There is no guarantee that a building designed to high levels of efficiency will deliver high levels of operational performance. Occupant behavior and proper controls programming are primary factors that impact a building’s utility bills.

Buildings in design must meet an energy threshold based on State/Federal compliance software tools. Several assumptions are made in the modeling software including hours of operation and equipment operation schedules. All energy loads should be factored into the energy model to get the most accurate representation possible.

Legislation and Performance Considerations:

  • States like California and New York require that existing buildings be benchmarked through EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Buildings that are performing poorly will receive resources from the State to help improve operational efficiency, which should also deliver return on investment to ownership.
  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a lending program that provides an interest rate reduction for maintaining an Energy Star score of 75 (the building operates in the 75th percentile compared to its peer group across the nation).
  • Energy Codes for design or permit approval utilize decades of Department of Energy Data, but the models cannot account for heat waves, floor heaters, and changes in hours of operation for example.

A building is like a car: it can roll off the assembly line in mint condition, but how it’s maintained and operated affects its performance. Building owners should look to their operations teams to deliver long term efficiency, which could net a 20% to 50% reduction in utility bills.

Key points to ensuring a building will deliver better operational performance:

  1. Consider operations impacts in design phase. Evaluate ROI on adding additional controls
  2. Use the correct software tools and model all expected energy uses
  3. Ensure proper training occurs between sub-consultants, engineers, and maintenance staff
  4. Perform a ten month warranty walk after the building is built
  5. Engage in annual or semi-annual energy assessments
  6. Provide continuous training for operations staff

For more information on better operations efficiency measures for your building, contact Moe Fakih below:

Moe Fakih, Principal
VCA Green