LEED Fellows represent green building industry’s most accomplished professionals
ATLANTA, GA (October 24, 2012) – CXGBS® Co-founder and Chief Technical Officer H. Jay Enck has been nominated for inclusion in Green Building Certification Institute’s prestigious LEED® Fellowship program.
The Green Building Certification Institute’s LEED® Fellowship annually honors professional excellence and contributions to the green building industry. Outstanding LEED accredited professionals must demonstrate expert-level knowledge technical proficiency, education, leadership, commitment and service, and advocacy. They must also hold a LEED professional credential for more than eight years and have at least ten years of green building experience. This will be the program’s second fellowship class. The LEED Fellow program officially launched with its inaugural class of 34 candidates being announced in 2011.
Enck, also a senior commissioning authority and LEED® accredited professional for CXGBS®, has more than 40 years of green building and general construction experience. A LEED® pioneer, he is also the first of the 77 LEED® fellows to have earned his LEED AP Designation and completed a LEED® project. He’s spearheaded many notable LEED® projects including the first LEED® Platinum certified building in Georgia (ASHRAE Headquarters), the first LEED® Gold certified office building in Georgia (The Arthur M. Blank Family Office), and the first LEED® Silver certified animal research laboratory in the southeast.
An industry leader who has conducted commissioning for more than $3.5 billion in construction projects, Enck has advocated for the importance of quality construction and commissioning in delivering and sustaining high-performance buildings for their useful operating life. His published works which include, co-authoring ASHRAE’s Green Guide, Advanced Energy Design guides, and IFMA’s Sustainability How-To Guide “Commissioning for Existing Buildings,” serve as industry road maps. Enck is also a sought after subject matter expert quoted in articles on green design, commissioning, and eco-structure for the ASHRAE Journal, Green Building News, Consulting Specific Engineer magazine, and Engineered Systems among others.
Enck stays committed to advancing the green building industry by continuing to facilitate LEED® certification, sustainable design principles, and commissioning through mentoring project teams, training emerging industry professionals as an instructor at the University of Wisconsin, and serving on multiple LEED® certification exam and ASHRAE committees. Enck also founded Atlanta’s USGBC Chapter and the Southeast Regional Chapter of the Building Commissioners Association. His contributions can be linked to the Sustainable Sites and Energy and Atmosphere technical advisory groups tasked with improving LEED® products as well.
“We are thrilled to present these highly accomplished individuals with the LEED Fellow designation,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, USGBC. “The Fellows are some of the leading innovators and vanguards of the green building movement, and their bodies of work strongly underscore their commitment to LEED and a sustainable built environment.”
CXGBS® has driven many LEED firsts including guiding the project teams of the first LEED-certified schools in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia, the first LEED certified theater in the United States, and in developing the first Green Housekeeping and Site Management program to meet LEED requirements in the southeast.
Join us in congratulating H. Jay Enck.
Enck will be recognized with the rest of the 2012 LEED Fellow class at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in San Francisco next month. For more information on the LEED Fellow program, please visit new.usgbc.org/leed/credentials/leed-fellow/.
For more information about H. Jay Enck please visit: http://www.cxgbs.com/about-us/team-leadership/h-jay-enck/
Commissioning & Green Building Solutions, Inc. (CXGBS®) is a professional consultancy providing innovative solutions to achieve high-performing buildings. CXGBS® serves clients nationwide from its headquarters in Duluth, GA and satellite offices in Mississippi and Tennessee. As a project team member, CXGBS® applies our Holistic Commissioning® process to assist the team in achieving high performing buildings right from the start and throughout the life of your building. Our process guides the project team in meeting the owner’s performance goals, reducing total cost of building ownership and improving occupant and stakeholder satisfaction.
CXGBS® is a Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB).
CxGBS project and project manager honored with 2012 GSA Project Management and CxGBS excellent workmanship awards.
ATLANTA, GA (August 22, 2012) – CxGBS project manager Jesse Ross is having a good week.
Ross’ project, the John C. Godbold United States Judicial Administration Building (formerly the Elbert P. Tuttle U.S. Court of Appeals Building) in Atlanta, Georgia, has been honored twice in the last month. Ross earned the 2012 CxGBS exceptional workmanship award for his involvement in Holistic Commissioning® for the Godbold project. The Godbold project was also recognized by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Design and Construction during its 2012 Project Management Awards, earning the “Excellence in Project Management” designation for GSA’s Southeast Sunbelt region.
CxGBS, under the direction of Ross, provided Holistic Commissioning® services, Sustainable Design Consulting, LEED Guidance and Administration, and Energy Modeling. Ross helped Godbold meet and maintain quality, sustainability, and high-performance standards, which for the building resulted in a 52 percent savings in water consumption, a more than 64 percent savings in space heating, a more than 71 percent savings in space cooling, and a more than 30 percent total annual energy use cost savings when compared to code. Ross has extensive experience in new and existing building commissioning, project management and execution, as well as field work and construction industry experience.
The Godbold building is one of two CxGBS projects recognized at the Project Management Awards. The second was for work on the new Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. CxGBS provided energy optimization, energy modeling, LEED consultation and guidance. H. Jay Enck, co-founder and Chief Technical Officer, is pleased CxGBS was a team member of the two projects recognized at the GSA awards. “CxGBS has been assisting GSA project teams solve building problems including moisture intrusion, high energy costs, indoor air quality and operational issues for over a decade in buildings of varying scope and scale throughout the country,” says Enck.
Ross was reportedly caught off guard, but pleasantly surprised, by the honors.
Commissioning and Green Building Solutions, Inc. (CxGBS®) is a nationally recognized commissioning, green building consulting, and software development firm that improves a client’s ability to build, operate, and be good stewards of environmentally-friendly, high-performing buildings. The firm’s commissioning and LEED-accredited professionals work with project teams to apply sustainable development principles that reduce risk and lower the total cost of ownership. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and with satellite locations and project offices throughout the country, CxGBS offers its clients a comprehensive suite of high-value service solutions including Sustainable Design Consulting, Holistic Commissioning®, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Guidance and Administration, and Building Forensic Investigation. For more information, please visit: www.cxgbs.com.
About Facility Intelligence
Facility Intelligence is a cloud-based data storage, analysis, and reporting tool that continues the commissioning process with integrated technology solutions helping to ensure high-performing buildings for people, planet, and profits for the life of the facility. Whether from a global or component level standpoint, prioritized concerns are categorized by level of importance and financial impact, which allows for a measured response by owners to continuously improve their facility’s performance. More information is available at www.facilityintel.com.
Mar 2, 2012 Editorials
Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV) control strategies are utilized in many projects today to the energy used to condition outside air into the building. This energy reduction comes from utilizing lower outside air brought into a space or area when the amount of people is low or non-existent. This is especially useful for areas that will have minimal to no people for majority of the time but have a high amount of people for a short people of time. This can be a very useful energy reduction strategy when it is implemented correctly. But at this time, you see this strategy incorrectly implemented. The two most common errors in the implementation that I have seen is not having modulating outside air/return air dampers and having a very low carbon dioxide setpoint.
Many times you will see the engineer specify a simple balancing damper for the outside air. Using this type of damper does not allow you to bring in the extra outside air necessary to flush out the high carbon dioxide levels in a space. Even when the engineer specifies a modulating outside air damper, they typically do not provide the two outside air flow setpoints that are needed to properly control the system. The damper should have a minimum and maximum setpoints. The minimum setpoint should be based upon the minimum amount of outside air required by ASHRAE 62.1 to ventilate a space with no people. The maximum setpoint should be based upon the minimum amount of outside air required by ASHRAE 62.1 for a space with a full people load. Without having both setpoints, the minimum position with be set by the TAB contractor at the wrong minimum and when the DCV is used, the outside air damper modulates open and brings in excess amounts of outside air.
Another incorrect implementation of DCV is having a low carbon dioxide setpoint. Ambient carbon dioxide levels typically are in the 300-500 ppm range (this level maybe higher if the building is located near a major roadway). ASHRAE 62.1 recommends the setpoint for DCV to be 700 ppm above ambient carbon dioxide levels. Having a low carbon dioxide setpoint (say 700 ppm) means that you will start bringing in extra outside air when it is really not necessary. Bring in the unnecessary outside air leads to increased energy usage in the conditioning of this outside air. It is typically recommended that the setpoint by around 1100ppm.
DCV can be a good energy saving control measure….when it is implemented properly.
An acquaintance asked me recently, “What is a building owner’s incentive for pursuing LEED certification?” He answered his own question with a few ideas: To demonstrate to the world that your company cares about the environment, to put a plaque on your building, bragging rights. While these can be incentives, I would certainly hope that the building owner has been educated about the REAL incentives, and is pursuing LEED certification for his/her building for the right reasons.
My response to his question was simple: cost savings to the owner. Cost savings is something even an owner who is apathetic about conserving resources and saving the environment wants. EA Credit 1 can help accomplish this cost savings. The achievement of this credit can not only bring in the most LEED points of any other credit, but it can also result in the majority of energy cost savings. The requirement is that one demonstrate, using a computer simulation model, a percentage improvement in the proposed building performance rating compared with the baseline building performance rating according to ASRHAE Standard 90.1-2007. For a new construction project, a 12% improvement is worth 1 point, and a 48% improvement is worth a whopping 19 points. To put 48% energy savings in perspective, a building owner whose energy cost would be $100,000 per year in a baseline building, would be saving approximately $48,000 per year.
So how can 48% energy cost savings be achieved? That CAN be a very complicated answer which is daunting to building owners, but the answer can also be simple: follow the ASHRAE 50% Advanced Energy Design Guide (AEDG). This guide will lead the way to achieving a 50% energy savings compared to buildings that meet minimum requirements of ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2004. While EA Credit 1 in LEEDv2.2 requires comparison to 90.1-2004, LEEDv3.0 requires comparison to 90.1-2007. ASHRAE has indicated that Standard 90.1-2007 is approximately 11.8% more stringent than 90.1-20041. Therefore, one can assume that the ASHRAE 50% AEDG is approximately 38.2% more stringent than 90.1-2007.
One must keep in mind; however, that EA Credit 1 awards points for energy COST savings percentage, not energy savings percentage. We all know energy costs aren’t cheap, so a 38.2% energy savings likely results in a much greater energy cost savings. So the answer to the original question, “What is a building owner’s incentive for pursuing LEED certification?” In one word that is attractive to the majority of building owners: money.
1 ASHRAE.org, 2011
FCA (Facility Condition Assessment)/FCI (Facility Condition Index) – “… and now, the rest of the story”
A manufacturing plant, commercial strip mall, office building, or institutional facility all represent a physical asset which should be properly managed maintained in order to minimize operating expenses and maximize its useful service life. For every dollar of investment in equipment or building, over ten dollars are spent on maintaining the facility and equipment over the course of the asset’s lifetime – ensure the assets are being properly maintained in order to avoid large capital repair and replacement projects. In the case of asset acquisition, understand the expected life of a building system and equipment to avoid short-term liabilities and maximize returns on investment. Facility assessments, audits and monitoring of the maintenance functions performed by the owner, landlord, team, tenants or operators provide value to all of the stakeholders when conducted by an objective third party.
A FCA (Facility Condition Assessment) and subsequent the FCI (Facility Condition Index) is a very common practice in today’s Facilities Management, Federal Asset Management, and Corporate Real Estate world. First introduced to our industry in early 1980’s by the DoD as a performance indicator, it most widely used by federal, state, educational and not-for-profit entities. To quantify the results of condition assessment surveys, many federal agencies use a FCI performance indicator. The FCI is, in fact is a method of measuring the current condition of facilities to assess how much work, if any, is recommended to maintain or change their condition to acceptable levels to support organizational missions. What constitutes an acceptable level of condition will vary by agency, by mission, by the importance of specific facilities (e.g., critical, supportive, neutral) and/or by types of facilities. This variability underlines the importance of setting performance goals for facilities asset management. There is also variability in how the FCI is developed across departments and agencies. In the Department of Energy, U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard, FCI is calculated as Deferred Maintenance divided by Current Replacement Value. Managers and consultants also use a range of techniques to convey condition-related information to executive management: color schemes, letter grades, numerical scales, dollar scales, or ratios. These schemes often blend two different issues: the current state of facilities and users’ or occupants’ expectations for them. Three, four, or five color schemes are typically used. Most color schemes derive from a “traffic signal” concept of red (poor-yellow-green. Typically a qualified Technician will perform a “site analysis” according to the owner requirements. He/she will then gather condition data and provide key condition and operation functionality information that is used in allowing decision makers (financial and operations) to make sound budget decisions as it relates to repair, replace or maintain critical components of a buildings functional assets.
Although the FCA and FCI do allow the owner to identify and track the “condition” of the property’s physical assets, they do not provide the owner critical detailed information on how the building and its assets are functioning as it relates to the sustainability both financially and environmentally.
What a great time to consider a Retro-Commissioning (RCx) by and OWNER ADVOCATE/THIRD PARTY Commissioning Authority Professional (Cx) from Commissioning & Green Building Solutions, Inc. (CxGBS). RCx is a systematic, documented process that identifies low-cost operational and maintenance improvements in existing buildings and brings the buildings up to the design intentions of its current usage. RCx typically focuses on energy-using equipment such as mechanical equipment, lighting and related controls and usually optimizes existing system performance, rather than relying on major equipment replacement, typically resulting in improved indoor air quality, comfort, controls, energy and resource efficiency. RCx includes an audit of the entire building including a study of past utility bills, interviews with facility personnel. Then diagnostic monitoring and functional tests of building systems are executed and analyzed. Building systems are retested and re-monitored to fine tune improvements. This process helps find and repair operational problems. The identification of more complex problems are presented to the owner as well. A final report, recommissioning plan and schedule are then given to the owner. Building systems can be purchased from different vendors, installed by different contractors and operated by different facilities staff, who are under pressure to resolve occupant complaints about comfort. Quick fixes may resolve an individual complaint, but can lead to other systems becoming out of balance and losing the persistence of benefits from initial building commissioning or retro-commissioning. Additionally, building systems require periodic analysis and adjustment.
Subsequently, ongoing commissioning is continual retro-commissioning focusing on the persistence of completed improvements. Ongoing commissioning involves regularly scheduled sessions with the building occupants along with operation and maintenance personnel. This process incorporates monitoring and analysis of building performance data provided by permanently installed metering equipment to verify building performance, the satisfaction of the facilities management and staff, and the extent of actual savings.
November 3, 2011 (Rome News-Tribune) Darlington unveils LEED Gold Certification plaque at Thatcher Hall
CxGBS Recognized for Role in Commissioning Middle School Building
One of the biggest problems I have with the LEEDv2.2 and LEEDv3.0 MR credits is with MR Credit 5: Regional Materials. This credit currently defines regional materials as materials that are both harvested and manufactured within 500 miles of the project. The INTENT of the credit is to support the use of indigenous resources and reduce the environmental impacts resulting from transportation.
The following is an example to illustrate my concern:
Product A is harvested 500 miles east of the project and manufactured 500 miles west of the project. Therefore, the total traveling distance of the product from cradle to grave (from the harvest location, to the manufacturing location, and then finally to the project) is 1,500 miles. Product B is harvested 700 miles east of the project and manufactured 300 miles east of the project. Therefore, the total traveling distance of the product from cradle to grave is 1,000 miles.
This is the flaw within MR credit 5. Product A is transported 500 miles more than product B, yet product A contributes towards the credit because it was both harvested and manufactured within 500 miles of the project, and product B does not. This contradicts the credit intent: To reduce environmental impacts resulting from transportation.
It is unfortunate that this flaw was overlooked in both LEEDv2.2 and LEEDv3.0; however, it looks like LEED 2012 will eliminate this flaw by eliminating the harvesting requirements all together, and making more stringent requirements for manufacturing and purchasing locations. The proposed modifications to the reference guide will be addressed in two new MR credits, which address both structural and non-structural building materials. The intent of these credits is (in part) to reduce environmental harm from materials manufacturing and transport. The portion of these credits titled “Support Local Economy,” requires that project teams use building materials and products that are manufactured and purchased within the Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) as defined by the US Office of Management and Budget statistical area that the project is located in. For projects located outside a prescribed CBSA, materials and products shall be purchased within the projects county.
While the proposed LEED 2012 requirements do eliminate local harvesting requirements, it is generally in the best interest of the product/material vendor to harvest/extract materials locally anyway. I believe the new MR credits address the more important issue of buying local materials (both manufactured and purchased locally), which will accurately address the intent of the credit by reducing transportation between purchasing & manufacturing locations and the project.
The ability to measure and benchmark building performance is an integral component of Smart Grid technologies; building owners that implement data collection systems now will be better positioned for Smart Grid adoption down the road.
By: H. Jay Enck, CxAP, HBDP, Commissioning and Green Building Solutions Inc., Duluth
With utility costs rising apparently with little end in sight, many building owners and operators view the potential of Smart Grids and their associated technologies with excitement. The transition of the century-old U.S. power grid, which is the largest interconnected web of technology and machinery on Earth, into a Smart Grid has begun, with technological advancements being implemented in transmission efficiency, integration of intermittent power sources such as solar and wind, distributed combined heat and power systems, and smarter buildings.
Already, Smart Grid pilot projects are showing promising results. In North Carolina, 100 Fayetteville residents and businesses cut energy use an average of 20% during a six-month pilot in 2010. As these systems come online, they can have enough impact to reduce the building of new power plants—an expense that is largely borne by the residential and commercial sectors.
On an individual basis, businesses in some areas are reaping minor benefits from Smart Grid technologies such as two-way communication enabled by smart meters. For example, some business owners currently power down noncontinuous, noncritical operations—from computers and printers to production line assemblies—based on real-time utility pricing—during designated times of peak power usage and rates. Even critical machinery such as cooling and refrigeration systems is being duty-cycled periodically without affecting operational effectiveness.
Many commercial, institutional, and industrial facilities allow utilities to bring on power generation assets automatically to meet utility-grid peak demand and manage alternative energy source integration with the electrical power grid. These are the baby steps that only hint at what lies ahead.
Much work and coordination is needed and underway by the utility, building, and government sectors to make widespread Smart Grid deployment a reality. Owners of existing buildings that are not yet able to participate in these programs may be asking their engineers how they can speed up the process.
While it’s beneficial to stay engaged with local utilities and thereby be apprised of available Smart Grid projects, the reality is that outside forces and factors play a large role in when Smart Grid benefits will be available to a given location. Astute engineers can show building owners that analysis of existing configurations now to identify internal operational improvements—and where it is possible to implement them—is the best way to prepare for Smart Grid technology.
These improvements and the data that drive them, both of which focus on making the buildings smart in themselves, provide real-time feedback on the building’s performance through information gathered from smart utility meters, advanced metering systems, building equipment sensors, occupant surveys, and other mechanisms (see Figure 1). Not only do building performance indicators provide management and operations staff with the information to operate a building for maximum economic, environmental, and social performance in the short term, but the data they provide create valuable benchmarks for building performance over time.
Act, don’t react
An increasing number of building owners are embracing the concepts of recommissioning and retro-commissioning to ensure maximum efficiency of their buildings and, in some cases, bring buildings back to original operational goals. However, since these planned “interventions” are often large, big-budget projects, it is easy for business owners to reject them in the present, opting to plan for them when the economic climate improves.
This reluctance does not negate the fact that changes made by controls contractors and operational staff after completion of construction in even the newest buildings can result in degradation of building performance. These changes also affect occupant satisfaction and productivity, and impact a firm’s ability to achieve the Triple Bottom Line (social, environmental, and economic) benefits that are considered best practices in building construction and operation today.
By encouraging monitoring, effective analysis, and correction, coupled with viewing improvements as modular components and prioritizing them properly, engineers can help building owners achieve benefits with minimal expense and operational disruption. Three areas of potential improvement that deserve attention long before Smart Grid adoption (due to their potential to involve substantial improvements in performance) are:
- Conduct occupant satisfaction and productivity surveys, and act on the information received
- Analyze (and possibly improve) existing BAS and the success with which information is extracted from them and used to increase efficiency
- Evaluate metering points for utilities to determine if information is sufficient or if additional metering points are needed to provide useful data.
Conduct and act upon occupant surveys
An occupant survey is a vital source of information for improving both a building’s performance and the productivity of the occupants within it. Surveys help owners determine which building services and design features work as intended, and where problems are causing the occupants to intervene or be less productive than optimal.
Occupants who are dissatisfied with their environment will install fans, electric heaters, additional lighting, and other personal improvements—all of which can reduce the satisfaction of other occupants and negatively impact operating costs. Fear of reprisal may prohibit occupants from answering surveys honestly, so respondents should be reassured that all comments are welcome and will be handled sensitively.
Surveys should encourage participants to move beyond the typical enhancements to less-common issues. For example, an occupant might be placing paper over air registers/diffusers because he is cold, or running portable air purifiers because he has a perception, however untrue, that the air in the building is not clean.
Occupant surveys should also incorporate concerns for productivity such as ambient noise. If personnel cannot work effectively because the office environment is open or established as a cubicle farm that does not sufficiently dampen the sound of nearby discussions, productivity will be affected. Likewise, perhaps some personnel do not have enough space to perform their work.
Try to uncover every physical constraint and indoor environmental quality complaint and then make a plan to address them. These benefits can be enormous, as productivity savings routinely exceed direct energy cost returns and provide significant savings.
In a typical building, energy costs average $1.50 to $2.50/sq ft per year, while salaries exceed $200/sq ft. Cutting energy use in half typically saves $1.00/sq ft. Boosting productivity just 5% saves more than $10/sq ft per year.
At the minimum, occupant surveys should collect input on:
- Acoustic quality
- Air quality
- Office furnishings
- Office layout
- Thermal comfort
- Nonspecific comments or concerns.
While surveying occupants, don’t overlook collecting opinions on building performance—even if they do not affect comfort. This is particularly important information to gain from operations and maintenance staff or those who travel frequently throughout the building.
Collectively, this information will suggest improvements to significantly improve building performance. A building’s environmental, social, and economic performance is a direct reflection of how efficiently it is operating and being maintained.
The goal is to minimize operating costs while meeting the specific needs of the occupants in execution of their daily missions. However, occupant surveys can also make it easier for engineers to justify recommended efficiency improvements. On the owner’s side, survey results provide beneficial information to be used in leasing office space and meeting regulatory requirements.
Analyze and monitor BAS
To effectively analyze building efficiency and identify improvements that may be recommended prior to Smart Grid adoption, engineers should encourage the collection of BAS input and output data on a historical basis (trending data). Metering data should also be rolled into the analysis.
Enabling a continuous flow of building system data is an initial, important step in modifying operating parameters. It positions building owners to engage power generation assets and power reduction strategies based on information from the Smart Grid when it becomes available.
Without a reliable, consistent measurement process, it is impractical (and potentially impossible) to make valid decisions on how to modify building operation in accordance with the information being supplied through the Smart Grid.
If these data are already being collected, the building may be ready for an analysis now:
- Isolate electrical loads by load type such as lighting, HVAC, plug, and process loads to provide great insight into the operation of the building and assist in establishing a baseline.
- Once the baseline is established, consumption can be adjusted based on a variety of factors such as weather, occupancy factors, and facility modifications. This provides a benchmark by load type, helping management and operators to identify where to look for issues and to determine whether the facility is within allowable operating tolerances.
- Recording trend data through the BAS provides detailed information on system interaction and operation that can help the operator solve performance issues.
Building owners and operations personnel often do not have the knowledge to analyze these data effectively. If this is the case, realizing long-term improvements will require making the data accessible to operational experts who can analyze them and suggest quick corrections of operational missteps that degrade the building’s performance.
If BAS infrastructure is seriously outdated and incapable of providing enough useful information, building owners may be able to upgrade their BAS installations or convert to a newer system. Preparation for Smart Grid adoption is an excellent time to ensure BAS solutions work effectively and provide the appropriate amount of data in a form the building owner can use effectively.
Whether the building owner decides to explore an upgrade or convert to a newer system, engineers should encourage him or her to reject options that perpetuate closed, proprietary solutions. BAS technology has moved from a model where proprietary systems with fixed life spans (approximately 15 years, historically) were the norm, to a more sustainable paradigm including the use of open protocols and network management tools. Furthermore, the sophistication of collection and analysis tools for open BAS systems has exploded.
Moving to an open, sustainable BAS standard—even for interconnectivity with legacy components—increases sustainability, reduces outlay, and expands options in the future. Not doing so can leave the owner trapped in an inflexible relationship where the vendor is in complete control of pricing and has less incentive to perform well. Open, interoperable communication protocols keep the owner in charge and improve vendor service through competition.
If a major retro-commissioning project is in the forecast, the time is optimal to update the BAS to facilitate continuous data collection. During retro-commissioning, the commissioning authority can verify that information is being accurately collected from the system, which is essential to ensuring a reliable data flow from the various inputs within the building’s systems.
If budgets are tight, many BAS providers offer support structures for legacy components that extend the life and functionality of the original BAS. These solutions are not always best practices and may require specialized installations and support. However, if cost effective, they can serve as a stop-gap until further improvements can be budgeted.
The ability to implement a BAS upgrade in a building is based on the entity operating inside it. This strengthens the case for planning—and at least partially upgrading—before Smart Grid arrival, as it allows appropriate scheduling to maximize benefits and cost savings to the owner.
Evaluate metering points
Owners of newer buildings may assume their metering and monitoring systems are sufficient and data from them are being adequately integrated into efficiency analyses. Many newer buildings incorporate Web-based control/monitoring and advanced metering of energy and water.
In reality, the newest buildings can suffer from the greatest shortcomings, especially if there was no commissioning element in place at the time of construction. For example, some newer buildings have excellent envelope designs that were completely negated by poor installation.
Conversely, older buildings that have been through retro-commissioning or benefit from an ongoing commissioning effort can be performing as well or better than new buildings that were constructed without commissioning and/or clear energy-efficiency benchmarks in place.
In the case of one university building project with which this engineering firm was involved post-construction, the university could have saved $500,000 in 5 years if it had instituted a monitoring-based commissioning process at the end of construction. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start monitoring, collecting, and analyzing data.
It is beneficial for building owners to examine their metering points, the data collected from them, and how they are being used. In many cases, installing additional submeters can provide insight into previously unrecognized problems.
These data should also be incorporated with BAS data for the most precise analysis of efficiency over time. Adding submetering that rolls up into and is saved with the BAS data adds tremendous value to the owner by providing direct correlation between how a building is operated and its utility consumption.
The graph shown in Figure 2 is an example of how an owner gets value from submetering. This graph shows phantom (or vampire) electrical loads, which suck energy through electrical equipment left in standby mode or turned off during unoccupied or nonuse periods. Typical sources of phantom loads are computers, monitors, televisions, sound systems, instant coffee makers, and electric space heaters that occupants often use for personal comfort.
Phantom electrical loads exist in almost every building and can consume a significant amount of energy. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, phantom loads may consume as much as 6% of the energy expended in the U.S.—the equivalent of the power produced by nine nuclear power plants.
The graph in Figure 2 is of a typical two-story office building. This information is compared with information from the National Energy Renewable Laboratory (NREL), which has studies from comparable office projects that have yielded similar results. The orange and blue lines represent first- and second-floor electrical plug loads.
Studies our company has performed on a variety of buildings—and studies performed by the NREL—indicate that plug demand is reduced by only 50% during unoccupied periods. In this case, that represents an approximate constant unoccupied plug load of 3 kW. This 3 kW load translates into approximately 8,750 kWh of energy, which is equivalent to 8 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
To determine viability for submetering, existing facilities without segregation of loads must be considered individually. Existing buildings can often be submetered cost effectively by floor but not by load type. Even with the limitation of metering segregated loads, great value can be derived using a whole-building metered approach in combination with data from the BAS or independent sensor system.
The old adage “fail to plan and plan to fail” could not be more true than in building sustainability and efficiency. Failure to plan for Smart Grid adoption will cost companies time and money, lower the bricks-and-mortar assets value, and can sacrifice occupant goodwill down the road.
Analyses and planning for a Smart Grid adoption also give building owners and their engineers a chance to root out problems and inefficiencies that have cropped up during previous improvements but have gone unidentified. For example, occupant complaints about comfort are often resolved with quick fixes that lead to conflicts with other systems.
It is an inescapable fact that you cannot manage what you do not measure. Improving performance and reducing environmental impact requires persistence in monitoring, evaluation, and correction of the building’s performance, which is an essential part of being able to maximize the benefit associated with Smart Grid implementation. To maintain and improve building performance, occupant satisfaction, and the owner’s bottom line, building operators need a feedback loop to let them know how their systems are performing and a road map on what needs adjusting.
Other actions beneficial for building owners prior to Smart Grid arrival include:
- Creating a plan to activate energy-producing assets to supplement utility power and reduce peak demand
- Improving efficiency through combined heat and power strategies that provide both chilled and heated water from waste heat
- Using thermal sinks to store energy and reduce energy consumption during peak demand periods
- Shifting activities to allow for temporary energy reductions.
The efforts detailed in this article should be completed before considering alternative energy implementation. The reality is that the current power grid is appallingly inefficient: 70% of the energy consumed is lost in production and 20% is lost in transmission. To put this in perspective, the DOE estimates that if the nation’s grids were just 5% more efficient, the energy savings would equate to eliminating the fuel and greenhouse gas emissions from 53 million cars.
Minimizing a building’s energy consumption for optimal performance before the Smart Grid arrives is good for building owners, building occupants, and the environment. Done correctly, this will prepare for Smart Grid arrival—and achieve the venerated Triple Bottom Line—more easily than anyone would have predicted.
Enck is the founder and principal of Commissioning and Green Building Solutions Inc. He has conducted commissioning processes for more than $3.5 billion in construction, including the ASHRAE Headquarters renovation. He has more than 25 years of experience in engineering, construction, and building operations, and is a founding board member of the Atlanta Regional Chapter of U.S. Green Building Council.
Elements of an effective BAS
- Availability of compatible hardware and software: We have been conditioned to the idea that technology components must be interoperable. However interoperability among BAS systems is progressing slowly, and there is confusion in the marketplace regarding the best approach to standardization. BAS architecture should support hardware and software that is compatible not only with replacements from the same manufacturer but also with those of other manufacturers.
- Component cost effectiveness: When considering upgrades, plan for future obsolescence. The most cost-effective solution is one where the cost of individual system components that are likely to need replacement is less than the replacement cost of the entire system, provided they meet all other criteria.
- Availability of resources and information: A BAS fails to meet its mission if the information and training pivotal to successful operation and maintenance is inadequate or restricted. This includes the use of standardized components and tools, such as network management utilities, that will be familiar to the widest array of qualified operators.
- Embrace emerging technologies: The ability to support upgrades to capitalize on new technologies is equally important as the ability for a BAS to interface with as many legacy components as possible. Cloud-based (Web-based) monitoring and management, in particular, is emerging as an attractive solution to building owners for remote BAS control as well as for what it offers in remote access to operators and their management.
This article can be found in its entirety, with pictures, on CSE’s website HERE
As energy efficiency goals become common place in almost every area in the United States, project teams are taking advantage of the use of a building automation system (BAS) to aid in keeping a building running as efficient as the day it was opened. But are these building automation systems setup in a manner that will allow for the building operators to understand and maintain the building systems? Being a part of many commissioning projects has allowed me to view the “inner workings” of these building automation systems and witness how the control professionals are setting up the systems. More often than not, you find that control points have confusing names or are named something that does not allow for a building operator to understand what they are. If a building operator is unclear what he is looking at, the chances of the building efficiency being maintained decreases. It is important that the naming of control points in these building automation systems be adequate for long term maintainability and long term energy efficiency. As commissioning authorities, it is key during the commissioning testing phase of the project that a review of the control points is completed and comments to the contractors are given to eliminate confusion in naming of control points. Having this issue taken care of before building turnover will result in a better maintained building which will in turn lead to a greater chance of long term building efficiency.
It is not uncommon, or unexpected, for contractors to see a Commissioning Authority as the “enemy.” After all, CxAs are responsible for assessing the contractor’s construction quality and installation practices, which may mean more work than they are used to. However, commissioning can be much more difficult when you come across a project where neither the project manager nor the owner is familiar with the commissioning process and its benefits. When this is the case, I find they usually chose to commission their project only because of LEED or some another regulation.
It doesn’t matter that the reasons for commissioning are explained to the team in the Commissioning Scoping meeting. At that point, it can seem, commissioning is just extra paper work and yet another hurdle to delay the project’s completion. Some may wonder – “Why pay for commissioning when there are inspections and punch list walkthroughs that seemingly cover all of the same things as commissioning?” Commissioning meetings can be brushed over quickly without engaging in discussions about the project status and upcoming commissioning activities. Unfortunately, until the benefits of commissioning for that particular project are realized, it seems like commissioning will be seen by the owner and project manager as more of a chore than necessary for the successful delivery of their building.
The reason I bring this up is because commissioning is something that works best when there is total buy-in from the entire team (designer, project manager, owner, contractors, and CxA). That doesn’t mean that it is a waste of time to have commissioning when no one on the team is familiar with it. The building will still be commissioned, and work as designed. But, when an entire team is working together with a common goal in mind (a high performance building), a considerable amount of heartburn and strife can be avoided, and commissioning will be substantially more effective.