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Planning For Measurement And Verification Surprises Helps GSA Hit Energy Efficiency Targets

By Greg Zimmerman, Executive Editor - June 2014 - Green


But when the M&V period began in January 2013, there were still surprises. That’s just natural — it happens for nearly every new building. What’s important, however, is that there’s a plan in place to identify and correct the sources of the problems. “We found out over the first three months of M&V that we were a lot higher over our targets than we wanted to be," says Thomas. In fact, the building was about 10 percent over its target.

There were several reasons for this. First, and perhaps most notably, some of the assumptions regarding plug loads were off. “We found out after the fact that the occupants couldn’t shut their computers down at night because of security patches and uploads," says Thomas. “Those types of things didn’t come out until the building was occupied, and we were meeting with Charles to show us how the building was acting."

In addition, many occupants were biking to work, which was great for the organization’s sustainability goals. But these bikers were arriving early, and so hot water had to be recalibrated so the bikers could have hot showers before office hours. This is the kind of thing that’s easily correctable, but that you’d never think of before the building is actually occupied, says Stine.

According to Chaloeicheep, there were also other correctable systems problems — including issues with data output and controls sequences — and naturally the building operator was still familiarizing himself with the building. “In the first quarter, things were all over the place," he says.

The building operator, who worked closely with Chaloeicheep on the M&V, was actually a member of the mechanical contractor’s service department, and, Thomas says, while such an arrangement might not work well for all buildings, it worked splendidly for this one.

“The building operator and the design team really came together,' says Chaloeicheep. “Because of the energy performance guarantee, everyone pulled together and there were no pointed fingers."

Once these problems were corrected, other adjustments were made, and the plug load data was normalized, the second quarter of the M&V period resulted in an energy load only 2.4 percent above the projection. By Quarter Three with everything tuned up, and the building humming along, the energy spend dropped to 15 percent below the target. It finished the year at 12 percent below the final pre-construction model. The contract was fulfilled.

“Buildings are talking to us but sometimes it’s hard to hear them because we don’t always have the language," says Chaloeicheep. “But we were able to take the data, crunch it, and translate it. We could all make a decision on what to do with the information. That was crucial."





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