Conduct Energy Audits to Identity Inefficient Systems

By Gregory Hughel  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Managers Need to Address Building-Wide Energy UsePt. 2: Energy Efficiency: Commission for SavingsPt. 3: This PagePt. 4: Preventive Maintenance Ensures Peak Operating EfficiencyPt. 5: Retrocommissioning and Energy Audits Produce Quick Payback

Energy audits are valuable tools for better understanding the way facilities operate. They also provide managers with recommendations for optimizing building systems. Technicians can perform audits at a fraction of the cost of commissioning or retrocommissioning.

Audits systematically identify and develop opportunities that will reduce energy use and, consequently, decrease utility costs. Energy audits identify inefficient equipment, such as older chillers or boilers, that technicians need to replace with more energy-efficient models. The audits also will provide information on optimizing the building’s energy-management system to help determine a balance between energy efficiency and occupant comfort.

Three levels of energy audits exist. Determining the appropriate level depends on a department’s budget and the amount of detail and analysis managers want the audit to generate.

The first and most basic energy audit is the walk-through analysis. This type of audit generally looks at equipment and operational practices. The audit identifies low-cost and no-cost opportunities, as well as the potential savings and simple payback associated with that low-hanging fruit. The audit also identifies items requiring further investigation before managers can receive an accurate recommendation.

The second level of energy audits is the energy survey and analysis. This more detailed audit includes a review and analysis of the installation, design, maintenance, and operations of the building’s electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems.

The final and most extensive energy audit is a detailed analysis of capital-intensive modifications, which provides managers with the most comprehensive look at building systems. This method involves performing computer modeling of the building to identify potential projects and more accurately determine the projects’ prospective energy savings. The audit also provides schematic layouts and costs for the recommended projects.

Energy audits help managers better understand the way their building functions. As a result, the audits can help managers make educated decisions on determining the best ways to save energy, reduce operating costs, provide more appropriate occupant comfort levels, and create a more efficient building.

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  posted on 2/1/2009   Article Use Policy

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