Facility Maintenance Decisions

Savvy Motor Selection

Fallout from EPAct prompts managers to take a new look at energy-efficient motors

By Howard Newman & Christine Doonan   HVAC

When it comes to buying energy-efficient motors, the U.S. government has set an example for the rest of the country by requiring that federal facilities buy motors that meet NEMA Premium® specifications.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) mandates that federal agencies buy energy-efficient motors and motor-using equipment designated by the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). To fulfill this requirement, FEMP has chosen motors that meet NEMA Premium specifications.

A Premium on Savings

On average, NEMA Premium specifications are 1-2 percent more efficient than federal minimum standards, depending on motor type and size. Since motors typically use five to six times their purchase price in electricity annually, even small efficiency increases add up to large energy savings.

“Using (U.S. Department of Energy) data, experts estimate that the NEMA Premium efficiency motor program could save more than 5,800 gigawatt hours of electricity and prevent the release of nearly 80 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere over the next 10 years,” according to an assessment of EPAct 2005 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). “That (reduction) would be the equivalent of keeping 16 million cars off the road.”

Adds Rob Boteler, chairman of the Energy Management Task Force of NEMA’s Motors and Generators Section, “The FEMP directive to federal facilities leads by example for private enterprises to move from a motor-by-motor evaluation to a policy. One of the underlying tenets of NEMA Premium is to simplify the end-user decision by making it a policy choice, not a technical evaluation of one failed motor at a time.”

NEMA’s web site lists specifications for motors up to 500 hp. NEMA worked with the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), a national nonprofit organization that promotes energy-efficient products and services, to develop this premium-efficiency specification. CEE posts a table showing NEMA Premium specifications for motors up to 200 hp on its web site, www.cee1.org.

The groups created the specification to meet the need for a single definition of premium efficiency accepted by industry, the efficiency community and other stakeholders. CEE members — utilities, energy-efficiency program administrators and their public stakeholders — wanted a common specification to promote in their programs. The motors industry also sought a premium-efficiency specification that took practical considerations into account and made financial sense for manufacturers, distributors and service centers.

In 2001, after months of discussion, CEE and NEMA launched the NEMA Premium specification and brand.

“The development of this specification marked a major milestone in the ongoing partnership between energy-efficiency organizations and the motors industry,” says Ilene Mason, CEE’s industrial program manager. “Continued joint promotion of NEMA Premium serves an important need in the market.”

Smart Decisions

Savvy motor management means knowing the motors operating in a building and planning ahead for their replacement or repair. Last-minute replacements, driven by failure rather than planning, can result in the installation of equipment that, while readily available, might not be best suited for the application. And since motors can last for decades, a poor decision might wind up costing the organization tens of thousands of dollars in increased electricity bills over the life of the equipment.

The most telling statistic is this: The purchase price of a motor accounts for only 5 percent of its total lifetime operating cost. The rest of its operating cost goes for electricity. So proper planning, combined with assessing life-cycle costs, is the best strategy for reducing energy costs while improving performance and reliability.

Taking Time to Save Time

Many managers tend to procrastinate data-gathering on motor performance in favor of day-to-day operations. But often, stepping back and assessing those operations can demonstrate that time put in now can mean even greater savings later in terms of time and money.

The basic steps in implementing a motor-management plan include:

  • creating a motor database consisting of a maintenance schedule, identification of problem motors, an inventory of location and availability of spares, and motor-data and history documentation to assist in repair-and-replace decisions
  • developing guidelines for proactive repair-and-replace decisions
  • developing a purchasing specification
  • developing a repair specification
  • implementing a predictive and preventive maintenance program.

In putting together this information and developing a repair-or-replace analysis, managers have access to a number of software tools.

One increasingly popular energy-saving option for motors is the use of adjustable-speed drives. Motors in a number of applications, particularly HVAC systems, do not need to operate at full speed all the time. An adjustable-speed drive (ASD) — also called a variable-speed drive (VSD), and a variable-frequency drive (VFD) — controls a motor’s input voltage and frequency, enabling operators to change a motor’s speed. ASDs can deliver significant energy savings and prolong motor life.

For example, at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Zebbs Pascua, a utilities supervisor, replaced a 30-hp, dual-speed motor with a new, Premium efficient motor with a VFD. The building is set up to run 24/7, but, as with most buildings, it has periods of higher and lower energy use.

The unit’s replacement cost is close to $15,000, but its annual power costs will be less than $6,500, compared to more than $19,500 annually with the old system, Pascua says. The payback time of about13 months makes it easier to justify a continuous-upgrade plan for the college’s buildings.

Bill Hopper, chief engineer at Equity Office Properties’ Palo Alto Square facility in San Jose, also replaced old motors with Premium efficient models and VFDs. Besides significant energy savings, Hopper says, “the VFDs made a world of difference in smoothness of operation and pressure control, let alone energy savings.” The organization also took advantage of rebates offered by the local utility company.

Doing the Homework

ASDs are not appropriate for all applications, so managers should consult with a motor-service professional to determine if this equipment is an appropriate selection. One good resource for this information is Application Guide for AC Adjustable- Speed Drive Systems, a free download from the Standards section of NEMA’s web site.

For more information about motor management, managers also can visit the web site for Motor Decisions Matter — www.motorsmatter.org — a campaign that promotes sound motor management and best-practice repairs. The campaign’s sponsors include utilities, motor manufacturers and industry trade associations, including NEMA and the Copper Development Association.

Finally, managers should consider training for engineering staff who work with motors and other energy-using equipment and systems. The nationally recognized Building Operator Certification program — www.theboc.info — offers training and certification for building operators, including BOC graduates Pascua and Hopper.

Savvy motor management is essential for achieving energy efficiency. Combining that effort with diagnostic technology and advanced HVAC systems offers managers even greater opportunities to help their organizations control energy costs.

Howard Newman is communications director for the Consortium for Energy Efficiency in Boston. Christine Doonan edits The BOC Bulletin for enrollees in and graduates of the Building Operator Certification program in Washington, Oregon, and California.

EPAct and Energy-Savings Resources

The provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) allow tax deductions of up to $1.80 per square foot as incentives for managers who incorporate energy-efficient components into their facilities between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2007.

The deductions are subject to a cap, and projects must meet particular guidelines. Two web sites — www.energytaxincentives.org and www.efficientbuildings.org — offer information managers can use to determine if a project is eligible for deductions.

For specific questions and updates, managers can call the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Information Center at (877) 337-3463.

A web site of the U.S. Department of Energy, http://resourcecenter.pnl.gov, provides information on new codes and construction technologies. It also includes tools that engineering and maintenance managers can use to determine the potential energy savings from the installation of more energy-efficient equipment.

The web site of the Motor Decisions Matter campaign — www.motorsmatter.org — offers energy-efficient-planning tools, including these:

  • Estimated Annual Savings Chart. This interactive spreadsheet prompts users to enter a motor’s operating hours and the electricity costs. It then calculates annual operating costs and annual energy savings.
  • The 1-2-3 Approach. This spreadsheet and booklet demonstrate the financial outcomes of different motor-replacement decisions.
  • Motor Planning Kit. This kit provides an overview of motor management and can help develop a customized motor-management plan.

For more information on Motor Decisions Matter, contact Ilene Mason at imason@cee1.org or call (617) 589-3949 extension 225.

Finally, the Building Operator Certification program — www.theboc.info — offers classroom-based training for building engineers and maintenance technicians that includes full-day classes on motors, lighting, HVAC systems and controls, electrical systems, and other components of best practices for energy efficiency.

— Howard Newman and Christine Doonan

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  posted on 7/1/2006   Article Use Policy

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