Energy Consultants Can Help Integrate Energy Conservation Measures With Facility Master Plan
There are two key steps to integrate energy conservation into a master plan: "identify" and "incorporate." To take steps to identify future maintenance items and energy-conservation measures, it may be beneficial or necessary to seek the expertise of energy consultants.
The first step is to identify what can be done by understanding the current state of the facility. This step starts with a simple utility analysis. Carefully examine the facility's utility bills from the last two to three years to see where energy is being used, what buildings or areas of the building are using the most energy and how the building compares to regional and national averages.
This exercise is highly beneficial in demonstrating to top management the energy use per square foot of the building. In the case of one public school district in southwest Ohio, a utility analysis revealed that the high school building was consuming five times as much energy as comparable buildings in the district. This particular high school was spending $220,000 annually on electricity, while the next highest consumer in the district, the middle school, spent just $42,000 in electricity costs annually — a significant discrepancy in two buildings that are nearly the same size. Information of this nature gives facility managers perspective and enables them to understand where energy upgrades and efforts should be focused.
A utility analysis also can help a facility manager or district official compare its electrical expenses with other school districts in the region. The results may indicate that the district should shop around for another power provider to try to negotiate lower energy prices.
After a comprehensive utility analysis, the facility manager should perform a thorough walk-through of the facility to look at building automation systems, as well as the current condition and operating quality of all equipment and systems. This exercise covers everything from the facility's kitchen appliances to the classroom lighting to the plumbing fixtures in the bathroom. On the walk-through, a facility manager should observe firsthand whether everything is working properly and efficiently and carefully examine what is due for a replacement soon.
These types of walkthroughs have uncovered a variety of surprising inefficiencies, including simultaneous heating/cooling not for dehumidification purposes.
After the utility analysis and walk-through have been completed, the facility manager writes a report compiling all the findings to provide a comprehensive overview of the facilities.