Archive for the ‘ENERGY STAR’ Category

Best pratice: Combining green and intelligent building solutions

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The best practice is a building is one that is both green and intelligent. It is a building that uses both technology and process to create a facility that is safe, healthy and comfortable, and enables productivity and well being for its occupants. It provides timely, integrated system information for its owners so that they may make intelligent decisions regarding its operation and maintenance, and has an implicit logic that effectively evolves with changing user requirements and technology, ensuring continued and improved intelligent operation, maintenance and optimization.

This building to be designed, constructed and operated with minimum impact on the environment, with emphasis on conserving resources, using energy efficiently and creating healthy occupied environments. It must meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainability is measured in three interdependent dimensions: environmental stewardship, economic prosperity and social responsibility. The building to exhibit key attributes of environmental sustainability to benefit present and future generations.

The building to be fully networked for all incorporated systems, where the basic objective is the simple integration of independent systems to achieve interaction across all systems, allowing them to work collectively, optimizing a building’s performance, and constantly creating an environment that is conducive to the occupants’ goals. Additionally, the inclusion of a fully interoperable system in the buildings tend to perform better, cost less to maintain, and leave a small environmental imprint than individual utilities and communication systems.

UK BREEAM and Energy Star rated buildings in the United States earn substantial benefits compared to non-green buildings; in particular 40 per cent greater energy efficiency compared to standard buildings and significant lower operations costs.

Based on industry data, approximately 85 per cent of ENERGY STAR-rated buildings use a system with energy management controls and 50 per cent use lighting system motion sensors to qualify for the ENERGY STAR certification. The idea of leveraging intelligence to enhance building performance, either for energy efficiency or occupant comfort and thereby obtaining credits is also acknowledged by the U.S. Green Building Council. If the objective is clear, the credit system under LEED is geared to recognize building performance that has been enhanced by automation and IT-centric intelligence.

Each building is unique in its mission and operational objectives and therefore, must balance short- and long-term needs accordingly. Bright green buildings provide a dynamic environment that responds to occupants’ changing needs and lifestyles. As technology advances, and as information and communication expectations become more sophisticated, networking solutions both converge and automate divergent technologies to improve responsiveness, efficiency and performance.

To achieve this, bright green buildings converge data, voice and video with security, HVAC, lighting, and other electronic controls on a single network platform that facilitates user management, space utilisation, energy conservation, comfort, and systems improvement.

According to industry experts, building owners are not going to make any investment unless it has a return-on-investment. The question that building owners should ask is what is going to drive the ROI calculations. If there is no value in carbon and no value in saving energy and no value in terms of corporate social responsibility, then there is no value and there are no ROI calculations. In developing a financial justification for investments in intelligent and green technologies, and assessing the potential return on that investment, it is necessary to consider new construction and retrofit projects separately, because the requirements, and therefore the economic fundamentals of the two types of projects are very different.

New Construction
In a new construction scenario, the cost of creating a green and intelligent building is often not that different than the costs associated with creating a traditional building. Certain aspects associated with intelligent building technology and applications, such as cabling, are actually less costly than traditional infrastructure – in the case of cabling, labour costs are often lower where intelligent designs are used. However, other technologies and equipment will require additional investment to integrate all of the components of the system. For example, integrating the access control systems with lighting and HVAC systems will cost more up-front than installing disparate systems alone. As has been found in all of the case studies examined as part of this research, this initial investment in green and intelligent design and technology generally has a relatively short ROI period when compared to the anticipated usable life of a modern building.

Existing Buildings
Retrofits are more frequently driven by the desire to reduce energy costs than anything else. These are often cases where the existing technology or system in a building can be upgraded easily and the payback period is expected to be short. Intelligent building features such as better monitoring and control of energy-intensive systems such as HVAC and lighting can provide for optimum performance and predictive maintenance needs, reducing both energy usage and operating expense. Additionally, reporting features assist in making decisions that make the building more efficient and more reliable.

Integrated building professionals report that facilities managers get very little decision making information, so tuning up the control system is the best thing they can do to optimize the building. With one unified approach to monitoring facilities, buildings can change the underlying infrastructure without changing the enterprise level reporting mechanisms. This allows building owners to have a heterogeneous infrastructure that creates more competition between technology vendors, where they can begin to generate savings more quickly, and can generate an ROI payback in two to three years rather than over the course of a decade. By integrating utility bills into the enterprise asset management system, facility managers can further provide diagnostic information to facility managers, enabling them to take immediate action. In order to conserve energy – and money – it is imperative that proper information management architecture is in place, which makes the information actionable and definable.

Occupant Productivity and Comfort
Occupant productivity, especially in owner-occupied buildings, has a significant measurable impact on the ROI calculation. Given that energy costs represent about one per cent of the overall cost of doing business and investment expenses are about 10 per cent, staffing costs can represent up to 85 per cent of the total cost of doing business. Any improvement in productivity can therefore have a significant positive financial return.

Life Cycle Benefits
Depending on how the life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is addressed, this could potentially enable facilities and organizations to attain their long-term sustainability goals by developing their environmental monitoring systems to generate pertinent data. Therefore, keeping in mind that intelligent technologies are installed to deliver effective payback and long-term returns, it is critical for such systems to incorporate LCCA.