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SmartWatt

Trend Watch: Energy Efficiency Priorities for 2015

Posted by Danielle Marquis

January 21, 2015 at 10:25 AM

The energy efficiency priorities for 2015 reflect a growing trend toward more comprehensive energy management programs. For many companies, low-hanging fruit such as lighting retrofits have already been plucked—the focus has moved toward implementing long-term programs in order to see increased savings and remain competitive as regulations and the price of energy and resources increase. Smaller, ad hoc projects are making way for long-term strategy and capital investments. Here are four of the biggest trends to watch in 2015.

 

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Topics: Proposition 39, Higher Education, Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division, CII Division, Healthcare, Food Processing, Refrigerated & Freezer Warehouses, Warehouse/Distribution, Industrial

How to Benchmark Energy Use

Posted by Danielle Marquis

January 13, 2015 at 4:37 AM

Does your list of New Year's resolutions include getting smarter about your facility's energy usage or saving money? Energy benchmarking is a great place to start - after all, you can't manage what you aren't measuring. And if your facility is located in certain areas of the country, you may not have a choice. In some areas, benchmarking is becoming mandatory.

 

The benefits of energy benchmarking are well documented and there are plenty of free resources available for DIY energy benchmarking. Here's a roundup of some great resources to get started:

 

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Topics: Higher Education, Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division, CII Division, Healthcare, Food Processing, Refrigerated & Freezer Warehouses, Warehouse/Distribution, Industrial

Best Practices for Tenant Engagement - Apartment Energy Efficiency Programs

Posted by Kelsey Raftery

November 12, 2014 at 6:00 AM

When it comes to improving energy efficiency in apartment or multifamily housing units, there are basically two routes you can take to savings. The first strategy is to make changes to the physical environment through capital investments, such as lighting retrofits, installing energy-efficient appliances or upgrading to windows with a high efficiency rating. These energy efficiency upgrades may be subsidized by energy savings programs available from your utility, like the PPL Electric Utilities' E-Power Apartment Program.

 

The second strategy involves changing the behavior of building staff and residents—better known as tenant engagement programs. While more challenging to implement, behavior change can significantly increase the energy savings in apartment or multifamily buildings. A 2010 report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) looked at more than 60 studies on giving feedback to residential customers on their energy use, comparing their consumption to others and offering them strategies to save energy. Typical savings were 4 to 12 percent, depending on the approach used. Considering the small overhead, it can be well worth the effort and a great compliment to energy efficiency upgrades to the building itself. Tenant engagement programs are the darling of public housing administrators and other affordable housing providers who struggle to find funding, as they can offer a significant return on a minimal investment. Your utility may also include tenant engagement programs in their energy efficiency program offerings.

 


The rub is finding the best way to ensure consistent engagement. Tenant engagement programs are not always designed in a way that incorporates the most recent research findings in behavioral science. The result? Disappointing participation rates and energy savings. However, new theories of effective methods of behavior change have begun to emerge. An ACEEE white paper “Saving Energy with Neighborly Behavior: Energy Efficiency for Multifamily Renters and Homebuyers” found that one of the most effective methods is community-based social marketing (CBSM), which “identifies barriers to and benefits of desired outcomes, enabling program designers to develop strategies that are relevant and appropriate to target populations.”

 

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Topics: Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division

Designing & Implementing Energy Efficiency Programs for Multifamily Apartment Buildings

Posted by Kayla Bellair

November 10, 2014 at 5:00 AM

One of the most exciting aspects of Fannie Mae’s recently released Multifamily Energy and Water Market Research survey is the strong supportive data it gives for what heretofore had been mostly speculation: that the multifamily sector remains an untapped opportunity for energy efficiency.

 

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Topics: Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division

SmartWatt Energy to Sponsor and Attend 2014 KEEA Energy Efficiency Conference in Harrisburg, PA

Posted by Kayla Bellair

November 6, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Scranton, PA—November 6, 2014—SmartWatt Energy, a leader in the administration and implementation of direct install energy efficiency programs for utilities, will be sponsoring and attending the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA) Annual Energy Efficiency Conference at the Crowne Plaza Harrisburg Hotel in Harrisburg, PA on November 13th-14th, 2014.

 

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Topics: Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division, Conferences, Trade Shows & Presentations, Press Coverage

Easy Energy Savings - Multifamily Apartment Buildings

Posted by Kelsey Raftery

October 21, 2014 at 7:30 AM

With master-metered multifamily apartment buildings, there are many energy savings ideas that are easy—and effective. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the average U.S. household spends between $1,800 and $2,200 per year in energy. Multiplied across all units in a master-metered apartment building, that adds up fast. Why not combine energy efficient upgrades, while encouraging energy savings behaviors amongst your tenants, and spend less if you can? The most encouraging behaviors to target are ones that don’t require tenants to sacrifice comfort. An ACEEE white paper, “Saving Energy with Neighborly Behavior: Energy Efficiency for Multifamily Renters and Homebuyers,” found that the most popular behaviors included turning off lights and other appliances when not in use, as well as using energy-efficient lighting like CFLs or LEDs. At SmartWatt, we provide tenant education along with the installation of measures incentivized by your utility, such as PPL Electric Utilities' E-Power Apartment Program.

 

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Topics: Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division

3 Barriers to Integrated Energy Efficiency Projects + Workaround Tips

Posted by Danielle Marquis

October 14, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Commercial buildings represent a huge opportunity for energy efficiency. While commercial activity is slowly growing, overall the total number of projects undertaken through utility-based commercial energy efficiency programs is still underwhelming. But there’s no dearth of potential: U.S. commercial building space consists of more than 80 billion square feet (EIA 2013), of which approximately 30 percent was due for renovation as of 2010—making it ideal for comprehensive, integrated projects. A sea of change has emerged in the current landscape, with the growing recognition that commercial buildings should be treated as a series of interacting systems rather than as a collection of isolated components in ascension. More and more utility-based energy efficiency programs across the country have started including whole-building retrofits in their portfolios.

Still, integrated projects are a tougher sell, despite the fact that they ultimately achieve much greater savings. Here are three common barriers—lack of awareness, finances and complexity—to adopting a comprehensive approach, along with three tips on how to work through them.

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Topics: Higher Education, Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division, CII Division, Healthcare, Food Processing, Refrigerated & Freezer Warehouses, Warehouse/Distribution, Industrial

Untapped Potential: Advanced Controls for RTUs

Posted by Danielle Marquis

September 30, 2014 at 3:00 AM

Serious energy savings can be achieved by retrofitting existing packaged rooftop air handler units (RTUs) with advanced control strategies, according to a recent multiyear project conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy. The report on the project, “Advanced Rooftop Control (ARC) Retrofit: Field-Test Results,” points out that not using advanced controls for RTUs is a big missed opportunity.

A detailed simulation analysis in FY11 showed that RTU retrofits led to significant energy (between 24 and 35 percent) and cost savings (38 percent) from fan, cooling and heating energy consumption. The simulation analysis was followed by an extensive field test of a retrofittable advanced RTU controller, the Catalyst product manufactured by TransformativeWave. The recommended advanced control package included multispeed fan control, integrated economizer controls and demand-controlled ventilation (DCV).

 

To get a sense of the huge swath of opportunity that RTUs represent, consider these compelling stats: “Packaged rooftop units (RTUs) are used in 46% (2.1 million) of all commercial buildings, serving over 60% (39 billion square feet) of the commercial building floor space in the U.S. (EIA 2003). The site cooling energy consumption associated with RTUs is about 160 trillion BTUs annually. Packaged heat pumps account for an additional 70 trillion BTUs annually. The source energy consumption of these units is over 1,000 trillion BTUs.”

 

With such big numbers at play, just a small improvement in part-load operation of these units can lead to enormous overall reductions of energy use and carbon emissions. The in-depth analysis of the more than 60 units in the report included four different building types and four climate locations. Results showed building type, unit runtime and supply-fan motor size were significant contributors to the energy savings potential. Here are five key tips from the report to help maximize energy savings of RTU retrofits.

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Topics: Higher Education, Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division, CII Division, Healthcare, Food Processing, Refrigerated & Freezer Warehouses, Warehouse/Distribution, HVAC Controls, Industrial

Reduce Apartment Building Energy Use: The Cumulative Effect of Energy-Efficient Fans, Plumbing, and Appliances

Posted by Kelsey Raftery

August 26, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Choosing energy-efficient fans, plumbing, and appliances means better performance, better quality and better savings. According to the EPA, purchasing Energy Star®–qualified products and incorporating best practices translates into a savings of one-third of a household’s energy cost, or about $700 annually per unit.

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Topics: Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division

Energy Efficiency Project Financing

Posted by Danielle Marquis

August 7, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Energy efficiency improvements have a promising market—economic estimates for this area forecast big growth. Project financing helps smaller customers and businesses make such improvements without the capital to cover all the upfront costs. This is especially important with more stringent building code requirements and emissions regulations. There are other compelling motivations behind energy efficiency financing: improving the sustainability of the community, strengthening grid resiliency and investing in new generation.

 

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Topics: Multi-Family Buildings, Utility Programs Division

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