Office Energy Waste Reduction: Fiction or Reality
It isn’t only in the fictional offices of Dunder Mifflin that people waste energy. Research has shown that this costly phenomenon is happening in office buildings all over the world. Indeed, the average building wastes 30% of the energy it consumes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Imagine how you could reinvest that money. Just imagine. Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be in your imagination. It can be in your reality.
You see, most of that waste comes from the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC controls) system. As a matter of fact, studies show that the real figure is up to a whopping 60 percent! In times past, the only way to reduce that energy usage was through a costly and complex equipment upgrade. Now, though, integrated room controllers can significantly cut HVAC energy costs – by as much as 30% – and lead to a rapid return-on-investment. That might have peaked your attention, but I’m sure you’re wondering how. Well, I’ll tell you…
Award-winning Room Controllers
First, just what is an integrated room controller? Think of it as a smarter and improved successor to the familiar wall thermostat – application-specific with advanced & award-winning technology. Improvements can include the incorporation of occupancy sensors, door/window sensors, lighting control, CO2 ventilation control, and industry-leading wireless communication technology. Read more about this new technology and download a full white paper on it here.
What these features enable is smarter and complete thermal control. For instance, using infrared, ultrasonic or microwave technology,occupancy sensors detect motion in the room and help adjust heating or air conditioning accordingly. Presto, no more cooling a room on a hot summer day when the occupant is on vacation. The same goes for the lights and the ventilation. The sensors allow the temperature controller to be smart about how it uses energy.
The wireless capability makes installation easy. It also is important when linking a room controller to a building management system (BMS). Such networking and centralized control enables deep setback for offices that will be unused for some time, such as a holiday break or a business trip. Think about how much energy savings can be achieved – and how quickly those savings will add up!
You’re probably asking, “just how much?” Well, something on the order of 25 to 30% might be typical for networking room controllers to your BMS and fully implementing the capabilities they offer. That number is, of course, not a guarantee of performance in a particular circumstance but rather an example of honest opportunity.
And…you could actually do better. A study in Advanced Materials Research looked at a San Francisco office building retrofitted with room controllers and a BMS. The researchers found a 50% reduction in energy usage and a payback period of just 1.7 years. Eye-opening? Yes, indeed.
What’s more, better thermal control can also lead to more comfortable and productive staff, making payback even faster. After all, a productive staff leads to increased results. Look for more on that in my next post of this series.
Get the Ball Rolling
OK, so now you want to implement this solution. What should you look for? How should you do it?
Among the things you should consider is the sensors. Not every room controller has the complete array of occupancy and door/window sensors. You need sensors that reliably detect the presence of people, so you don’t have temperature control or ventilation systems shutting off when somebody is quietly sitting there working – or thinking.
Next, you need to consider whether to go wired or wireless for communication. Certainly, wireless is cheaper and easier to implement … but you – or more likely the vendor – need to be sure it can handle the load and there are no dead spots.
Speaking of the vendor, it is best if the vendor has completed projects that are similar to yours and can provide that reference list. Notice, I listed projects, as in more than one. Naturally, the more experience a vendor has in doing a retrofit or upgrade for office buildings similar to yours, the better. But, be sure to check their reference listing – do your research. It’s worth the extra time in the end.
With an advanced room controller integrated to your BMS you can save energy, increase comfort, improve productivity and optimize the performance of your office. As you can see, payback can be swift. And the results and success will be more real than those of that imaginary (although comical) office I opened this blog with.
Take a moment to download this information-packed (free) new white paper – authored & published by energy efficiency experts at Schneider Electric. Then, if you would, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below; I’d love your feedback!