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March 19, 2012: ASHRAE Building Labeling Program to Help Building Owners Save Energy

March 19, 2012
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ATLANTA — To help building owners reduce their energy costs, a new building labeling program is available from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) that not only rates buildings according to the in-operation energy use but also provides owners with suggested measures that can improve energy efficiency. The Building Energy Quotient (bEQ) program assigns to buildings an energy usage quotient based on completion of an in-operation assessment that includes an ASHRAE Level I Energy Audit.

“bEQ lets a commercial building owner zero in on opportunities to lower building operating cost and make informed decisions to increase value,” said Tom Phoenix, P.E., a consulting engineer in Greensboro, N.C., who chairs the bEQ committee. “The ultimate goal of the program is to encourage more energy efficient buildings and give owners more control over rising energy costs.”

The key component of the program is the in-operation assessment and the ASHRAE Level I Energy Audit, which serves as the standard for determining a building’s energy use and producing an actionable plan to improve building performance. To meet bEQ’s requirements, the assessment must be performed by an ASHRAE-certified Building Energy Assessment Professional who will:

• Perform a walk-through survey to become familiar with building construction, equipment, operation and maintenance.

• Meet with the owner and operator to learn of special problems or planned improvements and operation or maintenance issues.

• Complete a space function analysis and determine whether efficiency may be affected by functions that differ from the original functional intent of the building.

• Identify low-cost/no-cost changes to the facility or to operations and maintenance procedures that will result from these changes with their approximate savings.

• Provide a summary of special problems or needs including possible revisions to operations and maintenance procedures.

• Recommend potential capital improvements and provide an estimate of potential costs and savings.

Registrants in the bEQ program receive:

• The bEQ In Operation Workbook of the complete building analysis.

• The bEQ Certificate presenting key building performance factors for operations staff.

• The bEQ Dashboard illustrating the level of In Operation performance.

• The bEQ Plaque showing the building rating for public display.

“The bEQ documentation provides data on actual energy use and other information that will allow owners to evaluate and reduce their buildings’ energy consumption,” Phoenix said. “When all the facts on a building’s energy use are known, an owner can make informed decisions to manage energy use.”

“bEQ demonstrates corporate responsibility to employees, tenants, investors, and the public,” he said. “The certificate provides the necessary documentation to meet disclosure requirements for building and real estate transactions,” he added.

bEQ was introduced two years ago as a pilot program with the intent of providing an easily understood scale to convey a building’s energy use in comparison to similar buildings and climate zones, while also providing building owners with building-specific information that highlights potential energy saving opportunities. Under the program, buildings are eligible to receive an In Operation rating as long as the building has at least 12 months of consecutive energy use data. The rating is based on the building and how it is operated.

“Information on a building's energy use is the critical first step in making the necessary changes and choices to reduce energy use and costs,” Phoenix said.

ASHRAE noted that building energy use disclosure is already mandatory in California; Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; Washington State; the European Union; and Australia.

For more information, visit www.buildingenergyquotient.com.

Publication date: 03/19/2012

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