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Thinking too small and giving too little regard to non-energy components can be liabilities when considering the scope of deep energy retrofits.
Denniston suggests it's important to try to do as much as is possible. "The larger a project becomes, the less the project looks like an equipment replacement. If the deep energy retrofit is part of a building repositioning, and lease-ability will go up and vacancy will go down, banks will look at the project as something they'd like to invest in."
He also mentions that utilities and owners often share a motivation to do large-scale energy efficiency. Sometimes utilities have an incentive "kicker," meaning that when they hit their own energy efficiency goals, they get more credit with regulators. So utilities that have that system in place will be very interested in working with owners and facility managers to do as much efficiency as possible.
Quantifying the non-energy component of a deep energy retrofit is something Muldavin has been working on for the past several years. "Value is often created by a small increase in tenant retention or occupancy, or in the value of the building itself," he says. Those are factors that absolutely must be considered when looking at the scope of a deep energy retrofit, he says.
As well, "One of the things missing from a lot of analyses is not providing enough information on the risk profile of the project." What he means by "risk profile" is the likelihood that the results predicted will bear out in operations. If there was an expected 15 percent return on investment, but only a 50 percent chance that it would actually come to pass, you'd be more likely to do a smaller project with lower risk. "Intelligent facility managers will do everything they can to reduce risk," says Muldavin. "This means documenting what they're doing to make sure inputs into an energy model are correct, to make sure it's accurate."
It's critically important on the front end of deep energy retrofit planning to develop systems for making sure deep energy retrofits will be as efficient in operations as they were planned to be.
That means working with engineers, architects (if involved), and project managers in determining the measures to include, but also ensuring that the deep energy retrofit bears out the results expected. "There are some aspects of the property only a facility manager will know relative to how occupants use space, how equipment runs, about how seasonal changes and temperature shifts affect equipment," says Muldavin. "Step back and understand what's needed to get the expected performance."
7 Deep Energy Retrofit Triggers
The Rocky Mountain Institute lists and explains seven triggers for deep energy retrofits:
Project Size, Non-Energy Components Are Important in Deep Energy Retrofits