T.M. Bier & Associates
Winter Newsletter - Building Management Bulletin
Message from the President –
The Carbon War Room Takes Aim at High Energy Consumption: First Shots Fired
Financial Incentives Await
There is one war we should all be fighting – the war against high-energy consumption. Recently, a business consortium, which included Lockheed Martin and Barclays Bank, announced its plans to invest up to $650 million, over the next few years, to reduce energy consumption by commercial buildings. The coalition will begin their endeavors in Miami and Sacramento. The initiative is being touted as one of the most ambitious motivators for commercial property owners to upgrade their buildings for energy efficiency.
The consortium developed from the efforts of the Carbon War Room, a nonprofit environmental group based in Washington, DC. The Carbon War Group, founded by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, mission is to address the world’s climate and energy problems using cost-saving measures. At the heart of the consortium’s approach, is a new tax arrangement that enables property owners to upgrade their buildings and as a result gain a one-third reduction in their energy use and utility bills without incurring any upfront costs.
Here is how it works: The property owner would pay for their building’s energy upgrades over a period of five to 20 years through surcharges on their property tax bills, which would ultimately be less than the savings gained. These upgrades can encompass new windows, doors, energy-efficient lighting, sensors and mechanical systems, and in some instances, renewable energy systems such as solar panels. For larger projects, Lockheed Martin is likely to provide the required engineering services. To assist in funding, Barclays will be providing short-term loans to help finance the upgrades. As part of the initiative, contractors involved in the upgrades will be required to offer a warranty, assuring the utility savings they provided. The warranty will be backed by insurance provided by Energi, a Massachusetts underwriter. The reinsurer, Hannover Re, will back Energi’s insurance policies. There is absolutely no downside at all, which is why businesses and government are joining forces behind this tactic in the war against high-energy consumptions and costs.
What’s needed now is for more commercial building owners to mobilize and recognize that by upgrading their buildings for energy efficiency, they are not only lowering their cost of doing business, they are also reducing their building’s carbon footprint and helping advance a position energy policy for our nation. To date, 50% of the states have passed legislation allowing energy retrofits financed by property tax surcharges. Across the nation, many local governments (i.e., towns, counties, and cities) are also considering this allowance. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has long been associated with bold energy-saving initiatives. His energy benchmark law requiring commercial and residential buildings of 50,000 square feet or larger to benchmark their total water and energy consumption was a step in the right direction. His plan to build solar panels along city landfills and create a city-operated nonprofit to assist building owners fund green upgrades are other well-intended initiatives. At TMBA, we are behind all of these measures and especially applaud this latest initiative by the Carbon War Room consortium.
Right now, we are at war against our environment and we are all losing. It is time to take control of high-energy consumption and costs. There is no reason for every commercial property owner not to consider energy upgrades especially in view of this favorable tax arrangement.
Focus on Technology –
“Strengthen Your Building’s Core with a Building Automation System”
Based on an ABI Research report, the building automation systems (BAS) market is expected to reach $36 billion worldwide by 2015. The steady growth in BAS applications is not surprising. This technology continues to demonstrate a high return on investment for building owners across all categories – commercial, industrial, healthcare, educational, retail, residential and government. Considering that commercial buildings account for an estimated 20% of the nation’s total energy consumption (Source: SustainableBusiness.com), commercial building owners are embracing BAS technology. They are embracing BAS technology both for the energy savings they produce – between 5 to 15% of a new building’s total energy consumption and as high as 30% for retrofits (Source: National Grid, “Maintaining Energy Costs in Office Buildings) – and the many other benefits they provide. For these reasons, every building owner/manager should understand BAS basics.
The components of a BAS include:
• A human interface device such as a computer workstation
• Web server
• Primary communication link (“bus”) for programmable logic controllers
• Secondary bus for central plant, boiler, package unit and lighting controllers, as well as, BACnet (Building Automation Control network) device or wireless network device
• Other devices such as variable air volume boxes, variable speed drives, etc.
The design and installation of a BAS follows various industry protocols and standards such as those promulgated by the ASHRAE, BACnet, and Energy Star program.
The functions of a BAS include:
• Automatically controlling HVAC, lighting and security systems;
• Automatically turning on and off equipment based on building usage patterns and related requirements;
• Automatically resetting equipment to maintain optimum loads based on building occupancy and weather conditions;
• Automatically monitoring building systems and various data relating to temperatures, air flows, pressures, etc. to determine proper equipment performance and/or diagnosing and troubleshooting system faults such as out-of-specification temperatures, HVAC chiller short cycling, excessive/repetitive master heating and cooling calls; etc., and
• Giving building/facility managers and staff computer access (onsite or remotely) to real time data on information for optimum building operations, covering everything from building security and lighting to HVAC operations.
Through data provided by the BAS, building/facility managers cannot only better control their building’s equipment, but they can also gain insight, which can help them adopt new strategies for improved building management. For example, the data may demonstrate a need to modify a building’s security systems to better secure critical areas, or modify a building’s lighting schedules based on changes in occupancy schedules in various parts of the building.
“BAS Delivers Intelligent Building Benefits”
The American Intelligent Buildings Institute (AIBI) once defined an intelligent building as “the structure, systems, services, operations and interrelationship of a comprehensive an integrated, and the best combination, obtained by high efficiency, high performance, and high comfort building.” Today, that definition must include the application of a BAS, which integrates controls and optimizes multiple technologies in an intelligent way to deliver key benefits across primary areas of:
• Building performance reliability;
• Building comfort, security and operational optimization;
• Energy savings;
• Building equipment life span optimization;
• Occupant comfort; and
• Building/facility management’s productivity and efficiency.
Local College Turns Small Investment into Big Savings
Spotlight on: Packer Collegiate Institute
New York, NY…
T.M. Bier & Associates, Inc. (TMBA, Glen Cove, NY, www.tmba.com), one of the New York area’s leading independent controls systems engineering companies, recently completed a major building automation and control system project on behalf of Packer Collegiate Institute (Brooklyn, NY). Packer Collegiate Institute, an independent, college preparatory day school, installed the systems with intent to advance the school’s ongoing commitment to a “green facility” and community. The project included the installation of a fully customized Andover Building Automation System, occupancy and schedule-based lighting controls, and custom energy control applications. TMBA, an organization that has had an eight-year relationship with Packer Collegiate, welcomed the opportunity to provide its latest generation technology and techniques to effect significant environmental, operational, and financial benefits.
“Packer’s Board of Trustees and chief engineer James Dolan have been exceptionally receptive to reducing their energy consumption and overall carbon footprint,” said TMBA President Ted Bier. “The school is very active and committed to being green – continually expanding their building management system since the original project began eight years ago.”
In the latest application developments at Packer Collegiate, TMBA’s project engineer collaborated with Dolan to focus on ways to secure even more savings for the years ahead. Each system element has a specific function. The Andover Building Automation System is designed to control and monitor the school’s heating, air conditioning, ventilating, lighting controls and system start-up. The system uses a “free cooling” concept, using outside air temperature and humidity (enthalpy) sensors to determine whether to bring in outside air or run compressors to cool the facility. In this way, energy is saved by not having to run the compressors if the outside air temperature and humidity are conducive.
In regards to lighting, TMBA effected the integration of the building automation system with third-party lighting controls, which achieves a centralized scheduling of the school’s lighting from one location, continuous monitoring of the lighting’s on/off status, and remote control of the lighting via the Internet.
To maximize the building’s energy conservation, an “optimum start” of its equipment was designed. Through this approach, equipment starts slowly in a specific sequence to bring the building to the correct temperature settings prior to the arrival of staff, students, etc. The optimum start technology also relies on the building’s systems start-up history to learn the most efficient equipment start-up sequence. Other key elements of TMBA’s solution for Packer Collegiate included integrated HVAC maintenance monitoring and control, occupancy-based lighting controls for turning on and off lights based on a local room occupancy switch, and remote monitoring which enables operators to dial into the system and monitor all equipment from outside the facility when necessary.
Cumulatively, all of these improvements are contributing both to the school’s significantly lower operating costs; in addition, to building management efficiency since the building now can be easily managed by one person.
“Packer’s staff and Board of Directors’ goal for the building management system installation was to save energy, protect the environment and improve comfort,” continued Bier. “Since 2008, the school has significantly reduced its annual electric consumption from the previous years. With each building management system upgrade, there is a pronounced improvement in their energy reduction.”
Bier noted that the work TMBA performed at Packer Collegiate could easily be replicated at countless other local area schools operating with constrained budgets. “This is a situation where a modest investment in building managements systems can return measurable savings in energy and operating costs,” added Bier.
Variable Frequency Drives Increase Comfort, Decrease Operating Costs
Used in conjunction with a Building Automation System (BAS), variable frequency drives (VFDs) help improve the control of your building’s HVAC equipment. VFDs enable the BAS to change the speeds of equipment motors, fans and pumps used to heat and cool a building. VFDs operate based on demand: the higher the demand, the faster the speed, the lower the demand, the slower the speed. Unlike valves and dampers which require anywhere from 0.2 to 2 seconds to begin moving, VFDs have no measurable dead time. When properly applied, VFDs promote greater comfort, reduced wear and tear on equipment, and lower operating, utility and equipment maintenance costs.
To achieve the best results using VFDs, best practices should be followed. The right type of VFD should be selected according to the application. For example, in applications requiring flow or pressure control, voltage-source, pulse-width modulated frequency converters are ideal. This type of VFD can effectively match the motor speed to the load requirement thereby eliminating costly, energy-consuming ancillary components such as throttle valves or bypass systems.
Additionally, careful consideration should be given to properly sizing of all components (i.e., hydraulic system, pump and motor) in order to determine the peak power and speed for the drive. When retrofitting with VFDs, matching to actual system requirement can result in much higher energy savings. Similarly, in retrofits involving the addition of a VFD to an existing motor, focus should be on matching the electrical characteristics of the motor.
Other considerations when applying VFDs include the use of high resolution input cards, larger motor frame sizes, separate trays for instrumentation and VFD cables, correct setting of deadband and velocity limiting in the drive electronics, and establishing a drive control strategy to meet range/speed regulation needs. By applying these and other best practices, a consistent process control can be achieved which, in turn, delivers improved equipment reliability and increased energy savings.
From the Hill
-Administration’s Better Buildings Challenge builds on the energy-efficiency investments in the Recovery Act and intends to make commercial facilities 20 percent more efficient by 2020. There are also measures planned to greater industrial-side energy efficiency. U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu discussed the initiative this past June at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Chicago. Secretary Chu outlined the initiative designed to motivate private sector investment in commercial building upgrades such as called for by the Carbon War Room (see Message from the President in this newsletter). The goal extends beyond saving energy and related costs, to creating jobs – particularly for construction workers and contractors. The Administration’s broader goals are to save $40 billion annually in energy costs, as well as help businesses grow, invest in new technologies, and create jobs.
-As of January 1, 2011 in California and January 1, 2012 for the rest of the United States, incandescent light bulbs must meet more stringent lumens/watt requirements – specifically, they must produce the same amount of lumens (light output) for less wattage (energy). Initially, the changes will start with 100-watt incandescent light bulbs, which must now use no more than 72 watts to product a comparable brightness. Over the next several years, additional bulbs will be come under the regulation.
-The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners adopted a resolution designed to promote energy-efficiency improvement in commercial buildings. The resolution encourages state public utility commissions (PUCs) to offer commercial building owners, with access to whole-building, energy-consumption data intended to help them improve the energy efficiency of their buildings as well as comply with the growing number of state/local mandatory benchmarking and disclosure requirements.
Action & Advocacy
-T.M. Bier & Associates, Inc. Sponsors Blue Ocean Institute President Dr. Carl Safina Lecture in the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University’s
T.M. Bier & Associates, Inc. recently served as the corporate sponsor for a lecture presented by MacArthur Prize-winning scientist/author Dr. Carl Safina, founding president of the Blue Ocean Institute (Cold Spring Harbor, NY, www.blueocean.org). The lecture was one in the “Provost Distinguished Lecture Series” presented by the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University (www.liu.edu/cwpost, Brookville, NY). In his lecture, titled, “Caught in the Same Net: The Ocean and Us,” Dr. Safina discussed how science has ethical implications, how religion and science are converging toward common cause on environmental matters, and how moral responses can add momentum toward increasingly crucial solutions. Pictured here at the recent lecture are C.W. Post Professor of Geography Dr. Scott Carlin, Blue Ocean Institute President Dr. Carl Safina, T.M. Bier & Associates President Ted Bier, and C.W. Post Campus Provost Dr.Paul Forestell.