4  FM quick reads on energy efficiency

1. What is the Better Buildings Challenge?

Today's tip is about the Better Buildings Challenge, and how your organization can become a participant. You may remember in February of 2011, President Obama announced his Better Buildings Initiative - challenging organizations and the federal government to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2020.

The Better Building Challenge, which officially kicked off in December, 2011, is a subset of the Better Buildings Initiative. It's a formal agreement between about 40 initial participants and Department of Energy to reduce their energy use by at least 20 percent from 2008 levels by 2020.

Organizations that are interested in formally participating in the Better Buildings Challenge must commit themselves to identifying one Showcase Project, which is a good representation of their organizationwide energy efficiency strategies. Additionally, they must report one "implementation model" - which is basically a best practice — to DOE. DOE will collect these implementation models from all participants and disseminate that information to the marketplace, so all can benefit. Participants also agree to report energy data at least every six month. Participants can use their existing report structures, like Energy Star Portfolio Manager, for example.

According to Maria Vargas, the director of the Better Buildings Challenge, the goal of the BBC is to overcome barriers to energy efficiency. She cites some of those barriers as energy efficiency not being part of the business plan, lack of senior management buy-in, lack of reliable information about how to be energy efficient, the split incentive between tenants and landlords, and high hurdle rates for owners or investors.

The current roster of Better Buildings Challenge participants includes a variety of organizations with a variety of building portfolios. Vargas says, she hopes the program will illustrate a diversity of energy efficiency strategies for a diverse buildings market.

Underfloor Air Distribution Can Benefit High Performance Buildings

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Jeffrey L. Heiken of KlingStubbins. Underfloor air distribution systems can offer benefits to high performance HVAC designs.

Underfloor air distribution enhances building operation and energy efficiency. Underfloor air distribution systems supply air from the floor level, putting the cooling source in closer proximity to cooling need. With conventional overhead air delivery systems, the conditioning air is typically forced from the ceiling level down to the occupant and equipment. In a cooling mode, the air must travel through a mass of hotter air that has naturally risen to the ceiling. As it falls, the cooler conditioned air mixes with hotter air, reducing the performance of the HVAC system.

Underfloor air distribution systems invite the hot air to rise, displacing it upward to the ceiling levels for return. The occupied lower 7 feet is conditioned; above that level, elevated temperatures are not sensed by occupants or equipment. The pressurized plenum of the underfloor space serves as a supply air distribution system. It is a low static pressure delivery system. The economic benefit of reducing fan static pressure requirements comes in fan energy savings.

On a high rise project in Raleigh, North Carolina, an energy model was used to evaluate elements of a high performance HVAC system. The building was a 305,000 square foot public safety building for police and fire operations. One element considered was an underfloor air distribution system. The raised flooring in this application enhanced space utilization flexibility and was a value added element the owners desired for office space.

The model for this project showed a 13.4 percent decrease in fan energy use with the underfloor system.

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


energy efficiency , Better Buildings Challenge , Portfolio Manager

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