Al­most a quar­ter of the en­ergy used to run our com­mer­cial build­ings could be saved with some rel­a­tively sim­ple and in­ex­pen­sive ef­fi­ciency mea­sures.

Element - - Element Promotion - By Alex Cut­ler ALEX CUT­LER

In New Zealand, com­mer­cial build­ings ac­count for around 9% of to­tal en­ergy use and 21% of elec­tric­ity use. The lat­ter costs New Zealand busi­nesses around $1.25 bil­lion ev­ery year. About $280 mil­lion of this could be saved, cost-ef­fec­tively, through en­ergy ef­fi­ciency mea­sures.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­duce en­ergy con­sump­tion in ex­ist­ing build­ings have been un­der-pub­li­cised for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. The most no­table is a lack of avail­able cost data. Other rea­sons in­clude lack of clar­ity on the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of cer­tain tech­nolo­gies and their re­spec­tive en­ergy sav­ings, a per­ceived level of dis­rup­tion to oc­cu­piers and the ‘who pays, who gains’ is­sue be­tween land­lords and ten­ants. EECA Busi­ness has been do­ing a huge amount in this area to plug those gaps (www.eecabusi­ness.govt.nz).

The ma­jor­ity of of­fice build­ings (built prior to 2002) can achieve a sig­nif­i­cant en­ergy re­duc­tion fol­low­ing a small ad­di­tional spend of 5% when un­der­tak­ing a ma­jor re­fur­bish­ment. Of course re­fur­bish­ing build­ings and im­prov­ing their en­ergy ef­fi­ciency adds tan­gi­ble value to the as­set, in terms of mar­ket value, but also in­creased oc­cu­pant com­fort (trans­lat­ing into a more de­sir­able as­set).

With of­fice build­ings, one of the best places to start iden­ti­fy­ing where the op­por­tu­ni­ties for ef­fi­ciency sav­ings will shortly be to get a NABERSNZ™ rat­ing. NABERSNZ is an en­ergy per­for­mance rat­ing tool be­ing launched in June that will pro­vide build­ing own­ers with a star rat­ing (from 1 to 6) and a sense of where they sit com­pared to the rest of the mar­ket. It’s an ini­tia­tive be­ing launched by EECA Busi­ness and the New Zealand Green Build­ing Coun­cil (NZGBC) to mea­sure and rate en­ergy per­for­mance in the of­fice mar­ket, with a view to ex­tend­ing to other types of build­ing in due course.

EECA’s ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with com­pa­nies that have un­der­taken en­ergy au­dits in­di­cates that typ­i­cally 5% to 20% of en­ergy can be saved through no- and low-cost changes. Th­ese changes in­clude tasks such as im­prov­ing build­ing man­age­ment prac­tices and re-com­mis­sion­ing build­ing ser­vices sys­tems (see be­low).

The utopian ideal would be that we de­sign and con­struct our build­ings for max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency (NZGBC also op­er­ate the Green Star suite of tools to help early en­cour­age this – nzgbc.org.nz) and that we dare to be­lieve that our build­ings can also give back to the en­vi­ron­ment, through ex­port­ing sur­plus en­ergy to the grid. Easy wins’ for busi­nesses try­ing to lower their en­ergy bills

Im­prove build­ing man­age­ment

First, you need to un­der­stand how your build­ing works. Then en­sure your fa­cil­i­ties/prop­erty man­ager is mon­i­tor­ing the build­ing op­er­a­tions and en­ergy use, and putting in steps to cor­rect any anom­alies as they oc­cur. This also in­volves ed­u­cat­ing ten­ants and other build­ing users about sim­ple en­ergy sav­ing mea­sures, such as turn­ing off lights and com­put­ers when not in use. I rec­om­mend a build­ing user guide to help with this. Light­ing con­trols:

A well-de­signed build­ing should of­fer its ten­ants the max­i­mum amount of day­light pos­si­ble to re­duce the load on the light­ing ser­vices; how­ever, we know this isn’t al­ways pos­si­ble. So, we ad­vise sim­ple mea­sures such as light­ing zon­ing (lights switched on only where and when peo­ple are work­ing), ap­pro­pri­ate

lux lev­els for the space and the most en­ergy ef­fi­cient fit­tings and fix­tures you can af­ford (re­mem­ber LED and T5 light­ing have great pay­back pe­ri­ods).

Im­prov­ing air tight­ness All build­ings leak a lit­tle, but a great ther­mal en­ve­lope en­sures heat­ing and cool­ing ef­forts don’t go to waste. Vas­ri­able speed heat­ing and cool­ing pumps:

This type of heat­ing and cool­ing sys­tem al­lows for variation de­pend­ing on the con­di­tions. It en­sures that your heat­ing and cool­ing func­tions ac­cord­ing to what it needs to achieve, rather than op­er­at­ing at the same lev­els all the time. Heat­ing con­trols:

Just like light­ing, dif­fer­ent spa­ces need dif­fer­ent lev­els of heat­ing through­out the day. Ef­fi­cient zon­ing and de­sign­ing for the user’s needs helps re­duce en­ergy use and avoids heat­ing or cool­ing an area that isn’t be­ing used. Avoid re­heat­ing. This is where a build­ing is heat­ing air in a zone that was pre­vi­ously cooled by the cen­tral ser­vices. Ask your fa­cil­i­ties or prop­erty man­ager if this ap­plies to your of­fice. Other easy wins to talk to your build­ing man­ager about: Power fac­tor cor­rec­tion High-ef­fi­ciency chillers Heat re­cov­ery DC drive fan coil units In­tro­duc­ing econ­omy cy­cle into air conditioning sys­tems Ef­fi­cient boil­ers

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