Energy Savings A Bounty!

A new energy-savings standard was established for refrigerators and freezers. The result is a 20 to 25 percent reduction in energy use associated with refrigerators and freezers. What does this mean for consumers? An estimated $215 and $270 on their annual utility bills compared to a refrigerator that just met the first state standards in 1978. The energy-saving targets were effective for manufacturers on Sept. 15, 2014.

How does DOE know what the maximum levels in the standard should be?  All levels should be cost effective at the time.

Do these standards inhibit manufacturers and stagnate technology growth?  Standards are technology neutral so manufacturers are free to innovate and find new ways to achieve higher levels of efficiency and at lower costs.

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Cut the $$ to power furnace fans by ~40%

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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EPA drafts Clean Power Plan

 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 frameworkThe 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 flexibilitiesEPA’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.

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Role of Building Operators and Promotion as a Green Job

“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
Case I:
Large Owner- Occupied Office- Single tenant, over 10 stories, more than 400,000 square feet, out- sourced building operations team; LEED- certified
Case II:
Medium Local Government Office-Single-tenant LEED- certified, about 60,000 square feet, renovated in 2000s
Case III:
Large Government Office-Single tenant, over 500,000 square feet, recently renovated
Case IV:
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).

 

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Whole Life Cycle Assessment of the Sustainable Aspects of Structural Systems in Tall Buildings.

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?

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NAHB: ASHRAE Joins NAHB and ICC to Develop New National Green Building Standard

” 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.”
http://m.nahb.org/news_details.aspx?newsID=16749

DOE announced new efficiency standards for external power supplies

“The efficiency standards established will update 2007 standards for Class A external power supplies to make these components up to 33 percent more efficient. The final rule also establishes efficiency standards for non-Class A external power supplies, which go beyond Class A components to convert to multiple voltages at the same time, output more than 250 watts or provide power to a motor-operated product.”

DOE Building Technologies Office website provides information regarding Direct Operation EPS Standards and Class A EPS Efficiency Standards as well est procedures, waiver, exception and exemption information, statutory authority and historical information.

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“RMI: Deep Energy Retrofits Get Less Attention Than They Deserve”

According to RMI,

“the lack of attention is partly due to the fact that Deep Energy Retrofits are:

  • Typically focused on energy cost savings alone
  • Inability to quantify and communicate additional “value streams as part of a retrofit capital request”

RMI has created a report detailing “structured and evidence-based methodology for determining the costs and savings of many other value streams, from additional operating cost savings categories to revenue drivers like employee comfort, health and productivity, and even market and reputation risk mitigation.”

“Build tight”…but don’t forget “Ventilate Right”

“Build tight”…but don’t forget “Ventilate Right”

“Traditionally, buildings have been designed to be what most people characterize as ‘acceptable to 80 percent of the occupants of the building,'” he said. “It’s historically based on perceptions of people in buildings rather than the reality.”

The article asks, “Should tougher regulations apply?”  but I think what should be asked is why doesn’t Canada encourage building science education for architects and engineers, promotion of standards such as those published by ASHRAE and create certifications for hvac and architects to increase awareness of the holistic approach to optimizing building’s performance

http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059994135