Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer

Abtract: Energy Management and Conservation

The building sector consumes 36 percent of total energy used in the United States. In the commercial building sector, 42 percent of energy is electricity (e.g., for lighting, heating, cooling, other applications). The actual energy use mix varies with geographic location and occupancy type, but nationwide lighting (17 percent), heating (41 percent), and cooling (14 percent) are the most energy-intensive building operations. Since the mid-1980s and particularly 1990, energy conservation and demand management projects have become popular for reducing building utility costs (e.g., lighting retrofits with little or no engineering effort and high rate of return; HVAC upgrades to enhance part-load efficiency and control).

Potential Savings through Energy  Conservation This section has a detailed example, a hypothetical average commercial facility (1 million square feet, 15 to 20 years old) and three simple and sure energy conservation projects: lighting energy conservation via either T8 lamps and electronic ballast (simple payback period of 5 to 6 years) or occupancy sensors (simple payback period of 3 to 4 years) and HVAC energy conservation via variable-speed drives (simple payback period of 5 to 6 years). The facility has the potential for a minimum of $1 million in projects, which could save 2.33 million kWh/year and $186,000 in annual utility costs.

The actual numbers could vary considerably depending on a number of factors (e.g., facility age, geographic location, occupancy type) but are not unreasonable as a conservative estimate (see Figure 3.3).

Table of Hypothetical Sample

Figure 3.3. Hypothetical Million-Square-Foot Facility: Sample Project Potential

Application to Universities

Many universities have improved large-scale energy efficiency to control energy use and costs. Well- organized energy management and conservation (EMC) programs can be implemented without disrupting facilities operations (or negatively affecting academic programs). EMC programs must be integrated, flexible, and results oriented.

Elements for Success. Energy technology does not often limit EMC projects, but resources to support technology implementation (e.g., management, productivity, energy, information systems) can limit them.

Strategic Planning. EMC strategic planning targets management processes and its implementation, with many benefits (e.g., in understanding future impacts of current decisions, future development prediction, information exchange, future decision implementation, parochialism reduction, increased constructive conflict, ongoing planning emphasis). The strategic planning process includes organization subsystems (to enhance innovative planning), information subsystems (to collect, analyze, and share planning data from legal, political, economic, technical, competitor, and internal databases), decision subsystems  (to  enable  systematic  choices during planning), system of plans (to integrate  operational, developmental, and strategic plans to guide the organizational system), and planning management subsystems (to facilitate five-phase planning: goals, data collection, assumptions, objectives, plans).

convincing top management to strongly support the program (e.g., by showing past rises in energy costs, increasingly limited supplies; and potential curtailments; sharing other institutions’ success stories; showing potential impacts of local, state, and federal regulations); (2) securing personnel resources (e.g., interacting regularly with the CEO, budget director, planning and resource manager, and construction and trades managers to coordinate budgeting, planning, operation, and construction; estimating needed management positions (staff and line) and reporting structure); (3) setting policy and goals (e.g.,  using  the  mission statement to create management policy  and  goals, deliver reliable energy, implement results-oriented conservation, create campus-wide commitment); and (4) managing the program (applying five typical management functions: planning, organization, motivation, direction, control).

Technical Steps. For a building with a 40-year life span, design and construction represent 14 percent of  costs, and operations and maintenance (O&M)  the  remaining 86 percent. Most U.S. commercial space is energy- obsolete (and therefore presumably not very energy efficient). To overcome deficiencies, a  well-defined  plan of action must be developed. (1) Energy technical audits produce data for calculating energy costs, determining building energy use, and identifying no-cost or low-cost energy conservation projects.  (2) The priority list is derived from identified feasible conservation measures and based on the life-cycle cost for quick-fix projects (changes in operating practices and procedures), retrofit projects (equipment and system modifications for peak energy efficiency), and major-outlay energy projects (capital-intensive conservation measures). (3) Setting goals focuses on annual attainable and measurable  energy use goals (e.g., save funds, energy, particular resources). (4) Guidelines on scheduling, O&M, and training for assessment of major products; services; markets; and external, internal, and competitive environments. (5) Identifying retrofits is based on a method similar to that used in a full-scale engineering survey but uses simpler checklists, reference tables, and experience-based calculations rather than complex analysis and metrics. A building retrofit identification survey is simple (minimum time and resources), notes sound retrofit projects, provides an approximate measure of relative merits (not engineering and detailed life-cycle costs) for budget planning, and has four major steps: collecting energy use data (e.g., fuel costs and types, retrofit priority), categorizing buildings (size, climate zone, probable proportion of energy use), identifying retrofit options (link to specific energy systems), and assessing and ranking retrofit projects (on energy and cost savings, investment costs, payback time). (6) Major energy conservation measures are categorized in, and analyzed by, 52 Energy Conservation Opportunities (ECOs) common in buildings and seven ECO groups, prioritized according to operational and primary equipment load reductions (same method used for individual ECOs in each group). (7) The energy-saving calculation method used by engineers complies with universally accepted engineering practices and procedures. It evaluates projects by estimating the option with the shortest payback period, calculating energy savings, and repeating the process for all options, aggregating savings. (8) Utilities master planning recommends improvements (e.g., in electricity, heating, cooling water, sewer, natural gas, telephone, computer, and instructional television services; campus- wide utilities distribution; improved performance and safety while reducing energy use; and phasing projects so that services are available before new construction).

The EMC program manager must perform a number of tasks. Universities have accrued substantial savings through EMC  programs.  Recently,  utilities  have  taken an active role in promoting energy conservation and management (e.g., providing technical assistance and financial incentives), and the U.S. Department of Energy and EPA have promoted energy and environmental consciousness. The facilities manager should view conservation in terms of a number  of  benefits, particularly when budgets are tight: first and foremost, private funding can be used for project implementation (saving utilities costs); use of staff for conservation tasks can minimize personnel cuts; and many air quality management districts offer pollution credits that can be resold or banked for later facility expansion.

Read the full article.

Want to contribute to the APPA BOK? Learn more here. Have a revision suggestion? Let us know.