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IES Director, David McEwan explains why you need to be…

There are still many companies that don’t have sustainability or energy management as a priority on their agendas. With new government regulations such as ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) emerging, they may find themselves scrambling to keep up and get on board fast.

ESOS has been introduced to help the UK meet its requirements under the EU Energy Efficiency Directive and is expected to affect more than 9,000 of the largest companies in the UK. The scheme requires these companies to undertake mandatory assessments looking at energy use and energy efficiency opportunities at least once every four years.

ESOS compliant energy audits must determine total energy consumption (using verifiable energy data) over a consecutive 12-month period known as the reference period. What many miss in the detail, is that the reference period must overlap with the qualification date and end before 5th December 2015. This means that 5th December this year is the absolute latest date you can start to monitor your energy consumption. If you have nothing in place, you’ll need to get started!

Businesses that meet the following criteria on the qualification date of the 31st December 2014 must comply with ESOS:
– 250+ employees
– or have more than a €50m turnover and an annual balance sheet of €43m
– or are part of a wider group that meets this criteria

To comply businesses must:

Audit energy use (90% of your use):
– Buildings (Per building)
– Transport (Per fleet per vehicle)
– Industrial (Per usage)

• Identify energy efficiency measures & energy management opportunities
• Evaluate opportunities using Life Cycle Cost Analysis
• Appoint a ‘Lead Energy Assessor’ to oversee the ESOS Assessment (who must be member of an approved professional body register)
• Store data and inform Scheme administrator (Environment Agency for England)
– Produce report for EA
– Produce report for Company Directors

For many companies this may seem quite daunting, however there is expert help available. Many organisations such as IES and the EMA (Energy Management Association http://www.theema.org.uk/) have been liaising with the EA (Environment Agency) to set up ESOS Lead Assessor Registers and develop software that meets the EA’s compliance criteria. IES has created a web-based auditing tool that will help UK organisations, energy auditing companies and assessment authorities carry out ESOS audits – www.esosauditor.com.

ESOS Auditor will collate the energy consumption data of all usage types: Buildings, Industrial Processes and Transport and will integrate it with verifiable data from meters, deliveries, Display Energy Certification, Green Deal Assessments, and ISO 50001 Assessments etc.

Don’t just identify energy savings, implement them!

ESOS is actually a big opportunity to implement significant energy and cost saving strategies. It is a chance to place the case for saving energy high on corporate agendas. Implementation of the identified energy saving strategies is a voluntary step in the ESOS scheme, however in order to get the most out of ESOS it’s important that businesses take this step. It would seem pointless not to. By building on the best practice that a business must implement to monitor its energy consumption and going beyond the minimum requirements to implement savings, smart organisations will make significant cost savings on their energy bills and reduce their carbon emissions.

Electric meterAs Lord Kelvin said “if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”

Being based on the Kelvin Campus in the beautiful West of Scotland Science Park through which runs the River Kelvin this always seems like an appropriate quote to use, especially as IES specializes in building analytics…

We’re currently in the process of undertaking independent research with a company called Opinium into the systems, services and software that organizations use to monitor and optimize energy consumption in their buildings, with a view to helping bridge the performance gap between design and operation. As such, we’re keen to speak to people on the front line – energy and facilities managers struggling with data overload and measurement of return on investment on refurbishments and energy saving measures – in return you’ll get a summary of the research findings which will include:

  • An overview of the market structure for BEMS software and technology for monitoring, analysis and optimization of energy data.
  • Summary of the market outlook and trends observed and anticipated by users.

Interviews shouldn’t take more than 10minutes.

But why I hear you ask?

Our research and development department, in conjunction with Europe wide project partners, has been looking over the last few years at advancing smart building technology to bring around a new era in energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction during operation. Looking at how new-generation smart solutions can provide dashboards, algorithms and other tools for interpreting building data, identifying anomalous data, pinpointing causes and even addressing some issues remotely.

The aim is to enable the use of our powerful analytics software for design performance simulation during operation, in conjunction with data from BMS and other sensors/controls. We’re already able to link a lot of this up in beta software and are further exploring the development of this technology through select special consulting projects.

As such we recognize that we potentially have a very powerful solution to the problem of design intent not matching up to actual as-built performance, as well as a way to manage operational drift and refurbishment / energy conservation strategies.

However, we really want to understand things from your point of view – so if you want to have your say on optimizing energy consumption in buildings please contact me for a 10min phone conversation. We can schedule them to take place at a time convenient to you. Get in contact by dropping me an email: edwina.cramp@iesve.com

Carbon dioxide emitted by the United States reached its lowest level since 1992 earlier this year, according to a US Department of Energy Report, and the reasons might be a bit of a surprise.

Usually you wouldn’t contribute a reduction in CO2 to our extreme weather — or at least I wouldn’t. It seems a little counter intuitive. But experts say that this year’s unseasonably warm winter played a significant role in the drop in CO2. Warmer weather meant less energy consumed trying to keep homes and offices warm during what should have been the coldest parts of the year. Unfortunately, this stat only applies to the carbon dioxide emissions released from January to March of each year; the energy expended keeping our homes and office cool during the fourth hottest summer on record will surely make up for any reduction earlier in the year, scientists say.

Surprise number two? The recession is reducing CO2 emissions. The longer you think about it the more it makes sense. Less work = less fuel used. Government policy, new technology and an inability to afford gas-guzzling vehicles have lead to an emphasis on fuel efficiency. When was the last time you saw a Hummer on the road?

Lastly, the use of natural gas is playing a role in the numbers. This trend has been majorly driven by its affordability. The money that companies can save by increasing sustainability through natural gas is becoming more substantial. The good news is that natural gas seems like it might be a long term aid to reducing greenhouse emissions. Where the numbers from a warmer winter and slowing economy don’t tell the whole truth, the use of natural gas certainly does.

These stats might look good now, but they are a little deceiving and definitely don’t indicate that we should decrease our efforts toward reducing CO2. The next set of data that will be released is sure to prove this. Commercial buildings are still a major culprit when it comes to consuming and wasting energy. This is an area that real change can be made in. By making our buildings more sustainable, we can reduce our carbon footprint in a way that isn’t just a fluke but part of a long term solution toward energy efficiency.

More efficient buildings vs. more efficient utilities — this is what we are seeing recently between New York and San Francisco. The west coast is moving forward with a bill that could require utilities to invest in energy storage systems. The purpose is to help grow the use of solar and wind power within the state. On the other side of the U.S. the first PlaNYC benchmarking report has been released. These reports will serve as a foundation for increasing building efficiency from year to year. Two different solutions are being implemented to achieve the same goal of handling peak demand or when energy demand is at its highest. Produce more energy or consume less energy?

The potential mandate for utilities to require energy storage in California would help overcome some of the obstacles we face when using wind and solar power. Unfortunately, fossil fuels can be stored and provide a constant stream of power, the same cannot be said for renewable energy. Energy storage could take this advantage away from fossil fuels. A steady stream of renewable power would result in a grid that can handle the peak demand hours of the day. Downside? This is going to take a

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major amount of money in investments by utility companies. Who do you think is going to end up paying for it? The cost is going to be passed along to the low man on the totem pole, meaning the end user. But if this works the investment now might be minimal compared to the benefits we could experience in the future.

Although California’s plan is not perfect, neither is New York’s. The data that was collected through a 2009 ordinance, and just released, shows high amounts of variations. Feedback on the program is that when providing data some of the categories are hard to define. People either include unnecessary data or leave out data that they should be including. What this program does do is provide a set of data to benchmark against and track progress, even if it is not 100 percent accurate. The theory is – what gets measured gets done. If you want to see real changes you need to start measuring. It’s like when you were back in middle school if you knew an assignment wasn’t going to get graded, how much effort did you really put into it? The same principle is what makes energy modeling so important. Instead of supplying more power to meet peak demand, New York is trying to make buildings more efficient and reduce the demand on the power grid.

Both ideas reduce the amount of pollutants and greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, provide a solution to meet high demand, and reduce the overall burden on the power grid. Two different coasts have two different schools of thought. Which do you think is the more effective path? Ultimately it’s going to take a combination of ideas and solutions to meet our future demand.

green-buildingCommercial building owners are very willing to invest in energy efficient technology…as long as the government is willing to reward them for their efforts, according to the latest survey from the Institute for Building Efficiency at Johnson Controls.

While more building owners and managers are moving to cut costs and incorporate energy efficiency measures in their buildings than in previous years, tax credits, government incentives and rebates are playing a huge role. Federal government programs such as the Better Buildings Initiative are providing those incentives in an effort to make commercial buildings more energy efficient.

According to the Institute for Building Efficiency survey:
The sixth annual survey found 85% rely on energy management to drive their operational efficiency, up 34 percentage points from the Energy Efficiency Indicator survey conducted two years ago.

This is both good and bad news for the sustainable building industry, and here’s why. The obvious good news is that energy efficient building is on the rise — we’ve seen this over the last decade and market share continues to confirm this. But the results of this survey beg the question: what happens when the rug is pulled out from underneath programs that offer incentives and tax credits?

“Nearly 75% of commercial buildings in the United States are more than 20 years old and are ready for energy improvements,” said Dave Myers, president of the building efficiency business of Johnson Controls. “Building owners and operators are looking to lawmakers to bring down the cost of energy retrofits through incentives and rebates.”

As sustainable building technology continues to advance, education is going to play a large role. When building owners and managers begin to understand that they can drastically cut costs and decrease overhead with efficiency upgrades, tax incentives will be a relatively small side note. This understanding will be essential to tomorrow’s sustainable building industry.

I don’t think it’s safe to rely on government policy forever. At some point, the well will run dry and policies will change. But even without government incentives, there are still plenty of reasons why building owners should be capitalizing on efficiency upgrades. We just need to let them know about it!

The world has reached a new milestone. Only problem? This milestone is not the kind worth celebrating.

For the first time in hundreds of thousands of years, carbon dioxide levels in the Arctic have exceeded 400 parts per million, the New York Times reports. Globally, the average is a staggering 395 parts per millon. The level serves as a harsh reminder that, even with new technology and innovation surfacing every day, we’re far from being out of the woods.

“The fact that it’s 400 is significant,” said Jim Butler, global monitoring director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Lab in Boulder, Colo. “It’s just a reminder to everybody that we haven’t fixed this and we’re still in trouble.”

So what’s behind the increase? Scientists say it’s a number of things – from cars to power plants- our reliance on fossil fuels is starting to take its toll. But one factor in particular is of interest, mostly because they are known as the “energy hogs” of the world- commercial buildings.

Offices, schools, hospitals, churches, gymnasiums, warehouses… Commercial buildings consume 20 percent of all the energy in the United States, and as the commercial buildings sector continues to grow, energy demand and usage will correspond – energy usage is already up nearly 75 percent since 1980, according to the United States Department of Energy. I’m pointing my finger at lighting and HVAC systems, which the DOE says contributes up to 45 percent of energy consumption in the average commercial building.

The commercial building sector cannot continue to consume energy like this if we’re truly looking to make a positive change for the future. As new buildings are constructed and

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old ones are renovated, it’s so important to take advantage of the energy modeling software that’s available. From daylight modeling and ventilation to building envelopes, lighting and insulation, nipping the problem from the start is a lot easier than trying to resolve the issue one the damage has been done.

Energy-efficient building is a commitment the entire industry has to make. Low-carbon, sustainable building for new construction needs to be thought of as requirement rather than an option, and renovations and retrofits should work to improve efficiency for our older structures – not just aesthetics. Only when this happens will we see any significant improvements

in future carbon levels.

Comments Comments Off on Commercial Buildings Contribute to (not so great) Greenhouse Gas Milestone

It’s already May! Can you believe it? May! And that means just one thing for me — AIA 2012 is right around the corner.

The IES Team will be manning booth 2121 this year — and I’m very excited for what we have in store. We’ll be showcasing some of the great new updates to our software. Architects, engineers and designers will get an in-depth look at the new ways to visualize solar shading, solar arc and solar analysis with VE-Gaia and VE-Pro.

As we prepare for this year’s show, I’ve been thinking about IES’ role in architecture and how it has adapted and changed based on the trends of the industry. Energy modeling has changed the way many architects think about sustainable design. The ability to test architectural hypotheses for energy efficiency before ever laying the first brick brings a lot to the table, and more and more architects are seeing the advantages of simulation as they tackle new projects. But, just as IES adapts to a changing industry, architects do as well.

So just what is the architect’s role in energy analysis in 2012? Well, that’s what we’d like to know from you! We’re running a competition at AIA this year, and the winner will receive a free one-year license for VE-Gaia, one of the most comprehensive architectural analysis tools available. In addition, the winner will get free access to the VE-Navigator for LEED, as well as associated training.

Want to win? Just answer the question.

What do you view as the Architect’s role in Energy Analysis?

You can enter your response

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online at http://www.iesve.com/AIA2012Comp. To see other entries and for updates on the competition, follow the official hashtag — #IESCompAIA —on Twitter.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the show! Let the countdown begin…

Earlier this year, the Cleantech Group declared San Francisco the Cleantech capital of North America. From Mayor Ed Lee to the government to the 815,000 citizens, San Francisco has embraced cleantech and green technology as a lifestyle — not just a fad.

It’s pretty impressive that San Francisco raised more cleantech venture investment than New York City, despite having a population that is 8 times smaller. San Francisco has established itself as the go-to place for cleantech companies and investors, with more than 208 calling the city by the Bay home.

Much of the credit should go to the local government. San Francisco helped the cleantech industry thrive by supporting the Clean Technology Payroll Tax Incentive, which granted 10 years of payroll tax exemption to cleantech companies. This incentive helped create jobs and support further growth of the cleantech industry within the city.

But San Francisco doesn’t only support cleantech through its local economy — it also practices what it preaches. Evidence of this is in its buildings. San Francisco has been proactive in setting an example for sustainable building by implementing green building standards in its required building code. In 2008, the Green Building Ordinance Chapter 13C went into effect. This ordinance is based on elements of the USGBC’s LEED rating system. The city has embraced modeling technology to maximize energy efficiency in order to meet these new mandatory building codes in many of its buildings. This might give San Francisco an edge for years to come based on studies that point to green buildings boosting worker productivity and happiness.

San Francisco’s emphasis on cleantech has spread throughout the state of California. California accounted for the most cleantech patent registrations out of all 50 states. According to Next 10’s 2012 California Green Innovation Index, due to energy efficiency efforts, per capita electricity consumption in California remains close to 1990 levels.

This is great news for the green building industry. Energy modeling not only can help a building owner’s bottom line but better the lives of the workers in the building. California didn’t stumble into maintaining its per capita electricity consumption, it took careful planning. Moving forward more cities can utilize energy modeling to apply the same concepts to their buildings and cities that has made San Francisco so successful.

San Francisco looks set to continue its reign as cleantech capital of North America. Through its building practices and investment in cleantech, it’s head and shoulders above the competition.

Some are calling it a debacle; others are calling it a massive u-turn on the Governments behalf. Whatever way you label it, the general consensus in the green industry is that any plans to scrap the “consequential improvements” policy would be a massive mismanagement of the UK’s long term low carbon objectives.

The “consequential improvements” scheme would require home owners that wish to carry out extensions or loft conversions to make additional energy saving improvements to their building. The home owner will not bear the brunt of these costs as funding will be provided by the Green Deal. If the energy savings do not at least match the extra costs involved, then the owner can refuse to carry them out.

So we make our homes more energy efficient, take a step closer to a low carbon Britain, create new jobs, and all at no cost to the home owner?  Where did the u-turn come from?

Well Kevin McCloud puts it down to “scaremongering” in the press, who have labelled the proposal as a “conservatory tax”. Kevin said “Government’s plans to require homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their home when they build an extension are about as sensible as sensible gets, especially when the homeowner doesn’t have to pay for those improvements. Reading the recent coverage I began to wonder if there was a secret anti-insulation lobby rabidly bent on increasing our domestic fuel bills.”

Paul King, CEO of the UKGBC, continued to lay the blame on the doorstep of the press, saying “Government has a responsibility to look beyond the ludicrous media headlines. This policy would have helped protect ordinary people from soaring energy costs, as well as reduce carbon emissions to meet its own supposedly legally binding carbon budgets.”

So what do you think? Could this be a major blow to our carbon emission reduction targets? Would a potential u-turn on this policy show a lack of commitment by the Government to an energy efficient UK?

Answers on postcards, or the comment section below…

Believe it or not, there was a time not too long ago when cranking the air conditioning all day was cheap. So cheap, in fact, that it was financially smarter to turn down the thermostat than to invest in green upgrades for a building. I must admit, when I think about this now I’m left scratching my head. It seems….ridiculous!

But, as an article on TreeHugger.com points out, before there was air conditioning, there was shade. And, just as it always had, it worked quite well for keeping people and buildings cool. With today’s soaring energy prices, high electricity demands and the desire for greener, smarter buildings, shade is back.

Brise soleil, or sunbreakers, used to be a popular and effective way of keeping cooler before air conditioning; Like awnings, they were another way of stopping the heat from the sun before it got inside. They could be carefully designed to permit the lower winter sun to enter, and the vertical fins controlled the late afternoon sun in summer.

Ok, but how effective are products like light shelves, solar canopies and awnings? The short answer is — very. CBT Architects used IES’ VE-Pro performance analysis software to run daylight modeling for a renovation and addition to Fitchburg State University’s Science Building in 2011. Models showed that using larger overhangs on the building’s exterior would reduce reliance on air conditioning. The result was a 21 percent decrease in cooling loads during warmer months. Find out more about this project here.

Ok, so these products are pretty effective if utilized correctly. But do they look good? The short answer is yes. An architect with an eye for design can really make a building envelope pop with the right products. TreeHugger agrees.

Really, if more architects would start thinking of these as architectural features as well as simply solar control, we might actually save energy and get more interesting architecture.

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