Check Efficiency Of Daily Operations

  December 6, 2012

Today's tip is to look at the day-to-day operations of your facility to find greater energy efficiency. Changes such as improving BAS/EMS programming and aligning operating schedules with need can ensure their buildings are being run in the most efficient manner possible.

Allan Skodowski, senior vice president, LEED and sustainability, Transwestern, says that when Transwestern audited the poor energy use of a suburban Milwaukee school, it didn't take long to find a big problem: more than 250 horsepower worth of fans running after hours due to incorrect programming. "That change alone has taken them from a (Energy Star rating of) 55 to an 83," Skodowski says. "They're going to save about $40,000 this year in energy."

Another good starting point is looking at the use of basic building machinery before trying to dig deep into set points or strict lighting schedules, says Rafael Mendez, building manager, General Services Administration. Mendez's building, the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr., U.S. Courthouse in Miami, has cut more than $1 million in energy costs.

"One of the things I noticed first was we have three escalators from the lobby to the fifth floor," Mendez says. "We had them operating most of the day and they weren't heavily used." The escalator schedule has been revised to run from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Keeping a close eye on usage by examining utility bills can also help spot problems. Brenna Walraven, managing director, USAA Real Estate Co., experienced this when one of USAA's buildings was using a baffling amount of energy, yet the energy management system showed nothing wrong.

"What was happening is there were several faulty relays, so the EMS would send out 'turned off' signals. In actuality the building was running nonstop," she says. "It literally cost about a couple hundred bucks to replace those and saved us about 10 percent." "The building systems will be dumbed down to the level of the least-trained person who works on those systems," says Wayne Robertson, president, Energy Ace. "You need to accompany that building automation system with training."


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