Notes from the World Energy Engineering Conference

This year’s World Energy Engineering Conference (WEEC) provided a comprehensive look at building energy management and optimization. There was an equal emphasis on the trends and technologies that drive efficiency and the economic and legislative developments that impact decision making.

Below, our Building Energy Services team summarizes a few of the most noteworthy topics discussed at the show:

Banks Expanding Their Services in the Energy Savings Agreement Market
In a typical energy savings agreement (or performance contract), a third-party will finance energy-related building improvements upfront and the building owner will pass on the resulting utility cost savings to the sponsor for an agreed upon period of time. The benefit to building owners is an improved, more marketable asset and no out of pocket money required to replace inefficient or failed equipment. Utility company off-shoots and professional services firms had been the most active providers of these agreements, but banks are now starting to enter the market. Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management’s real estate investment management group is one such sponsor. Read more about their Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) here.

Continued Emphasis on Optimizing Building Performance to Build Long-Term Asset Value
How much return can each rentable square foot (RSF) of a building generate over 30 years? Maximizing the available RSF in a building increases its revenue potential – and even more value can be realized by implementing a high performance MEP system that minimizes operational costs. It is most effective to address these goals in early planning phases, as design decisions can have a major impact on the long-term cost to operate a building and the opportunity to maximize yield.

These decisions include evaluating the façade, optimizing the ratio of core SF to rentable SF, and strategically locating the core. In addition, selecting a liquid-based (water or refrigerant) HVAC system can simultaneously increase efficiency and RSF. For example, an HVAC infrastructure with a Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) delivering ventilation air, combined with a liquid-based system that handles the space cooling, will increase operational efficiency while using a fraction of the shaft space required by an all-air system.

New Technologies That Support Increased Awareness of Energy Use and Allow Micro-Level Control
One example is Budderfly, an enterprise-level energy management tool that allows users to automate and remotely control the power use of individual users and devices via a smartphone app. The system connects smart switches and plugs to a cloud-based central control node via the building’s existing wiring – users only have to swap out switches and outlets with Budderfly adapters. The subscription service is gaining traction in dorms, where students are challenging each other to energy conservation competitions.

Utilizing Building Management Systems (BMS) for Ongoing Commissioning Tasks
Standard BMS programs can issue task orders (such as directing the system to turn off common area lighting at a specific time of day), but do not typically provide feedback on whether the action was completed. For example, the BMS may issue a command to turn off lights after certain hours, but if that control point doesn’t work, the lights will remain on indefinitely without generating an alarm.  Manual quality control efforts can consume large amounts of facility operations staff time, if they are even done. By utilizing existing BMS technology with feedback sensors and equipment, building owners are able to gain positive confirmation that systems are working properly prior to getting a large utility bill.  A commissioning agent can help verify protocols, generate programming for analytics, and review data.

Energy trends like these offer countless opportunities to increase your asset value. Contact the Building Energy Services team to discuss a customized approach for your existing building or upcoming project.

 

As Section Head of Building Energy Services in GHT’s Operations & Energy Services (OES) studio, Jeffrey Salay, PE, CEM, LEED AP leads the firm’s efforts to provide ENERGY STAR benchmarking services, conduct ASHRAE energy audits and other energy studies, and design energy efficiency upgrades.