Ideas to fuel a sustainable built environment

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Case Study: Energy Efficiency Done Right in Burlington

Feb 17, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Main St. Landing 60 Lake St. Photo - full sizeMain Street Landing’s Lake and College building on the Burlington waterfront houses important and community-loved businesses including Seventh Generation, Skinny Pancake, and the Peace and Justice center as well as a performing arts center and community gathering spaces. Main Street Landing (MSL) is a property owner member of the Burlington 2030 District, members of which aim to decrease their buildings’ energy, water, and transportation related emissions by 50% compared to the district baseline by the year 2030. MSL takes their membership seriously, fully committing to implementing changes year after year to work towards these goals.

Cx Associates has been working with Main Street Landing for many years to help them identify and realize energy saving opportunities. The chart below shows the weather normalized Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of Lake and College in 2017*, 2019, and 2021, as well as a comparison to the Burlington 2030 District baseline. EUI is a metric of the amount of energy used per square foot, which allows for easy comparison of energy use between buildings and over time. A lower EUI means a building is performing better in terms of energy use, and as shown, the energy efficiency measures implemented at Lake and College have effected real change, with clear energy reduction results.

Capture1-1*Weather normalized EUI not available for 2017

MSL started out with a relatively high performing building, having received LEED certification when it was built in 2005. However, even in buildings that meet standards like LEED, there are still often opportunities to decrease energy use, especially as technologies and control approaches evolve. Cx Associates conducted a retrocommissioning study in 2017 for the building, which focused on low- and no-cost opportunities. The recommended changes resulted in the jump from an EUI of 96 kBTU/ft2/year in 2017 to an EUI of 82 kBTU/ft2/year in 2019. Implemented changes included:

  • Adding a flexible public space occupancy schedule that allows facilities staff to pre-schedule event spaces to switch to occupied mode when an event is planned. This saves energy by relaxing temperature and ventilation setpoints when the spaces are not being used.
  • Programming reset schedules for heating and cooling systems. A reset schedule allows the systems to respond to outside air temperatures so that, for example, when it’s 50F outside the boiler system provides slightly cooler water than when it’s 10F outside. This can significantly reduce fossil fuel use on the heating side and electric use on the cooling side.
  • Optimizing cooling plant control so that the equipment that’s more efficient is doing more of the cooling work.
  • Establishing a robust owner training program for facilities staff so that they can effectively control the building through its building automation system.
  • Installing LED lighting, which reduces the total energy needed to provide desired lighting levels.

The further decrease in energy after 2019 is partially caused by COVID-19 related building shut-downs and decreased in-office employees throughout the building. However, even in the face of COVID, MSL implemented changes to keep occupants safe while continuing to keep energy usage low. Cx Associates helped MSL establish a “pandemic mode” for the building to increase ventilation for 2 hours before, during, and 2 hours after occupied periods per CDC and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers) guidance to help mitigate spread of COVID in the building. The mode also keeps temperatures in unoccupied spaces at setback levels, which helps to compensate for the energy penalties of increased ventilation.

Looking forward, MSL and Cx Associates are working together on many exciting projects at Lake and College, including investigating opportunities to decrease reliance on fossil fuels by electrifying domestic hot water heating and an upcoming recommissioning of the entire building to ensure the systems are functioning optimally and to identify further energy saving opportunities. MSL is a prime example of a company doing the right thing – making operational decisions with energy efficiency and decarbonization always considered to ensure not only that the building operates optimally now, but to do their part to make strides so that future generations can continue to enjoy this beautiful planet we call home.

Written by Krystina Kattermann