Energy efficiency has become a primary driver for the engineers and architects designing our latest generation of high-performance buildings – so, insulation levels, high-efficiency lighting and climate-control equipment and means for supplementing interior lighting with natural daylight now top the list for specifying engineers working on these projects. What can be even more important than such “passive” efficiency measures over a building’s lifetime, however, are programs and systems designed to promote ongoing, “active” efficiency improvement, and a recently released International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard provides important guidance for implementing such efforts.
I provided an introduction to IEC Standard 60364-8-1: “Electrical energy efficiency within low-voltage settings,” in my previous blog post, “IEC 60364-8-1: Setting a New Standard for Efficient Buildings.” In this post, I’m going to provide more specifics on how the standard can be implemented, and why it is so important to long-term efficiency improvement.
A new tool for measuring performance over time
First, it’s important to emphasize that IEC 60364-8-1 is a voluntary standard, so it provides guidelines, not regulations. However, owners who understand the standard’s potential to produce ongoing energy-bill savings over a building’s lifetime should be enthusiastic about its use. It is premised on three simple facts that have become a reality in today’s real estate environment that aren’t likely to change anytime soon:
- Buildings deliver services that may vary over time.
- Occupancies may shift over a building’s life cycle.
- Energy supply is limited, and its cost varies over time of day and time of year.
With these factors in mind, IEC 60364-8-1 provides a systematic approach to a continual assessment of energy efficiency. This more active approach to efficiency remains effective, even as uses and energy supplies and costs vary, all with return on investment in mind. It’s that bottom-line emphasis that building owners will appreciate.
So, how does it work? Figure 1 provides a general overview of the processes involved. Essentially, a building’s energy system becomes an ongoing information feedback loop, with data on energy supplies, weather and other environmental data and energy consumption. Facility operators can use this information to track both real-time performance and how closely the building is matching its energy goals.
A point system has been devised to describe just how well a building, industrial plant or campus facility is capable of providing this information. Figure 2 offers several examples of the standard’s tiered approach to describing increasingly efficient operation.
Similarly, Figure 3 identifies tiers of specificity in metering how power is being used within a facility. The column headings in these tables indicate points earned, ranging from 0 to 4, depending on the facility’s specific energy-efficiency parameters and performance levels.
The final score can be compared to Figure 4 to determine the building or facility’s electrical installation efficiency class (EIEC).
As you can see, IEC 60364-8-1 provides clear metrics for both current performance and future improvement. So, for example, a building owner informed that a facility falls into EIEC2 has a clear understanding of what the next goal might be in a continuous-improvement plan. Similarly, this “active” efficiency standard gives specifiers a range of options for boosting a facility into the next EIEC, based on which might offer the best return on investment for owners and tenants.
For more detailed guidance on the new IEC 60364-8-1, along with other IEC standards, you can register to download the new 2016 edition of the Electrical Installation Guide. And be sure to visit our Consulting Engineer Portal for a range of electrical-design resources.