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Amplifying Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings - The Time is Now

November 02, 2021 12:00 PM

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A building re-tuning walkthrough at the Pennsylvania State University

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” is a quote that goes hand in hand with energy efficiency. When it comes to saving energy, understanding where and when it is being used can be a game changer. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, buildings are the primary energy consumers in the nation. Lighting, refrigeration, ventilation, and cooling systems contribute to a building’s energy consumption. 

To maintain energy usage, buildings require re-tuning. Building re-tuning (BRT) is a systematic process aimed at minimizing building energy consumption by identifying and correcting operational problems using no-cost or low-cost solutions. These low-cost or no-cost operational improvements ultimately improve the building’s energy efficiency, reduce operating costs, and improve occupant comfort.

Building re-tuning consists of collecting basic building information, conducting a building walkthrough, identifying and implementing re-tuning actions, and analyzing the savings. BRT is not a one-time occurrence; it should be a continuous process (think continuous improvements). Many re-tuning actions make use of your building’s automated building controls. Simple fixes can equate to big savings. When performed properly, re-tuning can save between 5-25% of all energy used in a building. Periodically, BRT trainings are offered in the Commonwealth by the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) and Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Clean Energy Center. These BRT trainings can provide an invaluable way to network with fellow facility managers and an opportunity to learn from each other’s successes.  

Benchmarking is another step in reducing a building’s energy consumption. Benchmarking involves measuring and comparing your building’s energy use to similar buildings’ energy use, or measuring and comparing past energy consumption. Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM) is a free, interactive resource management tool that enables you to benchmark the energy use of any type of building, all in a secure online environment. Nearly 25% of U.S. commercial building space is already actively benchmarking in ESPM, making it the industry-leading benchmarking tool. Benchmarking can help you identify buildings to target for energy efficiency improvements, identify best practices from efficient buildings, set investment priorities, share and report building performance, work toward Energy Star building certification, and implement an energy management program. ESPM also allows you to track water use, waste disposal, and greenhouse gas emissions in your buildings.

A BOC Level 1 training course at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport

A BOC Level 1 training course at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport

A lot of the maintenance performed to keep buildings running as energy efficient as possible is conducted by trained professionals known as Certified Building Operators (CBO). Building Operator Certification (BOC) is a certification course series that combines both classroom training and individual learning projects. BOC training includes building systems and controls, HVAC systems operation, benchmarking using ESPM, and mapping a facility’s electrical distribution systems. BOC teaches building operators practical low-cost and no-cost efficiency solutions. Independent research shows that BOC operators consistently save money and energy in their facilities – up to $20,000 a year. Candidates that have earned their BOC training certificate are eligible to sit for the BOC certification exam to become a Certified Building Operator (CBO). BOC training in Pennsylvania is provided by Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Clean Energy Center. 

Penn College BOC Videos:
Check out these success story videos from some BOC graduates at the Bethlehem Area School District!


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