4  FM quick reads on Energy Efficiency

1. How To Justify Energy Retrofits

Today's tip of the day is describes seven suggestions for inclusion when you're going to justify an energy retrofit.

First, employ a structured and repeatable analytical process. This means having a system in place to measure and analyze data — whether developed as part of a full-scale energy management system, or simply availing yourself of Excel spreadsheets and energy bills.

Secondly, know your audience. Make sure you're speaking in the language of finance when presenting to upper managers.

Third, show how the deep energy retrofit has value beyond simple cost savings. But be sure you can enumerate exactly how — for instance, if you're claiming an increase in productivity, be sure to have airtight numbers that illustrate this benefit.

Fourth, do a dynamic presentation. Don't just read strings of numbers from your PowerPoint slides. Give handouts that show the calculations, but don't read every single piece of data.

Fifth, be sure to highlight parts of your project that mesh well with the priorities of the organization.

Sixth, don't overpromise. Be sure your data are accurate. If something seems "too good to be true," there's no doubt your financial folks will be skeptical. Explain everything. But be engaging.

Seventh and lastly, present other options - like the cost of doing nothing. Show the risk to the organization if nothing or lesser options are implemented.

2.  What Does It Mean To Be Carbon Neutral?

You've probably heard the stat: Buildings account for about 40 percent of all U.S. carbon emissions. That fact, combined with President Barack Obama's promises for stricter limits on carbon emissions and better building-efficiency standards, has led many upper managers and organizational leaders to sharpen the focus of their "go green" mandates. Now, facility executives are being told that, regardless of other "green" initiatives, reducing emissions is the highest priority. For some, that mandate means going all the way to carbon neutrality.

But the term "carbon neutral" is different strokes for different folks. Some organizations will work hard, spend a lot of money and reduce their energy use as much as possible. They'll generate what energy they do use with on-site renewable technologies, like PV panels or wind.

Others will make a concerted effort toward efficiency and then cover the rest of their energy-spend by buying carbon offset or renewable energy certificates (RECs), also known as green tags. RECs are assurances that a specified amount of energy purchased has been generated by renewable sources. It's generally considered a credible way to offset emissions - LEED offers credits for purchase of a certain percentage of renewable energy. Carbon offsets are a bit different - they simply mean something somewhere is being done to reduce the specific amount of emission purchased. Offset money could be used for projects as wide-ranging as building a solar array in New Mexico to planting trees in Brazil.

As point of clarification, most experts agree that REC or offset purchase is credible as long as it is NOT the only strategy for working toward carbon neutrality. Buying these offsets or RECs certainly shouldn't be the main thrust of an organization's carbon neutrality strategy. If it is, these RECs or offsets essentially turn into "indulgences" or "green get out of jail free cards." Can you still emit as much as you want, and then buy your way out of your emission-related mess?

Most experts agree that the first and most important step toward carbon neutrality is to squeeze as much energy out of an organization through efficiency measures as possible. Energy efficiency is the true path to carbon neutrality - because it's the true of spirit of being carbon neutral. You're using fewer resources and directly emitting fewer greenhouse gases.

3.  Keys to Ensuring Successful Rooftop PV System

The first step in the successful installation of a rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system is to ensure the underlying roofing system is compatible with the intended PV system or that it can be upgraded for use with a PV system. For a rooftop PV system, the process of integrated design — having all parties involved with a project, including maintenance and engineering, at the design table — requires knowledge of both the roofing and PV industries.

Having the right people at the design table helps to create a proper path from design to installation to maintenance. To ensure a successful design, managers need to:

  • make sure the roofing system will provide at least 20 additional years of useful service
  • specify a cover board as a substrate for the roofing membrane in order to prevent damage and to protect the energy-efficiency properties of the roof insulation
  • match the roof membrane's thickness and proven performance to the required service life of the PV system
  • use construction details that are well established and meet the manufacturer's requirements
  • elevate framing and conduits above the roof surface to promote drainage, which considerably reduces the potential for leaks
  • design penetrations with round framing so flashing installations are more effectively and efficiently installed
  • install sacrificial membranes or walkways at critical traffic locations
  • provide additional membrane layers or coatings at flashings to increase durability
  • engage qualified professionals during the design and planning phase to ensure compliance with all building codes and safety regulations
  • make sure the rooftop PV system installation does not compromise the roofing system's warranty
  • make sure that the roofing system's manufacturer has accepted all PV system details — especially attachments and penetrations — if not during the design stage, at least prior to starting the PV installation on the rooftop.

The manager's overall goal is to make sure the rooftop PV system will do more than just survive. It also should help ensure continuous building operations.

4.  Modular Data Centers Offer Flexibility

MODULAR DATA CENTERS are attractive options for facility managers for many reasons. Built offsite in a controlled environment, modular data centers primarily offer owners flexibility and speed. With proper planning and logistics, modular data center units can be built ahead of time or while the remainder of a project is under construction. Because modular units can be fabricated at an assembly plant and stored until ready for use, concurrent construction can occur while site permitting is processed, and while site work and support construction is underway. Modular, factory-built, repetitive units provide a higher level of quality due to the indoor controlled construction environment and the ability to make continuous improvements throughout the manufacturing process.

But don't get ahead of yourself. Engaging in early discussions with the local authority having jurisdiction is beneficial and may reveal a requirement for inspections at the assembly factory by a third-party approved by the authority having jurisdiction in addition to any UL or ETL inspection label. The greatest risk lies in poor assembly, which could lead to air and water leaks. The more joints introduced into the modular data center, the greater the chance for the leaks to occur, and therefore, the less efficient the unit assembly becomes

Not all modular data center designs are the same. There are essentially three types of modular designs:

  1. A complete modular data center including infrastructure and IT equipment room space, fabricated offsite and shipped to the site fully assembled in one piece. For ease of shipping, these units are often designed to comply with the international size requirements of intermodal (e.g. ISO standard) shipping containers.
  2. Individual components designed and assembled in a modular form, and shipped to the site for assembly into a complete data center with infrastructure and IT computer room space.
  3. Portions of the data center infrastructure or IT cabinets can be assembled offsite, including electrical equipment skids and cooling system packages, and then installed in existing or newly built spaces. This speeds installation and limits on-site construction time. Modules can consist of skid-mounted equipment or complete enclosures in one package suitable for exterior installation.
  4. A wide range of data center owners may consider modular data centers and modular components, including data center wholesalers, colocation providers, universities, and corporations.


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