3 FM quick reads on Energy Star
1. Understand the Energy Star Label for Roofing
Today's tip is about understanding and using the Energy Star label for roofing products. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, which runs the Energy Star program, Energy Star-labeled roofs can reduce peak cooling demand by as much as 15 percent.
To be Energy Star labeled, a low-sloping roofing product – that is one that is applied to a roof with a slope of 2:12 or less – must have an initial reflectance of 65 percent, and a three-year weathered reflectance of 50 percent. For steep slope roofing, the initial solar reflectance must be 25 percent and 15 percent after three years of weathering.
According to EPA, there are four main benefits to using Energy Star-labeled roofs on your buildings. 1) Energy Star-labeled roofs save money on energy costs, because less heat is transferred into the building, meaning the air conditioner doesn't have to work as hard. 2) Cooling equipment could possible be downsized because not as much cooling capacity may be required. 3) On a macro level, there will be decreased pollution in urban areas, because less energy is needed to be produced at fossil fuel-burning power plants, and 4) Increased roof life, because a cooler roof has to endure less thermal stress.
2. Proper Maintenance Will Improve Air Distribution Efficiency
One way to improve the efficiency of the air distribution system is to make sure that components are operating properly, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. For example, when systems have pneumatic controls, the thermostats require recalibration on a regular basis – typically once or twice a year. That sort of preventive maintenance is a better strategy than waiting for complaints from occupants who are too hot or too cold.
Zone dampers are another potential trouble spot. Facility staff should regularly inspect the damper, linkage, and actuator for to ensure they’re operating properly. In systems in older buildings haven’t been carefully maintained, there’s a good chance of having some zone dampers frozen in one position. Tackling that problem can be an expensive and lengthy process, especially in big buildings. Consider allocating a portion of the annual maintenance budget for this purpose to address a certain quantity or percentage of zones. For example, in a 100,000-square-foot, 10-story office building with 150 VAV zones, the maintenance budget might include time and money to evaluate 50 VAV zones per year.
Steps like these can not only reduce energy use, but also improve occupant comfort.
3. Designed to Earn Energy Star: Connecting Design with Operations
Today’s tip is about a program from the US Environmental Protection Agency called Designed to Earn the Energy Star Label. The idea behind the program is to link energy efficient design plans with post-occupancy Energy Star ratings. In other words, Designed to Earn sets a goal during design that is based on the same metrics and benchmarking system the more well-known Energy Star for Buildings program is based on. Project designs must achieve at least a score of 75 based on energy modeling to get the Designed to Earn label. And then, as facility executives know, the building must meet that same score of 75 once the building is operating to earn the Energy Star Label.
The idea is to give designers and facility executives a system of comparison for how energy efficient a building is designed to be and how efficient it actually turned out to be.
Right now, the Energy Star benchmark is the metric used by LEED-EB, and Energy Star officials are in the first stages of discussions with USGBC to make Designed to Earn the basis for LEED-NC as well. Doing so would be a huge step in helping to ensure that LEED certified buildings end up as energy efficient as they were designed to be, also.
For more information on Designed to Earn, visit www.energystar.gov/commercialbuildingdesign
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