Optimal Start/Stop and You’re Done, Right?

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Jun 27, 2018 4:26:01 PM

Optimal start/stop (OSS) is available as an out-of-the-box function in almost every HVAC building automation system sold on the commercial market today.  Folks toss the term around with a very loose understanding of what it means.  PID controls suffer the same dilemma.  When you ask any industry professional to define OSS, you’ll get this generic and common response (Figure 1):

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Topics: Workplace & People, Building Performance & Technology

Using Energy Metering to Verify Your Building's Performance

Posted by Katie Mason on Jun 20, 2018 5:37:50 PM

Today there are a multitude of energy metering devices (e.g. data loggers) available to enable the analysis of building systems functionality. There are many different types of data loggers, each with a different purpose. To get the most from your building using energy metering, you need to narrow your options with your overall goals in mind. Before we install meters on a system, whether it’s an electrical system, HVAC system, or domestic hot water system, we must first determine what type of data we need and what the data will be used for. With this information, we put together a metering plan that will produce the data necessary for the analysis. I am going to provide two specific examples of systems/equipment we metered, including why we were performing the metering, how we did it (what types of meters), and what the findings were. Both of these examples showed the equipment being metered was not working as intended.

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Topics: Building Performance & Technology, Evaluation Measurement & Verification (EM&

Introduction to Dynamic Lighting Systems

Posted by Gretchen Schimelpfenig on Jun 7, 2018 10:16:57 AM

In the mid-20th century, the lighting industry made major leaps forward with the evolution of dimming technology, which allowed users to control light levels. Today, modern lighting fixtures are equipped with digital controllers that provide many new capabilities that go far beyond basic dimming, including warm dimming, color-tunable, and color changing lighting options. Why and when might owners select these systems? How can engineers design them? And how can commissioning agents functionally test the equipment?

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Topics: Dynamic Lighting, Lighting, Lighting Controls

Using Market Smarts to Enhance Energy Efficiency Program Evaluation

Posted by Jennifer Chiodo on May 30, 2018 2:30:00 PM

Generating Market Demand

The purpose of energy efficiency programs is to cost effectively generate market demand for energy efficiency that would not be achieved without market intervention. An energy efficiency process evaluation investigates the effectiveness of programmatic interventions through qualitative and quantitative analysis. Marrying the analytical engineering-based approach of impact evaluation with the typically more social science orientation of traditional process evaluation can generate useful, actionable results to help program administrators improve market interventions to increase participation, depth of savings, and market transformation.
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Topics: Energy Efficiency, Evaluation Measurement & Verification (EM&

Quantifying Benefits of Passive Solar Heating Technology

Posted by Gretchen Schimelpfenig on May 23, 2018 10:42:34 AM

For eons, humans have used thick, thermally massive walls to store the heat of the day and to warm their homes at night. Due to America’s persistent dependence on fossil fuels, passive solar walls enjoyed brief mainstream popularity during the fuel crises of the mid-20th century, and residences across the country benefited from reliable, renewable heat. As gas prices declined, so did homeowner and developer enthusiasm for these low-energy systems. As we face a massive climate change calamity and most residential heating systems today are still served by volatile fossil fuels, it is time we revisit and incorporate passive solar technologies into our new buildings and renovations.

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Topics: Sustainability, Green Building, Energy Efficiency, renewable, solar energy, passive solar

Is Electrification of Space Heating a Positive Step?

Posted by Eveline Killian on May 16, 2018 11:30:00 AM

When I started in the energy efficiency profession 20 years ago, the object of my job was to reduce electric demand on the grid. This was to be accomplished through energy efficiency and a strong emphasis to fuel switch equipment from electric to fossil fuels (specifically electric heat to natural gas or oil heat). At the point of use (our building), traditional electric heat is 100% efficient, meaning 100% of the electricity within our building is transferred into heat within our building. But the electric generation (at the power plant), and the transmission, and distribution process makes the entire process about 30% efficient. This means an oil or natural gas heating system, operating at approximately 80% efficiency at point of use, is inherently more efficient than traditional electric heat given the current electric grid generation mix. Heat pumps, however, have changed this calculation, with heating efficiencies of over 300%. Thus, the world is changing back to electric heat through heat pumps (refer to Gretchen’s blog from February 2017, Heat Pumps Catered to Colder Climates; Will Increased U.S. Adoption Continue?). Is this a good thing? ‘Experts’ seem to agree that it is, but I have been curious to do this calculation myself as adding electric load to the grid goes against my deep-rooted mindset.

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Topics: Standards and Metrics, Energy Efficiency, Building Performance & Technology

The Importance of the Project Coordinator Role in Building Commissioning

Posted by Rachael Straub on May 9, 2018 9:50:00 AM

The title of Project Coordinator, as well as Project Manager, is ubiquitous in most industries, but also rife with preconceptions that stem from an individual firm or team’s experience with the role. I was hired at Cx Associates as a Project Coordinator, filling a position that had existed before my arrival. My role was 1/3 Project Coordinator and 2/3 administrative support for at least a year. As a Project Coordinator, I learned how to coordinate measurement and verification of incentivized energy efficiency projects, among other things.

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Topics: Building Cx & Design Review, Workplace & People

Earth Week - It's Not Enough

Posted by Jennifer Chiodo on Apr 25, 2018 10:00:00 AM

First, let me acknowledge that my own life is harming the planet on which we live. I drive a car, I buy stuff packaged in plastic, I have pets – all things that I know to have a negative impact on the planet that sustains me, my family, my friends, and everyone else.

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Topics: Sustainability

Measuring the Openness of the Building Automation System Industry

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Apr 18, 2018 2:25:00 PM

The floor was packed with a bustling crowd, filled with people from every branch of the Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry. They were making contacts, meeting friends, and checking out the latest and greatest technologies. There were young professionals eager to experience what the industry has to offer. They were seeing the current state of the art but also thinking about the future as they pass vendors strutting their stuff. Everywhere you looked, there were folks dressed smartly, representing their products with a smile and a handshake. Everyone was boasting about their latest tech, itching to perform the ritual tchotchke handoff in the hopes that someone will remember their product and give them a call after the dust settles. All of this was housed at a convention center so large it has its own bus port and ceilings so high they make your local Walmart superstore look like a tent at a county fair.

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Topics: Building Performance & Technology

Rack-Mounted Load Banks for Data Center Load Testing

Posted by Ben Fowler on Apr 11, 2018 3:04:41 PM

Commissioning of mission-critical data center systems is essential to ensure highest system availability through different phases of operation – at the outset of operations, down the road at full system buildout, and, later, when systems begin to age.

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Topics: Building Cx & Design Review

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