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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Blocked Energy-Efficiency Bill

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

NY Gov’s Reforming Energy Vision

The goal of the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming Energy Vision is to have the Public Service Commission (PSC) “improve system efficiency, empower customer choice, and encourage greater penetration of clean generation and energy efficiency technologies and practices”.

REV is a response to current issues such as:

  • Consumers spend hundreds of millions annually to maintain the full capabilities of a system that is needed only on the very hottest days of the summer.
  • The need for utilities to actively manage and coordinate a wide range of distributed resources, or generate electricity from many small energy sources
  • Lack of existing market enabling customers to optimize their energy priorities, provide system benefits, and be compensated for providing such system benefit

 

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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

Vermont’s House member spoke at BuildingGreen Inc.,

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.

Read More. 

Financing Smaller Energy Efficiency Projects

Two Financing Schemes in the news lately are:

  • Noesis Shared Savings Agreement (SSA)

“The SSA allows the customer to pay a variable payment based upon the actual amount of avoided energy measured. The concept is similar to solar net-metering where customers are paid for the actual amount of energy they contribute back to the grid.”  Read More.

  • Joule Assets

“works with vendors of energy efficiency services, providing them with funds. They, in turn, loan the money to the end-user businesses.” Read More.
Could either of these programs help NYC buildings implement energy savings measures identified during LL87?

 

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

Read more.

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?

http://www.csemag.com/single-article/engineering-in-k-12-schools-energy-efficient-high-performance-buildings/12f1c11c84ec595081ffc21c7c427187.html

The number one barrier to participation in the EE market is…

ACEEE released a “more detailed report that profiles successful, integrated efficiency lending programs, highlights perspectives on increasing lender participation, and explores substantive barriers to growing the market to its full potential”.

The number one barrier, according to ACEEE, for small to mid-size lenders entering the  energy efficiency financing market is the lack of customers actively seeking financing for retrofits. “Armed with the technical assistance and policy and research support outlined in the report, small to mid-size lenders could serve an important role in facilitating investment in energy efficiency at the local, state, and regional levels. Given their strong relationships with customers, these lenders, both mission-driven and non-mission driven, could potentially leverage local knowledge to connect their customers with energy efficiency contractors. These lenders can also connect customers with members of the community who have undertaken similar projects in the past.” – Casey Bell

Read More.

Peak-to-average electricity demand ratio rising

According to US EIA, “the highest peak-hour electric demand for the year in 1993 was 52% above the hourly average level while in 2012 peak-hour demand had risen to 78% above the hourly average level.”

So what does this mean and what are the implications? Well US EIA says:

  • “generators called on to meet peak-hour demand are running fewer hours and/or at lower output levels the rest of the year”
  • “likely cutting into generator revenues and increasing the importance of capacity market payments to generators”

US EIA demonstrates to the reader the changes in hourly demand between 1993 and 2012 using a load duration curve.  Some possible reasons for the change that are discussed in the article are:

  • Lifting peak demand levels in the summer relative to average levels for the year
  • Energy efficient electrical equipment and appliances that reduce average electric demand
  • Shifts to a more service-based economy

 

Check out the Load Duration Curve and Video.