A third party Energy Assessment for an existing building is a proven method to identify and implement Energy Conservation Measures (ECM’s) to effectively reduce energy consumption and costs. An Energy Assessment conducted by VCA Green for Shift Apartments located in San Diego realized the following after low-cost ECM’s were implemented:
- ~26% of utility cost savings over a six month period
- An average monthly savings of over $7,000
- Immediate return on investment
Even after going through an Energy Assessment once, a facility’s performance can still degrade over time, which could lead to an unexpected and unwanted increase in energy consumption and costs. This degradation could be due to multiple factors such as changes in occupancy, operating hours, weather, or shortfalls in operations & maintenance.
Luckily, there are a few proactive steps that a building owner and their facilities staff can take after an Energy Assessment to maintain energy savings and quality building performance over time:
- Implement a Measurement & Verification (M&V) Plan. This involves installing monitoring equipment to collect data that could help demonstrate the efficiency of various building systems. Some examples of measurable data include energy consumption, air flow, water flow, and temperature differentials. Implementing a system to collect and organize this data can help verify whether or not the implemented ECM’s were successful and if the building systems are achieving the anticipated levels of energy savings. M&V monitoring equipment can be system-specific, which can save time in identifying and resolving equipment inefficiencies.
- Periodic Benchmarking – By continuously tracking total building energy consumption, building owners can compare performance to similar buildings and gauge the impact of implemented ECM’s. If consumption decreases or remains consistent with no major changes in building usage, then it’s likely that the recommended conservation measures have been effectively implemented. However, a continued increase in consumption could point to other inefficiencies in building performance or in the sequence of operations. If this is the case, then the owner may want to work with the facilities manager and/or an Energy Auditor to investigate the cause behind the increased consumption. Platforms such as Energy Star Portfolio Manager already exist to help ease and streamline the benchmarking process.
- Plan for Ongoing Commissioning – Enlisting a Commissioning Agent for seasonal or yearly functional testing on building systems can greatly aid in maintaining energy efficient performance. Periodic site visits allow the Commissioning Agent to continuously monitor energy usage, the quality of building systems equipment, and resolve system inefficiencies. During these visits, additional opportunities for energy conservation or facility improvements could also be determined. Depending on established sustainability goals, Ongoing Commissioning could be as simple as tracking energy use and working with a Commissioning Agent to spot check systems when unusual spikes in energy use are detected, or it can be as complex as functional testing for all building systems.
VCA Green offers a variety of existing building services to help maintain your energy savings goals. For more information on how we can help you improve your building’s energy efficiency, feel free to contact Moe Fakih below.
Contributing Writer: Yvonne Lo, Energy Management Professional (EMP)
Moe Fakih, Principal