Energy efficiency provides a number of benefits in construction and facilities management. With a combination of technology and effective design elements, energy-efficient projects can end up saving a corporate owner millions throughout the lifecycle of a facility.
Two new projects are pointing to the use of technology, and how it can help save some money, while fostering environmental awareness among workers and occupants.
First up, Texas A&M Intl. University has started construction on a $9.7 million comprehensive campus-wide energy efficiency project. The objective is to streamline facility operations and encourage sustainable behavior. In an effort to reach its goals, the university has partnered with Schneider Electric to adopt the Conserve My Planet engagement program.
The project is delivered through an ESPC (energy savings performance contract), which uses projected energy savings to pay for facility improvements over time. In this case, the savings comes from improving the university’s irrigation system, converting HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment to variable refrigerant flow, interior and exterior lighting upgrades with occupancy sensors and automated dimming controls, and utility meter upgrades with energy dashboards.
The university expects it will remove nearly 67,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, which is equivalent to removing 14,347 cars from the road or powering 7,235 homes for one year. Construction is currently underway and is expect to be completed by the fall of 2019.
In this example, the project owner recognizes the importance of energy efficiency, and has sought out a solution to help make the university more sustainable. In other cases, specialty contractors are taking the lead—no pun intended—to help drive savings as well.
Case in point: Faith Technologies. While this company has a number of initiatives and projects that have embraced energy efficiency, most recently it announced it is building a state-of-the-art, clean energy microgrid, which will use 200 kW solar photovoltaic energy; a 30 kW hydrogen fuel cell; a 100 kW lithium-ion battery storage system; a 65kW micro-turbine; and a 60 kW natural gas generator to power the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve.
With this in place, it will help the structure increase resiliency, meet sustainability goals, and reduce overall operating costs. Additionally, with cloud software, users will be able to monitor the microgrid assets and update its programming remotely. For example, the microgrid feeds live data on its performance to a display at the Faith Technologies Innovation Center.
Whether it is driven by the project owner or specialty trade, technology as it relates to energy efficiency is advancing and is changing the way projects are built and managed.
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