On Oct. 25, Danfoss held its 18th EnVisioneeringSM Symposium, “Building Blueprint for a Clean Energy Future,” co-hosted by the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia. The EEB Hub was established, with Penn State University as the lead partner institution, by the U.S. Department of Energy to improve energy efficiency in buildings and promote regional economic growth and job creation.
The symposium convened more than 50 participants, including HVAC OEMs, consulting engineers, architects, industry associations and advocacy groups.
The symposium built upon the discussions of previous events in the EnVisioneering Symposia series, exploring the real-world application of whole building systems and micro-grids by taking a first-hand look at redevelopment efforts of The Navy Yard through work of Penn State University, the EEB Hub, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and leading architects and property management firms.
Keynote speaker Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) launched the discussion by noting that, among the most developed nations in the world, the United States currently ranks 9th in terms of energy efficiency in buildings. “In 2010, energy was a $54 billion industry. By 2015, retrofitting and developing energy efficient buildings will be a $150 billion industry in our country,” Fattah said. The Navy Yard, in particular, is at the vanguard of retrofit and new building innovation and is currently developing solutions and technologies transferrable to other commercial buildings and urban environments.
Creating a Transferrable Model of Innovation
The Navy Yard is of both regional and national significance in providing a test bed for energy research and demonstration by the EEB Hub and other DOE funded centers, like the GridSTAR project. The immediate goal of the EEB Hub is to deliver the means and methods to reduce energy use in commercial buildings by 20% by 2020 – and to drive the buildings sector of the greater Philadelphia region to reach its full energy efficiency potential through the design, demonstration and deployment of market proven solutions. The ultimate goal, however, is to generate ideas that have broader applicability throughout the United States. The Hub seeks concrete deliverables to address market failures endemic to the U.S. building marketplace.
The EEB Hub’s headquarters is currently one of the most highly instrumented buildings in the country, evaluating 1,500 data points on variables such as temperature, light levels, humidity and occupancy, and streaming data every 60 seconds. This allows the organization to measure the impact of energy improvements in real-time. With the energy sector of the economy committing the lowest percentage of sales to research and development – a mere 0.03% compared to the pharmaceutical industry’s allocation of 18%, the DOE supported EEB Hub “test bed” opportunity is critical to major advances in energy efficiency science. But as the EEB Hub's research generates results, questions of intellectual property inevitably arise. In a forward-thinking strategy, Penn State University has resolved what had the potential to be a serious barrier to progress – through transformation of its approach to intellectual property. The university broke with practices that have long dominated the world of academic research, and now offers IP ownership to companies participating in the research for a modest fee.
“We also want to demonstrate ways that the building industry can make money,” commented Paul Hallacher, director of research and program management, Penn State University. “Our strategy is to highlight approaches by which commercial building owners will choose to make investments, and banks will choose to support those investments, because there is money to be made in the form of lower monthly energy bills.”
The goal is to offer a three-year payback in order to prove the effectiveness of the technology and the cost of energy. According to Jim Freihaut, chief scientist for the EEB Hub, true integration and a systems building approach requires a strong economic model: businesses to buy in, supply chain integration, government to drive and a value proposition that communicates the building’s structural and operational assets. Furthermore, it is imperative that for high performance, integrated buildings to develop and sell, today’s commercial real estate agents must have a thorough understanding of this value proposition.
Micro-cities Lead in Total Integration
Roderick Bates, associate and senior environmental researcher at KieranTimberlake, explained that today’s definition of high performance is not only specific to the region, but also to the type of building and how it will be used. A single solution no longer covers everything; instead, the need exists for an integrated team and the belief that lifecycle costs will be lower if individuals spend more on intellectual effort upfront and less on the hardware. Many of the same challenges cities face today have been identified by the “micro city” of Penn State University’s University Park, PA, campus, which has focused on the total integration of campus-wide energy conservation efforts. According to Ian Salada, manager of engineering services, Office of Physical Plant, strategies that ensure efficient building operation from the beginning, combined with continuous commissioning, are paramount.
“It can take up to five years to get a building working properly,” Salada said. “Commissioning a building helps ensure that each system will operate, but it doesn’t mean each system operates properly.”
Continuous commissioning is a solution that larger cities can adopt, along with diagnostic monitoring by building automation systems (BAS) and ensuring that system selections match the scale, function and occupancy of a building. As the Penn State campus experience demonstrates, even though a “micro city,” compared to a larger one, has better control of both demand and consumption, buildings require ongoing adjustment to maintain optimization.
The City of Philadelphia has taken a progressive stance on building efficiency. For example, the city is requiring all buildings in the city over 50,000 square feet to document and disclose energy consumption, allowing tenants to see building efficiencies for themselves and rank competing buildings. Nonetheless, achieving the high levels of efficiency now sought by Philadelphia and others on the energy efficiency frontier will stretch current resources. As Freihaut has observed, “the required technologies exist, but the goals cannot be met without a new way of thinking about those technologies and how they can relate to one another.”