Retrofit Opportunity: Automatic lighting controls

Daylight in buildings can save energy if the electric lighting is switched or dimmed in response to changes in daylight levels.

The company in this example operates three warehouses with offices and a green house in California. An energy survey was performed on-site to collect nameplate and operational data for the lighting systems, and to identify potential energy efficiency measures.

Financial Analysis

Project Observations

On the audited campus only two buildings have equally laid out skylights installed. Warehouse A has some skylights in the center of the building. They all would be able to utilize daylight, especially adding the harvested daylight in the door areas of the buildings. During the audit we also heard the comment that sometimes some of the light circuits in warehouse B are not switched off over night although nobody had worked.

Figure 1: Skylights

Project Recommendations

Automatic lighting controls (ALC) increase the probability that day lighting will save energy. ALC enable the client to cut lighting energy costs from 40% to as much as 70% or more. These savings are achieved through integration of multiple lighting control strategies, including scheduling, day-lighting, occupancy sensing and personal control. Smart strategies ensure optimal operation while maximizing savings and occupant comfort.

Occupancy sensors can be integrated into the ALC to turn lights on when an area is occupied and off when it is empty. In addition, glare and contrast must be controlled so occupants are comfortable and will not override electric lighting controls.

We recommend installing an ALC at warehouse B as this building has different departments with different schedules and therefore we think that a smart light control strategy (figure 2) will reduce the energy consumption and lower the peak load level.

Figure 2:  Automatic lighting controls

Costs and Assumptions

We assumed that all existing fixtures are staying in place with the same wattage and that the lights are on during the night for about 30% of the year. We have not calculated any benefits from daylight harvesting nor from reducing the peak demand by either switching off or dimming lights. We anticipate that savings will be higher than projected as peak-day pricing from PG&E will be introduced for all customers in 2011.

Demand response (DR) can be a strategy to reduce costs, but can also be a complex operational issue when considering integrating your lighting with the utility grid structure. New technologies tap into demand response for dramatic benefits to control lighting  loads during periods of peak demand. Participation in demand response programs sponsored by local utilities reduces peak energy use and the electrical burden on the
smart grid.

Costs were estimated and have to be verified. The potential incentive was based on the PG&E program “Incentives for business energy efficiency retrofit projects” for Lighting.

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AB 1103 – How you can benefit?

Commercial building owners, facility managers and real estate brokers throughout California will be challenged starting January 2011 when Assembly Bill 1103 goes into effect. The new energy performance rating system will provide energy consumption information on nonresidential buildings.

The building owner will be required to disclose the U.S. EPA’s Portfolio Manager’s Statement of Energy Performance and the California Energy Performance Disclosure Report before a building is sold, leased entirely or refinanced.

The California Energy Commission is working diligently to start rule making with the initial set of proposed regulations due out in June. The CEC expects to add several new sections (although minor) to the regulations prior to final release.  The regulations will be finalized by December of this year.

The first buildings to be required to submit the Disclosure Report under AB1103 are 50,000 sq ft and larger or owner occupied above 1,000 sq ft.

Knowledge is the key!

The Energy Star Portfolio Manager allows the building owner to track and assess energy consumption while comparing the building’s performance with a national database of buildings with the same operating characteristic. The result is a rating on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the most energy efficient building in its category.

A verified score of 75 or higher qualifies the building for Energy Star certification, which indicates that the building performs better than 75% of all similar buildings nationwide.

Efficiency supports Profitability

A higher rating means lower energy costs, lower occupancy costs and higher net operating income (NOI) which also supports higher appraisal.

The energy benchmarking for nonresidential buildings is not just a question of compliance but more importantly a question of your competitiveness. In the tight commercial building market the improved energy performance creates a unique selling proposition. Motivators for investment in energy efficiency include cutting greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing the company’s public image and obtaining incentives offered by governments and utilities.

Energy performance reports provide an opportunity to cut out the waste in the system and help focus the attention of building owners to optimize the performance of their existing equipment and determine where to make energy-efficient upgrades.

The next step

Our integrated one-stop-shop approach will not only provide you the benchmarking necessary to comply with AB1103 moreover it will line out the energy saving potential for your building – all of that for one fixed price!

This Energy performance benchmark allows our engineering team to tailor an energy efficiency strategy for your building based on your goals, budget and  time frame.

Start Now to be… – more competitive – more profitable – more valuable

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