4  FM quick reads on Energy Efficiency

1. Four Steps To Keep Energy Efficiency a Priority

Today's tip is about how to continue the momentum you've created with an energy efficiency project. Here are four steps.

First, a huge mistake when completing an expensive energy upgrade is to finish the project and assume everything will be fine, that the money thrown at the energy inefficiency is enough to correct the problem.

Not so. Constantly monitor new equipment specifically but total building energy use in general. Set new goals and incentives. Keep your staff engaged. Do continuous training. Only measure what you need to measure and only analyze what you've measured with specific outcomes in mind. Keep energy as a priority!

Secondly, communicate efficiency plans and goals to building occupants, upper managers and the community on an ongoing basis.

Start a quarterly or monthly newsletter (or email) highlighting facility management's efficiency successes. Illustrate to occupants how energy efficiency strategies are benefiting them by showing them that the savings from a particular project is the equivalent of the salary of two full-time employees, for example.

Be accessible. Set up a time each week when you'll be in your office (like facility management "office hours") to hear suggestions or problems. And then be sure to address them in timely manner.

Show how energy efficiency makes your organization a good corporate citizen. Host community events at your office and create fliers to hand out highlighting energy efficiency successes. Pay your success forward, too — hand out tip sheets for homeowners on how they can save energy.

Sign up for voluntary greenhouse gas emission reporting and reduction programs and energy benchmarking programs, like Energy Star. Complete an annual sustainability report highlighting successes and distribute the report to upper managers and local media outlets.

Third, draft a written energy efficiency policy, complete with stepped savings targets.

Nothing gives energy efficiency more teeth than a policy on paper. In addition, a written policy ensures continuity in the energy efficiency plan if key people leave the organization.

The most important part of drafting a written energy efficiency policy is to make it as specific as possible. Include timelines for upgrade projects, as well as preventive maintenance, energy audit and retrocommissioning frequencies. And be sure to set goals based on specific energy metrics. Plan as far into the future as is feasible, as that helps budget for planned projects.

Fourth, establish incentives for occupants who participate in energy efficiency initiatives or provide suggestions for savings.

Some of the more impactful savings opportunities can come from occupants, who are able to see energy waste in places facility managers may not. So set up a mechanism for occupants to suggest ways to save energy, and reward them if their suggestion pays off in the form of savings.

Be proactive in soliciting the advice of occupants. Do energy efficiency surveys asking for suggestions and reward participation. After all, simple operational changes often have bigger impacts on efficiency than equipment upgrades.

2.  Boiler Control Upgrades Plus Regular Maintenance Can Improve Energy Efficiency

Today's tip comes from James Piper, contributing editor for Building Operating Management and Maintenance Solutions magazines: Focus on boiler controls to reduce energy use.

New boiler controls can provide major gains in energy efficiency, performance, and safety at a much lower cost than replacing boilers. Older-generation boiler controls used mechanical linkages. With age and use, linkages wear and go out of adjustment, reducing the unit's efficiency. Older-generation controls also suffer from offset, which occurs when the system operates close to, but not exactly at, the desired setting.

Today's boiler controls incorporate microprocessors, solid-state sensors, and independent servo motors, which give managers accurate and reliable operation, eliminating problems such as offset.

When evaluating control options, it is important to remember boiler controls perform three basic functions: combustion control; water-level control; and flame safeguarding. If a facility uses multiple boilers, the control system must perform a fourth function: sequencing. Facility managers must factor all of these issues into their control decisions. Three types of boiler controls to consider upgrading are flue gas trim, sequencing and automatic blowdown.

Getting the proper controls installed is only the first step in achieving efficient and reliable boiler operation. To keep things operating that way over the life of the system, technicians must properly maintain controls. But the importance of proper maintenance goes far beyond efficiency and reliability issues. It also incorporates safe boiler operation.

Technicians must keep logs for boiler operations, recording operating parameters frequently enough to identify trends. Equally important, they must review those logs regularly to actually detect the trends.

At least once each month, technicians must test a boiler's safety equipment, such as the safety-relief valve, water-level control, and low-water fuel cutoff, according to the boiler manufacturer's recommendations. Larger boilers require more frequent testing.

They also should test all controls for proper operation and calibration at least once annually, and they should inspect, clean, and lubricate mechanical linkages according to manufacturer directions.

3.  How Should You Use an Energy Model?

Today's tip is about how to develop an energy model to be a useful predictor of how the building will use energy.

A prerequisite for LEED for New Construction certification, energy models amalgamate information about building systems to simulate approximately how much energy the building will use after it is built. Experts suggest that the energy model should be as important to the planning and programming of the building as the architectural drawings themselves.

One of the most important things to keep in mind regarding energy models is that they should be used not to predict exactly how much energy a building will use, but more to evaluate building choices and compare and contrast different strategies.

In regards to that idea of comparison instead of prediction, keep in mind these three points for how an energy model can be used to identify synergies in building systems and keep energy costs down.

1)   Reduce equipment size – Modeling various building shapes, sizes and orientations and how they affect building equipment can result in discovering that a smaller HVAC system will do the trick.

2)   Find areas of highest impact – Doing comparisons of ''what–ifs'' show the tipping point on the law of diminishing returns for energy decisions, and therefore allow facility managers to make decisions based on strategies with the highest energy impact.

3)   Identify building performance relationships that don't make sense – Energy models allow facility managers to discover that the "if some is good, more is always better" rule doesn't always add efficiency to a building.

When preparing an energy model - and there are several different types of software packages out there, some of them like the Department of Energy's eQuest, are available for free. They take into consideration three main sets of variables – weather and climate; energy and utility; and building components.

4.  A VFD Offers Energy Savings, Other Benefits from Part-Load HVAC Operation

Today's tip comes from James Piper, contributing editor for Building Operating Management: Variable frequency drives, or VFDs, offer multiple benefits for HVAC systems.

For more than 20 years, VFDs have successfully been installed on fan and pump motors in wide range of variable load applications. The most significant benefit of the use of a VFD is energy savings. By matching system capacity to the actual load throughout the entire year, major savings in system motor energy use is achieved.

Another benefit of the units is reduced wear and tear on the motors. When an induction motor is started, it draws a much higher current than during normal operation. This inrush current can be three to ten times the full-load operating current for the motor, generating both heat and stress in the motor's windings and other components. For motors that start and stop frequently, the heat and other stresses produced contribute to early motor failures.

In contrast, when a motor connected to a VFD is started, the VFD applies a very low frequency and low voltage to the motor. Both are gradually ramped up at a controlled rate to normal operating conditions. With no significant inrush current, heating and stresses are practically eliminated, extending motor life.

VFDs also provide more precise levels of control of applications. For example, high rise buildings use a booster pump system on the domestic water supply to maintain adequate water pressure at all levels within the building. Conventional pump controls in this type of application can maintain the pressure within a certain range, but a VFD based system can maintain more precise control over a wider range of flow rates, while reducing energy requirements and pump wear.


Energy Efficiency , Communication , Incentives ,

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