Winter 2011 Forum    

Proving Energy Savings..."The Proof Is In the Pudding" 

December 2, 2011
Linfield College, Melrose Building, McMinnville, OR

The winter forum was held on a beautiful, sunny day in McMinnville, OR at the historic campus of Linfield College. The morning started with networking over a delicious breakfast served by Harvest Fresh, followed by several fascinating presentations.

Richard Beam, the Facility Manager for Providence Hospitals, kicked off the morning presentations. His presented two case studies – one unsuccessful and one successful, and he shared the lessons learned from both.  The “Energy Chump,” as Richard referred to the Newburg hospital project, was built to be a LEED Gold Building, but turned out to be one of Providence’s highest energy consuming buildings. A few of the many efficiency measures included in the design of the Newburg hospital included: low-flow water fixtures, low VOC materials, heat recovery on all AHUs, and condensing boilers. Providence found that all the efficiency measures only increased the cost of the building 2 percent above the cost of meeting code.     

Once the hospital had been operating for a whole year the ENERGY STAR score was only 25, which was the lowest for any hospital in the area (this score implies that 75% of the hospitals use less energy than this one). Analysis provided several reasons for the poor performance of the Newburg Hospital.  A major reason was the result of limited energy modeling. After the first energy model was generated it was never revised as the building design was changed. Some of the equipment, such as the condensing boiler, was not being operated correctly because staff had not been properly trained. Additionally value engineering had reduced the efficacy of the heat recovery system for the AHUs, which had a large impact because the hospital was operating with 100 percent outside air (for improved IAQ).  After a great deal of investigation and work the Newburg hospital’s ENERGY STAR score has increased to 64, which means that only 36% of the hospitals use less energy than this one.  

Richard wrapped up his presentation discussing the Portland Medical Center, which has an ENERGY STAR score of 76. The central plant was designed as a variable primary system rather than the more traditional constant primary / variable secondary. The valves in the system are pressure independent valves that ensure the design maximum temperature change is achieved across the coils.  This increases the efficiency of both the chillers and the system pumps.  See His Presentation

Todd Amundson of Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) then discussed the recent changes made to BPA’s M&V (Measurement and Verification) Protocols. BPA undertook a lengthy study to evaluate the performance of past energy saving projects. They also evaluated the nationwide current best practices to see if their protocols should be revised. As a result, their protocols have been revised and greatly expanded in 2011. Gone is the 30 page document that used to describe the M&V requirements for BPA programs, and in their place is a set of seven different documents that provided expanded detailed requirements in order to qualify for incentives through BPA, titled: Protocol Selection Guide, Verification by Equipment or End-Use Metering Protocol, Verification by Energy Modeling Protocol, Verification by Energy Use Indexing Protocol, End Use Metering Absent Baseline Measurement, Regression for M&V: Reference Guide, Sampling for Measurement & Verification (M&V): Reference Guide, Engineering Calculations with Verification Protocol: and a Glossary. These documents can be downloaded for free at https://conduitnw.org by clicking “Topics,” then “More,” then “M&V.” The original BPA M&V protocols were developed prior to the development of the IPMVP, and they have now been updated to adhere to the IPMVP, except for option D. The BPA protocols are not measure specific, but they provide details of the necessary processes, and they can be used to provide guidance on the development of a specific standard savings estimation protocol. Also the Regional Technical Forum (RTF) has been working on custom and comprehensive M & V measures.  More information can be found at RTFs website: http://www.nwcouncil.org/energy/rtf/.   See His Presentation

Dave Robison of Stellar Processes gave a presentation on the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP). The IPMVP was developed in 2000 as a method that companies could use to document actual energy savings that result from energy saving projects. It was updated in 2010 and it includes four options: Option A) Mutual agreement based on spot measurements and calculations; Option B) Engineering calculations based on short-term monitoring, statistical sampling; Option C) Billing analysis at the whole-building level using statistical techniques; and Option D) Calibrated engineering simulation models. The IPMVP requires a statement about the accuracy, or the relative precision of the measured savings, which is often overlooked. The basic premise of all options is to state first what the energy use would have been if the energy savings projects had not been implemented, and compare this to the energy use that actually occurred after the upgrade was installed. The IPMVP can be downloaded for free at: http://www.evo-world.org/.   See His Presentation

The final presentation of the day was given by the 2011 Energy Manger of the Year.  While there were many excellent nominations for this year’s award, Armando Nunez was selected for his phenomenal work at National’s Albany Plant. Through hard work on his own time Nunez analyzed energy bills and worked to promote energy efficiency changes at the plant. Currently the Albany plant has saved 1.7 million kWh and is still working toward their goal of 2 million kWh. For more information please see the separate article about our Energy Manager of the Year.  See His Presentation

The results of the 2012 Oregon APEM Board elections were given (for details read the article on the Board Elections) just before more networking occurred over a delicious lasagna lunch. We then held our 2012 annual Member Meeting where we heard from Don Holland, current President, and SaraHope Smith, current Treasurer.

The winter forum wrapped up with a tour of the LEED Silver TJ Day Hall. The building had recently completed a major renovation and includes classrooms and office space for professors. The building includes day lighting, lighting controls, solar power generation, and new heating and cooling system that uses radiant ceiling panels to provide both heating and cooling.  CO2 sensors are located in most spaces to ensure adequate outdoor ventilation air is provided to each space, without wasting excess energy by providing too much ventilation air. An energy saving heat wheel is employed to pre-heat or pre-cool the outside ventilation air with building exhaust air.

Presentations:

Richard Beam, Providence Hospitals

Todd Amundson, Bonneville Power Administration

Dave Robison, Stellar Processes

Armando Nunez, Energy Manager of the Year

Fall 2011 Forum    

“Solutions to Maximize your Boiler and Central Plant Operations”

September 30, 2011
Beaverton Round Executive Suites, Beaverton, OR

The Oregon APEM Fall Forum was well attended by about 60 members and guests eager to learn how to improve their boiler operations to reduce fuel consumption and save costs.

The first presentation was “Introduction to Boilers: Boiler Types, Efficiency and Optimization” by Paul Campbell, the Business Development Manager for CHC – Columbia Hydronics Division.  Paul explained the differences between atmospheric and fan assist (forced draft) boilers, and between condensing and non-condensing boilers.  Paul cautioned the audience to use care when evaluating efficiency because “combustion efficiency”, “thermal efficiency”, and “boiler efficiency” are all common terms that are not always fully understood and are sometimes misused.  He pointed out that the AHRI website (www.ahrinet.org) now provides third-party certified combustion and thermal efficiencies of various boiler manufacturers, providing engineers with a means to compare different manufacturers on a level playing field, rather than relying upon the manufacturers un-documented claims. The primary causes of inefficiency or loss from a boiler were identified as flue loss (heat lost up the stack), radiant loss (heat lost from boiler shell and piping), blow down (hot water to drain to remove contaminates) and return water (failing to fully recover energy in condensate).  Paul cautioned that while condensing boilers are more efficient because they are able to recover more heat from the exhaust gases, special attention must be paid to properly vent them in order to avoid corrosion from the acidic conditions of the exhaust condensate.  Boiler installation issues that need careful consideration are: venting (sizing and proper material), piping, and proper boiler start-up and commissioning.  Not all condensing boilers are built alike, and if an exhaust flue is designed for manufacturer “A” conditions, it may not work for manufacturer “B” – therefore care must be taken to review the stack design when changing a boiler manufacturer during a boiler replacement project. The presentation ended with some great example photos of failed boiler projects where expensive lessons were learned the hard way due to improper duct or pipe routing – issues that often result in people blaming the boiler as causing.  See His Presentation

The topics of piping routing and controls that Paul Campbell introduced were then expanded upon with a presentation by Jason Patterson from Proctor Sales titled “Boiler Piping and Distribution Control Schemes”.  One of Jason’s key points was that one of the largest “hidden” energy losses in a boiler system is due to water flowing through idle boilers (such as a single boiler in a plant that is off while other boilers in the plant are operating to maintain the hot water supply temperature).  When hot water flows through an un-fired (idle) boiler, the boiler tubing and stack cause natural convection to draw heat from the water flowing through the tubes and up the stack of the “off” boiler.  Isolation valves can be used to prevent this loss of energy, but need to be installed with caution – allowing “off” boilers to cool can cause corrosive condensation that will shorten their life, and the boiler feed water pump rate and max flow of the “on” boilers also need to be considered.  Jason discussed options for using variable speed drives on boiler feed-water and hot water circulation pumps, as well as common symptoms of low flow (boiler shutdown on “high limit” or short-cycling).  Jason cautioned not to trust the manufactured provided minimum flow rates as true minimum flow is dependent on both the boiler and the overall system piping configuration.  See His Presentation

Peter Larro and Barry Jostol of Mechanical Sales, Inc. – Portland then presented on high efficiency burners and “linkage-less” controls.  The driving force for not using a single actuator with proportional linkages (aka “jack-shaft”) to control both the fuel and air controls is to optimize combustion efficiency across the range of firing rates.  The technology has been commercially available for over a decade and is well proven as reliable and with documented performance gains.  The primary problem with linkage controls is that there could only be one firing rate that optimized the fuel-air ratio – and any other operating point, either higher or lower load, was not optimized.  To keep the boiler safe (due to incomplete fuel combustion and generation of carbon monoxide) the boiler was adjusted to always have slight excess air across a range of operating conditions.  Excess air is inefficient because this results in reduced combustion efficiencies.  They discussed in some detail linkage-less controls available as a retrofit kit from four different manufacturers, and discussed the differences between them and some of the options available on the more robust systems, including the ability to monitor the boiler exhaust gasses and make automatic adjustments to optimize the efficiency.   See Their Presentation

The Energy Trust of Oregon made a short presentation reminding attendees that there are incentives available for gas savings form boiler improvement projects for customers of Cascade Natural Gas and NW Natural.  More information can be found at the Energy Trusts websites: www.energytrust.org, http://energytrust.org/residential/incentives/heating-and-cooling/gas-boilers, http://energytrust.org/trade-ally/programs/existing-commercial-buildings/incentives/natural-gas,  and their Industrial and Agricultural programs: http://energytrust.org/industrial-and-ag/.

The final presentation of the forum was made by Mike Hatten PE, Principal, SOLARC Architecture and Engineering Inc who conducted a performance and optimization study for the City of Beaverton on the central plant systems of the Beaverton Round.  The original design consisted two condensing boilers and one large non-condensing boiler, and a high efficiency water-cooled chiller. The design was a Hartman Design which incorporates VSDs on all of the pumps and cooling tower fans. Some of the interesting findings of the study were that despite having full air-economization capabilities, most energy was used during periods of the year when outside air temperatures were less than 60F.  High heating loads were found at night when office buildings were unoccupied due to reheat.  During the site investigation of the facilities, it was discovered that the air economizer dampers were not working properly, and that there were control issues that caused the chillers to come-on occasionally when load conditions did not require mechanical cooling. Overall, the chillers were found to be performing below the efficiency ratings projected in the original design. Mike explained that the chillers were installed with extra capacity to allow for future tenant development in the complex up to 600,000 square feet, but due to the downturn in the economy the actual grown has not been realized and currently conditions 330,000 square feet.  Because the systems are over-sized the chillers are operating at very low loads for most of the year, which results in a reduction in efficiency of around 1.7 kW/ton. Despite this result, Hatten emphasized that the chiller system was well designed and that the chillers would be performing at the projected efficiency (0.65 kW/ton) if the tenant expansion had occurred. The overall central plants are performing with an annual energy use of 7.1 kBTU/square foot/year of electricity, and 32 kBTU/sf/year of natural gas.  See His Presentation

The day ended with a tour of the very clean Beaverton Round Central Plant, including their central boiler plant and chiller plant.  During this tour we found out that the boilers had been cycling frequently, which led to premature failure of the heat exchanger, and this had been further investigated by the owners and found to be caused by one of the boilers flowing water through while it was not on. The owner added isolation valves to stop flowing water through the off boiler, which eliminated the short cycling. Many attendees remarked at how well labeled the facility was.  It was noted that there was LED “accent” lighting on the equipment.  The tour group asked a number of informed questions of the specific challenges of operating the Central Plant under the current low-load conditions since the development is not complete and a number of the buildings the Central Plan had been sized to support have either have not been built or are not at full occupancy.

Presentations:

Paul Cambell, CHC

Jason Patterson, Proctor Sales

Peter Larro and Barry Jostol, Mechanical Sales, Inc.

Mike Hatten PE, Principal, SOLARC

Summer 2011 Forum    

RCMs, Energy Managers, Sustainability Coordinators...Who Needs 'Em? (You Do!)"
What RCMs, EMs, SEMPs, Sustainability Coordinators, and the like, can do for your bottom line

June 3, 2011
Clark PUD Vancouver, WA

How many times have you heard about a brand-new building, or even a retrofit, designed with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind, only to find the building uses much more energy than by design?  Why is that?

Often its because the design frequently depends on specific behavior and knowledge of the building occupants and operators.  Unfortunately, occupants are rarely informed of their role in helping a building run efficiently and operators are more focused on addressing and resolving complaints.  Its not uncommon for a building operator to invoke a repair that indeed makes the complaint go away but fails to consider the efficiency involved in the activity. 

One of the most effective ways to optimize design efficiencies is to enlist the assistance of someone whose sole focus is to make sure operational strategies are aligned with efficiency goals on an ongoing basis.  One of the best ways to accomplish this is to hire a person or firm that has extensive and sufficient training in this area, such as a Resource Conservation Manager (RCM), Sustainability Coordinator, Energy Manager, etc.  While these terms are often used interchangeably, each offers a unique approach to building operations and should be considered in that light.  This forum will focus primarily on the role of the RCM.  Once thought of as an adjunct to facility operations, focused on closing doors and turning off lights, Resource Conservation Management has become much more than that.

In building on our 2011 theme of “Overcoming Resistance to Energy Efficiency,” our Summer Forum focused on these roles and the significant value they can bring to the bottom line with relatively little investment on the part of the building owner or operator.  Roger Ebbage with the Northwest Energy Education Institute and Lane Community College, characterized his educational program and the value graduates of such a program can bring to a variety of arenas such as building design and operation, utility programs, ESCOs, and energy management programs, to name a few. See Roger's Presentation

Since November of 2008, Evergreen Public Schools (Vancouver, Washington) has saved over $3.5 million dollars in energy costs.  Their annual energy expenditures went from just over $4 million, and trending upward, to less than $3 million, and still trending downward.  Much of the savings can be attributed to an efficiency focus brought to the district upon their hiring an RCM and their utilization of ENERGY STAR's "Guidelines For Energy Management."  Dave Cone offered a case study of his work with the district, and described how the culture of the district, both staff and operations, has been altered to embrace efficiency, which accounts for a large portion of the savings.   See Dave's Presentation

Many utilities have embraced RCM as a strategy to support their customers.  Sheryl Anayas with Puget Sound Energy (PSE) had a presentation that illustrated why a utility such as hers, financially supports Resource Conservation Management as a valuable means to significantly reduce energy consumption among it customers. See Sheryl's Presentation

Of course RCM strategies that work for one sector of building owners and operators may not work for others.  Programs implemented in a school, for example, operated and occupied by the building owner’s employees, may not be as effective in an apartment or office building where occupants are simply renting or leasing a space and there’s a disconnect between the owner and the occupant.  These facilities may even be operated by an entity totally unaffiliated with the occupants or owners, offering a unique challenge to efficient operations.  To this end Priya Premchandran, SERA Architects reviewed a variety of activities that can be employed in these situations.

Presentations:

Roger Ebbage, Northwest Energy Education Institute

Dave Cone, Evergreen Public School

Sheryl Anayas, Puget Sound Energy


Spring 2011 Forum    

“Turning Data Center Energy Hogs Around”
tips and tricks you'll want to know to better manage data centers

March 18, 2011
Pringle Creek Community Center, Salem

In case you missed it – APEM 2011 Spring Forum Recap “Energy Conservation Opportunities in Data Centers”
Our Spring Forum presented technical information on energy conservation strategies for existing data centers, a look at the future of data centers, two case studies of new highly efficient data centers, an update from the ETO (Energy Trust of Oregon) on incentives for data centers, and a tour of the State Data Center where we not only toured the mechanical rooms but also walked onto the data center floor in hot aisles and cold aisles.

John Pappas of Mazetti Nash Lipscomb Birch presented detailed information about energy conservation strategies in existing data centers. John has been a mechanical designer for over thirty years, and he was recently hired by the ETO to educate design engineers in Oregon about how to design high efficiency data centers. He presented detailed results of CFD (computational fluid dynamics) modeling that shows how air is often short-circuited inside data centers that result in inefficient cooling systems. Cooling systems are designed to operate with a 20 – 25 F delta (difference between the leaving temperature and the return temperature) but due to short-circuiting of the air they often operate with only a 10 F delta. Some cold air passes through the front side of a computer rack where it picks up heat and then exists through the back side of the rack – often this warm air then circles back around to the front and re-enters a different spot on the rack – leading to “hot spots” in the rack, which are then typically remedied by lowering the supply air temperature or adding more cooling and fans. Another problem with poor airflow is that the cold air enters the room and then leaves the room without passing through a computer rack. The efficient way to remedy this is to block the air from short-circuiting and force all the cool air through the rack one time and then collect the warm air and send it back to the air conditioning unit, without mixing it with cold air. John showed us how the ceiling plenum can be converted into a return air plenum, and CRACs (computer room air conditioners) can be ducted to the ceiling, as one method to minimize short-circuiting of the air and improve airflow distributions. Another energy-saving strategy is to use outside air for cooling – when a data center is laid out with isolated hot and cold aisles the supply air only needs to be as low as 70 or 75 F to provide adequate cooling, and this 70 to 75 F air can be provided over 90% of the year in the Willamette Valley with outside air economizers. Adding direct and or indirect evaporative cooling to the economizer can provide cooling about 95% of the year, resulting in the need to run compressors for cooling only 5% of the year. John spoke of a company he recently designed a system for in California where the economizer, direct and indirect cooling provides adequate cooling for all but 36 hours of a typical year, and the owner decided they can live without mechanical cooling for those 36 hours a year, resulting in savings first cost of installing a mechanical cooling system.  see his presentation

Steve Knipple of EasyStreet Online Solutions provided a case study of the Hillsboro data center they opened in 2011. Their data center floor is laid out with racks that incorporate hot aisle containment chimneys and they do not use a raised floor. The cool supply air enters the room and enters the racks around 70 F, much higher than most data centers that are designed with 55 F supply air. The 70 F air enters the racks and is exhausted through the chimneys – which eliminate any short circuiting and guarantees that all the air entering the racks is around 70 F. They monitor the exhaust temperatures to ensure that they stay below 115 F, which is the temperature recommended by the manufacturers of the computer systems inside the racks. The rooftop air handlers supply the 70 F supply air using direct and indirect evaporative cooling to produce cooling without the need for mechanical cooling over 90% of the year. The building collects rainwater and stores it for use in the evaporative cooling systems. This facility also uses virtualized systems – virtualized systems typically combine 30 to 40 traditional servers onto one “virtualized” server through the use of sophisticated software. see his presentation

Brandon Adams of McKinstry presented a case study of a data center they recently expanded in downtown Seattle. This existing facility was electrically constrained so that they could not add mechanical cooling for the increased data center. This led them to innovate and design the expansion to be cooled without the use of any mechanical cooling. This design worked so well that they removed the mechanical cooling from the existing data center. The cooling for the entire data center is now provided through the use of airside economizers, and direct and indirect evaporative cooling systems. see his presentation

A networking activity was held during a break to give the audience and speakers a chance to get to know one another. Will Miller of PGE won the prize for meeting the most members during this activity.

Jonny Holz spoke on behalf of the ETO to educate the audience about energy incentives that are available from the ETO specifically for data centers. The ETO offers a $350 incentive for each server that is virtualized, as long as the owner virtualizes a minimum of ten servers at a time. The ETO also offers incentives for owners to install PC software that turns monitors off and puts desktop computers to sleep when they are idle. Both the State Data Center and EasyStreet Online solutions applied for and received incentives from the ETO when building and retrofitting their data centers.

Jon Haas of Intel presented information on the future of the equipment that is inside the data centers. The computer systems are getting more and more powerful, and they are getting smaller and smaller, the result of this is that the equipment inside a rack uses more and more power, resulting in higher watts per square foot density. John also educated us about the Green Grid, which is an international organization dedicated to improving the energy efficiency of data centers.see his presentation

John Santana of the Pringle Creek Community gave a presentation of the energy dashboard system that monitors the energy use and the energy production of the solar PV array. During our rainy spring day forum the solar panels were generating about 4 kW of electricity, while on a sunny summer day they will generate about 21 kW.

James Meyer of Opsis Architects gave a presentation on the Pringle Creek Community Center and Community. This is a planned community designed to house over 100 individual homes when they are fully built out. All the homes will be owned by the individuals living there, and they are required to be built to meet LEED standards. The homes will have small yards and share large green spaces. There is a creek running through the community, two large greenhouses, and plenty of trees. The community utilizes pervious paving to allow groundwater to seep right through without collecting and causing erosion. The existing buildings utilize a ground source heat pump system to provide heating and cooling. The community center utilizes natural ventilation, high efficiency lights, and has 96 photovoltaic solar collectors mounted on the roof.

Bryan Nealy and Ben Tate of the State of Oregon gave a presentation of the strategies that the State has been incorporating into their data center to save energy, and a tour of their facility after a gourmet lunch catered by Wild Pear consisting of salad, vegetarian lasagna, steak and cake. The State has been virtualizing their computer servers to run the same amount of systems on fewer and fewer servers. They participate in PGE’s (Portland General Electric) Dispatchable Generation program whereby PGE takes care of the maintenance of their generators in exchange for being allowed to turn them on when PGE needs extra power in the service area. Ben and Bryan took us on a tour of the data center floor. The computer racks are lined up in hot and cold aisles, but they are not physically isolated so there is still some short-circuiting of air around the server racks. They previously installed blanking plates on the unused slots of the racks, which did reduce the short-circuiting of air and lowered the average cold air aisle temperature by 4 ½ degrees F. They use an underfloor supply air distribution system and they were operating with outside air economizers on the day of our visit to provide 63 F supply air to the entire floor. Their two centrifugal chillers were off, and we toured the mechanical rooms housing them and could see for ourselves that they were off. In fact, their mechanical chillers are only needed to operate when the outside air is above 65 F, which is only about 15% of the year in a typical weather year. They are now looking to the ETO to provide an energy audit of their facility to identify additional strategies that they can incorporate to save more energy, and they are very interested in a cold aisle containment system. Due to the short-circuiting of the air in their computer cabinets they turn on a chiller when the return air temperature reaches the mid 70’s F or higher.

Presentations:

John Pappas, Mazetti Nash Lipscomb Birch

Steve Knipple, EasyStreet Online Solutions

Brandon Adams, McKinstry

Jon Haas, Intel