5 Operating Changes That Will Make Your Buildings Energy Efficient July 21, 2014 | Samantha Dubrow

Are you looking to decrease utility bills, increase tenant satisfaction, or lengthen the life expectancy for your building equipment? This is the ultimate guide for easily reducing your energy consumption. Plus, it’ll tell you how real-time data can help you monitor your progress and make sure scheduling and equipment don’t go out of whack.

1. OPTIMIZE SCHEDULING:

 

The Trick:

“Building start times should never look the same in December and January, or July and August, as they do in September and October, and in the spring,” Cassidy Turley’s Lee Dunfee explained during a webinar with Aquicore. Dunfee told the audience that they should see a three- or four-hour difference in start times during different parts of the year. Buildings may start as early as 4:30am during the summer and winter, but may be able to start as late as 7:45am during the shoulder months of the year.

 

How Real-Time Data Helps:

With real-time data, you never have to wonder if your buildings are aligning weather and operating schedules efficiently. You can easily view weather-normalized data on your laptop, so you aren’t surprised by exorbitant electricity bills after a month of dramatic weather changes.
Even easier than managing scheduling according to fluctuating weather, is making sure your building is actually operating at its baseload when tenants are not present. Real-time data allows you to look at your daily energy use, so you can make sure you are operating at your baseload on holidays, when the building is vacant.

 

scheduling

 

This image shows that the building was not operating at its baseload on the holiday, but that the consumption is lower than an average workday. It is quite possible that the plug-load was not as high as normal because lights and computers weren’t turned on, but that the HVAC still started and ran as normal, wasting energy.

 

2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ECONOMIZERS:

 

The Trick:

On spring or fall days when it’s between 50 and 60 degrees in the morning, you should be utilizing that fresh air. By operating your building on an economizer, you keep your building at a comfortable temperature without using any electric heat or mechanical cooling. For up to 60 days each year, depending on the location of your building, you should be able to operate solely on air from the economizer.

When the outside temperature rises to around 65 degrees in the middle of the day, tenants fully occupy the building, and computers and lights turn on, the economizer may no longer be enough to cool the building. Every extra hour you can leave the economizer open is an hour that you do not have to run the building at a full load, which is especially beneficial during peak operating hours. If you want to raise tenant satisfaction and lower bills, you should utilize fresh air.

 

Economizer

 

How Real-Time Data Helps:

If economizers stay on when the outside temperature is higher than 60, it becomes much more energy intensive to cool down the building as the economizer is bringing in hot air that constantly needs to be cooled down.

Real-time data will alert you immediately if your economizers are not operating correctly. You can continuously check a real-time data platform to show how much less energy you are spending when using outside air and use weather normalization to see when economizers are most efficient.


3. IMPLEMENT LOCKOUTS:

 

The Trick:

If it is less than 63 degrees outside, there is no reason there should be any mechanical cooling in your building. Likewise, if the outside temperature is greater than 47 degrees then you shouldn’t be heating your building. To ensure that these standards are held, you can implement lockouts that will keep equipment from running, depending on the outside temperature.

 

How Real-Time Data Helps:

Locking out heat and cooling when they aren’t necessary is a great way to save energy, but sometimes lockouts don’t occur as planned. Real-time data can help by alerting you if equipment is running when there is supposed to be a lockout. So when the temperature suddenly rises one day in December, you can use real-time data to see if the lockout applied.


4. AVOID COINCIDENT RUNS:

 

The Trick:

You’d be surprised how often buildings have their heaters and air conditioners running at the same time. These two operations obviously cancel each other out, and coincident runs can be costly when they aren’t caught quickly.

 

How Real-Time Data Helps:

With submetered data, you can separate heaters and chillers to make sure they are operating when they are supposed to be. Even without submeters, you can tell by fluctuations in energy consumption when equipment may be running that isn’t supposed to be. As Dunfee stated during the webinar, “If you understand your cooling and mechanical loads, and what they look like on your daily load profile, [you will notice] if you have simultaneous heating and cooling [when] it shows up on your screen.”


5. LOWER YOUR BASELOAD:

 

The Trick:

At night or on the weekend when you building is “off,” what equipment is still “on”? The answer is probably too much. Your baseload includes your water pumps, elevators when they aren’t running, safety lights, and anything else that is necessary to keep your building’s heart pulsing when it’s asleep. The goal is to use as little energy as possible when no one is occupying the building.

When you lower your baseloads, you will decrease bills, increase equipment life expectancy, and increase tenant satisfaction.

 

How Real-Time Data Helps:

If you have taken initial steps to lower your baseload, great job! However, you need to use real-time data to make sure the baseload stays down. Tenants change, equipment breaks, and efficiency tends to regress to the mean if you don’t consistently monitor it. It also allows you toseevariation in your base load that you can reduce. Ideally,base load should show very little variation over the course of the night.

base_load_variation

Real-time data is especially helpful when you can centralize information regarding your whole portfolio. Once you normalize buildings by square feet and weather, you can compare baseloads to see if one building’s is dramatically higher than its peers.

high_baseload

Knowing the tricks for reducing energy consumption are helpful, but every building is different. Changes that lead to dramatic savings in one building may not impact the next. With real-time data you can keep track of your energy projects to see which ones are effective and where the pain-points specific to your building really are.

Watch this webinar
 for more best practices for managing energy consumption using real-time data.

Download a one-page summary of the webinar.
Energy Consumption, energy data, Energy Efficiency, Energy Monitoring, real-time data, Real-time energy management

About The Author

When Samantha isn’t writing for the blog or managing our HR like a champ, she studies Organizational Psychology at George Washington University.