RCx to "Unlock Efficiency" at NFMT Conference March 2012

Many facility managers and building owners have “run the numbers” and researched the effectiveness of energy reduction in their buildings.  Not to mention, it also increases the value of an existing building, reduces risks associated with downtime, and reduces regular operating costs- which can now be viewed as controllable costs.  Oftentimes, due to certain types of energy analysis and building and operations detective work, we are able to reduce current energy consumption in existing buildings by anywhere from 15 – 40%.

Well, the market realizes that there is a significant opportunity out there to make a change, but no one is educating the masses on where to start and what kinds of solutions may be applicable to your specific building and BUDGET.

Come and see us speak on this subject at the **FREE to attend** NFM&T conference in Baltimore, MD.

Unlocking Efficiency: Keys to a Successful Energy Management Program

Thursday March 15th, 2012.

3:10 – 4:00pm

Room 339

Our engineers and industry experts will be presenting:

  1. the development and implementation of an energy-management program
    • key components will be outlined
    • overview of where and how to start managing your facility’s energy use
    • determine current energy consumption
  2. the differences (and similarities) between energy-audits and retrocommissioning
    • when/if either of these services might be applicable
    • what to expect from either service
    • what to look for in a qualified energy auditor or retrocommissioning agent

While we hope to see you in our audience as we speak at NFM&T, if your schedule is tight, we also will be available to answer any of your questions at our BOOTH  #2266 at any time that the exhibit hall is open (Tues – Thurs).

If unable to make it to the Baltimore area for the show, please feel free to contact us through our website, or by email: info@rcxbd.com and we will answer your questions as soon as possible!

Better Buildings Initiative

Last year the Home Star Act was introduced has since become part of the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010. The purpose of the Home Star program is to create new green jobs by incentivizing energy efficiency improvements in residential buildings using rebates. The program would offer rebates for energy efficient appliances, upgrades to residential mechanical systems, insulation, and whole home energy efficiency retrofits. The $6 billion Home Star Act is currently before the senate. The issue that some have had with the act is that it only addresses energy efficiency improvements in residential buildings and does not encourage energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

Earlier this year, President Obama announced the Better Buildings Initiative, which has the overall goal of making commercial buildings 20% more energy efficient by 2020, saving businesses a total of $40 billion dollars annually. Commercial buildings were responsible for 20% of the total energy used by the U.S. economy in 2010, therefore addressing commercial building energy efficiency is vital to significantly, improving the overall energy efficiency of the country. The President plans on achieving success with the Better Buildings Initiatives through a series of strategies.

The current Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction, which is part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, will be changed to a tax credit and will be more generous. The tax deduction allows commercial buildings to deduct between $0.30 and $1.80 per square foot based on energy efficiency upgrades implemented in the building. Additionally, real estate investment trusts (REITs) will now be able to take advantage of the tax credit. Changing the incentive from a tax deduction to a credit greatly improves the value of the tax incentive to building owners.

President Obama is also seeking to increase the number of financing opportunities available for commercial retrofits. Lack of financing opportunities has been a hurdle for some building owners. The Small Business Administration is working with lenders to take advantage of increased loan size limits to encourage new energy efficiency retrofit loans for small businesses. Additionally, the President’s Budget will introduce a new pilot program through the DOE to guarantee loans for some commercial buildings.   

States and local governments typically have control over building codes, regulations, and performance standards. President Obama plants to incentivize states and localities with competitive grants, to streamline energy efficiency standards, encouraging building upgrades and attracting private sector investment.

The President is reaching out through the Better Buildings Challenge to leaders in the commercial and university sectors to make their organizations more energy efficient. Organizations that become partners in the challenge will commit to making their buildings more efficient. Partners will become eligible for benefits such as technical assistance, information on best practices being used by peers, and public recognition. 

The last piece of the initiative is to train all of the workers who will be needed to perform the upgrades. The Administration is currently working on creating a Building Construction Technology Extension Partnership that would provide workforce training in areas that will be in high demand in the future, such as energy auditing.

Although the White House still has not announced the budget for the program, according to the Wall Street Journal, President Obama has said he would like to fund the program by increasing taxes for oil and natural gas companies.

The details of the Better Buildings Initiative still have to be formulated, but there are several issues to consider when determining how effective the President will be in laying the ground work for a 20% reduction in commercial building energy consumption.

The initiative provides incentives for implementing energy efficient upgrades, rather than creating penalties for not becoming energy efficient. Commercial building owners are not forced to do anything.  Although owners may end up paying more over the long run as a  result of higher energy bills, incentives tend to result in less action than penalties.

Additionally, projects that do not have the greatest return on investment may be prioritized over more economical projects. When it comes to energy projects, people often choose to implement the “sexy” projects that will draw attention to their sustainability efforts, such as solar panels, rather lower cost more effective measures, such as building controls. A standardized analysis should be required prior to any building applying for financing or tax incentives and project with a qualifying return on investment should be given priority.

Providing funding for or requiring Energy Audits to be performed prior to receiving any funding or tax credits would ensure that the maximum reduction in energy consumption is achieved per dollar invested in the program. Through Energy Audits, building owners would become educated on their building’s current energy use and on which potential energy efficient projects will provide them with the greatest savings. Often projects which are perceived to yield significant energy savings, do not. Additionally, this would drive the demand for Energy Auditors, which would in turn result in a larger green workforce.

Reducing the energy consumption of commercial buildings by 20% over ten years is an ambitious endeavor. Actively engaging all kinds of commercial building types is imperative to achieving the goal of the Better Buildings Initiative. The amount of funding the bill receives

The Difference between Energy Audits & Retrocommissioning

Many property managers have been struggling to reduce operating costs by improving the energy efficiency in their buildings.  For many owners and operators, an Energy Audit or Retrocommissioning project is the perfect starting point. However, it can be difficult to understand the difference between the two processes, and to determine the best option for your building.

An Energy Audit is meant to inform a building manager how well a building is performing from an energy consumption standpoint.  The audit report includes a list of energy-saving measures one may choose to implement, including the payback and annual energy savings associated with each measure. An energy auditor will examine at least one year of energy bills to understand how the building consumes energy throughout the various seasons. Then they will use that data to benchmark the building’s energy use as compared to similar buildings in the area.

The auditor will also analyze all of the building systems in place and their operating schedules, breaking down the building’s total energy consumption by use (i.e. lighting, heating/cooling, outlet plug loads, etc). The scope of an Energy Audit can also be expanded to include a review of water use, if a building manager is interested in reducing water consumption.

The final product of an Energy Audit is a report explaining how the building is currently performing and providing a list of no cost, low-cost, and capital-cost energy conservation opportunities.  Building owners that want to understand and reduce their energy consumption should invest in an Energy Audit.

The Retrocommissioning process systematically analyzes and fine-tunes an existing building’s individual systems as well as all operation and maintenance (O&M) procedures. Unlike an Energy Audit, energy reduction is not the sole goal of Retrocommissioning. The precise goals of a Retrocommissioning project can vary between projects, but can include any combination of the following: extending the life of equipment, improving comfort of a building for its occupants, improving indoor air quality, improving the effectiveness of operation and maintenance procedures (thus reducing a facility manager’s time spent on unplanned maintenance), reducing utility bills, reducing energy consumption, and reducing the number of complaints from building occupants.

The outcome of Retrocommissioning is a more comfortable and efficient building and a guide for operating and maintaining it. Candidates for Retrocommissioning include: buildings where the occupancy and use has changed since the building was constructed, buildings that have occupant comfort issues, and buildings that need to reduce energy consumption.

Both an Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning will lower a building’s operating cost and improve a property’s value. Before taking on any building performance improvement project, it is vital for a building owner or operator to outline the goals s/he hopes to achieve in order to choose the best course of action for building improvement.