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Commercial Building Energy Savings – A Checklist

Nearly one-fifth of all the energy consumed in the United States is used by commercial buildings ~ DVIRC

Unfortunately, too much of the energy used by those commercial buildings is wasted. Since efficiency is crucial to the bottom line, getting “buy in” from commercial building owners and their tenants to improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings is equally crucial.  Cutting the amount of energy wasted by a commercial building even a fraction of a percent can save businesses a substantial amount of money and increase their profit margins accordingly. That’s the good news — the better news is that many of the steps commercial building owners and tenants can take to reduce wasted energy are relatively easy.

 

Here’s a partial checklist of items to help your commercial building be more energy efficient.

  HEATING & COOLING

  • Insulate all HVAC ductwork
  • Open blinds on south-facing windows in winter to allow more
    heat from sunlight
  • Use programmable thermostats
  • Ensure HVAC system receives regular maintenance for best
    efficiency

  LIGHTING

  • Turn off lights at the end of the day
  • Use natural lighting whenever possible
  • Use motion sensors or dimmers on lights
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs or CFL lights
  • Use task lighting instead of lighting the entire room
 

  PLUMBING & WATER CONSERVATION

  • Make sure water heaters are insulated
  • Use low-flow toilets and other fixtures
  • Look for and repair leaks

  OFFICE EQUIPMENT

  • Unplug or shut down equipment when not in use
  • Use power-saving modes on equipment
  • Replace desktop computers with laptops
  • Replace CRT monitors with LED or LCD monitors
  • Look for ENERGY STAR-rated equipment
  • Use digital documents rather than printing them
  • Always photocopy on both sides of the paper

 

 

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night time view of lighted san francisco commercial buildings

5 Tips Your HVAC Contractor Wants You to Know

Whether you’re upgrading your system to accommodate living space changes to ensure perfect comfort or just fixing a system flaw…here are a few bits of wisdom that HVAC contractors wish you knew.

 

1. Making the right HVAC system choice should be carefully considered

Before even entertaining bids or quotes, consider the status quo of your current HVAC system. What seems to be working properly vs. the areas you’re looking for improvement? Which rooms seem to alwayd be too hot or cold— regardless of the season?  Selecting the best HVAC system involves many areas of choice…like a smart thermostat, an air purifier or high efficiency furnaces.  If you’re looking to lower your costs, focus on energy efficiency. But if you want a more powerful system, you need to be prepared for your bills to shoot higher.

2. If Installed correctly & professionally, almost any brand can work well
Don’t put too much weight on name value of brands when choosing a new HVAC system.  Quality & proper installation is a huge factor. You can almost choose the ‘worst’ brand, give it a proper installation, and it will work beautifully.

3. When it comes to HVAC contractors, you get what you pay for
HVAC systems aren’t known for being easy on the budget; a brand-new system could easily cost up to $13,000—or more. But resist the temptation to hunt high and low for the cheapest technician.

“This is not just plugging in the box—there is a craft,” Anderson says. “The old adage will always ring true: You get what you pay for.”

As with all contractors, get multiple quotes before committing to a company. Don’t skip the online research, and talk extensively with your installer about the process and procedures. Good contractors will be happy to explain why they charge more for installation than their competitors—and comparing those answers might help you choose between similarly priced companies.

4. HVAC is an art—and a science
If you’re installing a brand-new system in a home or facility without an existing HVAC system, both experience and expertise are extremely important for your chosen professional.

Veteran installers will consider important variables such as the duct system, the local building codes, and your electrical panel. Knowing how much load the existing panel can handle—and how much it will need to change—requires careful calculations. The best installers will carefully pick and design a system that keeps your house consistently at the right temperature.

5. A bad installation will likely cost you cash
Determining exactly how strong a system your home or office requires is a HUGE factor. For instance, an HVAC system designed to cool a 1,250-square-foot house will be working overtime trying to chill your 3,000-square-foot home.

A system that’s too big is not good either.  The system mus be designed for that living or work space and how that system will be used.

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A #SmallThanks from Lawrence Mechanical to You

A #SmallThanks from Lawrence Mechanical to You!

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Laboratory HVAC Systems – 3 Energy Efficiency Improving Tips

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and mechanical services expert, John Rush of Boulting Environmental Services explains three tips for improving the energy efficiency of HVAC systems in laboratories.  Cleanroom and laboratory design and construction are his area of specialization.

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GoodMills_Bulgaria_Laboratory.JPG

Safety, comfort and energy efficiency are the core components of HVAC design for any new facility.  Laboratories in particular can benefit immensely from improvements to their HVAC systems that result in increased energy efficiency.

Laboratories contain large HVAC systems to control airflow and temperature, which means they consume a large amount of energy per square metre. By implementing good HVAC system design, the carbon footprint of a laboratory can be dramatically reduced.

Ventilation requirements of a typical commercial building office means that approximately 4 Air Changes per Hour (ACH) are acceptable. However, laboratories usually require 8 to 30 ACH… putting a higher demand on the HVAC system and requiring much more energy.

  • Reducing contaminant sources – lessens the required number of ACH.
  • Introduce Direct Digital Controls (DDC) –  Automatic occupancy controls can reduce the air change rates when there is reduced fume cupboard use, together with reduced overall flowrate during unoccupied periods, reducing energy usage of the HVAC system.
  • Consider energy recovery technology, such as plate heat exchangers or run around coils.  Low-pressure loss, high-efficiency heat exchanger design will improve the energy efficiency of the facility.
  • Reduce energy used by the extraction fan. …by using a variable stack orifice or multi-stack discharge.

 

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Chillers & High Performance HVAC – A Viable Option

Building owners and managers of high-performance buildings have several viable HVAC options that span:

  • Rooftop Units
  • Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Systems
  • Geothermal or Air-Source Heat Pumps …and
  • Chillers

Large commercial buildings and similar facilities have largely considered Chillers as their top choice HVAC system, but stiff competition from new technologies, such as VRF systems have gained prominence in recent years…often because they are considered being easier to install and maintain.


But Chiller manufacturers are quick to respond that chillers offer:

  1. Exceptional energy efficiency as well as greater design flexibility
  2. Better Comfort
  3. Lower Total Life-Cycle Costs

These factors and more…making chillers a well fitting top choice for high-performance buildings.

WHY CHOOSE CHILLERS?

Energy efficiency is a primary concern among owners & facilites managers of high-performance buildings.  In fact, ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2013 shows water-cooled centrifugal chillers with capacities of 400 ton or more to be more efficient than other mechanical cooling technology, including air-cooled chillers, rooftop units, and self-contained systems, said Christine Detz, senior product manager of centrifugal chillers, building technologies and solutions, Johnson Controls Inc.

“Water-cooled chillers can also be designed to function over a wide operating envelope, which means warmer chilled water temperatures and colder tower water can be used for greater energy savings,” said Detz. “Other types of chiller designs, such as air-cooled free-cooling chillers or variable-speed drive (VSD) chillers, can minimize compressor runtime, which helps to increase energy savings even more. In other words, chillers deliver efficiencies, capacities, and options that make them advantageous for buildings designed for exceptional performance — not just for energy savings but also for cost-effectiveness, sustainability, functionality, productivity, and other performance-related criteria.”

Since HVAC systems account for a significant portion of a building’s energy use, chillers can be critical components in improving a building’s overall efficiency, noted Mike Patterson, centrifugal chiller product manager, Trane.

“Chillers also have a low total cost of ownership, offering high-performance building owners cost savings over the lifetimes of the systems. ~ Mike Patterson – Trane

“Well-designed chillers work with HVAC systems to deliver the right temperatures, humidity levels, and ventilation for the space while also prioritizing low operating cost and energy efficiency and ensuring low sound levels and minimal environmental impact.”

Read More – ACHRNews

HVAC Emergency Preparedness

Emergency-preparedness plans are created by many businesses and organizations with the main objective of keeping the organization itself functioning, but few factor in a plan for dealing with HVAC equipment failure. Disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and earthquakes can grind business operations to screeching half for a period of a few hours to days, weeks or even months.  Having a plan in place will minimize the HVAC systems downtime, and ease the interruption of the occupants operations.

Here are four steps to create and implement an HVAC Emergency Preparedness Plan for your facility or business:

Existing HVAC Systems Review –  identify critical equipment that if failed, would have greatest disruptive impact on operations overall.  In terms of facility’s HVAC needs, understanding all  heating and cooling load requirements for each area of the facility…particularly,  identifying the availability of power, amperage, and electrical connections.


Risk Assessment – Prepare a risk assessment for each area of the facility….creating an order of priority for each system(s) that would need to be restored with temporary cooling. An important consideration in this process is whether one central system serves the complete facility versus multiple systems serving specific areas of the facility. This risk assessment priority order should be a joint effort between the HVAC contractor and the facility owner.

Plan Creation – Determine a recommended temporary equipment solution set to meet the facilities emergency load requirements.  Temporary equipment should be located as close as possible to the current equipment. Now, you’re in position to prepare a cost estimate for the temporary rental equipment including set-up, implementation, and ongoing temporary operating costs.

Implement and Sustain – Regularly update this newly created HVAC Emergency Preparedness Plan so that implementation will be a step by step process should a catastrophe actually occur. Ensure that all documents, such as rental agreements, are in place and that any building modifications are made.  Create a preset arrangement with the temporary equipment vendor with agreed upon fees and strategy. Train personnel on this new Preparedness Pland and have a flow chart with responsibilities and phone contact list.

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Temporary Cooling During HVAC Upgrades

Like any other mechanically oriented system and equipment…commercial HVAC systems eventually need to be replaced. Smart facilities managers that follow best maintenance practices can slow down deterioration and maximize useful life…replacement is inevitable.

Consequently, major operations disruptions are unavoidable and need to be planned for by maintenance and engineering managers since substantial areas of the facility could go without air conditioning for time periods ranging from days to months.  The potential impact on building occupants is obvious.  Temporarily relocating operations to other areas is one alternative, but most won’t have that flexibility.

Fortunately, the marketplace has provided multiple options for temporary cooling solutions.  They range from small, self-contained units for cooling a moderate sized room, often called “spot cooling”…to massive trailer-mounted units capable of cooling entire buildings.

In either scenario, advanced planing by managers is required to achieve an effective temporary cooling plan. They must:

  1. Size the units to meet the cooling load…
  2. Understand power requirements for the temporary unit and make power available, and…
  3. Lock in purchase or rental contracts well in advance of time needed for deployment.

Waiting for a crisis to occur that will ultimately require the use of a portable unit, can only lead to project delays or disruption of services.

Advanced Needs Assessment dictates that Managers must start the planning process by identifying areas served by the system being upgraded.  Next, they will have to determine the amount of cooling capacity these areas need.  Managers need to size temporary units so they have adequate capacity to properly cool and dehumidify the area the units served.

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5 Portable Air Conditioner Inventions You Must See

Everyone likes a list of cool items that basically cut to the chase on a heavy duty amount of research that offers a highly practical bottom line for someone in that particular marketplace.  Well, it’s still Summer and it’s still Hot outside, so here’s some nifty ideas on cooling down on a small scale.

  • Wynd – a smart air purifier that monitors and cleans the air in your home. This system is so portable…you can bring it everywhere you go.
  • Zero Breeze – a portable air conditioner that also includes some practical gadgets. It comes complete with a Bluetooth speaker,a night light,and can charge your smartphone 3 time over,whether it’s a Samsung or the latest iPhone 7.
  • Amazing Air Conditioner – a personal and affordable air conditioner that costs only 3 cents to operate.  It uses less energy than a traditional air conditioners or electric fans.  Frankly you can do this yourself…just use a block of ice, a bucket and fan…and you’ll get a homemade air conditioner.  But this version is more stylish than a DIY version…and again it costs less to operate.
  • Ambi Climate – a small connected device that can take control of any existing infrared remote controlled air conditioner smart.  After installing this technological marvel…you can control it with your smartphone.  This gadget helps you monitor the temperature inside and outside your home. Key Features: 1) it uses your existing A/C …and 2) It’s compatible with any infrared remote-controlled ac unit.
    • Automatic air conditioner control
    • Learns and remembers your thermal comfort preferences.
    • Turns on your AC as you’re heading home
    • Syncs your ac with your iPhone or android device
    • No tools or expertise needed for setup
    • Energy-saving tips and ac maintenance notifications.
    • Saves up to 30% on air conditioning energy usage.
  • Noria – a window air conditioner that’s extremely easy to install and beautifully designed. You can control Noria using your iPhone or android device.

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Commercial Buildings – 3 Heat Beating Tips

Summer’s here…that means greater required energy consumption to cool the outside air as it enters a building, resulting in higher costs.  The status quo of most commercial buildings is that indoor air is replaced with outside air every one to two hours to prevent high concentrations of indoor pollutants.  Sounds great, but it’s also costly because requires a high volume of outdoor air that must be cooled to maintain comfortable temperatures and humidity inside the building during the summer months.

What about cleaning and recycling the indoor air instead of constantly replacing it with outside air?


Here are some Summer tips for facilities managers to consider when preparing their buildings to beat the heat:

New Technology – Outside the HVAC Box

Using less outside air for building ventilation:

  1. Boosts Energy Efficiency
  2. Save Costs
  3. Maintain Air Quality…keeping occupants comfortable?

Cleaning and recycling the indoor air instead of constantly replacing it with outside air has 4 more benefits:

  1. Complies with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 62.1 Indoor Air Quality Procedure (IAQP).
  2. This technology decreases the outside air intake required to ventilate a building by 60 to 80 per cent.
  3. Reduces peak HVAC capacity, resulting in 20 to 30 per cent energy savings and up to 40 per cent lower utility demand charges.
  4. Extends air filter lifespan…reducing water consumption, and will help postpone HVAC equipment replacement. Moreover, with this technology, buildings can invest in lower-capacity and less expensive HVAC systems, and benefit from decreased maintenance costs.

Prioritize Indoor Air Quality

Improved indoor air quality in buildings can help boost cognitive performance by 101 per cent, which translates into $6,500 per year in additional productivity per employee. ~ Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The productivity and health benefits for building occupants is astounding…

The Internet of Things in Action

This new HVAC technology describe above also permits increased visibility through IoT capabilities that provide 24/7 monitoring and management of a building’s indoor air quality, temperature, and humidity. These real-time insights into air quality and comfort allow for more proactive management of buildings to help reduce energy costs.

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Rooftop HVAC Unit Maintenance 101

Being proactive with regular routine maintenance of rooftop HVAC units is only a smart idea.  Otherwise…dealing with every little performance issue as they arise can not only be costly…with respect to replacement parts and labor, as well as the excess energy costs while the equipment is underperforming.

Routine maintenance on a scheduled basis helps to identify problems BEFORE they occur…so they can be corrected to avoid the cost of major repairs later.  These basic steps are a good guideline to follow when performing scheduled maintenance on rooftop units.

  1. Power Check – After making sure the unit has power…look for any service lights or faults codes as a clue to any potential problems.  Usually powering down (turning off) the main unit, then turning it back on will reset the unit control board…potentially losing any fault codes displayed.  Fault codes may be displayed on the unit itself (viewable through a small sight-glass near the electrical service panel) or on the thermostat.  Adjust the temperature set-point on the thermostat and listen for a clicking noise, indicating that the thermostat relays are engaging.
  2. Visual Check – Look for oily or greasy areas on the unit as potential signals of a refrigerant leak.  Closely inspect the condenser and evaporator coils…seeing if they need to be cleaned. Ice on the evaporator may mean a low-refrigerant charge or “low airflow” due to a dirty or too restrictive air filter.
  3. Electrical Connections Tight? – After a good visual inspection for warning signs of any service problems that need addressed…turn off the power to the unit and begin the maintenance process by tightening all electrical connections. Many failures on units are due to loose wiring. Be careful when tightening the electrical connections on the compressor: if they appear damaged or overheated in any way, the terminal connections may be compromised. If the capacitors appear to be deformed (swelled or leaking) consider replacing them, as they may be nearing the end of their life-cycle.

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