisticated.
Most dashboards can be configured to pull energy, water or other data directly from a BAS. Facility managers can then program the dashboard to display that data in any form they prefer, as well as run reports on historical data. Facility managers, therefore, can benchmark against their own facilities or against previous years in the same facilities. What's more, many dashboards have tools to allow them to benchmark against data in the Energy Star or other databases.
In addition to analysis and reporting tools for energy use, one of the biggest benefits to a web-based dashboard is to show upper managers and occupants alike how certain decisions affect energy performance. If the people in the building can see and easily understand the building's energy use, you're a long way along the path of efficiency, since we know occupant behavior dramatically affects energy use. Seeing is believing, in this case. In regards to upper managers, showing them simply and quickly how decisions — especially funding decisions — are affecting energy use is a great way for facility managers to raise their clout and credibility.