9/29/2011
 
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Energy Efficiency Revolution
Author: Carlos Santamaria, LEED AP


The race toward energy independence and building efficiency in the United States has moved to center stage and has been identified as a national security concern by the federal government. A large portion of the U.S. economy depends upon the expectation that energy will be sustainable, available, and affordable. Therefore, it is critical now more than ever, that our nation's building owners and managers research and adopt solutions that will allow them to manage energy consumption more efficiently. A new way of thinking is spreading across the country as new technologies and innovative solutions are being developed to better manage energy. In light of today's energy challenges, Glenborough has proactively revised its energy management strategy with respect to how we manage and operate our office buildings.

As a large owner of commercial properties, Glenborough's commitment to energy management and sustainability represents a progressive vision of transforming traditional buildings into highly efficient, intelligent facilities. Although the real estate industry has evolved significantly in managing energy over the past 30 years, there has been a focus on reacting to perceived urgencies rather than creating long-term, proactive solutions. Each organization must follow their own path toward sustainability by using the technologies that are appropriate for them or creating their own innovative techniques.

Glenborough adopted a quantitative Energy Management Strategy (fig. 1) that features three key components: analysis, options, and implementation. This process allows us to ensure that our energy management program is well planned, financially feasible, and that decisions are made based on relevant data points.

Analysis
Glenborough uses key metrics and tools to select properties that are the best candidates for energy management programs. We found that easy access to historical energy data is the key to gaining visibility into how a building is operating and identifying possible opportunities for efficiency and savings. It is also important to understand the property's business considerations in terms of evaluating the value of energy upgrades. These include:
  • Comprehensive view of revenue and expenses
  • Asset hold period, ownership entity, and market conditions
  • Tenant lease expirations and projected occupancy levels
  • Tenant leases with recoverable operational or capital expenditures
In addition, the physical building factors such as age of building, tenant make-up, equipment inventory, infrastructure, and type of building play a major role in determining the cost-benefit analysis. Having a working knowledge of these elements will provide the foundation necessary to create a clear energy management strategy.

Options
The purpose of the analysis phase is to develop a full understanding of all stakeholder expectations and interests, as well as the business and operational parameters for evaluating energy management opportunities. With this knowledge and visibility, we are better prepared to consider alternative strategies and solutions as variables change.

Implementation
Efficient implementation of the appropriate energy management strategies requires a dedicated team as well as expertise and precision. In areas where in-house expertise may be lacking, it is important to engage a systems integrator who has the capabilities and expertise to help execute the energy management plan through the solutions' lifecycles.

Glenborough Case Study

Overview
The 1525 Wilson Boulevard building in Arlington, Virginia is an excellent example of how Glenborough's methodical approach has maximized the benefits, efficiency, and functionality of energy management projects. This 313,337 square foot building has had a consistently high occupancy rate since 2004, and is currently 100% occupied. The tenant mix consists of several high-profile tenants, including government agencies, government contractors, and large institutional firms. This all-electric building had one of the highest electrical usage in our portfolio, at more than 9,100,000 killowatts per year, at a cost of $2.17 per square foot. As a result of the energy management project Glenborough enacted, we've reduced the energy consumption by approximately 3,248,000 killowatts per year, translating into a 35.6% reduction, for an annual savings of approximately $283,478 at today's electrical rates. In addition, our ENERGY STAR score over the last 16 months has improved from 43 to 97.

Process
Glenborough began this transformation by identifying a list of high-energy loads in the building and recommending select capital upgrades that would have the greatest impact on energy reduction. These upgrades included a complete conversion from pneumatic controls to direct digital controls, installation of an energy management system, switch to high efficiency compressors, and several major lighting retrofits, including installation of LED lights in the garage and compact fluorescent lamps throughout building. In addition, our Engineering Manager, Don Winterton, conducted several tenant educational sessions in order to engage them as valuable partners in the success of Glenborough's energy program.

Outcome
1525 Wilson Boulevard recently completed the EPA's National Building Competition, a 12-month energy reduction challenge that began with over 200 building applicants. The competition is judged primarily on percentage of energy reduction as it relates to overall energy use. By February 2010, Glenborough had reduced its energy consumption by approximately 17 percent, placing us third among 14 finalists. , Most notably, during the last six months of the competition, we increased efficiency by another 63 percent. In keeping with our dedication to sustainability and operational efficiency, we are in the process of enhancing our recycling programs and waste stream processes, as well as continuing to research additional solutions for energy management.

The Road to Energy Efficiency
In looking at the many new energy efficiency technologies used in this building, I have observed a growing trend. Organizational awareness and commitment in managing and reducing energy is rapidly increasing among all stakeholders in the building industry. Energy management technologies and operational best practices will soon become a requirement for every business. The energy efficiency revolution will change the way the world uses energy, and it starts with companies like all of ours.

About the Author:
Carlos Santamaria is Glenborough's Director of Engineering. In this position, he provides technical assistance and implements cost containment measures for all of the company's assets. Mr. Santamaria has worked in commercial real estate, concentrating in engineering and construction operations for almost 30 years. Currently, he co-chairs Glenborough's Sustainability Program, strategically positioning the company as a leader in environmental stewardship. Glenborough is a REIT which is focused on owning, managing, leasing, and developing high quality, multi-tenant office properties concentrated in Washington D.C., Southern California, Boston, Northern New Jersey, and Northern California.

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GMU Decision-Guidance System for Optimal Energy Management
Author: Alexander Brodsky, PhD, and Daniel Menascé, PhD


Energy management systems (EMS) are used to manage power microgrids in building complexes. These systems receive a continuous stream of SCADA data on power consumption and status of equipment, and actuate control. However, energy management systems lack the ability to make operational decisions that minimize adjusted cost of power usage. With the introduction of new "green" technologies, such as renewable and back-up local generation, on-site power storage, energy harvesting, and charging stations for electric vehicles, the complexity of optimizing power usage grows exponentially. The following guidelines will assist in making energy management decisions.

Set the target peak demand and curtailment commitment. A high peak demand target may be prohibitively expensive, but it could lead to less interruption of power and cheaper per kWh rates; whereas, a low peak demand target may lead to more interruption (and the need to shed load), using more expensive (and emitting) local generation, or buying power on the spot market or any mix of the above.

Change controllable supply and/or demand in response to uncontrollable changes in supply or demand. A supply can drop as a result of the interruption of a renewable source (e.g., solar panel when the sun stops shining), or a curtailment signal from a utility, or the demand can increase due to cold or hot weather. The response may involve load shedding to decrease consumption, using local generation, on-site storage, buying on-the-spot market, or any mix thereof.

Determine optimal schedule for energy consuming activities, when possible. For example, activities such as manufacturing processes, charging batteries on site, or ice production for cooling can be scheduled for the most optimal time period when the demand is lower and cheaper (e.g., off-peak hours and below peak demand target).However, it would also be advantageous to schedule in such a way to guarantee, with high probability, that we can curtail energy when required. This "energy option" may generate significant revenue to offset power costs; an order of magnitude beyond the average per kWh cost. These trade-offs must be made optimally while taking into account business constraints such as deadlines for completion of electrical vehicle charging.

Optimally shed the building's load. Decide which buildings/areas to interrupt with minimal inconvenience or negative economic impact. For example, various occupants within a building complex may indicate that they are willing to pay more for not being interrupted, or, conversely, that they are ready to be interrupted in lieu of increased expense. . This requires designing a special market (which is non-intrusive to stakeholders), and an optimization solution to find a fair (equilibrium) price, and use it to decide on the best load shedding.

Learn occupancy patterns. Based upon statistical prediction of occupancy patterns determined through analysis of information from motion/occupancy sensors and organizational calendars, one can make better decisions on HVAC thermostat setting or lighting. For example, if after 5:00 p.m. the room motion sensor has not been activated for 15 minutes, the system would predict that the room would be empty until 8:00 a.m. the next morning and automatically lower energy consumption settings within that room.

In addition to operational complexity, stakeholders in building complexes must decide whether and how best to invest in energy efficiency technologies. There is a broad range of technologies available today, such as insulation and windows, renewable (e.g., solar) power sources, traditional back-up generators, battery storage, highly efficient HVAC systems, energy harvesting solutions, and soon charging stations for electric vehicles. This burgeoning list of technologies leads to inevitable questions: What mix of these technologies makes economic and environmental sense for a particular building complex? What type of contractual arrangement should the organization make with power and gas utilities, as well as load curtailment companies (e.g., what should the target peak load and/or curtailment commitment be, and how should utility meters be unified)? How do we assess the energy, carbon emissions, cost savings and ROI for a particular mix of investments and contractual terms? How do we recommend an optimal mix with maximum ROI, subject to budget limitations, over time?

Unfortunately, simple answers like "introducing technology X typically saves Y%" do not work for any non-trivial system, since the technology components are highly inter-dependant and involve complex interactions throughout. The comparison of "before" and "after" is very complex, particularly because the "after" case assessment needs to assume that the new mix of technologies will be operating optimally.

The GMU Center for Power Grid has leveraged a proprietary technology of Decision-Guidance Management Systems and developed prototypes of two interrelated IT solutions to address the outlined challenges:
  1. Decision-Guided EMS, which adds the "brain" to EMS so that operational decisions will be made and actuated hourly and daily to minimize revenue-adjusted energy costs.
  2. Decision-Guided Energy Investment Recommender, which will give recommendations to building complex stakeholders on energy efficiency investments over time that maximize cost savings and ROI, as well as reduce carbon emissions.
The Center for Smart Power Grid is currently working on a pilot project to deploy these solutions to GMU micro-grid in the Fairfax campus.

IT solutions such as EMS and Energy Investment Recommender are based upon sound economic analysis of each building complex. Sustainability solutions generate significant savings in energy consumption, cost, and carbon emissions.

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About Our Sponsor: Cisco Systems, Inc.
Cisco Systems, Inc. is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Today, networks are an essential part of business, education, government and home communications, and Cisco Internet Protocol-based (IP) networking solutions are the foundation of these networks. Cisco can help governments create Connected Communities where access to information and real-time collaborative tools can be used to improve efficiency, create sustainable practices, ensure safety and security, enhance citizen experiences, and prepare the workforce of the future.
 

 
 
 
 
 
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