Monday, April 15, 2013

Webinars and Blogs

In case you all haven’t noticed, we are doing more webinars these days, and now they are being recorded and posted on the website. We assumed that the recordings would only be used for back up, but have found that in fact, folks are doing a lunch event watching the recorded webinars!

We have had great attendance at several of the webinars, including a "sold out" session on the “Basics of Air Distribution” last month. I recently presented my talk on “Building Loads” last week. Next month, I’ll do a two part talk on “Methods of Effective Room Air Distribution,” which was a two part article in the ASHRAE Journal last year.

Stay tuned and we’ll announce upcoming webinars, which will be recorded and available at whatever time is most convenient for you. My blog has also been well viewed, which is good, as I’d hate to be sending the blog into the wind!

If you have a subject that you would like me to comment on, please send me an email (dint-hout@krueger-hvac.com).

Authored by: Dan Int-Hout, Chief Engineer Krueger

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Energy Targets!

As a member of the ASHRAE Technical Activities Committee (TAC), my assignment is to manage the new Multidisciplinary Task Group (MTG) committees. One of them is focused on energy target, and they are working on tweaking their scope. It appears that the term “Energy Target” has a specific meaning in the energy industry that has nothing to do with energy conscious design in buildings. The term seems to have been assigned to the practice of forcing electric utilities to use more renewable energy in their generation of electricity. This is an example of how the whole issue of energy use and the prediction of energy consumption have corrupted the goal of providing efficient and comfortable buildings.

Recently, the LEED Environmental Quality (EQ) committee had a strong disagreement with a couple members of the Energy and Atmosphere (EA) committee when establishing credits for LEED V4 (due out in October). It seems the USGBC had applied weighting factors to all possible credits, and only 100 were allowed. They had several times greater weighting to energy than to occupant wellbeing. As a result, a number of EQ credits were going to be dropped in favor of energy credits. When we asked for disclosure of weighting factors, the USGBC was reluctant to disclose them, but in the end caved in under embarrassing data on the economic values of productivity vs. energy consumption (building salaries are 100x energy costs). At one point, one of the EA members said “but think of the children!” We wound up with equal weighting between energy and occupant issues.

The zealots who force renewable energy or energy conservation on building designers and architects without regard for the end goal (to provide a safe and acceptable environment for the occupants of the buildings) are doing us no favors. It leads to complex energy calculations based on no facts, only on wild assumptions, which in the long run are proving to be unattainable. The result is that many LEED projects are not even coming close to the predicted energy savings. The same can be said of a number of Energy Star projects. Meanwhile, BOMA reports that the #1 reason for not renewing the lease in high rise buildings is occupant dissatisfaction with the thermal environment (for the last 20 years).

I would suggest that in addition to ‘targets’, the goals should include some means of validation of the calculated energy use. Maybe the word “realistic” needs to appear somewhere. Sadly, there is little or no basis for many of the assumptions being input into current computer models. These modifications are necessary for them to be able to calculate energy use for “innovative’ systems not listed in the software. It would be great if we could get some data on the existing main-stream computer models ability to accurately predict the energy use of these non-traditional systems. The data would likely show ‘issues’ with the assumptions often employed, and help explain why they are so often grossly underestimating energy use. Case in point is the GSA’s claim that they have 10 million square feet of non-performing underfloor systems, resulting in the pulling and rewriting of ASHRAE’s UFAD design guide (which sadly is still lacking any real energy savings information).

In the meantime, practicing engineers are forced to “make stuff up” in order to calculate energy consumption for systems not included in the available computer models. In the end, buildings use more energy than predicted and tenants fail to renew the lease as they continue to look for the fabled “comfortable space” in which to work.

Authored by: Dan Int-Hout, Chief Engineer Krueger