Understanding Electronically Commutated Motors

Posted by Eveline Killian on Aug 2, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Although electronically commutated motors (ECMs) are specified in efficient buildings, and energy efficiency programs provide incentives for their installation, I only had a cursory understanding of the difference between this technology and traditional shaded pole or permanent split capacitor type motors.  What makes ECMs more efficient?

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Topics: Energy Efficiency, Building Performance & Technology

An Energy Efficiency Horoscope

Posted by Jennifer Chiodo on Jul 26, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Imagining an energy efficiency horoscope for three of its most promising players …

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Topics: Energy Efficiency

Magnetic Bearing Chillers - Proven Efficiency and Reliability

Posted by Eveline Killian on Jul 19, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Office building cooling energy in the United States accounts for 7.4% of this country’s total commercial energy consumption, and chillers alone provide 31.9% of this space cooling. (The largest provider of space cooling is packaged rooftop units, which account for over 51%[1].) So, when an improved technology is proven to be successful, it’s worth the time to explore its merits.  And so, it is with magnetic bearing centrifugal chillers.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency, Building Performance & Technology

The Importance of Functional Performance Testing BAS Outputs

Posted by Walker Calderwood on Jul 12, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Previous blog posts from my colleagues and I contain a detailed explanation of functional performance testing (FPT), an overview of how functional performance tests are created, and specific examples of how conducting FPT contributes to better building performance and energy savings.  In this post I would like to expand upon the previous post “Functional Performance Testing Done Right: Details Matter.”

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Topics: Building Cx & Design Review, Energy Efficiency

Acting Locally After Paris Accord Withdrawal

Posted by Daniel Tuhus-Dubrow on Jun 21, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Following the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement and the abdication of responsibility at the federal level to address climate change, the action now moves to states, municipalities, businesses and individuals. Fortunately, there are a lot of exciting things happening right now in these arenas, which could go a long way toward filling the current leadership vacuum. This post will survey some of the efforts underway, with a focus on initiatives aimed at improving energy efficiency in buildings.

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Topics: Public Policy, Energy Efficiency

The Emerging Business Model of Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS)

Posted by Eveline Killian on May 24, 2017 10:00:00 AM

I recently read an article about an emerging business model, Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS), which is a deviation from traditional power purchase agreements (PPAs) and Energy Management services.  In its basic form, “energy as a service” is the idea that an outside service company guarantees a building’s future energy costs.  If the building uses more energy than predicted, the service company is responsible for the difference.  But if the building uses less energy than contracted, the service company profits.  From the building owner’s perspective, it’s a way to manage overhead electricity costs that fluctuate by time-of-day rates and demand peaks, and fossil fuel costs that fluctuate throughout the year. For the service company, it is a way to be creative in energy supply and management, and an incentive for efficiency improvement.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency

Beyond Band-Aids: Approaching and Fixing Building Issues Holistically

Posted by Daniel Tuhus-Dubrow on May 3, 2017 10:00:00 AM

When people ask me what I do for work, I generally tell them I’m a building systems engineer, with a big focus on making facilities more energy efficient and comfortable for occupants. One common task entails going on a building site visit to perform an energy audit or assessment. During these visits, we walk the site, inventory all energy-related equipment (including lighting, mechanical systems, building envelope, etc.) and speak with the building operator about how they run the building and any issues or concerns they have regarding maintenance, equipment that is not working properly, or comfort problems. The end result is typically a report documenting the existing building systems, with recommendations on equipment upgrades or operational changes that can be made to save energy or improve comfort. We also will provide quantification of energy and cost savings for each identified opportunity.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency

Adaptability for Survival in a Changing Environment

Posted by Rick Stehmeyer on Mar 31, 2017 8:30:00 AM

I recently finished Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon.  I highly recommend this story which is a 1999 novel about 90s era computer hackers, World War II, and encryption.  It is both technically accurate, and gives a pretty good description for the 90s era hacker culture.  The book also gives the reader a good intro to encryption concepts.  However, why I am discussing it here is because one of the main characters, Bobby Shaftoe, brought to my attention the concept of people and their ability to adapt.  A person’s adaptability is important in my opinion - in life - but also in energy efficiency. 

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Topics: Energy Efficiency

Heat Pumps Catered to Colder Climates; Will Increased U.S. Adoption Continue?

Posted by Gretchen Schimelpfenig on Feb 22, 2017 10:00:00 AM

The origin stories for heat pump technology are economic. Applying Lord Kelvin’s theory that disputed the concept that heat could only flow ‘downhill’, Peter von Rittinger turned an expensive wood-based salt processing enterprise into a money maker by using heat pumps to desiccate salt brine. In the 1970s during the oil embargo, modern heat pump sales increased by 500% as heating and cooling costs squeezed homeowners. The innovation of ductless heat pumps in Asia created an alternative to costly kerosene space heaters and PTAC units. The energy efficiency of heat pumps directly translates into financial savings; why does the U.S. market still pale in comparison to the rest of the globe (Figure 1)?

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Topics: Sustainability, Energy Efficiency

More Issues with the Energy Code – Lighting is Running Rampant

Posted by Jennifer Chiodo on Jan 18, 2017 10:00:00 AM

I’ve been writing for a few years about the deficiencies in current energy codes regarding commercial and industrial (C&I) lighting efficiency requirements.  The problem isn’t fixed, even though I hear people decrying how the code is so stringent, they won’t be able to design buildings that exceed it. 

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Topics: Standards and Metrics, Energy Efficiency

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