In the recent past, all new DOD construction projects were required to meet the LEED Silver or an equivalent standard and/or to comply with the five principles of High Performance Sustainable Buildings. This year a new construction code for high-performance, sustainable buildings, is expected that will govern all new construction, major renovations and leased space acquisition. This new code, based heavily on ASHRAE 189.1, will accelerate DoD’s move toward efficient, sustainable facilities that cost less to own and operate, leave a smaller environmental footprint and improve employee productivity.
Testimony by Dr. Dorothy Robyn Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies on March 7, 2012 to present the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget request for the Department of Defense programs to support installations, facility energy and the
environment covered four topics:
international and domestic basing, including the Department’s request for authorization of two new rounds of Base Realignment and Closure;
management of the built environment, including the programs that support military construction,
family housing, sustainment and recapitalization;
strategy for managing facility energy to reduce costs and improve installation energy security;
and management of the natural environment, including the programs that support environmental conservation and restoration, environmental technology and compatible development.
Relative to LEED it is important to note that Congress has established a requirement to report the return on investment from using consensus standards such as ASHRAE 189.1. This is important to note as with more than 300,000 buildings and 2.2 billion square feet of building space, the DoD has a physical infrastructure footprint three times that of Wal-Mart and six times that of GSA. The DOD’s energy bill is approximately $4 billion annually—roughly 10 percent of what DoD spends to maintain its installation infrastructure ($40 billion). Additionally facility energy represents nearly 40 percent of DOD greenhouse gas emissions.
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One of the most widely used energy benchmarking systems in the United States is Energy Star Portfolio Manager, a free Web-based tool maintained by the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Users input basic building parameters, such as space type, square footage, hours of operation, number of occupants, and number of personal computers (PCs), as well as 12 months of total energy data. This information is normalized to weather conditions and run through an algorithm that compares the input building to one with similar operating characteristics from the CBECS database. The program calculates a rating of 1 to 100 based on the building source EUI; source energy accounts for both the raw fuels and the energy products from the raw fuels consumed. This score represents the percentile performance above other comparable buildings. For example, a score of 67 means the building is performing better than 67% of all similar buildings nationwide. A rating of 50 is average, and 75 earns the building an Energy Star certification label for that year. This system compares all buildings on one scale and allows for tracking throughout the lifetime of the facility.
Placing buildings in an easily understood comparative metric puts this EUI statistic in perspective. Understanding the implications of the score and aligning this with the building marketing strategies will drive the basis for developing a target score. Is the goal to reduce spending by decreasing annual operating costs by 10%? Is the objective to increase leased tenant space by achieving Energy Star or another green certification? Are you aiming to gain a competitive edge over similar commercial buildings in your region? Benchmarking a facility or achieving a high rating may not only provide avenues for cost savings and certifications opportunities, but may be a necessity to comply with city or state legislation.
Policies that mandate the use of a benchmarking tool to rate and disclose the score for commercial facilities are currently being written and implemented throughout the world. New York City’s Local Law 84 in the Greener Greater Building Plan is an excellent example. A study by New York City revealed that buildings are responsible for 75% of the city’s total annual carbon emissions. Of these buildings, 85% are expected to still exist in 2030. This information, coupled with expensive retail energy prices, drove the effort for an energy efficiency policy. The law mandates annual energy and water benchmark reports for city buildings that are more than 10,000 sq ft, as well as for privately owned buildings that are more than 50,000 sq ft. It requires the use of Energy Star Portfolio Manager and the disclosure of the score.
Several other U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, and Washington, D.C., have already adopted similar legislation (see Figure 3). Of these, New York and San Francisco are coupled with a plan of action to reduce energy consumption for commercial buildings. Methods such as ASHRAE Energy Audits or retrocommissioning are included as mandatory efforts on a timed cycle.
The policies in place do not require achieving a specific score; however, some legislation mandates audits for buildings with low ratings, such as Washington’s Efficiency First bill, law SB 5854. For public buildings greater than 10,000 sq ft with an Energy Star score less than 50, a preliminary Energy Audit is required.
All of the current legislation relies on Energy Star. Due to the release of information explaining no results of the 2007 CBECS survey will be published and no 2011 survey will be administered, Energy Star will be based on 2003 data for the foreseeable future. This leaves cities in a possible conundrum if funding isn’t restored. However, there are alternatives on the horizon. The National Institute of Building Sciences is establishing a High-Performance Building Data Collection Initiative to determine a methodology for collecting and disseminating energy and building attribute data. Also, on Feb. 10, 2011, ASTM E2797-11 Standard Practice for Building Energy Performance Assessment for a Building Involved in a Real Estate Transaction was released. The standard aims to standardize collection, compilation, and analysis of building energy use and cost data.
Internationally, countries such as Australia, Russia, and Singapore have implemented policies to help regulate benchmarking and energy efficiency transparency. In the European Union (EU), the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) mandates that an energy performance certificate is provided to the owner or by the owner to the prospective buyer or tenant when buildings are constructed, sold, or rented out. Countries within the EU can develop their own systems for benchmarking buildings for the energy certificate. In Italy, for example, the buildings are given a score from A+ to G based on their EUI. EPBD has raised the awareness and importance of energy efficiency but has been a challenge for many of the member states to implement. In May 2010, EPBD was recast in hopes to simplify the language and process, increase the scope, strengthen quality control of the certificates, and promote low/zero-carbon buildings. As in all institutions, each benchmarking procedure or tool is different and has various nuances.
Energy Star Portfolio Manager is among the most popular benchmarking tools and is cited most often in U.S. legislation, and therefore this article will take the time to explore the specifics of benchmarking using this method. Even though the lack of updated CBECS data could halt future revisions of Portfolio Manager, current legislation mandates its use. Following is a review of frequently asked benchmarking questions that can help building owners avoid incorrect data entry or user confusion.
Your facility is not compared to other buildings that are using Energy Star Portfolio Manager as a basis for their ratings. The Energy Star score is based on an algorithm that compares your facility inputs to other buildings in the CBECS database that have similar regional location and operating characteristics. CBECS is a national sample survey conducted every four years to collect data on commercial buildings in the U.S., namely their energy-related characteristics and energy consumption. The last survey was completed in 2007, but data will not be released due to invalid results and the 2011 survey will not be conducted because funding has been cut. Therefore, Energy Star is currently using CBECS data from 2003 and will be for the foreseeable future. If funding is restored, as buildings increase in energy efficiency, however, it would be expected that the database of facilities would increase in energy efficiency and create a stricter benchmark comparison. An Energy Star rating is only valid for the 12 months of energy data being analyzed; therefore, facility owners are encouraged to maintain, track, and update the parameters and energy data.
One of the common factors that contribute to incorrect ratings is a misunderstanding of the definition of “weekly operating hours.” Energy Star defines it as the “number of hours per week that a building (or space within a building) is occupied by at least 75% of the tenant employees, and is therefore considered to be operational.” This does not include HVAC warm-up or cool-down hours or the time that 10% of the occupants remain after typical hours. This also means that the weekly operating hours should be set to zero for vacant spaces, because no occupants are present even though the space may be supplied with conditioned air.
Energy Star has several classifying space types such as office, bank, school, retail, hotel, data center, and so on. The EPA has recently further defined data centers, characterizing them as “spaces specifically designed and equipped to meet the needs of high density computing equipment such as server racks, used for data storage and processing… When a data center is located within a larger building, it will usually have its own power and cooling systems. The data center space is intended for sophisticated computing and server functions; it should not be used to represent a server closet or computer training area.” For spaces that do not qualify as data centers but are still considered server rooms that run 24/7 and have separate cooling, the space should be entered as “office space” with 168 operating hours per week, zero number of occupants, and the number of PCs equal to the number of servers. This is one exception to the weekly operating hours rule described above. For spaces that are more similar to IT closets or server rooms that lack separate cooling systems, the space is considered a supporting function and the square footage should be aggregated with the total office space.
Energy Star recently provided a module for more detailed data center inputs. Several commercial facilities with high-density computing areas encountered difficulties in accurately representing their facility. The changes allow the user to input IT energy metering configuration as well as the energy consumption for the IT energy, defined as “the total amount of energy required by server racks, storage silos, and other IT equipment in the data center.” This designation does not include HVAC equipment needed to cool the space or lighting needed to illuminate the space. Energy Star requires the output of any UPS to be submetered. Most UPSs connected to IT equipment have the capability to provide peak kilowatt consumption but do not have the immediate capability to provide kilowatt-hour consumption data. The UPS will need to be retrofitted or a submeter will need to be installed to capture the kilowatt-hour consumption for just the IT equipment. The EPA will make the IT energy a mandatory requirement for data center space types beginning June 15, 2012. Consequently, buildings must have their IT Energy submetered as early as June 15, 2011, for applications submitted in June 2012 (because 12 months of energy data is required).
Energy Star is meant to be a straightforward but accurate way to benchmark a facility. The easiest way to model a commercial facility in Portfolio Manager is to aggregate all of the tenants and supporting functions into one office-space-type input. If there are tenants that are generally present for 10 hours or more per week outside the typical occupied hours of the facility, those tenants should be separated out to better represent their occupied hours.
There are two ways this issue is currently being addressed: laws mandating tenants to disclose data, and utility programs reporting combined base building and tenant usage. An increasing number of utility providers are supplying their customers with aggregate monthly energy data without the individual tenant breakdown, therefore avoiding tenant disclosure issues and streamlining and simplifying the energy data collection and input. Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), a northern Illinois energy delivery company, developed a Web-based tool called Whole Building Energy Usage. This tool allows the user to first confirm the tenants and accounts present on-site, and then view one aggregate number each month for the base building and tenant usage combined.
One of the newest changes in Energy Star concerns the way the EPA is awarding the year in which you are labeled. Previously, a facility was awarded an Energy Star label based on the period ending date, or the last date of the 12 months of energy information under consideration. The application was good for 120 days from that period ending date. If a facility had 12 months of data from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2010, and submitted an application in February 2011, the certification would be for 2010. Energy Star is now awarding certification labels based on the date the application is approved.
You’ve put your building on the map. You have a starting point. But where do you want to go and how do you plan to get there? The benchmarking analysis creates a fork in the road—meeting and surpassing the target versus falling short of the objectives. In either case, the facility owner or manager is, at a minimum, aware of how the building performs relative to similar buildings. If the facility already meets its target, that doesn’t mean there is no work to do. Energy Star ratings and other benchmarking scores are only valid for the 12 months being analyzed. With nationwide energy and disclosure policies, stricter energy standards and codes, numerous available green certification labels, and a competitive commercial market, a facility can quickly lag behind its rivals. To remain sustainable, the facility and owner must be environmentally friendly, economically profitable, and socially equitable.
A simple first step to maintaining a competitive edge is to regularly update a building’s benchmark and consciously monitor the usage trends and score. Performing this exercise once won’t get the results you are looking for. Continuously updating the benchmarking analysis is simple and inexpensive. It can save time and energy if action is taken when monitored values slide outside expected ranges.
The building energy performance field is evolving in response to market demands. If a building is rated as less efficient compared to its peers, it can negatively affect financial performance and competitive market presence, possibly raising red flags to lenders or other financers. In addition, there is a growing public concern for verification of energy savings and true performance. Local, state, and federal policies address some of this concern by mandating not only energy benchmarking, but also the public disclosure of the results. Not only are policies using benchmarking to drive energy reductions, but so are some green certification systems, which many building owners and managers use as a marketing tool. The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC)LEED Existing Building Operations and Maintenance Energy and Atmosphere Prerequisite 2 requires the use of Energy Star to benchmark the facility and achieve a score of at least 69 to qualify for a potential certification. Green Building Initiative’s (GBI) Green Globes and the Building Owner’s and Manager’s BOMA 360 program also use Energy Star to document points awarded for energy performance. It is unclear how the lack of future data will affect these rating systems; however, it is clear the benchmarking is a critical path and the driving force behind energy reduction, tracking, and performance disclosure.
As more owners properly benchmark their facility and begin to “place their buildings on the map,” establish a target, develop a roadmap, and monitor progress, we are collectively working toward reducing the environmental impact of buildings.
ASHRAE green building standard published – Minimum requirements for the siting, design, construction and plans for operation of high-performance buildings.
The commercial green building standard in the U.S., standard 189.1 was drafted by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in conjunction with the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and the U.S. Green Building Council.
“long-needed green building foundation for those who strive to design, build and operate green buildings.” – ASHRAE
Covers: site sustainability, water-use efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and the building’s impact on the atmospshere, materials and resources.
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November 2, 2010—Local and state building code officials last week approved a package of revisions to the commercial section of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) that represent the largest single-step efficiency increase in the history of the national, model energy code. The changes mean that new and renovated buildings constructed in jurisdictions that follow the 2012 IECC will use 30 percent less energy than those built to current standards.
Attendees voted nearly unanimously on a series of proposals to effect the change at the International Code Council’s (ICC) final action hearings held in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 27-31, 2010. The improvements were part of a major comprehensive proposal submitted jointly by New Buildings Institute (NBI), The American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that addresses measures such as cooling, lighting, quality assurance and renewable energy standards. Several other key proposals that contribute to the savings were approved independently.
The comprehensive proposal is largely based on NBI’s Core Performance protocol, a direct approach to achieving energy savings in commercial buildings. Utilities and public benefits administrators in six states and two Canadian provinces have adopted Core Performance as part of their voluntary efficiency program offerings.
“Increasing the efficiency of commercial building energy codes provides the best opportunity to bring about significant savings and helps move us along the path toward low-energy commercial buildings,” said Dave Hewitt, NBI executive director.
“The often contentious process of developing codes was largely avoided in this case because of the extensive outreach and collaboration that was undertaken to gain industry support for the proposals. As a result, we were able to successfully resolve differences prior to the hearings and put forward our best option for consideration,” Hewitt said.
“The overwhelming support we saw during the votes tells us the marketplace is ready for these practical, feasible and affordable improvements,” said Jessyca Henderson, AIA, director of sustainability advocacy at the AIA. “The nation’s code officials are to be commended and congratulated for seizing this historic opportunity to move the country toward more efficient buildings and help us build an economy that is less reliant on fossil fuels—now and into the future,” she said.
Computer modeling of the 2012 IECC shows more than 30 percent better energy efficiency on average than the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 model code, and payback periods on the new code measures are estimated at less than seven years depending on climate and building type. The energy savings in the 2012 IECC meet national calls from Congress, the Secretary of Energy and industry leaders to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings by 30 percent. In addition, the 2012 IECC will serve as the baseline standard for the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) currently under development.
The 2012 IECC contains many important, first-ever technical features including a new section on commissioning, pathways to use daylighting, and options for the use of on-site renewable energy. It will be published in April 2011 for adoption by state and local agencies.
New Buildings Institute is a nonprofit organization working collaboratively with commercial building professionals and the energy industry to promote better energy performance in buildings, including advocating for advanced design practices, improved technologies, public policies and programs that improve energy efficiency. Visit www.newbuildings.org.
For over 150 years, members of The American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. By using sustainable design practices, materials, and techniques, AIA architects are uniquely poised to provide the leadership and guidance needed to provide solutions to address climate change. AIA architects walk the walk on sustainable design. Visit www.aia.org.
“The mandatory provisions of CALGreen go into effect in January and anyone involved in designing and/or building new commercial or residential structures in California needs to know about the new requirements,”
– Dave Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission.
In 2011, CALGreen, the nation’s first state-wide green building code, will become mandatory.
Architects, developers, plan checkers, inspectors, building officials and others involved in designing and approving new construction will be expected to adhere to new mandatory guidelines on issues ranging from water efficiency and conservation to indoor air quality.
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