“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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Association Solutions: 14 Tips for Reducing Wasted HVAC Fan System Energy | IAQ & Ventilation content from HPAC Engineering

Sure, selecting an energy efficient fan is great but won’t do you much good if it is oversized. Also if the ductwork design is improper or system pressure is too high an energy efficient fan will not save energy.

A recent article in HPAC provides 14 tips on “design and specification for reducing wasted energy in air systems and for substantially reducing total cost of ownership.”

Three tips that are mentioned that are commonly skipped or not enough attention is paid, is 1) right size the fan, 2) Use duct static-pressure set-point reset on VAV systems 3) VFD specifications

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Fans account for 80 percent of the so-called “parasitic” load

Fans account for 80 percent of the so-called “parasitic” load according to Michael Ivanovich, director of strategic energy initiatives for the Air Movement Control Association (AMCA) International, in a recent Facilitiesnet article.  In order to address the issue of high energy usage associated with fans there needed to be a better way to differentiate the performance of fans. AMCA has developed fan efficiency grades (FEGs) to help facility managers, engineers and owner identify how efficient is the fan they select compared to industry standard . FEGs is defined by AMCA as “a numerical rating that classifies fans by their aerodynamic ability to convert mechanical shaft power to air power” or in simpler terms, a measurement of peak fan efficiency independent of the motor and drive.  The author also interviewed Tim Mathson of Greenheck who emphasized that the use of FEGs by facility managers when specifying new fans will result in selection of units that operate in the higher-efficiency regions of the fan curve.

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Engineering in K-12 schools: Energy-efficient, high-performance buildings  | Consulting-Specifying Engineer

Consulting Specifying Engineer
interviewed 6 high profile engineers who are experienced in engineering K-12 schools.

The two main topics of discussion were:
1) Energy efficiency and sustainability are often the No. 1 request from building owners during new building design. What is your experience in this area?

2) Many aspects of structure sustainability (power, HVAC, maintenance, etc.) require building personnel to follow certain practices in order to be effective. What, if anything, can you as an engineer do to help increase chances of success in this area?


Revamping existing buildings to make them energy efficient


” The EU-funded BRICKER project aims to develop ways of reducing energy consumption by 50% in existing buildings, within the next four years.”

That is pretty aggressive.  Most buildings in NYC who enroll in the NYSERDA MPP program struggle to meet 20% savings with an sir of 1.0

  “Passive technologies include new aerating windows, with an integrated, newly patented electronic heat exchanger, new PIR (PolyIsocyanurate)-based insulation foams with embedded phase-change materials (PCM’s)— which are substances capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy—and state of the art ventilated facades, commercial windows and insulation panels.”

What is the payback on these technologies?  Are they readily available in the US?

Can the US implement a similar program?

First and largest smart-grid-connected streetlight project in U.S.

What makes the latest project from Florida Power & Light and Silver Spring Networks so unique?  It is the “single largest public lighting network to be deployed in North America, and notably, the first to ride on the same network used for smart metering”, according to Sterling Hughes, Silver Spring’s senior director of advanced technology.

So what are the benefits of having a lighting system on a smart metering network?

  • Better and more efficient diagnostics
  • Preventative Maintenance
  • Planned operational improvements
  • Adding lighting control to an existing smart meter network shouldn’t be too much of an added cost
  • A SilverLink Sensor Network is designed with networking nodes programmed as “virtual sensors” to parse and prioritize certain data for different operations

It is important to note that having “digitally controllable LEDs” is essential for keeping costs low on installing a wireless connection.

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Switching to LEDs, as simple as changing a light bulb?

The Sales pitch:

“XYZ Lamp Company Direct Replacement LED lamps plug right in to existing fluorescent T8 fixtures, so there’s no need to replace your old instant-start ballasts.”

The fine print:

“DOE finding based on careful analysis and testing results from DOE’s CALiPER program, which has systematically benchmark-tested these products with the linear fluorescent lamps they’re designed to replace. The results of that testing have shown that LED T8s produce far less light than the fluorescents they’re intended to replace, out of proportion to the energy savings.”–Jim BrodrickDepartment of Energy

Let’s take a closer look-

  • Direct replacement: Plugs directly into existing fluorescent T8 lamp fixtures

How will they interact with existing fluorescent ballasts?  The savings is strictly the bulb replacement and does not appear to include the ballast factor and wattage of the ballast.  Does the new bulb have a dedicated LED driver to replace the existing ballast?

  • Energy efficient: Cuts energy usage by half compared to fluorescents T8s

However, CALiPER testing reported fixture efficiency was higher with LEDs however, fluorescent fixtures had higher light output and higher overall efficacy for both lensed and parabolic louver troffers.

  • Long lasting: 50,000 hour rated life reduces maintenance costs 

What about end of life lumens? Fluorescent T8s have 92% lumen maintenance at end of life, compared with 70% lumen maintenance typically assumed for LEDs.

  • Beautiful light: 110 degrees of clear, uniform, and flicker-free illumination

Be sure to look at the CCT and CRI values. CALiPER reported “CCT values for most of the LED linear replacement lamps were similar to the fluorescent benchmarks (3200K to 4500K), but several of the LED lamps tested had atypical chromaticities that gave the light a greenish or purplish appearance. The CRI values of the LED products ranged from 63 to 76, with most of them approximating those of lower-quality fluorescent lamps.”

EERE Caliper Study

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Preliminary interpretation of the AEE report

A new report  has been published, based on data from Navigant Research, on the “global advanced energy sector” by Advanced Energy Economy (AEE). AEE is a clean energy business advocacy group. Analysis of Navigant Research’s data revealed the global advanced energy economy was valued at $1.1 trillion in 2013.

The AEE report also goes into detail for each of the building efficiency subsectors which as a whole represented $43.9 billion in U.S. revenues and $150 billion worldwide in 2013.

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White vs Green Roof- LBNL Study

“The work comes from a team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California that’s dedicated to studying how to keep cities cooler. Although team members knew both white and green roofs are better than traditional roofing, they wanted to get some hard numbers comparing the two. White roofs came out ahead in both improving global temperatures and cost, but both are good choices, the team wrote in a paper published in the journal Energy and Buildings.”

Most importantly don’t forget to ensure that your roof is adequately airsealed, insulated and flashing is installed properly to reduce conductive, convective heat gain/loss as well as prevent moisture infiltration.  If the building lacks insulation (especially if it has a vented roof cavity) and has unsealed top plates, pipe penetrations, fan roof curb penetrations, etc this should be upgraded first before working on the roof membrane.  You may find you have an oversized heating or cooling system after buttoning up the building’s envelope.

Read more: Cooler Ciites