4  FM quick reads on Energy Efficiency

1. How Should Embodied Energy Factor Into Product Selection?


Today's tip involves weighing a building product's embodied energy as a criterion in a life-cycle assessment.

For facility managers interested in reducing the environmental impact of their buildings, life-cycle assessments for all building products that are installed in a building are increasingly important. This means looking at every phase of a product — from how it is manufactured, to its useful life in the facility, to what happens to the product when its useful life is over.

Embodied energy is a key tenet of this life-cycle assessment, and is more frequently being included on manufacturers environmental product declarations, or EPDs. Embodied energy is the energy required from a product's raw material extraction, through its manufacturing process, to its delivery and installation in a building. Facility managers who pick products with low embodied energy are making a statement that they're concerned not just about how the product performs in their building, but also the manufacturer's performance in making the product. Often times, building products with lower embodied energies are also less expensive, because the manufacturer's energy waste isn't being tacked on to the price of the product.

An important caveat, however, is that facility managers must examine all aspects of a product's life cycle and weigh the different performance criteria against each other. It'd be hard to argue that a product with a low embodied energy that only lasts for five years and must be replaced is more environmentally responsible than one with a bit higher embodied energy that lasts for 50.


2.  LEED-EBOM 2012 To Focus on Performance

Today's tip of the day is about some of the major changes to look forward to when LEED EBOM is released in its newest version this fall. All of the LEED rating systems are getting overhauls, but it's the Operations and Maintenance rating system that has some of the biggest changes.

Most importantly, each LEED-EBOM credit and prerequisite is being rewritten to include two parts, an Establishment part and a Performance part. Facility managers will have to comply with both parts in order to earn the points for the credit.

The establishment portion of each credit is, as the U.S. Green Building Council explains, "static and foundational." It "establishes" the foundation for ongoing performance in the building, including strategies like installing meters and developing policies and procedures. As an example, in the draft version of LEED-EBOM, the Establishment portion of the Water Efficiency Credit for "additional landscape water use" requires users to calculate the baseline of current landscape water use and install a submeter to measure it.

The Performance portion of each credit, as its name implies, ensures that the Establishment portion of the credit is carried out in the real world. The Performance part of a credit is "dynamic and recurring," and includes strategies such as surveys, audits, and ongoing tracking. As an example, for the water efficiency credit mentioned early, to comply with the Performance part of the credit, facility managers must calculate the metered water use, and then are awarded 1 point if that use is 30 percent below a baseline of the average of the last three years, and 2 points if use is 40 percent below that baseline.

One of the goals of the dual-part credits in LEED-EBOM is to help reduce redundancy in the recertification process. Facility managers can more easily track each performance requirement and only submit that information for recertification, as opposed to have to start essentially from scratch to recertify.

3.  With HVAC Upgrades, Look Beyond Like-Kind Replacement

Today's tip from Building Operating Management magazine: When replacing elements of the HVAC system, evaluate whether to replace units with a like kind or not.

Say you're replacing a chiller. Because chillers can easily last 30 years or more, the odds are good that the needs of the building and its occupants have changed since it was installed. In that case, it probably isn't a good idea to replace units with like kind.

For one thing, chillers with older technology are not as energy efficient as units made today. What's more, you might find out that the size of the existing unit may not meet the needs of current and future occupants. There's also the question of how much redundancy you have and need. Questions like those are why bringing in an outside engineer, while an added expense, is probably a good idea.

The result of not replacing in kind can be significant. Two Shell Plaza in Houston was formerly outfitted with four 500-ton chillers. As a result of an upgrade by Hines, two of those chillers remain, but only in a backup role. The cooling is now provided by a pair of 680-ton chillers with variable frequency drives. That approach not only allows for more efficiency, but also gives more flexibility when it comes to providing cool air during off-peak hours when only a limited number of tenants need it. Changes like that can only come about if a project is properly evaluated beforehand and the building's use is carefully examined.

In some cases it might be preferable to replace with similar units. Kirk Beaudoin, territory facilities manager, North American retail operations, Nike, says that tracking service calls, breakdowns and temperature complaints helps his company identify problems that would prevent the organization from being able to replace old units with similar new units. "Our assumption is that our stores were properly designed when built. So unless we have identified ongoing comfort issues that are related to sizing of equipment, or if there have been any modifications to the store which would require a review of the systems, we generally replace with the same tonnage," he says.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.

4.  With HVAC Upgrades, Look Beyond Like-Kind Replacement

Today's tip from Building Operating Management magazine: When replacing elements of the HVAC system, evaluate whether to replace units with a like kind or not.

Say you're replacing a chiller. Because chillers can easily last 30 years or more, the odds are good that the needs of the building and its occupants have changed since it was installed. In that case, it probably isn't a good idea to replace units with like kind.

For one thing, chillers with older technology are not as energy efficient as units made today. What's more, you might find out that the size of the existing unit may not meet the needs of current and future occupants. There's also the question of how much redundancy you have and need. Questions like those are why bringing in an outside engineer, while an added expense, is probably a good idea.

The result of not replacing in kind can be significant. Two Shell Plaza in Houston was formerly outfitted with four 500-ton chillers. As a result of an upgrade by Hines, two of those chillers remain, but only in a backup role. The cooling is now provided by a pair of 680-ton chillers with variable frequency drives. That approach not only allows for more efficiency, but also gives more flexibility when it comes to providing cool air during off-peak hours when only a limited number of tenants need it. Changes like that can only come about if a project is properly evaluated beforehand and the building's use is carefully examined.

In some cases it might be preferable to replace with similar units. Kirk Beaudoin, territory facilities manager, North American retail operations, Nike, says that tracking service calls, breakdowns and temperature complaints helps his company identify problems that would prevent the organization from being able to replace old units with similar new units. "Our assumption is that our stores were properly designed when built. So unless we have identified ongoing comfort issues that are related to sizing of equipment, or if there have been any modifications to the store which would require a review of the systems, we generally replace with the same tonnage," he says.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.


RELATED CONTENT:


Energy Efficiency , Embodied Energy , Green Products

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