Explaining Maintenance Needs to Owners

September 1, 2008
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Michael Bobker (left), of the CUNY Building Performance Lab, and Adam Hinge, P.E., with Sustainable Energy Partnerships, are both members of ASHRAE Technical Resource Group (TRG) 7. They would like to hear more from contractors about their experiences convincing owners about the efficiency benefits of having their equipment maintained.

SALT LAKE CITY - It is commonly known that regular maintenance helps mechanical systems live longer, but how about the effects of maintenance on system efficiency and sustainability? A seminar at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) offered contractors a way to justify maintenance with efficiency gains.

The group presenting Tools for Sustainable Building Operations, Maintenance and Cost Analysis, TRG 7, is developing tools for building owners, operators, and maintenance personnel that will promote “sustainable construction, operation, and renewal.”

Speaker Michael Bobker, of the CUNY Building Performance Lab, discussed training, operation, and tools. He covered the influence of management’s view of operations and maintenance (O&M), and the metrics of performance evaluation. “We design buildings,” said Bobker of the engineering community. “We have neglected those who drive the building.”

One future trend he predicted is the creation of energy models for buildings. “All of our buildings will get energy models.” What that means, and what the ramifications will be if a building doesn’t live up to its model, remains to be seen. “How do you normalize energy?”

Maintenance and operation activities to date have been performed mainly in response to occupant responses. “The best building operators understand that addressing a complaint is not just getting the party to be quiet,” Bobker said.

Systems integration and BAS can have profound effects on validating system operation, he said. “We need to teach operators how to use data analysis.”

The push to O&M analysis, he said, will help in the understanding of a neglected area of building design. “We may even want to get young engineers working in operations for a while. God forbid, they will be better designers in the long run.”

INFORMING MANAGEMENT

The second speaker was Janice Peterson, P.E., LEED-AP, formerly a mechanical engineer in the field with 25 years of experience. Now she is with the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Portland, Ore. Her topic was Effectiveness of Operations and Maintenance Procedures. Information, she pointed out, is a key link to gaining management support.

The society may conduct research and develop guidance to enhance the effectiveness of operation and maintenance procedures. “There is a widespread recognition of potential benefits [of maintenance],” she said. “It is pretty widely accepted that building O&M improvements are going to be the next big area of building improvements. Building owners still need information on these very real benefits.”

According to Peterson, they can expect to save 10-15 percent in energy efficiency with improvements in building maintenance. There also are benefits of increasing comfort and tenant satisfaction. In fact, there are benefits to the total cost of ownership of the building - savings over total life rather than short-term paybacks.

Owners might be more receptive to discussing maintenance in terms of asset valuation, which is important in the real estate world. This would be reflected in a growing trend toward building labeling, similar to what is already going on in Europe.

“There is a need for better metrics at both the management and building operator level,” she said. “There is a need to distill the information down, and get better usable, actionable information into the hands of building operators.

“What gets measured, gets done,” Peterson said. “What doesn’t get measured, gets ignored.”

Resources for validating maintenance costs include Energy Star, a portable manager benchmarking tool, and a financial evaluation using a building upgrade value calculator, cash flow opportunity calculator, and financial value calculator. For a specifications guide for performance monitoring systems, visit http://cbs.lbl.gov. It offers “what you should measure and what you should track,” Peterson said. “It is valuable for measuring lifetime building performance.”

A building performance visualization tool also is available from www.betterbricks.com, which provides information for building operators and mechanical contractors. According to Peterson, this whole-building key performance indicator (KPI) tool provides a comparison of all the proprietary, energy benchmarking and counting programs, plus regional tools.

In addition, a symptom diagnosis tool provides “a way for a building operator who notices certain situations that can indicate energy waste to get clarification on what the root cause might be,” she said. “Adoption of high-performance O&M depends on policies and practices put in place by upper-level management,” Peterson said. The implementation requires new dimensions of accountability - “a move away from complaint-based operational response.”

THE LIFECYCLE

Adam Hinge, P.E., with Sustainable Energy Partnerships, Tarrytown, N.Y., discussed Lifecycle Cost Analysis, and more. He sees a future with tools for owners, operators, and maintenance personnel.

The key, he said, is not to try to cut too wide of a swath. “If you try to be too broad, you accomplish nothing. We’re not looking for the cradle-to-grave, full product lifecycle analysis; just the owner and operating level.” It is critical to provide lifecycle cost analyses that assist decision makers. ASHRAE’s O&M cost database, he said, can be viewed online at http://xp20.ashrae.org.

Getting the data to the decision makers is the key.

“Sustainable O&M can apply to all buildings,” he added. “At some level, operating the building at the lowest economic and environmental lifecycle cost, without sacrificing safety or functionality, is the goal.

Sidebar: Achievements

SALT LAKE CITY - The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recognized several members for contributions to ASHRAE and the HVACR industry at the society’s 2008 Annual Meeting, June 21-25.

The Louise and Bill Holladay Distinguished Fellow Award honors an ASHRAE Fellow for continuous pre-eminence in engineering or research work. The recipient is presidential member James E. Hill, Ph.D., Fellow ASHRAE, Moneta, Va.

The Andrew T. Boggs Service Award recognizes a past Distinguished Service Award recipient for continuing, unselfish, dedicated and distinguished service. The recipient is presidential member Donald G. Rich, Fellow ASHRAE, retired from Carrier-UTC, Fayetteville, N.Y.

The Exceptional Service Award recognizes Distinguished Award recipients who have continued to serve the society faithfully and with exemplary effort. Ten recipients were recognized: William P. Bahnfleth, Ph.D., P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, a professor of architectural engineering and director of the Indoor Environment Center, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.; Michael F. Beda, P.E., president, Process Equipment Co., Tulsa, Okla.; Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng., assistant vice president (Facility Management and Planning), Carleton University, Ottawa; presidential member H.E. “Barney” Burroughs, Fellow ASHRAE, CEO and president, Building Wellness Consultancy, Alpharetta, Ga.; Kenneth W. Cooper, Ph.D., Fellow ASHRAE, director, special projects, PoolPak International, York, Pa.; presidential member Harley W. (Bill) Goodman Jr., P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, president, Goodman Engineers, Little Rock, Ark.; Maureen Grasso, Ph.D., Fellow ASHRAE, dean, the Graduate School, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.; Birol I. Kilkis, Ph.D., Fellow ASHRAE, Scientific Committee member, European Union HEGEL Poly-Generation Project, Ankara, Turkey, and Torino, Italy; Stanley L. Leitsch, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, Audubon, Pa.; and Michael Woodford assistant vice president, Standards, Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, Arlington, Va.

SUSTAINABLE NEWS
ASHRAE launched a new certification program this year: high-performance building design professional. Candidates who earn the certification will have demonstrated a well-rounded understanding and knowledge of how HVACR design is integrated into high-performing buildings to achieve the overall goal of producing a sustainable design.

In efforts to leave a “sustainable footprint” in the cities where meetings take place, ASHRAE launched a program in Salt Lake City to provide technical and financial support for a sustainable project in the cities. Beginning with this meeting, the society is seeking donations from meeting attendees to go toward supporting a local green project or green enhancement to an existing project.

The chosen project for Salt Lake was installation of a solar domestic water heating system at the YWCA of Salt Lake City’s Teen Home. The system is designed to help reduce the annual operating costs of the facility and reduce the environmental impact of the current heating system.

For information on the new certification, visit www.ashrae.org.

Publication date: 09/01/2008

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