Category: Energy

Two years ago, I was invited to visit the Atlanta corporate campus of Assurant, Inc. to discuss their Energy Star score – it was too low and they wanted to do something about it. The twelve story office building was burdened by a chiller plant that was all original construction. Chillers, pumps, and cooling towers were well-maintained, but after more than 27 years of service, they were showing their age and not performing at the level they once did. This initial meeting unofficially began design efforts that have resulted in the recent completion of a $5.7 million upgrade to the HVAC and Electrical systems, a construction project that already has proven itself with lower electrical bills that bring a smile to Tony Ring, Manager of Maintenance Operations for Assurant.  more

In simplest terms, Net Zero Energy (NZE) buildings produce as much energy as they consume. However, it isn’t enough to design and build a net zero energy building. Long term success is based on the interdependence and collaboration between design, construction, operations and occupant behavior.  more

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected New Orleans Bio Innovation Center (NOBIC) as one of the year’s top Ten examples of sustainable architecture and ecological design projects that protect and enhance the environment. The project will be honored at the AIA 2015 National Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta. more

Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) were invented in the second half of the past century and since then their use has been growing rapidly. The automobile industry was an early adopter, using MEMS sensors for automobile navigation, tire pressure control, and airbag deployment. As we start transitioning from today’s buildings and systems to future smart buildings, design engineers will have a wide variety of MEMS applications to choose from. more

Selecting and specifying the optimal HVAC system to meet the Owner’s Project Requirements is critical to the success of a high performance project.  more

In my earlier columns, I tried to explain the concept of uncertainty analysis and also draw the attention of the industry to the advantages of performing probabilistic energy modeling. One of the most valuable complementary tools to uncertainty analysis is sensitivity analysis. Terje Aven in his book, Foundation of Risk Analysis,1 gives the following definition for sensitivity analysis: “A sensitivity analysis is a study of how sensitive the risk is with respect to changes in input parameter of risk model.” more

Building an energy-efficient building often begins with an energy (cost) comparison between a design building and an imaginary baseline building as defined in ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1, Appendix G. Even though this method has contributed to higher performance of buildings and systems, I believe we can do better than that. more

In my November column, I discussed the necessity of performing a probabilistic energy modeling process instead of a deterministic one for an ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1, Appendix G, design building. To be able to run a probabilistic energy model, the first step is to develop a tolerance margin library for all the construction material that would be used in constructing a building and for its associated equipment. more

Uncertainty analysis is the process of changing simulation model input parameters in a small margin of possible occurrences and observing how simulation output can be affected (output probability distribution). That is the basic difference between a deterministic simulation and a probabilistic (uncertain) simulation. Uncertainty analysis is a strong tool for modelers and those who use modeling results to make well-informed decisions. more

Universities and colleges are experiencing growth and pressure on existing aging facilities. This occurs at a time when funding from both government sources and endowments is decreasing. Students also have higher expectations for the facilities, resources, and amenities; the perceived quality of residence halls, dining facilities, student unions and recreational facilities can be important factors in a student’s school choice.  more