Eco-Living Magazine

EPA’s Battle of the Buildings 2011 Winner Announced

Posted on the 16 November 2011 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

EPA’s Battle of the Buildings 2011 Winner AnnouncedThe Environmental Protection Agency’s Battle of the Buildings recently wrapped up. 245 buildings, including high-rises and rural schools, competed to reduce energy consumption. Hailing from 33 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the entrants represented a range of businesses and organizations. In the end, a parking structure from the University of Central Florida won it all. The parking garage decreased its energy use by a startling 63%, saving nearly $35,000. All told, the buildings saved a combined $5.2 million and more than 240 million kBtus of energy. The competition “prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by more than 3,600 homes a year. The top ten overall finishers achieved energy reductions of at least 30 percent.” Much maligned Fannie Mae took part in the competition and finished in the top ten, saving $49,544 and reducing energy usage by 34.6%.

Oddly enough, the winning structure had the smallest starting energy use as measured by EUI (energy use intensity), a “unit of measurement that describes a building’s energy use. EUI represents the energy consumed by a building relative to its size.” EUI is calculated by “taking the total energy consumed in one year (measured in kBtu) and dividing it by the total floorspace of the building. For example, if a 50,000-square-foot school consumed 7,500,000 kBtu of energy last year, its EUI would be 150.” The parking garage started with an EUI of 22 and was able to reduce it to 8.1. According to Energy Star, a low EUI signifies good energy performance. Some building types have much higher EUIs. For instance, hospitals, which operate on a 24-hour cycle, 7 days per week, consume much more energy than a school that is usually occupied from 7:30-4:30 Monday through Friday with summer vacation reducing the energy demand as well. For a table of some typical buildings, click here.

This year’s competition represents a substantial increase in the number of buildings involved as compared to last year’s inaugural competition. The final report mentioned that “EPA expanded the field of competitors from the small pool in 2010 in response to overwhelming demand from organizations interested in participating in the only national competition of its kind. This change resulted in a pool of competitors in 2011 that was nearly 18 times as large as the first field in 2010.” As a result of the energy reduction, 37% of the competitors earned Energy Star status for their buildings.

Numerous strategies were employed in the various building types in order to achieve the reductions. Here are a few from the report:

  • At Crittendon County Elementary School, the energy team worked with the custodial staff to shift from five 8-hour days to four 10-hour days during summer months, so the school could be closed for three days each week.
  • Intuit 1 and 2 (two buildings in an office complex) switched to day cleaning to reduce the length of time lighting and HVAC had to run during off hours.
  • At Brandywine Realty Trust’s 500 North Gulph Road, the team estimated a 35% payback on their occupancy sensors alone (which turn off lights when rooms are unoccupied)
  • At NYU Langone, the energy team saved more than $2.5 million by repairing components, ensuring that measuring devices were calibrated correctly, and optimizing the system’s control logic.
  • At First Unitarian Society, a thorough “find and fix” effort resulted in energy savings of over $13,000. The energy manager found and addressed numerous problems, from areas of the church that were being simultaneously heated and cooled, to controls that were installed but not being used, to fan systems that cycled on and off more than 24 times a day.

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