Vol. 3: Navigating Today’s Complex Energy Landscape

Energy Measurement & Conservation. Where Do I Begin?

The first step in successfully reacting to the legislation changes and stimulus plans is to measure and evaluate your facility’s current energy performance to create a baseline from which you can use to develop a strategic energy plan for your facility. Before implementing any energy improvement initiative, you should consider the following three-step approach to energy measurement and conservation:

1. Energy Audit:  Performing an energy audit will provide a clear picture of where, when and how much energy your facility is using. This information is then compared against benchmarks to identify outliers, or areas of improvement, with the greatest return on investment. An energy audit allows for the development of utility profiles and is integral to developing recommendations for improvement and developing a procurement plan. It also provides a baseline for energy modeling, which is the next step in the measurement & verification process.

2. Energy Modeling:  Energy modeling is a critical step in determining the most logical energy strategy for your facility. It provides a forecast of energy use and associated costs over a period of time, as well as evaluates the impacts of various design alternatives and calculates life cycle cost for energy improvements. Various software programs are available on the market, but it is important to use one that is approved by the department of energy. It is also important to have a qualified professional conduct your energy model as they are complex in nature and could result in inappropriate recommendations if applied incorrectly.

3. Energy Conservation Measures (ECMS):  Contrary to popular belief, there are a number of low-cost solutions for improving a building’s energy performance including:

  • Retro-Commissioning – a process for investigating, analyzing and optimizing the performance of a building’s MEP systems.
  • Behavior Modifications – simple operational changes such as shifting schedules to minimize the use of energy during peak demand hours turning off energy-consuming devices when not in use.
  • System Replacement or Upgrades – energy-efficient building automation, plumbing, HVAC, lighting and power distribution systems, as well as improvements to the building envelope.

Energy audits, energy modeling and energy conservation measures are three essential steps in evaluating your facility’s current performance and mapping a direction for the future and should be implemented before considering any form of alternative energy technology. Avoiding these essential steps could result in missed opportunities and wasted resources. If you would like more information on energy measurement and conservation, please contact Michael Rader, PE at msr@ba-inc.com or 717-845-7654.

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