Building Energy Resilience

Ideas to fuel a sustainable built environment

5 min read

Improved Lighting Metrics for Changing Technology

By Wilson Yandell on Jun 3, 2020 12:15:00 PM

Photo by Adam Rouse

Topics: Energy Efficiency Building Performance & Technology Lighting
5 min read

Making our Commissioning Process Remote

By Katie Mason on Apr 22, 2020 10:00:00 AM

With the current COVID-19 global crisis, organizations all over the country are actively seeking ways to continue to provide the same level of services to their customers while keeping their employees safe. Cx Associates is known for its rigorous standards in the commissioning process, but a large portion of our work is contingent on our ability to be on construction sites, working with contractors to verify the installation and functionality of equipment. With Vermont’s order that all non-essential employees work from home, and with Cx Associates’ commitment to both keep our employees safe and prevent us from potentially spreading the virus on construction sites, we needed to quickly find a way to provide our on-site services remotely for the essential construction work that continues to move forward in a way that still matches our high standards. This blog discusses our approach to remote site work and how we're continuing to serve our clients while safely social distancing from our home offices.

Topics: Building Performance & Technology commissioning HVAC Heat Pumps technology Utility building automation system COVID-19 coronavirus remote
3 min read

Challenges with Rooftop Units and Factory Controls

By Jamie Hand on Jan 15, 2020 10:00:00 AM

After an early morning departure and a snowy drive, my colleague and I arrived onsite to test, among other equipment, a packaged rooftop air handling unit with factory controls. At first, the unit appeared to check all our boxes, but as we dug into the details, it became clear that this would be a very expensive heating system to operate. This blog entry is about factory controls and the importance of getting into the weeds to identify issues like the one we found with this rooftop air handling unit.

Topics: Building Performance & Technology commissioning HVAC Factory Controls
4 min read

Welcome 2020 - Now Let’s Meet those 2030 Goals!

By Katie Mason on Jan 6, 2020 10:00:00 AM

With a new year and a new decade upon us, the popular trend is to create new resolutions and goals. Being an active member of the Burlington (Vermont) 2030 District Engineering Team has me thinking about the District’s and the City of Burlington’s goals and progress for energy, water, and transportation emission reductions. This post outlines what the Burlington 2030 District goals are, how these compare to the City of Burlington goals, and the services our team provides to property owners to help reach these goals.

Topics: Sustainability Green Building Building Performance & Technology transition to renewable energy Building Data
3 min read

Making Sense of Building Data: Part 1: Overview

By Daniel Tuhus-Dubrow on Dec 18, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Similar to other domains, data from buildings is being generated at an unprecedented pace and scale. However, all of that data is useless if we can’t extract meaning to create value and yield actionable insights. This requires the utilization of protocols or standards to effectively make sense of the data. Project Haystack is one such standard that has been developed over the past several years and allows for the contextual tagging of data in a flexible way, using data from any number of sources.

Topics: Building Performance & Technology technology Building Data
3 min read

A New Metric for 21st Century Buildings: The Carbon Emissions Intensity (CEI)

By Jennifer Chiodo on Sep 25, 2019 10:00:00 AM

As you know, Cx Associates’ work focuses on making buildings perform better for occupants, operators, owners, and for the planet. A common metric we use to assess building performance is the energy use intensity (EUI) which Katie has discussed in her recent blog posts. While attending the recent IEPEC Conference in Denver, I had a discussion with someone familiar with Xcel Energy’s work to be a net zero carbon utility in the relatively near future. We realized that EUI is an insufficient metric for guiding energy program investments at their customer sites. Ultimately, to drive carbon emissions down to a sustainable level that will halt and begin to reverse the climate crisis we are currently in, we need to track energy intensity while also focusing on carbon emissions intensity (CEI) at a building level. Cities and states that have adopted carbon reduction goals will do well to focus on reducing the CEI of their building stock through energy efficiency, fuel switching, and renewable energy generation.

Topics: Sustainability Green Building Energy Efficiency Building Performance & Technology renewable
3 min read

Benchmarking and Beyond

By Katie Mason on Aug 23, 2019 10:00:00 AM

In a previous blog post, I discussed the energy benchmarking service we currently perform for a healthcare network using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM) tool. This tool is used to monitor the energy usage of a building over time. It allows a user to set energy goals, compare the overall energy use intensity (EUI) to a baseline year, and compare the building in question to other buildings with similar use-types and characteristics. In addition to continuing this specific service for the healthcare network, Cx Associates uses the benefits of benchmarking in other areas of our work too. This blog post will discuss what other areas of our work utilize benchmarking and then provide a brief update on changes ESPM has made to their scoring metrics over the past year.

Topics: Standards and Metrics Energy Efficiency Building Performance & Technology retrocommissioning
3 min read

Occupant Based Controls for Energy Savings

By Daniel Tuhus-Dubrow on Jul 3, 2019 10:00:00 AM

I recently attended the Performance Evaluation Methodology for Building Occupancy Sensing Systems for HVAC Controls workshop, which followed the annual ASHRAE conference that just wrapped up in Kansas City, MO. The workshop focused on one of ARPA-E’s[1] research programs called SENSOR (Saving Energy Nationwide in Structures with Occupancy Recognition)[2], and brought together a diverse group of individuals, including researchers from national labs and universities, industry representatives, design engineers, and other interested parties.

Topics: Standards and Metrics Building Performance & Technology HVAC
2 min read

Do Sweat the Small Stuff: Seemingly Small Issues Can Wreak Havoc in Buildings

By Walker Calderwood on Jun 19, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Sometimes certain parts of the commissioning and retrocommissioning process can seem trivial to both the contractor and the commissioning agent. Of course, the process involves some important and significant checks, such as ensuring the piping design detail matches the as-built piping, and that the specified ductwork sizes match the as-built ductwork size. But the commissioning process also deals with some of the finer details that may not seem as consequential or that have already been checked by multiple parties. So, why would the commissioning agent also need to check it again? In this post I am providing a couple examples of real-world commissioning issues that we’ve found. Each is an excellent reminder of why the seemingly minor commissioning verification steps are still required and important, even though they may seem inconsequential.

Topics: Building Performance & Technology retrocommissioning commissioning
4 min read

A Change in Career to Tackle Change in the Climate

By Krystina Kattermann on Apr 3, 2019 12:00:00 PM

As someone very new to the engineering world, I’ve learned a lot in the last few months about the impact that engineers can have on climate change. I came to Cx Associates and the world of commissioning in a rather round-about way. My background is in molecular genetics, specifically lung cancer research, but when I moved to Burlington this past summer, I decided to pivot in my career path. I’d found myself desiring more and more to move into a field that was doing some good for the world. I know, I know, many would say “Hey! Cancer research is good for the world!,” and I certainly don’t deny that, but what good is finding new cancer treatments if there isn’t a planet that can viably support the patients those treatments would be for? As I’m sure many of you heard or read in the news some months ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 2018 Climate Report showed that “global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate” (something some climate scientists have argued is a conservative estimate). This will have devastating effects on people’s lives, and not only in poorer nations of the world – the Fourth National Climate Assessment released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program in November 2018 predicts U.S. economic losses due to climate change in 2090 as $280-$500 billion/year. These reports cemented my feelings in the weeks and months after I began at CxA, but I had already felt myself pulled towards the idea of working for a company or organization that was doing solid, on the ground work to combat climate change. I did not expect that pull to land me at a consulting engineering firm.

Topics: Workplace & People Building Performance & Technology Climate Change

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