Building Energy Benchmarking and Window/Curtainwall Retrofit

by | Oct 7, 2013

Energy benchmarking ordinances for buildings are sweeping the nation, and building owners and managers will soon need to prepare for them. Building energy benchmarking ordinances, enacted in Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle, Austin, Washington State, California and Washington, D.C., will be coming your way soon.

In Chicago, commercial, residential, and municipal buildings measuring more than 50,000 square feet will be required to participate. These 3,500 large buildings are only 1% of all Chicago’s building inventory, but due to their size, they consume 22% of all energy used by our buildings. So this group is a great place to start.

Benchmarking is a process involving measuring a building’s energy consumption and publishing the information alongside results from similar buildings for comparison, motivation and competition.

Building energy benchmarking results in energy savings

Buildings participating in energy benchmarking showed significant savings in energy costs which were reflected in their Energy Star scores

The EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager is the online platform used for reporting data about building energy consumption. It assigns an Energy Star score to the property. The Energy Star score ranges from 1-100 and adjusts for climate and business activity. This can be tracked and improved upon over time.Since data collection on 35,000 US buildings began in 2008, the participating buildings have reduced weather-normalized building energy use an average of 7% over a three year period. Apparently knowledge about power is powerful.

Once energy usage is reported and the Energy Score is assigned, buildings will quickly become motivated to improve, both for better market position as well as for reduced cost.

Schedule for Chicago Building Energy Benchmarking

Nonresidential buildings over 250,000 sf will first report in June 2014
Nonresidential buildings between 50,000 sf and 250,000 sf will first report in June 2015
Residential buildings over 250,000 sf will first report in June 2015
Residential buildings between 50,000 sf and 250,000 sf will first report in June 2016
Public reporting of the data will occur one year after the first reporting date

Best Building Energy Retrofits

Building energy retrofits fall into categories of conventional energy retrofits and deep energy retrofits. Conventional energy retrofits tend to be limited to simple and fast systems upgrades, such as new light bulbs or HVAC controls.

Deep energy retrofits take a whole-building approach, involving the building envelope and multiple building systems, and can achieve more significant energy savings.

A deep energy retrofit involves careful management of the building envelope, including wall and window insulation, air infiltration, indoor air quality, moisture, solar heat gain and solar shading.

As is immediately obvious, deep energy retrofits involve quantum, permanent improvements in the property. Done well, deep energy retrofits can boost a building’s value, market position, occupancy and profitability in a way little else can.

Deep energy retrofits tend to be big, expensive projects, and this can deter action that can be very much needed. But there is a way to achieve a maximized deep energy retrofit with the cost, energy payback and minimal disruption of a conventional retrofit.

I am excited about a little-known approach for window or curtainwall retrofit that can create dramatic improvements in building performance at a far lower cost with no down-time, showing energy paybacks in as little as only five years!

Next week I will cover part two on this topic.

This article was originally published here and was republished with permission from Mark Meshulam.

Mark Meshulam, the Chicago Window Expert, has over 33 years experience in construction, consulting, contracting, laboratory and field testing, forensic investigations, insurance claims and expert witness work. He specializes in windows, glass, mirrors, curtainwalls, entrances, skylights, panel systems, louvers, window films, sealants and similar architectural products.

Mr. Meshulam is often involved with claims, insurance claims and disputes involving leakage in the building envelope, failure of building envelope components (such as glass breakage, leaks and sealant failure), and also personal injury arising out of such products, including injuries from glass breakage and detachment.

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