4 FM quick reads on energy efficiency
1. Energy Audits: Developing a Plan
This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is developing a game plan for an energy audit.
Energy audits vary in complexity, so determining the exact scope and content of the audit is an important step for maintenance and engineering managers. Managers need to make sure those conducting the audit look for ways to optimize systems and reduce energy where possible.
The following four tasks help properly focus the auditors' efforts:
Understanding the building and building systems. Performing a walk-through survey of the building provides a better understanding of the facility's construction, equipment, and energy-consuming systems. Managers need to identify opportunities for equipment replacement and upgrades, as well as identify system modifications that might improve the overall performance of a major building system, such as the chilled-water system.
Understanding operation and maintenance. Talk with the engineering and operations staff regarding the operation and maintenance of a building's energy-consuming systems. Identify maintenance problems and practices that affect energy efficiency. Use the building-automation system or energy-management system to better understand the facility's operation.
Analyzing building energy use. Start with a review of utility bills. Managers can use these bills to understand a building's current energy use and, if possible, the trend of energy consumption in years past.
Reviewing utility rate options. Review current utility rates, including monthly demand and consumption charges. Managers also should identify on-, mid-, and off-peak charges.
3. Tax Deductions Getting Easier for HVAC Energy Efficiency
Today's tip is to look into the possibility of tax deductions when making energy efficient HVAC upgrades.
The Energy Policy Act, or EPAct, provides tax deductions for HVAC installations that meet certain criteria. There's been an upswing in the number of HVAC projects qualifying for deductions, says Charles Goulding of Energy Tax Savers.
To qualify for a deduction, an HVAC project must reduce energy costs at least 16.67 percent below the costs for a building designed to meet ASHRAE 90.1-2001. The project has to use energy modeling to show the energy cost savings.
That last criteria - documenting expected savings using an energy simulation model approved by the Internal Revenue Service - used to be a major hurdle to getting tax deductions for HVAC projects. But the past several years have seen three changes that make energy modeling less daunting. For one thing, the LEED certification program also requires building energy modeling. The growing popularity of that program means that more projects are using modeling. Facility managers should be aware, however, that modeling for EPAct deductions requires a different approach than LEED modeling, and facility managers should ensure that engineers doing the modeling understand EPAct requirements.
Another big change is that more current undergraduate architecture and engineering student are learning how to prepare building energy simulation models. That pool of expertise is making modeling more accessible to facility managers.
A third reason that modeling is no longer the hurdle that it used to be is the increase in the number of IRS-approved energy modeling programs.