Atlanta, Georgia -- "Most of us know the fuel efficiency of our cars, but what about the energy efficiency of our buildings?" asks Ashrae, the US association of experts in building technology. Even though buildings are responsible for 40 percent of the energy consumed in the US, Ashrae says, few people are aware of how efficiently this energy is used.
The association is working to change that by introducing a new building energy labeling programme known as Building Energy Quotient (bEQ).
Energy is one of the highest operating costs for building owners. It is also the most controllable, Ashrae said. To help owners reduce their energy costs, this new building labeling programme not only rates buildings according to the in-operation energy use but also provides owners with suggested measures that can improve energy efficiency.
The Building Energy Quotient (bEQ) programme developed by Ashrae assigns to buildings an energy usage quotient based on completion of an in-operation assessment that includes an ASHRAE Level I Energy Audit.
"bEQ lets a commercial building owner zero in on opportunities to lower building operating cost and make informed decisions to increase value," Tom Phoenix, P.E., a consulting engineer in Greensboro, North Carolina, who chairs the bEQ committee, said. "The ultimate goal of the programme is to encourage more energy efficient buildings and give owners more control over rising energy costs."
The key component of bEQ is the in-operation assessment and the Ashrae Level I Energy Audit -- the industry standard for determining a building's energy use and devising a plan to improve performance. To meet bEQ's requirements, the assessment must be performed by an ASHRAE-certified building energy professional who will:
•Perform a walk-through survey to become familiar with building construction, equipment, operation and maintenance.
•Meet with the owner and operator to learn of special problems or planned improvements and operation or maintenance issues.
•Complete a space function analysis and determine whether efficiency may be affected by functions that differ from the original functional intent of the building.
•Identify low-cost/no-cost changes to the facility or to operations and maintenance procedures that will result from these changes with their approximate savings.
•Provide a summary of special problems or needs including possible revisions to operations and maintenance procedures.
•Recommend potential capital improvements and provide an estimate of potential costs and savings.
"The bEQ documentation provides data on actual energy use and other information that will allow owners to evaluate and reduce their buildings' energy consumption," Phoenix said. "When all the facts on a building's energy use are known, an owner can make informed decisions to manage energy use."