Intelligent Use of Energy: How does your building fare?
Richard R. Vaillencourt, PE,
Canterbury Engineering Associates LLC
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles on
intelligent energy use in buildings by consulting engineer Richard
Vaillencourt. Previous articles also are available. We hope you’ll find
them helpful as you work to optimize your building’s energy use.
You’ve probably seen the ENERGY STAR label – it’s on everything from
printers to washing machines to furnaces. It’s become the symbol of
energy-efficient products across the country. Consumers are paying
attention and making it a part of their selection criteria.
But have you ever wondered how your building stacks up in terms of
energy use? How energy-efficient is your building? You can find out by
using ENERGY STAR for Commercial Buildings, a national rating system
developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The program helps
buildings benchmark and track energy use, provides energy management
guidelines, offers advice on design for energy efficient buildings and
features calculators to track returns on energy-efficiency investments.
ENERGY STAR has developed a database of the energy performance of a wide
range of different building types –- everything from commercial office
buildings to hotels to banks to courthouses to hospitals. Energy
performance is defined as Btu per square foot per year. If you input
your building type, size and 12 months’ worth of energy bills into
ENERGY STAR’s free Portfolio Manager tool, the program will compare your
performance to the database of other buildings in your climate region
and occupancy type.
The energy performance of commercial and industrial facilities is scored
on a 1-100 scale. Those facilities that achieve a score of 75 or higher
are eligible for the ENERGY STAR, indicating that they are among the top
25 percent of facilities in the country for energy performance.
More than 62,000 buildings have been rated; just 4,000 buildings – a
number of them in Hartford – have earned the coveted ENERGY STAR
designation. A list of labeled buildings is available at
www.energystar.gov/buildings, where you can click on “Commercial
Real Estate” on the far left of the screen to obtain more detailed
information. You can also log in at the far right to start the
application process using Portfolio Manager.
Once you set up an account, you will be asked to enter relevant
attributes for your building such as gross floor area, number of
occupants and operating hours per week.
Portfolio Manger allows you to keep track of your facility’s energy
consumption over time. You create meters for the fuel types your
facility uses and enter applicable period billing data and the cost of
the fuel used (optional). Portfolio Manager also tracks carbon emissions
and water consumption.
Based on the information you entered about your building, such as its
size, location, number of occupants, number of PCs, etc., the rating
system estimates how much energy the building would use if it were the
best performing, the worst performing, and every level in between. To
calculate a rating, the system requires 12 months of consecutive energy
data. The system then compares the actual energy data you entered to the
estimate to determine where your building ranks relative to its peers.
(Note: A building that has earned the ENERGY STAR becomes eligible to
reapply one year after the last energy data indicated on the previous
Facilities achieving a rating of 75 or higher and professionally
verified by a licensed professional engineer to meet current indoor
environment standards are eligible to apply for the ENERGY STAR. The
ENERGY STAR is awarded for a specific year. Once a facility has been
approved for the ENERGY STAR, it is displayed on the ENERGY STAR Web
site and receives a plaque that can be placed prominently in the
facility to honor its achievement.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Existing Buildings
and the Green Globes rating systems require an ENERGY STAR application
before a building can be evaluated through their programs.
If you have questions about entering energy consumption information in
the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, please call Jeff Lindberg at Hartford
Steam Company, (860) 548-7348. He’d be glad to help.
he Hartford Steam
60 Columbus Boulevard
Hartford, CT 06103-2805
860-548-7350 / 860-548-7360 fax
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