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.
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.