There has been significant chatter lately about the province’s upcoming energy efficiency programs, and the way in which they will work to cut emissions and save people money on their utility bills. But without a clear plan demonstrated, it can be a challenge to conceptualize the process in which these rebates and subsidies will work to reflect the goal of saving Albertan’s money, while reducing the environmental impact of buildings within the province.
The process to conserving energy within a building works in a relatively straight forward way, as it follows the general timeline of solving any problem. Before you can solve a problem, you must understand what the root of the issue is. This is the role of the energy audit. A building owner may know that their building is not energy efficient, and that there are improvements to be made, but often these owners do now know what parts of their building are contributing to the problem and which are not. This can be overwhelming to try and manage without the proper training.
The role of the energy auditor is to analyze your building and to then help you understand the energy portfolio of your facility. These are highly trained professionals who have made it their business to understand energy and buildings and the way in which one is utilized within the other. These professionals survey a building, and are able to analyze the building’s energy usage in order to uncover inefficiencies that can be resolved in order to save the building owner money, and therefore reduce the environmental impact of the facility. These are referred to as Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs). The audit report will outline several ECMs that will be supported with economic data to illustrate return-on-investment, simple payback, and net present value to give the building owner a full understanding of the ECMs and the benefits of installing them. An example of an energy audit that is generating significant cost savings is described below:
The 3D Energy auditing team conducted a level-2 energy audit of the Town of Whitecourt’s Recreation Centre- The Allan & Millar Recreational Centre. This is a 74,610 ft2 multiplex recreational center that contains an indoor water park, a fieldhouse, fitness center, running track, conference facilities, children’s paly area, lounge, commercial space and offices. The facility employs 30 people, whom monitor a typical occupancy schedule of 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. A facility of this size and nature will often cost over $100,000 to heat, cool, and power throughout a calendar year, so the savings can be astronomical when considering the lifetime of a building.
This specific audit revealed nine ECMs for the building that have a total simple payback of 5 years, with the individual ECM payback periods ranging from 8 months to 13 years. This enables the client to begin their retrofitting process with low cost, quick-payback investments in order to provide cost-savings that will fund further ECMs further down the line. This enables the client to gradually install ECMs as their operational budget allows, while providing constant and consistent improvements to the facility.
In this specific instance, the building owner is able to select from any of the nine ECMs, which include but are not limited to: LED light replacements, installation of a combined heat and power unit, occupancy sensors, variable frequency drive upgrade on air handling units and pumps, and low-flow fixtures. If all nine ECMs are installed, there will be an annual GHG reduction of 1,595 tons of CO2 equivalent and a lifetime energy savings of 59,227,436 kWh and 9,950 GJ! That’s enough to power over 8,000 homes for a year! More importantly, these ECMs will save $148,514 in operating costs per year for a total capital cost of $737,309. Over 20 years, that’s almost 3 million dollars in savings.
This audit and retrofit was done through assisted funding from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre’s (MCCAC) TAME+ program which offers municipalities 50% off energy auditing services, as well as 50% cost savings on ECM implementation. With such clear opportunity to generate savings, the energy audit is the first step in uncovering solutions to your energy problems, and can be the first step in designing a clear energy-retrofit plan that uses the reduced operational costs to fund projects that further reduce costs. 3D Energy can help design an energy plan geared towards your building, budget, and goals.