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

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: Workplace & People, Building Cx & Design Review

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

Energy Management: Turning Vision into Action

Posted by Eveline Killian on Apr 4, 2018 1:07:00 PM

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.

I received an email with this tag line and it struck me as profound. A business cannot operate efficiently and effectively without a clear vision of its future and a road map of the steps to obtaining that vision. A business owner must constantly ask: what aspects of the business are going to change, how are they going to change, and what is going to stay the same? Am I riding on top of the wave that is my business paradigm, or am I getting toppled over by the wave and left behind?

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Topics: Energy Efficiency, Building Performance & Technology

The Right Light for Your Building: Designing and Commissioning Wireless Lighting Controls Systems 

Posted by Gretchen Schimelpfenig on Mar 28, 2018 3:21:54 PM

Lighting control systems have become more ubiquitous in recent years. Whereas five years ago, sophisticated lighting control schemes were the realm of a few performance venues, nowadays your neighborhood grocery store uses wireless lighting controls that can be complex to calibrate and require attention to detail from design through to occupancy. Commissioning is vital to ensuring that installed equipment operates as designed and provides adequate light levels and indoor environmental quality, and user controls function as intended.

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Topics: Building Cx & Design Review, Energy Efficiency, Standards and Metrics

Israel: A Country Reaching for Sustainable Solutions

Posted by Katie Mason on Mar 22, 2018 3:59:10 PM

I recently returned from a fascinating trip to Israel. My trip covered a large portion of the country, which is a little larger than New Jersey. Being able to drive to different areas gave me the opportunity to take in all the amazing features in both rural and urban settings. Although traveling for pleasure, this trip turned into a captivating educational experience. In addition to the history lesson, I learned about Israel’s approach to remaining sustainably sound, even in a desert climate. There are many technologies and processes used in other countries that originated in Israel. This blog post will discuss several of the sustainability challenges Israel faces and how the country has conquered these challenges, including some of the technologies that came out of these adversities.

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Topics: Sustainability

Who is Responsible for Low Energy Code Requirements for Lighting?

Posted by Jennifer Chiodo on Mar 14, 2018 2:00:00 PM

I have repeatedly blogged about my concerns with the current and future energy codes because the codes are not keeping up with technology for lighting efficiency (see my previous blog posts titled “Why are Lighting Energy Standards Decreasing” and “More Issues with the Energy Code – Lighting is Running Rampant”).  The graphs below, developed by our friends at Optimal Energy, show some comparisons of Department of Energy (DOE) predicted efficacies for lighting technologies and the efficacy needed to meet code for some common space types.

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Topics: Public Policy, Standards and Metrics, Building Performance & Technology

The Case for Monitoring Outside Air Flow in Hospitals

Posted by Walker Calderwood on Mar 7, 2018 10:05:00 AM

It can often be an afterthought as to how much outdoor air (OA) is actually being drawn into a hospital through air handling equipment, but maintaining proper outdoor air volume is a vital part of achieving effective infection control, as well as meeting space pressurization requirements.  Proper OA volumes are also a metric that can be reviewed for non-compliance during Joint Commission audits.  The amount of outside air that a hospital’s air handling equipment should introduce into the building is defined by the ASHRAE Standard 170, which was discussed in one of our previous blog posts, Optimizing Air Handling Units for Healthcare. As we pointed out in this prior post, an airflow station, when properly selected and installed,  is an effective piece of hardware which can be used to monitor this outside air quantity (typically in cubic feet per minute), and the data provided by this meter can be very useful in a healthcare setting.

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Topics: Workplace & People, Building Performance & Technology

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