4  FM quick reads on Energy Efficiency

1. Paths to Carbon Neutralilty

Hello. This is Greg Zimmerman, executive editor of Building Operating Management magazine.

Today’s topic is working to make your organization carbon neutral. Carbon neutrality basically requires a three-pronged approach – with varying ratios of each of the two, depending on the priorities and goals of the organization, its budget, and how fast it wants to declare itself officially carbon neutral.

The first and most important step is to reduce energy use as much as possible. There’s simply no substitute for an energy efficient building. To start, find the easy energy efficiency projects and operational changes that result in the biggest reductions with the best paybacks. Then move towards tougher projects that move the organization closer and closer to as low an energy spend as possible. Truly carbon neutral organizations are net-zero energy organizations, meaning organizations that require no energy from the grid.

A second leg to the carbon neutral stool is generating renewable energy generation onsite. This usually means using photovoltaic panels or onsite wind turbines.

A third option also involving renewables, but this one is a bit more controversial. You can purchase renewable energy certificates (sometimes just called RECs) or carbon offsets. RECs are purchased by the megawatt hour and ensure that even though the electricity is still coming from the grid, the amount of renewable energy purchased actually is being fed into the grid by some other renewable energy source. Besides helping to meet its own carbon neutral goal, purchasing RECs is one way an organization can help promote the gradual marketwide shift to renewable energy without actually generating renewable energy itself.

Carbon offsets are measured and sold as tons of carbon dioxide and can take various forms. It’s important to understand how the carbon offset company reinvests their money. For instance, buying one carbon offset unit may mean that company is planting trees Florida, or it may mean that the company is actually investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Most would agree that the latter is more useful to the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality anyway – combating climate change.

Energy Efficiency in Small Buildings

Hello. This is Greg Zimmerman, executive editor of Building Operating Management magazine.

Today’s topic is how to focus on energy efficiency in small- or medium-sized buildings. Buildings smaller than 100,000 square feet make up about 98 percent of the building stock in the United States, but most probably don’t have the complicated energy management systems larger buildings do.

The key to energy efficiency in small buildings is taking a very hard look at exactly how the building is using energy. Then, once the baseline is established, begin instituting operational changes like more closely monitoring how energy is used on a monthly basis, even if just means reading the meter and entering the data into a spreadsheet. Make sure occupants are being energy-conscious as well. Ask occupants if they’re comfortable in the space. If they’re too hot or too cold, it’s probably a good indication of a problem that’s wasting energy. Then you get to kill two birds with one stone: Happier occupants and energy efficiency.

Once you’ve established your energy baseline and implemented some energy-focused operations, do some cost-efficient upgrades with a good ROI – like changing out T12s for T8s and installing occupancy sensors. Make sure that you’re not over-ventilating space and perform a retrocommission to tune up HVAC equipment so that it’s operating at peak efficiency.

Finally, plan for some long-term capital projects, like replacing old, inefficient equipment. New equipment often has sophisticated controls built in, allowing the equipment to act as its own energy management device.

Energy Efficiency You Can’t Control (Or Can You?)

Hello. This is Greg Zimmerman, executive editor of Building Operating Management magazine.

Today’s topic is promoting energy efficiency in departments or for pieces of equipment not usually associated with facilities. If you’re managing specialized space, like a hospital, medical office facility or lab space, learn about the pieces of equipment that are using the most energy and ask those in charge how they might be able to reduce this equipments’ energy use. Would it be as simple as just shutting it off at night, or would it require more complex procedural changes? Is the equipment running at peak efficiency, and if not, what would need to be done to ensure that it is? Is there anything the facilities department can do to assist? Being willing to stick your nose where it may not belong may result in pretty significant energy gains.

Another approach is forming energy teams in various departments and asking them to identify opportunities for savings. Provide submeters for energy use in specific areas or departments and make energy savings a competition between departments. Start an energy conservation newsletter that keeps all departments apprised on each other’s progress. See if you can work out a deal with upper management that allows departments that save energy to keep a portion of the savings. Then, illustrate to these departments with calculations related directly to things they care about. In other words, show them that if they can save so many kilowatt-hours in a year, they’ll be able to afford a new fancy gadget they may not have been able to justify before.


Energy Efficiency , Alternative Energy , Carbon Offsets

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