ACHRNEWS

Going Green Can Earn Customers Some Green

May 9, 2002
WASHINGTON, DC — The Earth Technologies Forum’s executive summit on “Building Air Conditioning Investment: Save Money and Protect the Environment,” also included several breakout sessions to provide more information on the financial and environmental benefits of energy efficiency.

COST ANALYSIS

In the session “Operating Cost Analysis: Investing in Building Energy Efficiency Produces a High Rate of Return With Low Risk,” Drury Crawley of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided a presentation on software tools for evaluating energy- efficiency investments.

He went through a list of various DOE software tools for building research and simulation, then introduced three that attendees might find most useful:

  • Energy-10 — for conceptual design of small commercial and institutional buildings;

  • Building Design Advisor — a common interface to other tools for energy, lighting, and daylighting; and

  • EnergyPlus — a new-generation simulation engine to replace its DOE-2 and BLAST software.

    Regarding Energy-10 for smaller buildings, Crawley said that “76 percent of non-residential buildings are less than 10,000 square feet.” Its major simulation features include AutoBuild, which defines all building inputs and defaults; Apply, which automatically applies energy-efficient strategies to the base building; and Rank, which determines the relative ranking and cost-effectiveness of these strategies.

    Building Design Advisor is designed as an interface to other building software tools for energy simulation and the like. It provides a single interface for all connected programs; there’s no need to learn separate software, he said. Its features include graphic input and output, and comparison of multiple solutions.

    The DOE’s new building simulation software, EnergyPlus, combines the best features of DOE-2 and BLAST, and provides new capabilities, said Crawley. This program’s major features include heat (and mass) balance; simultaneous loads/building simulation; multiple time steps; and simple input/ output. New features include fully integrated loads and hvac simulation; occupant comfort; moisture storage and release; and mixing and matching of equipment and systems.

    More information on these three software tools is available at the following websites:

  • Energy-10 — $250 with training included — www.sbicouncil.org

  • Building Design Advisor — available at no charge — gaia.lbl.gov/BDA

  • EnergyPlus — available at no charge — www.energyplus.gov

    He also noted that information on more than 220 building energy-related software tools can be found at the Building Energy Tools Directory (www.energytoolsdirectory.gov).

    HOW ENERGY STAR BUILDINGS EARN MONEY

    Jean Lupinacci of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) then discussed how applying the Energy Star® buildings program can earn money for owners.

    She said that 15% to 20% of CO2 emissions come from buildings. Companies can enhance their corporate reputation and differentiate themselves in a market by implementing Energy Star’s elements.

    Looking more specifically at economic benefit, Lupinacci said an EPA analysis examined the financial performance of Energy Star buildings. It found that this program improved the profitability of these companies by 10% through their pursuit of good energy management practices.

    She said that there is an increase in net income of $6.25 for every $1.00 a hotel invests in energy performance. For example, the energy savings that the Starwood chain attained was equivalent to renting 9,370 rooms in 2001.

    There is a savings of $4.00 for every $1.00 a school spends on improving energy efficiency, she continued. There is a boost in profit margin of 6% for every 10% reduction that a supermarket achieves in energy costs.

    “Energy Star is a results-oriented energy management strategy,” Lupinacci asserted. Many people don’t have comparative knowledge on energy use. This program provides benchmarking and a rating system to measure performance. It supplies a whole building approach to energy efficiency from lighting to hvac plant improvements.

    MAKING ENERGY STAR WORK

    Pat Mullins of Hines (Dallas, TX) described how Energy Star is working and benefiting his company. “We had a strong energy management program, but we didn’t know where we were at compared to others,” he said.

    His firm’s strategies in implementing energy management include:

    1. Research and invest in new products and systems based on their improvements to operations;

    2. Determine first-cost efficiency;

    3. Verification of performance;

    4. Effective training on equipment and controls;

    5. Close monitoring and tracking of energy use;

    6. Evaluate data and recommend changes to improve operations; and

    7. Accountability of energy management results.

    Initially, Hines didn’t apply Energy Star, but Mullins said that it meshes well with the company’s original approach and it gives management comparability. He believes that the program “provides value to our investors.”

    A GREEN ANALYSIS

    In the session titled “Environmental Analysis: Documenting the Environmental Benefit,” Robert Watson of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) described the LEED™ green building rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council, a building industry coalition that includes hvac manufacturers.

    LEED defines the attributes that make up a green building. It applies to commercial and high-rise residential buildings, and includes new buildings, retrofits, and existing buildings. LEED projects comprise 2.5% to 3% of the buildings in the commercial market, he said.

    Energy-efficient chillers are an important component of the program as well as the new refrigerants. A LEED building must meet ASHRAE standards and use no CFCs. For more information on the program, go to www.leedbuilding.org (website).

    ASHRAE’S GREEN BUILDING GUIDELINE

    Jim Wolf of American Standard, who is also past president of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), then reported on the association’s progress in developing a new Green Building Guideline.

    The hvacr industry has been discussing climate change concerns, he said. But there has been no agreement on exactly what “green” means and exactly what sustainability means. Wolf stated that the LEED program is focused on design, while Energy Star is performance driven. With its guideline, ASHRAE has taken these programs and incorporated other factors like indoor air quality. The attempt is to fill the gaps that others aren’t filling, he commented.

    The Green Building Guideline is a holistic approach that addresses designers, owners, builders, and contractors, Wolf noted. There are 20 chapters. The first four cover the basics: a definition of green and sustainability; the motivation for doing this; the fundamentals including formulas and relationships; and elements of the design process.

    The guide then goes into concept development, covering such things as architectural design impact, load determination, thermal comfort system, energy distribution system, energy conversion system, water, electrical system, and controls. It then goes into modeling, analytical testing, design and occupancy for construction, construction practices, commissioning, operation and maintenance performance and monitoring, and disposal/recycling.

    “It will also give a designer an idea of whether ‘green’ is applicable for his project,” said Wolf.

    A draft of the new guideline will be ready by June 2002 and it is expected to be published by January 2003.

    BEST PRACTICES

    David Peters, P.E., of South-land Industries (Dallas, TX) finished the session with a presentation on hvac industry best practices.

    He described a case study with design ideas focused on saving energy. The application was three identical buildings of an office campus, each six stories with a lower level. The design philosophy was to lower installed cost and operating cost.

    The typical hvac paradigms, said Peters, are:

  • 55¿F supply air temperature;

  • 44¿ to 54¿ chilled water;

  • Sound traps; and

  • Air-side economizers.

    What was actually used in this case was:

  • 45¿ supply air;

  • Parallel terminals as air blends;

  • Low-flow chilled-water system;

  • Constant air volume terminals;

  • Zero pressure loss acoustic treatment; and

  • Water-side economizer.

    Why was cold air used? Ice storage with cold air is well accepted, Peters stated. Cold air advantages include smaller ducts, smaller air handling units, less cost, and 30% reduction in fan supply, he related. Cold air drawbacks include low circulation rate and fan-powered terminals needed as air blenders.

    The low-flow chilled-water system allowed use of smaller pipe, for a significant cost savings.

    The air-side cost comparison showed a $64,000 savings, he said. The water-side cost comparison indicated a $58,000 savings. This provided a total $122,000 first-cost savings. Installed power requirements were also reduced by 30 kW.

    Publication date: 05/13/2002