Energy efficiency is the first step toward achieving sustainability in buildings and organizations. Energy efficiency helps control rising energy costs, reduce environmental footprints, and increase the value and competitiveness of buildings. So how do you identify the most effective solutions?
Green building rating systems such as BREEAM (United Kingdom), LEED (United States and Canada), DGNB (Germany) and CASBEE (Japan) help consumers determine a structure’s level of environmental performance. They award credits for optional building features that support green design in categories such as location and maintenance of building site, conservation of water, energy, and building materials, and occupant comfort and health. The number of credits generally determines the level of achievement.
Green building codes and standards, such as the International Code Council’s draft International Green Construction Code, are sets of rules created by standards development organizations that establish minimum requirements for elements of green building such as materials or heating and cooling.
Few of many ways to archive building energy efficiency:
1) Start at the bottom. Instead of reducing consumption, start with nothing and justify how much you actually need. Talk about eliminating waste. Do we install a high-efficiency air conditioner or retrofit the building so effectively that we don’t need an air conditioner? What does 20 percent savings mean, anyway? Compared to what? What if you could get your building to operate within 10 percent of its best technical potential? It’s like doing the limbo how low could you go with no constraints? How does that change your approach to building energy performance?
2. Go retro. With almost instantaneous payback, this one is a no-brainer. Make sure the building is operating the way it was designed to operate and hasn’t been sabotaged by well-meaning building engineers. Operating an uncommissioned building is like driving your car down the road with the gas cap hanging open and the blinker on; you look like an idiot.
3. Show me the money. Lobby hard for energy efficiency financing programs in your community, maybe even through your Business Improvement District. Exciting, emerging programs — often including third-party businesses — pay for efficiency upgrades through your property taxes and “on bill” through your utility. These investors see the predictable, replicable and relatively low-risk value in energy efficiency..
4. Tighten up. we know, it sounds like a broken record, but we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to seal the gaps. Like a gut that creeps up on a middle-aged man, air infiltration can sneak up on you over the years. Check the weather-stripping at doors and windows and seal those cracks. Construct a vestibule to reduce infiltration. Don’t know where to start? Get a building energy audit (through your utility) with infrared imaging to show exactly where the heat is escaping. You will be surprised at what you see.
5. Let the sun shine. Clear up the window clutter and take advantage of daylighting. If the clutter includes perimeter office spaces, consider a little selective demolition to open up the work areas, improve the space plan, and let the sun shine in. Consider a fresh coat of light-colored paint and replace those depressing yellowed ceiling tiles. It will improve daylighting and make your people feel better about coming to work.
Facilities manager, can increase the energy efficiency of the buildings, whether owned or leased; and to signpost you to the key information sources on energy efficiency and renewable energy, including the support programmes and best practice examples in your part of the world. Although the newspapers seem to be full of stories about climate change, it is sometimes hard to see how we can have an impact and how we can benefit in our daily lives. So as a facilities manager, why should you improve the energy efficiency of your facility? Here are some useful arguments when you need to argue the business case: l Economic: Energy is not a fixed cost – being more efficient can help you meet your cost targets. A number of energy efficiency measures are available which are simple to implement and have a good payback time. l Security: Global energy prices are rising as demand outstrips conventional supply, improving energy efficiency now will give you first mover advantage, and pay dividends in the future by ensuring your operational security. Saving fossil fuel energy cuts the greenhouse gas emissions associated with business operations, helps demonstrate green credentials.
Key Areas of Building Energy Efficiency are outlined as
Develop an Efficiency Strategy – achieve energy savings and reduce costs.
Explore Energy Efficient Products and Technologies – Embrace technologies that reduce energy use and increase savings.
Explore Demand Response Solutions create a new revenue stream by responding to utility requests to reduce electricity use.
Explore Renewable Energy Services design and install renewable energy technologies for long-term savings.
Explore Efficient Water Saving Solutions reduce energy and water consumption by up to 50%.
Use Energy Performance Contracting – pay for your energy efficiency upgrades with the energy savings that result from the improvements.
Daylight and Building Design:
It doesn’t take a lot of money to start saving energy. First, make a commitment, benchmark your energy performance, and create a plan — all with no capital investment needed. Next, start with the no- and low-cost opportunities. Capture those wasted energy dollars and use them to finance more low-cost improvements. Keep saving, keep improving. When you’re ready, you can point to the value of good energy management and secure the capital you need for bigger project
Designing for daylighting has to be considered at the earliest stages of building design. The orientation of the building and glazing relative to the sun path is the single most important decision. This is followed by design of the facades and roof, selection of glazing systems, and daylight controls such as blinds and louvres. Unfortunately many of these things have already been decided by the architect long before the lighting designer is brought on board the design team. A lot of the time we are asked to “fix” problems created by the architecture; for example glare from extensive south facing glazing, balance between areas in an atrium open to the sky and areas with solid ceilings, etc. More usefully we are able to develop lighting controls that will optimise the effective use of daylight by dimming down unnecessary electric light when daylight is available, and suggest changes to details such as light shelves to make them more effective. Another area where we can have some influence is in the use of daylight powered light fittings; by this I mean light gathering and distributing systems such as sun pipes or other similar devices. These do not need to be very high tech: the principle is very simple; you are capturing a section of sky and reflecting it through a mirrored tube to where you want it. Obviously there are limitations to this as it is not very practical to carry light downwards for more than one floor in a building.