Building Genome Project: Retroficiency

Retroficiency’s “Building Efficiency Intelligence platform enables utilities and large energy service providers to drive deeper building energy efficiency savings, while saving time and cost from traditional approaches”. Their latest project, Building Genome identified savings of $145 million dollars annually if more than 30,000 commercial buildings in New York City adjusted their thermostats just one degree upward in summer and one degree lower in winter. The project uses publicly available data such as Energy Star scores and energy-use intensity scores as well as tax assessor and benchmarked consumption data. The goal of the project is to “show opportunities on a mass scale,” said Bennett Fisher, CEO and co-founder of Retroficiency.

Read More. Greentech Media

If the surface temperature factor (fRSi) is controlled incorrectly, thermal bridging is likely to result in condensation and mould growth problems.

RO Engineers & Architects:

Does WUFI or Therm do a good job of predicting where there is a potential for condensation and use the Frsi factor?

Originally posted on Architecture, Design & Innovation:

.   Chris Willett, MD at Schöck Ltd, considers the issues involved

To identify areas where there is a risk of condensation and therefore mould growth in different design situations, a ‘surface temperature factor’ (fRsi) can be used. It allows surveys under any thermal conditions and compares the temperature drop across the building fabric, with the total temperature drop between the inside and outside air. The ratio is described in BRE IP1/06; a document cited in Building Regulations Approved Documents Part L1 and L2 and Section 6 in Scotland

It is a critical calculation, as the consequences of condensation and mould growth are likely to be more serious for building occupiers than any local heat loss. If low internal surface temperatures in the area of a thermal bridge are below the dew point of the air, condensation is almost certain to form.   This in turn is likely to…

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Roundtable Recap: Money vs. Power | Urban Green Blog

Cecil Scheib, in his recent blog, highlights a growing concern that “simply comparing total energy use per square foot between different buildings omits important context”.

At a recent “Money Vs. Power” roundtable,Steven Baumgartner (Buro Happold) wondered, “wouldn’t thinking about what the building is used for be a good part of the discussion?”  More specifically, what would it mean to “compare building energy usage to the tenant’s contribution to the economy”. Building Economic Energy Coefficient, or BEEC, a new metric developed by Baumgartner based on comparing overall building economic impact (consisting of tenants weighted impact)  to its total energy use per square foot. A building with higher BEEC indicates tenants that have a larger contribution to the economy than another building with the same energy use per square foot but with tenants whose business types provide fewer economic benefits.

Baumgartner says that “BEEC hasn’t been put on the table to drive policy. It’s been put on the table to spark discussion.”

Cecil raises two limitations of the BEEC:

  1. Not actual financial data thus “BEEC number is a general indicator, not a precise measure”
  2. Tenant activity, moving in/out, behavior etc can impact the BEEC

What are your thoughts?

Read More. 

NYISO & 8 transmission owners deployed new grid sensors and smart grid technologies across the state – FierceSmartGrid

NYISO & transmission owners constructed a new control center and smart grid installations with a $38 million Recovery Act investment that will result in an estimated $200 million in savings throughout New York annually.

The new construction is designed with the intention to  improve the reliability of the power grid and streamline the efficiency of power transmission.  More specifically,Barbara Vergetis Lundin in the article highlights: “installing new transmission capacitors to increase the ability of grid operators to regulate transmission voltages, as well as advanced software and tools that help NYISO engineers conduct extensive and detailed system modeling and analysis”.

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Innovation, Sustainability, and Historic Buildings – The Blog for Preservation Leadership Forum

I recently read an article that highlights how energy-efficient systems can be integrated into a historic building in a low impact way. GSA Rocky Mountain Region, Design-Build Partners of The Beck Group, and Westlake Reed Leskosky ‘s renovation of GSA’s Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colo., illustrates how reducing occupant’s plug loads, accounting for all energy uses, implementing innovative technologies and sustainable models can be implemented in a historic building . An important item to note that is often overlooked is the reduction of energy demand, which allows for installation of downsized HVAC systems and ensuring a better fit within existing building structure.

The article highlights the following implemented measures:

  • Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Systems
  • Dedicated Ventilation Systems
  • GeoExchange
  • Reducing Energy Demands

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“Energy efficiency remains far cheaper than investing in additional generation.”

 Both Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently published findings on their energy efficiency studies.

“The LBL study put the average cost of saved energy at about 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. The ACEEE study estimated it at about 2.8 cents. The average cost of generating power from new sources, whether coal-fired plants or wind turbines, is typically at least two to three times that amount.”

Additionally, “Between 2006 and 2011, administrators of efficiency programs tripled what they spent on cutting electricity use from $1.6 billion to $4.8 billion annually, according to the ACEEE study. Spending on natural gas efficiency increased from $300 million to $1.1 billion over the same period.”

Will the cost of energy efficiency increase on the east coast and decline while in the midwest it is starting to grow and expand?

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Installing HVAC Controls vs. O&M

There are a lot of HVAC controls on the market and case studies show casing the money saved by installing the equipment. But there is one important question that building owners and managers aren’t asking or not aware that they should ask.  What if the building systems were never commissioned or if it was, what if it hasn’t been balanced or maintained since installed.  Over and over again I see advanced HVAC controls are being marketed as a quick fix to lowering energy bills.

I was at a building the other day. It was a 6 story multifamily residence with one pipe steam system.  The steam is produced by an oil fired scotch marine boiler with a setpoint of 5psi.  After briefly speaking with one of the members on the building’s coop board I learned that many of the radiators in the apartments have not been maintained and the venting of the distribution had not been done in a very long time.  During inspection of the basement there were missing, broken and painted over master air vents.  Yet with the help of incentives from an energy efficiency program they are on track to install thermostatic radiator control valves.

It is rather frustrating to know that controls are scheduled to be installed in this building without first ensuring that the boiler is supplying the right steam pressure and the distribution is balanced (steam is reaching all the radiators at approx. same time).  Additionally, failure to address operations and maintenance issues will result in poor performance or damage of the newly installed controls. Occupants will associate heating problems and discomfort with the new controls. Many coop buildings I have visited had thermostatic radiator valves installed when the technology first came out on the market and didn’t address O&M issues; word spread amongst the coop community that the valves are no good, thus now have a bad rap.

Two questions I would like to raise:

Is it easier to receive incentive money on new HVAC technologies and controls than balancing distribution or fixing steam leaks?

Or is it the energy consultant who wrote the energy audit and applied for the efficiency program who didn’t know how to quantify the savings associated with adjusting burner controls to provide a lower steam pressure and adjusting master venting and radiator vents for balancing the distribution?

Was Your Con Ed Bill Really High in January??

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RO Engineers & Architects:

Beware of the cable box! I hear they use a lot of electricity. My roommate and I for the past year have not had a bill greater than $50. Though we don’t have a television and we don’t have window a/cs.

Originally posted on Energy Efficiency Initiatives in Multifamily Buildings in Northern Manhattan:


On February 17th, after a celebratory birthday brunch my roommate and I were greeted by Con Edison employees in the lobby of our building. They were knocking on resident’s doors to distribute new energy saving light bulbs, power cords and water saving faucets and shower heads. The Con Edison Staff was very helpful and nice as they explained that the equipment was being given out for free to decrease our energy bills. They also made sure to let us know how each device worked and how it should be installed. Our building was participating in a Con Edison energy- efficiency program for multi-family homes. My roommate and I joked about her new birthday presents on the way up to our suite.

Our Con Edison bills had been very high in the past couple of months, reaching up to $150 per person. Being college students and living in Manhattan…

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What can we learn from Vermont’s Net Metering Expansion?

“Vermont’s legislation,H.702, raised the state’s net metering cap from 4 percent of a utility’s peak load to 15 percent, significantly expanding participation in this critical program.”

How does it compare to other states that dealt with conflict around net metering?

Andrew Savage highlights three main factors:

  1. Economic benefits of distributed solar generation
  2. Public Service Department involvement and acted as an intermediary between and among industries
  3. Full backing of the utility, GMP


Read more.