All buildings are different. They are built at different times with different standards, different contractors, different weather impacts, different people inside. All these variables affect energy use.
Finding out where your energy use is going and knowing what you can do about it is a job for a seasoned energy engineer. Fortunately, 3fficient has decades of experience performing thousands of energy audits on every building and campus type imaginable, meeting or exceeding standards. We offer a menu of choices broken down into three types, as defined by the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration Engineers (ASHRAE).
ASHRAE Level 1 Audit
The ASHRAE Level I audit or “walk-through audit” is the basic starting point for building energy optimization. It consists of an initial review of the property’s utility bills and a brief site survey of the building, its systems and its modes of operation. The ASHRAE Level I audit is intended to be a quick assessment of the relative potential for energy and cost saving opportunities. The primary objective of the Level I audit is to identify and provide a savings and cost analysis of low-cost/no-cost measures. It may also provide a list of more capital intensive improvements that merit further consideration, and an initial judgment of potential costs and savings. The Level I audit is intended to help the building owner understand where the building performs relative to its peers; establish a baseline for measuring improvements; decide whether further evaluation is warranted; and if so, where and how to focus that effort. The audit results in a brief summary report that will detail the findings.
ASHRAE Level 2 Audit
The ASHRAE Level II audit provides the building owner with a more detailed building survey and energy analysis. Energy using equipment (lighting, HVAC, process, office machines, etc) and operating hours are inventoried, analyzed and benchmarked against annual baseline utility meter data. Engineering recommendations and financial impacts are provided. This is often used as the basis of an energy master plan. As such, it should only be performed by seasoned, unbiased professional engineers.
A detailed fuel use analysis is performed and the building is benchmarked to gauge overall performance. Energy consumption is broken out by end use such that building owners and operators can easily understand which areas of operation may present the greatest opportunities. Utility rates are analyzed to determine if there are rate change opportunities or if specific utility rate DSM programs are available to the building. All key building representatives (owners, managers, operators and occupants) are interviewed to gain a thorough understanding of the operational characteristics of the building, to explore all potential problem areas, and to clarify financial and non-financial goals of the assessment.
The site assessment may include a variety of diagnostic testing. Depending on the types of systems the building has and the reported problems or issues the building may be experiencing, diagnostics may include any of the following:
- Lighting level assessment (foot candles and lighting power density)
- Blower door testing
- Duct leakage testing
- Air flow and temperature measurements
- Water flow and temperature measures
- Tracer gas analysis
- Infrared thermography
- Combustion analysis and steady state efficiency testing
- Solar shading analysis
- Electrical testing
- Relative humidity testing
Once the detailed site assessment is competed, an energy model/building simulation and engineering calculations are developed in order to create a detailed and cost effective scope of work. The scope of work will include the cost and savings analysis of all practical measures that meet the owner’s economic criteria, along with a discussion of any changes to operation and maintenance procedures and health and safety recommendations.
3fficient is experienced in many types of energy and building modeling simulation tools (such as eQUEST, DOE-2, Energy Pro, EA-Quip, TREAT, Energy Plus, as well as system specific design tools such as Polysun, F-Chart, RetScreen, Hydronic System Simulator etc.), and can utilize whichever is necessary for program requirements or is best suited for the particular building type.
In addition to the energy model, the energy engineer will also generate an audit report that thoroughly documents building conditions, operational characteristics, and proposed energy savings measures. It will also list any potential capital-intensive improvements that require more thorough data collection and engineering analysis (Level III Audit), and a preliminary judgment of potential costs and savings associated with those improvements.
ASHRAE Level 3 Audit
This is the least common audit and typically only provided for long term investments by grant funded or government organizations wanting a very high degree of accuracy. It adds additional rigor to both data gathering and analysis. Data gathering includes the same inventorying as a Level 2 audit plus various temporary sensors and data loggers left on for long durations to accurately monitor device usage and operations. That extensive data is then input into a comprehensive (DOE-2) computer simulation model of building energy use. Travel costs, additional meters are extra.
The Level III energy audit is a highly instrumented and long term study. The Level III audit involves collecting long term trend data using data logging devices and information fed from the buildings energy management or building management systems. This data is used to pinpoint operational opportunities, setpoint adjustments, sensor adjustment and calibration opportunities and other equipment specific ECM’s. The high resolution data that is collected enables us to perform calculations that can be used to very accurately predict energy and cost savings. The Level III audit is typically reserved for complex commercial and industrial buildings with very specific and accurate economic payback analysis requirements.
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