Did you know that “Furnace fans consume about 1,000 kilowatt-hours per year, or almost 10% of the total electricity use of an average U.S. home.”? As a comparison, typically a room air conditioner consumes 600kWh per year, a refrigerator is 450kWh per year and a dishwasher is 300kWh per year. Most residential owners of furnace fans are not aware of this because the fan is a component of a larger system and the associated energy consumption with operating the fan is not monitored.
According to ACEEE, there is a new standard that will take effect in 2019 to address the performance and efficiency of furnace fans. “On a national level, DOE estimates that the new standards will reduce electricity consumption by about 500 billion kilowatt-hours over thirty years of sales, an amount equal to the annual electricity use of about 47 million U.S. households, and will save consumers $29 billion. ” Joanna Mauer, Technical Advocacy Manager
What can be done to meet this new standard? Well if your existing fan motor is permanent split capacitor type it may be replaced with a brushless permanent magnet (BPM) motors (depending on age, condition, existing wiring). In addition to improving motors, the standard also includes guidelines on furnace controls: multi-stage or modulating furnaces. Furnaces are commonly setup for on/off operation which is not optimal for matching the furnace output with the actual demand for heat. A more efficient method of operation are multi-stage furnaces that generally operate continuously and improve comfort by reducing temperature swings.
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On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, proposed a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. According to NRDC, it is estimated that $37.4 billion in savings on electric bills by 2020, if states use energy efficiency as the key approach to reduce carbon. Many see the plan having a positive impact on the demand for energy efficiency-related jobs; electricians, roofers, carpenters, insulation workers, heating/air conditioning installers. The drafted rule gives states an “unprecedented flexibility to meet their obligations within an all-of-the-above set of options, tailored to each state’s needs and opportunities. A flexible approach will keep electricity affordable for American families and businesses, spark homegrown clean energy innovation that creates jobs, and increase energy efficiency to save families money”, says Ernest Moniz, US energy secretary.
NRDC analysis of electricity bill savings if 13 states use energy-efficiency driven carbon reduction plans reveals a total savings( household, commercial and industrial) ranging from $7 million to $1 billion.
The two main objectives of the proposal according to EPA are:
- Consistent national framework —The Clean Power Plan will put in place a consistent national framework that builds on work states are already doing to reduce carbon pollution – especially through programs that encourage renewable energy or energy efficiency. It will reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants while ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of power.
- Maximizing flexibilities —EPA’s proposal ensures that states have the flexibility to choose the best set of cost-effective reductions for them. By setting a state-specific goal and allowing states to work individually or in regional groups, EPA is making sure states have the flexibility they need to drive investment in innovation, while ensuring reliability and affordability.
Some critics of the Clean Power Plan worry that states where work is already under way to reduce carbon pollution may have do more work and spend more money to comply than those states that have made no effort to reduce carbon pollution. Energy Secretary Len Peters and Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council have said the law would likely limit the state’s compliance flexibility. They feel the plan is focused on carbon reduction actions at power plants, and doesn’t emphasize the importance of an EPA approved program that might include energy efficiency at homes and businesses or encouraging alternatives to coal.
As of right now, the proposal is in a 120-day public comment period and further EPA review. A final rule is expected out in one year.
The annual conference of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) was held this year in Chicago June 26‒28. Shaunacy Ferro, writer for fastcodesign.com, wrote an article about what was discussed on the second day of the conference during a panel discussion moderated by KCRW producer Frances Anderton. Panelists included Majora Carter, an urban revitalization strategist; Ellen Dunham-Jones, chair of the Congress for New Urbanism; Robin Guenther, principal at Perkins+Will; and Rachel Minnery, a disaster resiliency activist. Frances Anderton initiated the panel discussion asking: “What do we mean by resilience, and how do we actually explain this notion to the public?”
Shaunacy highlighted in her article what the panelists thought were some of the greatest challenges facing today’s cities and suburbs:
Majora Carter, who founded an organization called Sustainable South Bronx in 2001, had an important message for architects: “It’s not just about the building. It is about the context that building is in… How is this going to fit in the larger picture of how a city lives and breathes and loves and works? Those are the things we need you to be saying.”
Rachel Minnery’s words were directed to our society and necessary cultural and behavioral shift, “Inherently in the U.S., we have our boxes–We have our property lines, we’re individual property owners. We need to shift that from a culture of ‘I’ to a culture of ‘we.’”
Does your sprinkler system water the sidewalk more than the plants? Does your system have a sensor or override button to delay watering after a rain storm? If you are not sure of the answer I encourage you to investigate it will save you $$ on your water bill.
“Recognize and promote building operations as a green job. Building operators can have a major effect on the indoor environment and indoor air quality as well as on building energy use and sustainability. These potential contributions to environmental sustainability can help make building operations an attractive career.” According to a new study Behavioral Strategies to Bridge the Gap Between Potential and Actual Savings in Commercial Buildings recognize the building as a social system and use real buildings and users to experiment with solutions. The researchers stress the role of building operators and recommend training and certification for the profession, with curricula including energy use and energy efficiency.
Some highlights from the study are:
1) Small sample set.
Using semi-structured interviews, the sample of buildings personnel consisted of ten building operators, three energy managers, and nine other building management staff (e.g., property managers, analysts). Additionally, most of the buildings the sample of building personnel operated were Energy Star-rated buildings, LEED-certified buildings, where energy use or sustainability appeared to be of higher interest compared to typical buildings.
2) Only four case studies, mostly offices
Large Owner- Occupied Office- Single tenant, over 10 stories, more than 400,000 square feet, out- sourced building operations team; LEED- certified
Medium Local Government Office-Single-tenant LEED- certified, about 60,000 square feet, renovated in 2000s
Large Government Office-Single tenant, over 500,000 square feet, recently renovated
Medium Multi- Tenant Mixed Commercial-Multiple tenants, originally constructed mid 20th century, over 200,000 square feet
3) Recruitment was difficult
Recruitment was difficult, especially since they wanted to avoid studying buildings that had already been extensively researched or that were too specific, such as buildings on university campuses.
4) Target reader audience: research, policy, and program communities rather than to building operators
Perspective complements efforts that target energy efficient technologies or individual actions in isolation, as well as guidelines that focus on the technical aspects of improving building operations (e.g., PECI 1999, Sullivan et al. 2010).
EPRI’s Jeffrey Hamel, the executive director of the Power Delivery and Utilization Team, authored the report The Integrated Grid. The main focus of the report according to Hamel is how DG resources, generation and storage should be integrated together.
The first two phases are:
The Integrated Grid: Realizing the Full Value of Central and Distributed Energy Resources.
The Integrated Grid Phase II: Development of a Benefit-Cost Framework.
“The intent of these papers is to align stakeholders on the main issues while outlining real examples to support open fact-based discussion. Input and review were provided by various stakeholders from the energy sector including utilities, regulatory agencies, equipment suppliers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other interested parties. “
The Green-Code Bill recently passed by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio are geared towards improvimg your health and our environment
The mandates are as follows:
1) Construction companies to insulate piping which has been exposed during construction.
2) Some stairwell doors in apartment buildings be equipped with devices to hold them open.
3) Requires the use of mold-resistant drywall and cement in building areas prone to moisture.
4) Construction companies use energy efficient lighting on construction sites.
Some questions come to my mind when reading the bills:
Will #1 and #4 increase the construction costs for the building owner? Should construction companies provide additional information to the client showing the energy savings associated with the new mandates?
How will #2 impact security in a building? how will this impact buildings that have conditioned hallways and permanently open louvers at the top of stairwells?
#3 should be tied in with greater emphasis on improved ventilation, in particular exhausting of bathrooms. Even if the materials are mold resistant there needs to be equipment in place to regulate moisture in the building.
Do you have a dryer in your apt? How do you vent your unit?
A recent bill aimed at cutting homeowners’ energy use, utility bills and carbon footprints was shot down. The bill’s goal was to make it easier for homeowners to buy efficient equipment and to encourage manufacturers to build energy-efficient cooling and heating systems.
What are your thoughts on why it didn’t pass?
Do you agree with the statement that the bill was “derailed by the contentious debate over the Keystone XL pipeline and President Obama’s plans to issue new climate change regulations.” ?
See the results of Senate Vote