4 FM quick reads on Energy Efficiency
1. 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.
4. Tips For Exterior Shading to Save Energy
Today's tip is about some strategies for shading windows and roofing from the sun. If done correctly, shading provided by landscaping or other exterior shading elements can result in significant energy savings.
Use exteriors overhangs and solar shading devices to control heat gain into buildings.
It's important to properly size overhangs, especially for south-facing windows, so that when the sun is directly overhead during summer, the shading devices should shade windows completely to minimize heat gain. In the winter, when the sun is at a lower angle, the solar shading devices or overhangs should allow the sun to enter, to help warm the interior. It's a careful balancing act; one best mapped out with modeling software, if possible.
Other forms of solar shading devices include cover panels over skylights, insulated shutters, awnings and landscaping. There are even new solar shading products with photovoltaic cells on top, so they not only shade windows, but also produce energy.
Another strategy is to use creative landscaping to act as natural solar shading.
According to the Department of Energy, shading and evapotranspiration (the process by which a plant actively moves and releases water vapor) from trees can reduce surrounding air temperatures as much as 9° F (5°C).
Deciduous trees with high, spreading crowns can be used to be block heat in the summer but let it in during the winter. If you hope to block heat year-round, use dense evergreen trees or shrubs.
Additionally, use ground cover plants around the facility - instead of dark asphalt surfaces - can lower the ambient temperature, requiring less energy for cooling in the summer.