Summer 2012 Forum    

"The True Cost of No Cost and Low
Cost Efficiency Measures"

June 1, 2012
NW Natural Building, Portland

Byron Courts is the Director of Engineering for Melvin Mark Properties which manages a number of high rise office buildings in Portland. He has long focused on the energy efficient operation of the buildings he is responsible for. He is both a LEEP AP and Green Globe Professional.
His presentation focused on the energy efficiency measures implemented in several of their buildings.

  • One of his building went through a retro commissioning process in which a total of 50 individual measures were studied, 19 measures were recommended and 15 were implemented resulting in significant savings with a less than a year payback.
  • Another measure involved replacing a chiller operating at 1.22 kW per ton with one operating at 0.62 kW per ton. The ROI of this installation was 3.1 years once the Energy Trust incentive and the state business energy tax credit were factored in.

Byron has long used energy accounting to track the efficiency of his buildings and to help determine if the measures installed result in the expected savings. One such example was tracking the savings from a parking garage lighting project—which did not give him the savings he expected. When he investigated the reasons for this, he found that the original fixture count was off, so fewer fixtures were actually installed. In years past, Byron used Utility Manager, a PC-based software, as his energy accounting tool. Today, he uses  ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, which is under continuous improvement. The scores generated by the ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager are nationally recognized.  Byron also discussed how the various utilities in the Portland area are providing new and improved energy data tracking tools

Elin Shepard, the former Sustainability Coordinator for the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), reported on energy conservation activities that DAS implemented from 2007-2010. When the legislature cut the funding for most of the capital projects that DAS had planned for the 09-11 biennium, this required DAS to look into low to no-cost alternatives for energy savings.
DAS released the updated Resource Conservation Policy in July 2009. This policy included new, innovative strategies for energy savings such as moving custodians from night shifts to day shifts, turning off ambient lights from 7 PM to 6 AM where tenants may not override them, and restricting many personal appliances. However, the most innovative aspect was that each building would have a night audit once a quarter to verify that the plug loads in cubicles and common spaces were turned off. If DAS found the same items on after two audits, DAS could charge the agency for the quarterly consumption of the items. While agencies initially expressed concern about this policy, they understood the importance of saving money, jobs, and energy in the buildings and complied very well. By December 2009, DAS found several buildings with “0” plug loads on at night – a feat they expected would take years to achieve.

DAS worked extensively to start and expand Green Teams in 2009. At that time, nearly every DAS building had a thriving group of folks working to make a difference. Some Green Teams coordinated events such as waste-free potlucks or Green Jeopardy lunch time activities, others started composting programs and developed pledge cards. DAS was pleased how the grass roots efforts of Green Teams advanced the Governor’s goals for sustainability and further the mission to infuse a culture of sustainability in state government operations.

As the Green Teams continued to grow and expand in DAS buildings, they required more communication and involvement. DAS developed “electricity scorecards” to communicate a tremendous amount of information on a quarterly, one-page flyer. It shared the building’s compliance with the year 2000 goal, a graph of energy performance, consumption and cost data, and the results of the last night energy audit. The scorecards reached more staff than ever before, allowing them to feel a part of the process and solution. DAS also began an optional program to check out Kill-A-Watt units to green teams to empower them to research and verify information themselves. In 2009, these measures, combined with other projects, saved 27% of the energy used in the year 2000 and avoided around $450,000 in utilities charges.  See Her Presentation

More information and links to policies and publications:

Dave Cone Resource Conservation Manager for Evergreen School District in Vancouver, began his presentation by highlighting his district’s energy savings achievements.  He referred to the ENERGY STAR “Guidelines for Energy Management” as the model the district used to achieve their substantial savings.  His presentation then focused on the concepts of “creating and implementing an action plan”   and how that was carried out by the district.  Dave identified several “low cost” activities his district engaged in and noted while they may have significant upfront costs, they also had a relatively quick payback; in most cases less than two years.  Probably the most significant low-cost or even no cost investment cited by Dave was the employment of utility bill tracking software.  Dave pointed to one tracking software that comes with a cost and another, ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager, that is available for free. This software allowed Dave to evaluate district energy use and focus his efforts on facilities whose Energy Use Index was significantly out of line with conventional thinking. 

Dave also mentioned the installation of web-based thermostats in their 400 portable classrooms as well as the acquisition and installation of interval meters at several district sites as other low-cost energy savings measures.  He noted the metering technology gave him real-time data he then used to evaluate energy use at various district locations. Other low-cost activities included the replacement of HID gym lighting fixtures with more efficient T-8 linear fluorescent ones, as well as the recommissioning of one district site that used over 4 times as much energy as current thinking would suggest.  He also noted how the payback periods were shortened even further by enlisting the assistance of local utilities and taking advantage of the incentives they make available for the work the district was doing.  He encouraged audience members to seek out incentive opportunities and to not assume they might not be available for certain “creative” projects.

Dave also pointed to other activities that he would suggest fall into the “no cost” category.  He pointed to activities that utilized the existing district work force to accomplish.  These activities included being more proactive with their maintenance activities and spending time with their controls to make sure the manner in which they’re operated reflected the most recent thinking in efficient controls operation.  Dave also noted district staff was able to delamp numerous fixtures throughout their campuses.  The determination to delamp was based on a survey conducted with a light meter that suggested numerous locations were overlit when compared to IESNA standards.

Dave completed his presentation by telling attendees not to assume that a building built to an array of “green” standards would run efficiently.  He said that even in those circumstances building operators need to be proactive.  In addition, he suggested many efficient technologies rely on the expertise of the operators to take advantage of potentially efficient strategies inherent in the technologies.  See His Presentation

Lauren Donley is an Energy Engineer at Abacus Resource Management Company. She graduated in 2011 as an Energy Management Technician from the Northwest Energy Education Institute at Lane Community College and is a University of Oregon alum with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Environmental Studies.  Lauren loves that challenge of deciphering how buildings work and is passionate about helping reduce energy use and cut costs for businesses and schools.
Lauren’s presentation focused on the value of using and evaluating DDC trend data and short term data logging with portable loggers. She showed up how with careful analysis, it is possible to determine what is actually happening in a building during unoccupied hours. She took us through several examples to show us the true value of data logging. In one case, the data highlighted a problem that could not be observed in any other way.
She provided a convincing case for the need for data logging to uncover hard to find sources of a problem.  See Her Presentation

Oregon APEM had several outstanding nominations for the 2012 Student Project of the year award. Each nominee submitted a summary of a project they had completed during their time as a student. Board members reviewed each project and rated it based on how it related to energy management, the depth of knowledge each student acquired completing their project, the complexity, thoroughness, and accuracy of their findings, and how valuable the findings are to the industry or student community.
Tyler Kimble, an Energy Management Student from Lane Community college (LCC) was selected as the 2012 recipient for his outstanding energy analysis of the math & science building on LCC’s main campus. Tyler presented his analysis at the Summer Forum and was then presented his award by Oregon APEM president Elin Shepard.  Congratulations Tyler!


Elin Shepard, Former Sustainability Coordinator for DAS

Dave Cone, Evergreen School District

Lauren Donley, Abacus Resource Management