By Edward Armstrong
From the December 2018 Issue
Facility managers can and should be forgiven if they find themselves dumbfounded by their path to improving energy efficiency. It’s a jumble out there. From ESCOs to envelopes, insulation to indoor air quality, tankless water heaters to triple pane windows, you would need a thousand astronomers to calculate the number of options, let alone which ones to select.
And keep in mind the selection process is muddied up by mandates emanating from regulations and ordinances, and, increasingly, benchmarking/disclosure requirements that can impact your facility’s energy reputation.
Of course, at some point you need to factor in the existential. What is it and who is it your building or facility exists to do and serve? Your mission, purpose, raison d’être. How much disruption can it withstand before tenants start looking elsewhere? Are there critical manufacturing processes that you are hesitant to disturb despite their apparent energy efficiency? Is there a biocontainment lab on the premises in which air pressure issues are literally a matter of life and death?
The list of options, variables, and nuances could go on for pages. Clearly, what is needed is a process—one that recognizes you face a virtual tsunami of energy choices and provides a methodology to work your way through it. You may exhale. There is one, and it is free.
The Energy Management Guideline from the Energy Management Association (EMA) provides a complete framework for a commissioning-based energy management process that achieves maximum energy efficiency and optimum building performance. The 247-page Guideline is used in conjunction with the training programs the EMA provides for its ANSI-accredited, Department of Energy Better Buildings® Workforce recognized Energy Management Professional (EMP) certification.
In full disclosure, some of the Guideline’s content is written for energy engineers and may not translate universally. However, the document describes a process (see illustration) that is well within the comprehension of any dedicated facility manager. Its advice on establishing energy motivations, stakeholder communication, energy model development and team building provides a valuable resource.
EMA Energy Management Guideline: Seven Phases
Note: The following summary greatly condenses the content of the Guideline, and readers are encouraged to download the document for a better impression of its comprehensive and methodical approach. For clarity, the term “energy manager” is used throughout the summary of the phases to refer to what may be any number of individuals (or leadership teams), engineering staff, or consultants who are heading up the project.
The first phase of an energy management project is aimed at attaining a Project Assessment. During this phase, the energy manager gains understanding of client goals, gathers basic information about building systems and operations, and begins to analyze energy performance relative to that of similar facilities. Key to this phase is establishing the motivations for the project (e.g. energy costs, regulatory compliance, occupant comfort). Phase One also contains guidance, even a case study, on building the project team.
In Phase Two, Energy Use Exploration, the energy manager combines field experience and preliminary building information with detailed data analysis and calculations. Examination of historical energy consumption and costs will help the energy manager further refine potential energy conservation measures and facility improvement measures (ECMs/FIMs) and anticipate savings potential. Phase Two also contains information concerning utility expense analysis and a four-step process for establishing an energy balance.
During Phase Three, Site Investigation, the energy manager spends time at the project building to collect comprehensive data. Together with the energy analyses performed in Phase Two, this data will inform further development of ECMs/FIMs and the Existing Building Commissioning (EBCx) in the form of an Energy Plan Outline and Investment Proposal. During Phase Three, key information about the building’s operations, the “occupancy profile” is developed.
In Phase Four, the energy manager begins the ECM/FIM and EBCx Analysis Phase. In-depth analysis of each measure includes energy savings calculations, construction costs, and consideration of financial return. The energy manager will develop reports and metrics to help the client evaluate ECMs, FIMS, and EBCx, and the project as a whole. Proposed ECMs and FIMs are tested and refined. This final analysis sets the stage for implementation of recommended measures.
Phase Five, the Implementation Phase, starts with final planning of ECMs/FIMs and EBCx, measurement and verification, and other initiatives. Installation follows in accordance with the plans. The energy manager works closely with the client, building staff, and construction team to implement ECMs and FIMs. Additionally, the energy manager oversees the EBCx process for existing equipment and regular commissioning process for new equipment.
During Phase Six, the Final Acceptance Phase, the energy manager affirms the desired level of whole building performance has been achieved following implementation. The energy manager finalizes and documents commissioning activities and all changes made to building systems. Resources are developed for the client and building operations staff, and the energy manager executes measurement and verification to ensure that ECMs and FIMs were installed properly and are operating as intended.
The final phase of the energy management process, Continuous Energy Management, ensures that the building maintains quality performance over time. Phase Seven involves planning and execution of strategies to enhance energy usage, efficiency, and operations and maintenance continually. The energy manager’s goal is to establish energy management as an ongoing practice. Phase Seven also contains a case study on “Enhancing Operations and Maintenance.”
A New Era For Energy Audits
It is worth noting that there have been significant changes in the familiar ASHRAE Level 1, 2, and 3 audit methodologies. In June 2018, ASHRAE published the Standard 211-2018, Standard for Commercial Building Energy Audits. The most significant change between the standard and the prior publication (Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits) is that it is now a standard, not a “best practice” document. It is expected that, given its “standard” status, it will be adopted by many jurisdictions as the de facto audit standard.
Another significant change brought about by the new Standard 211 concerns personnel. In an effort to establish consistency in the auditing trade, the new standard creates a definition for “Qualified Energy Auditor.” That definition sets as its first condition that the auditor be “a person who holds a certification from a credentialing program approved by the U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines for Building Energy Auditors or Energy Managers.”
This is a step sure to improve the quality of energy audit, retro-commissioning, and retrofit projects on behalf of facility owners. This will go a long way toward providing clarity in choosing among innumerable energy efficiency options available to them.
Armstrong is the Executive Director of the Energy Management Association. EMA’s Energy Management Professionals are among the Qualified Energy Auditors whose certifications have the recognition of the DOE Better Buildings program and have received training based on the Guideline described in this article.
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