What Factors Affect Energy Savings?

#1 Building Type

Compared to other building types, a lab's energy use is high because they require high ventilation rates and are often operating 24/7. Therefore, a lab's energy-saving potential is greater than in other buildings. Achieving 10% savings in a lab will yield more energy and money saved than 10% savings in an office, simply because of the higher energy use in a lab.

The Energy & Engineering team focuses on lab buildings because of their energy-saving potential. This gives the team the ability to standardized energy efficiency measures by applying the same techniques to exhaust fans, airflow, and temperature setpoints. 

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"The real-time visibility of the operations and controls, utilizing all kinds of sensors, used to be too expensive to install. Also, data collection and management weren't as easy as they are today. Those things are always getting better and helps us implement more responsive and energy-efficient controls.

- Hiroko Masuda, 

Energy Engineer

#2 Types of HVAC Equipment and Controls

HVAC equipment and control systems are constantly evolving, and the hardware installed today is very different from what was industry standard 10, 20, or even 50 years ago. Over the years there has been a lot of advancement in hardware for data collection, processing capabilities, and remote controlling. 

Building age is a factor associated with HVAC equipment. Older buildings often have older HVAC systems, which have less visibility and less remote control options. These older systems don’t have the hardware to support temperature setbacks or occupancy-based reduced airflow. This limitation often means less data is available and therefore, engineers have fewer opportunities to implement energy efficiency measures in these buildings.

#3 Previous Energy Projects

After a project is completed, the energy use is monitored and the savings are calculated. As time passes some of the programmings in the control system and other energy-saving strategies could be “undone” because schedules get changed over time and equipment ages. Therefore, energy projects need monitoring by the Energy & Engineering team in order to detect when the building’s energy performance is drifting away from its original savings.

Communication with the Facilities Building Maintenance Services teams is important because when work orders come to Facilities we need to work together to ensure the occupants’ needs are met while attempting to maintain the energy efficiency in the building’s performance. There are a lot of factors affecting the maintenance of energy savings once a project is complete, which means as time elapses there’s a higher potential for energy savings. 

NEXT: How Do We Use Energy Data?