73 Cavalier Blvd, Suite 313
Florence, KY 41042
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What Makes a Building Better?

The answer depends on YOU. What are your goals for your building?

In order to achieve your goals for your building, we provide several services; at the base of these services is Building Commissioning. Acting as a third party, independent commissioning service provider, we start by identifying and documenting your needs, and then we provide the process, tools, and solutions to meet those needs. We are your consultant every step of the way, and success for us is meeting your goals!

We strongly believe in the Commissioning process and the value it adds. Our website not only contains information about our company and services, but will provide you with details on the commissioning process as well.  We are happy to educate anyone who cares to listen on what the process is, how it should work and why it is going to become standard practice in the construction industry.

Please contact us if you’d like to learn more. We would be happy to visit and educate you and your staff on the services we provide.

The Latest from the Blog

Whether Weather Affects Energy Use

Posted by Ian Holten at Aug 22, 2014 2:33 pm

seasonsServing as Energy Manager for many of our local schools and businesses is truly an honor and a pleasure. Being a guy who is never short on puns, I can tell you that any successful energy management plan takes… well… energy! It takes a lot of time, thought, and effort to be able to systematically lower the amount of energy a building uses.

The most popular question I get, without fail, is, “Does weather affect energy use?” The short answer is yes.

DON’T.

STOP.

READING!

Although the short answer is yes, that is not the answer I typically give to our clients. The answer I give is of course my opinion, based on experience I’ve gained from directly managing millions of square feet of commercial facilities, receiving their monthly energy costs, and then attempting to form an idea as to what is causing any fluctuations, good or bad.

 

Ambient Conditions… Not Ambient Temperatures

So, the answer I give to, “Does weather affect energy use?” is based off of real world scenarios. It usually consists of me speaking the word “yes” while shaking my head no!

Okay, so I don’t actually do that, but I should, because I feel it’s true. Of course ambient conditions affect how much heating or cooling is required on a daily basis. The key words here are “ambient conditions.” Notice I did not say, “ambient temperatures.” Most people associate temperature as the driving force behind energy use related to space comfort.  While my opinion places outdoor air temperature on the list of reasons why a facility may use more or less energy, the reality is that outdoor air temperature is probably more near the middle or bottom of the list. A few of the factors I feel are more near the top of the list include; operating hours, equipment optimization (or lack thereof), operating set points, wind speed, and even sunlight. All of these could be argued as more important factors. (Disclaimer: every facility is different; thus, how much each factor plays a role in energy use also varies.)

As humans, we are very sensitive to temperature changes, which may explain why the question is so popular. However, my opinion is that weather should never be used as a trump card over the other factors I mentioned, and those factors alone seem to have much larger impacts on a facility’s energy intensity.

Most energy managers spend a lot of time “normalizing” energy costs by attempting to factor in ambient temperatures. And yes, I have been down that road as well and use it from time to time. But, to me, normalizing energy costs while only looking at outdoor air temperature would be like reviewing a book after only reading one chapter. So many other factors play a bigger role in energy use, that it seems silly to only normalize to temperature.

 

Final Thoughts

In closing, even if there was a reliable way to compare a facility’s energy use while accounting for weather, every facility I’ve ever worked in is such a dynamic and evolving environment I think we’d see that it’s more about the way in which a facility is operated and less about outside air temperature. I’ve had months where a facility has actually used less energy during a record setting heat wave (I’m looking at you, July 2013 and January/February 2014), and then I’ve had months that set a new high water mark for energy use during relatively mild temperatures (June 2014) because equipment schedules were lost and HVAC equipment was running overnight.

Two phrases I use often are, “Don’t let the exception make the rule,” and, “Sometimes the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.” These relate very well to energy management. Of course, very extreme weather can cause excessive energy use. However, in my opinion, spending more than a few minutes trying to calculate a theoretical number is wasting energy in and of itself.  My opinion is that most of the time the answer you get isn’t worth the trouble of getting it. An Energy Manager’s time would be much better spent actually working on ways to reduce energy consumption.  I’d like to see folks focus more on the WAY they operate their buildings and worry less about the weather!

 

What ways do you manage energy use in your facility? Comment below!

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