Don’t let Summer heat derail your Building’s Performance
July 12, 2016
(This article is part of the Roadmap 2 Summer Series. Click here to read last week’s article.)
Beyond the need for increased power to cool buildings, there are a number of factors that can put increased pressure on your building systems in the summer months, including increased water usage for irrigation, extreme humidity, and added particulate matter in the air. Understanding how summer’s extreme temperatures impact your building’s performance will help you manage energy consumption and lower utility bills.
Most commercial buildings are designed using climatic data for a specific zone, to help meet the expected temperature extremes a certain percentage of the time — perhaps 95 percent, for example. As a result, on the hottest days of summer it’s possible the environmental load exceeds the actual cooling capacity of the building equipment and systems.
Because of changing environmental factors some buildings are encountering more days of extreme temperatures when the systems cannot keep up with demand. This can be a challenge for buildings designed 30 years ago to meet temperature extremes 95 percent of the time, and today they may only meet the standards 90 percent of the time.
Ensure optimal summer performance
There are steps you can take to minimize the impact that summer’s increased demand has on your building even on the hottest days.
Equipment is often called upon to run at maximum load in the summer, uncovering “hidden” deficiencies in your building that are masked at other times of the year. Also, the more frequently equipment runs, the more frequently maintenance is needed on that equipment. This makes regular maintenance an important part of staying ahead of summer’s heat stressors. Addressing potential issues through proactive maintenance can cut unexpected breakdowns by 70–75 percent, and reduce downtime by up to 40 percent.
Continuously recommissioning equipment and systems is another way to keep your building performing optimally. Consider this example: After receiving occupant complaints about it being too warm inside, a service person checks the roof and finds a damper is stuck open. The service person temporarily fixed the immediate problem, but how often is an issue like this traced back to the source?
Recommissioning is a periodic exercise aimed at solving these types of unattended problems that can exist in a building to bring building systems back to “day one” efficiency and operating levels.
A more efficient building can in turn provide better comfort for occupants. Improved occupant comfort and satisfaction can result in improved productivity for employers — a factor that can help you recruit and retain employees or tenants. Issues of occupant comfort can be especially critical in the summer, since buildings without optimized systems and controls may have trouble maintaining temperature and humidity levels. Staffing costs, including salaries and benefits, can account for about 90 percent of a business’ operating costs. This makes staff productivity a major concern for most organizations. Actions that have even a small impact on employee productivity can make a significant difference for the bottom line.
Reducing the load
There are many ways you can reduce your building’s internal load to save energy, such as unplugging equipment when it isn’t in use, adding window tinting or shading, and switching to more energy-efficient lighting or even reducing the amount of lighting used in the summertime.
There are also functional options (changes to the way your building is operated) that help reduce your building’s load and improve efficiency. An optimized building automation system (BAS) can be especially beneficial because equipment and system data from your BAS shows how your systems are operating and the building usage trends. Energy management solutions from Trane provide building data and information that can be used to run your systems more efficiently for reduced building loads.
Using data can provide a better understanding of when and how your building is being run. If the data shows parts of the building are running constantly and are maxed out — or if the systems in certain areas are always being overridden — this can indicate a problem that is likely keeping you from achieving optimal efficiency. Trane can help you determine what the data means and turn that data into meaningful information that you can use to make improvements — and ultimately impact the bottom line.
Summer’s extreme conditions can pose unique challenges. Using data to anticipate potential equipment issues or problems based on trends or anomalies allows you to take corrective action sooner. With Trane as your partner, you can optimize your building’s performance to save energy costs.
Join us next week when we discuss using your building automation strategies to more efficiently manage your building in summer’s hottest months.
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 Federal Energy Management Program, U. S. Department of Energy, Operations & Maintenance Best Practices: A Guide to Achieving Operational Efficiency (August 2010),