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?
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?
“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:
- Economic benefits of distributed solar generation
- Public Service Department involvement and acted as an intermediary between and among industries
- Full backing of the utility, GMP
Latest technical report from NREL :
Target audience for this paper:
- buildings smaller than 50,000 ft2
- average small building is smaller than 8,000 ft2
- portfolios of buildings that include only a small number of small buildings
- portfolio owners and managers who generally do not have staff and other resources
The largest reported barriers include:
- Limited capital
- Higher transaction costs relative to energy cost savings
- Lack of time to research and implement energy efficiency solutions
- Split incentive obstacles between owners and tenants
- Lack of available sector-specific resources and technologies. “
I was conducting apartment inspections as part of an ASHRAE level II energy audit in a large affordable housing complex. The building is electric heat and undergoing a conversion to hydronic (heating hot water with baseboard). During the inspection the air temperature in the apartments was measured, windows and air conditioner sleeves visually inspected and it was noted if the electric baseboard was energized.
On the day of the visit the outside air temperature was in the twenties and the wind was very strong from the west I believe. The building has drafty double hung windows; inadequate caulking between window frame and exterior wall, balances broken, weather stripping that is worn, windows don’t lock tight, etc. The electric outlets allow air infiltration, a number of exhaust fans are not operating so there is a lot of uncontrolled air movement through out the building and lastly a number of window air conditioners are left in the sleeves through out the window. During the site visit a large number of top floor tenants complained of drafts and cold bedrooms. The tenants were in such great discomfort that several of them resorted to turning on their ovens and leaving the door open. None of the apartments temperatures measured below 74F.
Is it possible that even if the air temperature in an apartment is well above what is required by law that if the building is drafty and large stack effect (19 story buiding) it will bring great discomfort to the occupant? Unless the unsealed penetrations, drafty windows and stack effect are resolved will occupants continue using the oven, electric space heaters etc even after hydronic baseboard has been installed?
A collaborative research project involving 12 leading structural engineering firms to study the life cycle assessment of 16 different structural scenarios for a 248-metre tall tower, and for a 490-metre-tall tower. One of the objectives is to create a definitive comparison of the life-cycle implications of steel, concrete and composite structural systems in tall buildings. Additionally, a methodology for the assessment of life cycle energy and carbon use in tall building structural systems will be developed.
Could this methodology be used as a standard?
U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, the author of The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act recently spoke at a BuildingGreen Inc event in Brattleboro Vermont.
Welch discussed at the event some of the highlights of the Act’s initiatives:
– A new “tenant star” certification program.
– Requires implementing strategies to increase the efficiency of federally operated data centers.
– Encourages manufacturing large-scale water heaters and incentivizes curbing energy demand during peak hours.
Alex Wilson also was present at the event and stated, “….creating really energy-efficient homes is one way to ensure that the people in those homes will remain safe.”
There is a growing attention to climate change and building resiliency. Let’s see if the Act is passed by senate.
I recently visited a townhouse on the Upper East Side of NYC to conduct an EDR calculation for a steam heating replacement. When I visited the basement to look at the unit needing to be replaced I noticed a couple of interesting existing issues.
Would love to start a discussion on steam units people observe in NYC.
” Now known as the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) …NGBS has been used to certify more than 32,000 single- and multifamily homes and residential developments for reaching its established benchmarks for energy, water and resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality, home owner education and site development.”