Focusing Energy Audits on Capital-Intensive Projects
A Level III energy audit focuses on specific, potential, capital-intensive projects identified during a Level II audit. It also involves more detailed gathering of field data, as well as a more rigorous engineering analysis. It provides detailed project costs and savings calculations, which can give managers a level of confidence that is essential in making decisions on major capital investments.
This audit often includes computer modeling with an analysis of interactive savings, itemized equipment inventories and fixture counts, and schematic layouts of proposed modifications. It is not unusual for the Level III analysis to contain information suitable for direct client in-house implementation or execution by a performance-based contract using a third-party energy service contractor.
Since Level III energy audits involve in-depth analysis, they are best suited for concentrating on previously identified, feasible, and potentially economically viable measures that merit a more detailed evaluation because of the investment requirements. This audit typically occurs after a Level II audit and is the most labor intensive.
The detailed dive into a facility's systems that a Level III audit provides might work for managers who already understand a facility's energy use or for those who have committed to capital projects, either due to the performance lives of existing systems or to have a more energy-efficient facility.
Keys To Success
The goal of any audit is to help a manager better understand the way a facility uses energy, as well as ways to save energy by identifying, describing, quantifying, and prioritizing cost-saving measures. In short, the audit can help determine measures to implement to save energy in facilities. In and of itself, an audit does nothing to save energy. It requires a commitment by the building staff and management to seriously evaluate each opportunity and to decide which measures are worth implementing.
The following seven steps can go a long way in ensuring the success of an energy audit. They provide a framework that a manager can follow to systematically implement recommendations from an energy audit and evaluate the effectiveness of each:
- Make the commitment.
- Assess performance.
- Set goals.
- Create an action plan.
- Implement the plan.
- Evaluate progress.
- Recognize achievements.
Energy audits can be useful tools for determining measures managers can and should take to save energy in facilities. Whether the audit actually helps organizations achieve this goal will depend on the effort managers put into implementing the identified and recommended actions, as well as the commitment from the organization to support such efforts.
David Cosaboon is a project engineer with Facility Engineering Associates in Fairfax, Va. He provides energy-consulting services and has authored several papers on water and energy conservation.