The California Energy Commission has passed energy-efficiency standards for computers and monitors in an effort to reduce power costs, becoming the first state in the nation to adopt such rules. Th…
Much of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions involves fairly complicated and advanced technologies. Whether it’s solar panels, batteries, flywheels, or fuel cells, these technologies have typically required public support to bring them to scale at a reasonable price, along with significant regulatory or legal reforms to accommodate these new ways of doing old things, […]
To recommend policies to boost this capital market financing for energy retrofits, UC Berkeley and UCLA Law are today releasing a new report “Powering the Savings:How California Can Tap the Energy Efficiency Potential in Existing Commercial Buildings.” The report is the 17th in the two law schools’ Climate Change and Business Research Initiative, generously supported by Bank of America since 2009.
The report describes ways that California could unlock more private investment in energy efficiency retrofits, particularly in commercial buildings. This financing will flow if there’s a predictable, long-term, measured and verified amount of savings that can be directly traced to energy efficiency measures. New software and methodologies can now more accurately perform this task. They establish a building’s energy performance baseline, calibrating for a variety of factors, such as weather, building use, and occupancy changes. That calibrated or “dynamic” baseline can then form the basis for calculating the energy savings that occur due specifically to efficiency improvements.
But the state currently lacks a uniform, state-sanctioned methodology and technology standard, so utilities are reluctant to base efficiency incentives or programs without regulatory approval to use these new methods. The report therefore recommends that energy regulators encourage utilities to develop aggressive projects based on these emerging metering technologies that can ultimately inform a standard measurement process and catalyze “pay-for-performance” energy efficiency financing, with utilities able to procure energy efficiency savings just like they were a traditional generation resource. […]
The Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington, is one of the most self-sufficient buildings on the planet. It is net zero energy and, after the water reuse system is approved by city authorities, net zero water. Net zero means that the building uses the same amount as it creates or generates – it is self-sufficient.
Healthy Green Materials
The Living Building Challenge requires projects to avoid as many of the chemicals and substances that are found on the Red List as possible. These substances have been recognized by government agencies, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency, the European Union Commission, and the State of California, as potentially harmful to human or animal life on Earth. Not all of the substances can be avoided, though, due to the lack of availability of materials that do not contain them.
The Bullitt Center team avoided over 360 known chemicals on this list. Some were easy to avoid, as alternatives were readily available. The team also worked with suppliers to create products that met their requirements, changing the way the products were made and making them available to others.
Most plumbing valves, even those made of brass and bronze, contain up to 7% lead. Lead free valves, with an allowable lead content of only 0.25%, were used in both the potable and non-potable water systems, including fire sprinklers.Phthalates are commonly used in PVC and other plastic products. A high-performance water barrier company performed 6 months of research to develop a product that did not contain phthalates, just for the Bullitt Center project. The new product has now replaced the original version going forward. Dioxins are a by-product of the manufacture, combustion, and disposal of products containing chlorine, most notably PVC products. Couplings for no-hub ductile iron pipe are commonly made with neoprene, which contains chlorine. The team worked with the manufacturer to special order couplings made of EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber. The electrician was able to find electrical wire not coated in PVC that met code standards. The fiberglass insulation in the project is held together by a plant-based polymer, not the usual one that contains formaldehyde.
The Bullitt Center is a wood-framed structure. Because of its location and the importance of the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest, the project team decided this was the best choice for the project. 100% of the lumber in the building has been harvested from anForest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified source. The project was also recognized as the only commercial project to receive the Forest Stewardship Council Project Certification, in recognition of responsible forest products use throughout the building.
Perhaps the greatest story about green materials and the Bullitt Center involves the curtain wall (window) system. Due to the high performance needs of the project, only one product could be used, and it was only manufactured in Europe. A Washington company partnered with the European manufacturer to gain the knowledge to manufacture and install the system in the US. The Washington company flew their employees over to find out how to make and install the system, and a licensing agreement was reached. Now this high performance system is available in the US for future projects to use.
New EPA regulations are an opportunity to modernize the generating fleet, according to a Consumers Energy official.
>”[…] Consumers Energy will shutter nine coal plants in Michigan as EPA air pollution regulations make them unprofitable to operate, MLive reports. And the Michigan utility won’t be the only one. A wave of coal retirements will roll across the Midwest by early 2016, shuttering more than 60 generating plants, a Consumers official told the “Greening of the Great Lakes” weekly radio program.In addition to the regulations under the Clean Power Plan and other EPA programs, Consumers says many of the nine coal plants were built in the 1950s and are simply at the end of their productive lives. […]
Last year Consumers Energy announced it had selected AMEC to run the utility’s decommissioning program for the planned retirement of seven operating units at the utility’s three oldest coal-fired generating plants. Though there is still uncertainty over just what impact a slate of EPA regulations will have, Consumers last year said the power plants being decommissioned have an average operating life-span of more than 60 years and collectively represented approximately 950 MW of electric capacity.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, but as it stands the regulations could apply to 1,400 generators at more than 600 of the nation’s largest power plants.
Federal regulators believe the tighter controls could prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year by limiting mercury, particulate matter, and other harmful pollutants it says are hazardous to public health.”<
Donald Elliott from Covington & Burling LLP writes an informative article on The National Law Review website about the quiet success of energy efficiency standards. It would be good to see an equivalent article on the success of the Ecodesign Directive in Europe.
Energy Efficiency Standards A Quiet Success
Electricity consumption in the United States has generally declined in recent years, due in part to the quiet success of several energy efficiency standards. In 2013, for instance, the average amount of electricity used in American homes fell to 2001 levels, despite consumers using more products that require electricity.
Building on this success, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced at various times throughout 2014 several new energy efficiency standards for consumer and commercial products. Most recently, DOE issued pre-publication final rules setting new efficiency standards for both general service fluorescent lamps (GSFLs) and automatic commercial ice makers (ACIMs). GSFLS, fluorescent…
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DOE’s analyses estimate lifetime savings for electric motors purchased over the 30-year period that begins in the year of compliance with new and amended standards (2016-45) to be 7.0 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu). The annualized energy savings—0.23 quadrillion Btu—is equivalent to 1% of total U.S. industrial primary electricity consumption in 2013.
>” Nearly half of the electricity consumed in the manufacturing sector is used for powering motors, such as for fans, pumps, conveyors, and compressors. About two thirds of this machine-drive consumption occurs in the bulk chemicals, food, petroleum and coal products, primary metals, and paper industries. For more than three decades the efficiency of new motors has been regulated by federal law. Beginning in mid-2016, an updated standard established this year by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for electric motors will once again increase the minimum efficiency of new motors.
The updated electric motor standards apply the standards currently in place to a wider scope of electric motors, generating significant estimated energy savings. […]
Legislation has increased the federal minimum motor efficiencies requirements over the past two decades, covering motors both manufactured and imported for sale in the United States. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) set minimum efficiency levels for all motors up to 200 horsepower (hp) purchased after October 1997. The U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 updated the EPAct standards starting December 2010, including 201-500 hp motors. EISA assigns minimum, nominal, full-load efficiency ratings according to motor subtype and size. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 also requires DOE to establish the most stringent standards that are both technologically feasible and economically justifiable, and to periodically update these standards as technology and economics evolve.
Motors typically fail every 5 to 15 years, depending on the size of the motor. When they fail they can either be replaced or repaired (rewound). When motors are rewound, their efficiencies typically diminish by a small amount. Large motors tend to be more efficient than small motors, and they tend to be used for more hours during the year. MotorMaster+ and MotorMaster+ International, distributed by the U.S. Department of Energy and developed by the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Energy Program in conjunction with the Bonneville Power Administration, are sources for cost and performance data on replacing and rewinding motors.
Improving the efficiency of motor systems, rather than just improving the efficiency of individual motors, may hold greater potential for savings in machine-drive electricity consumption. Analysis from the U.S. Department of Energy shows that more than 70% of the total potential motor system energy savings is estimated to be available through system improvements by reducing system load requirements, reducing or controlling motor speed, matching component sizes to the load, upgrading component efficiency, implementing better maintenance practices, and downsizing the motor when possible.”<
Later this month, the Berkeley City Council is slated to approve a new law — designed to increase building sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions — that will mandate new fees and recurring energy assessments for local property owners.
>” […] The law would require payment of a $79-$240 filing fee, depending on building size, by property owners every 5-10 years. On top of that, property owners will be required to undergo building energy assessments on the same cycle, conducted by registered contractors, to the tune of an estimated $200 for a single-family home and up to $10,000 for large commercial buildings.
The goal of the new law, according to the city, is to make “building energy use information more transparent to owners and prospective renters or buyers,” and ultimately inspire more investment in energy upgrades. The law would replace existing minimum energy and water efficiency measures in Berkeley. The proposed ordinance would not require that upgrades are actually done, but will compile energy scores and summaries for city properties, and make them readily available online.
Explained city sustainability coordinator Billi Romain, “Rather than require a list of specific measures, it requires an evaluation of a building’s efficiency opportunities and identifies all available incentives and financing programs.”
Romain said the hope is that, by giving people a “road map” for potential improvements, they will be more likely to schedule them to fit in with other home projects, such as seismic work. In addition to cutting down on local greenhouse gas emissions, the new ordinance has several other goals, from reducing utility costs that cause local dollars to “leak out” of Berkeley, to creating a more comfortable, durable building stock, as well as fortifying the local “green” workforce. […]
According to a city Energy Commission report on the ordinance, the assessments would take place on a five-year cycle for large buildings and every 8-10 years, or upon sale, for medium-sized and small buildings. Some of the costs may be offset by rebates and other incentives, and the program is set to include temporary “hardship deferrals” for those with financial constraints, and exemptions for high-efficiency buildings (see page 14). […]”<
Lighting control systems can help microgrids shed load, improve demand response, use resources efficiently, and offer greater overall reliability.
>” […] Lighting Control Facilitates Load-shed Strategies
Load shed, or the ability to quickly reduce electricity use during peak periods, is critical to ensuring microgrid reliability. Because lighting uses a considerable proportion of building peak electrical loads (30% of peak electricity),1 and because reduced light levels deliver immediate reductions in electricity, lighting control is one of the simplest and most predictable demand response solutions.
The reduction of lighting load also provides a reduction in HVAC cooling load during the summer, which is the most common peak electrical period. Furthermore, since dimming is typically unobtrusive when it is executed over a period of time (as little as 10 seconds), lighting control is a viable option for immediate emergency response.
Dimming as a load shed strategy is highly effective because the human visual system has the ability to accommodate a wide variety of light levels with minimal effect on the occupants2,3. When a demand reduction is required a gradual dimming of electric lighting can reduce light levels by 35 percent before 20 percent of the occupants attempt to intervene. Response time is essentially instantaneous, typically has little impact on occupant comfort, and demand savings from lighting are more predictable than those from HVAC response.
Light management systems have the capability to automatically trigger a demand response event from a utility signal or from time clock scheduling. Therefore, a predictable and effective demand response strategy can be automatically implemented while going virtually unnoticed to the building occupants.
Energy codes, standards, and green building certifications such as ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers) 90.1, IECC (International Energy Conservation Code), California Title 24, ASHRAE 189, IgCC (International Green Construction Code), or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) now include lighting controls as a part of a whole-building energy strategy.
There are subtle differences for each code/standard/certification, but some general requirements and/or credits include: required lighting control for most areas (manual or automatic), automatic lighting shut-off, some automatic receptacle shut-off, daylight controls for daylit spaces, automatic shut-off of exterior lighting during daytime hours, and various levels of occupancy/vacancy control. As a result of buildings updating their basic lighting control infrastructure to meet code, they are increasingly becoming capable of connecting to a microgrid, without the need for additional significant investments.
During a webcast […] representatives from the US Department of Energy and Underwriters Laboratories walked through the details of the just-released energy management standard, and how companies can get on board, quickly.
>”When the standard achieves widespread adoption, it’s estimated that ISO 50001 could influence up to 60 percent of the world’s energy use. […]
ISO 50001 requires continuous improvement, but not specific requirements, which is where the ITP program comes in, to have specific requirements of improvement. The value of the certification, Scheihing said, is that for the first time it provides a framework for continual improvement for facilities on energy performance, and across the entire organization.
To be certified, you have to conform to the ISO 50001 management standard, and you have to improve your energy performance, and get both aspects certified under a third party. There are 24 companies working in the pilot mode of ISO 50001, across all types of manufacturing sectors and at all sizes.
Between 2008 and 2010, five initial facilities in Texas were piloted, and have been certified to date. Scheihing said the energy improvements achieved at the facilities ranged from 6.5 percent to 17.1 percent over a three-year period.
Among the initial feedback from the pilot project include the benefits of having a cross-functional plant energy management team that goes beyond just operations or engineering means that energy management becomes a shared responsibility, and that makes it much easier to incorporate significant changes in energy use.
One of the biggest shifts that the pilot projects found was that as a result of going through ISO 50001 certification, energy management became a way of doing business, instead of a project-by-project undertaking. […]
Scheihing laid out six steps that any organization can take to get started on ISO 50001 today:
Secure support from top management;Collect, track, and analyze energy data;Identify key energy uses;Establish a baseline;Identify energy-saving opportunities;Prioritize opportunities
The Department of Energy has created a new website for energy management, which lays out an overview of ISO 50001 and offers case studies and tools to help companies undertake those first steps.
Jerry Skaggs from UL DQS followed on Scheihing’s presentation to walk through each of the six steps, as well as a checklist for organizations to follow once they’ve gone through the process to ensure proper implementation and follow-through.
In the end, there are a number of benefits to effectively implement an energy management system, including:
• Reduced operational and overhead costs lead to increased profitability
• Reduced air emissions, such as GHGs
• Increased efficiency of energy sources
• Increased assurance of legal, internal compliance
• Variables affecting energy use and consumption are identified
• Increased understanding of energy use and consumption via defined methods, processes of data collection
UL DQS, which brings the Management Systems Solutions division of Underwriters Laboratories together with DQS, a German management certification company, offers a number of specialized services for helping companies assess and implement opportunities for energy management, including ISO 50001 certification. […] “<