07/01/2007

Newsworthy

Understanding the federal mandate for energy-efficient LV transformers. Learn more about the Bridging method. And more.

 

Understanding the Federal Mandate for Energy-Efficient LV Transformers

Among the goals of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) is increasing energy efficiency in virtually all walks of life, including electrical equipment. And, some of the changes it mandates for electrical equipment will have a significant effect on commercial building owners and facility managers.

EPAct 2005 mandates that all distribution transformers manufactured after Jan. 1, 2007, must be energy efficient. Though increased energy efficiency and lower operation costs are the key benefits, there will also be a significant price increase on initial unit cost.

The cost increase may come as an unpleasant surprise in the process of a new build or an expansion, or when replacing a unit. But, understanding the tradeoff between the higher cost and the short- and long-term benefits should make the cost increase more palatable.

The Mandate
A transformer is more than just a big gray box tucked away in an electrical room deep within the bowels of a commercial building: A low-voltage (LV) transformer changes 480V grid power to 120V power that can be used on-site. EPAct 1992 designated LV transformers as one of many products that needed to reduce energy consumption (the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Protection Agency determined that 61 billion kWh are wasted each year on transformer losses). The official directive to transformer manufacturers to build exclusively energy-efficient models arrived with EPAct 2005. It mandated the average 24-hour electrical load for an energy-efficient LV transformer at 35 percent, a change from the typical 50-percent load level for maximum efficiency for "non-energy-efficient" models.

This forced manufacturers to make changes to their LV transformers to account for the energy-efficiency increase. For example, the use of higher-grade steel in energy-efficient transformers reduces core losses. The use of lower-grade steel on previous models obviously led to higher core losses and lower energy efficiency, but core losses are a greater portion of energy losses at the new regulated load level and also at typical transformer load levels of 15 to 20 percent.

Cost Increase
Another change is the purchase-price increase, which averages 50- to 70-percent above products manufactured before Jan. 1, 2007. The reason for this comes down to basic economics. Also, designs must take into account tight tolerance for manufacturing to comply with the registry tracking of efficiency.

With the switch, you may have pointed questions about the price increase, especially on smaller jobs. In a bill for a replacement transformer installation, pricing is compounded for each step in the chain (distributor, electrical contractor, and, on larger jobs, the general contractor). On bigger jobs, the price increase might be virtually unnoticeable. But, on a smaller job, the new transformer is going to be a higher percentage of the overall job.

Though the initial purchase cost of an energy-efficient transformer is higher, the long-term cost will be less because the new transformers use less energy. Estimates state that the total purchase price will be recovered over the life of the transformer (25 to 30 years), and the premium should be paid off within about 10 years.

Making the Choice
Federal mandates are not new (you may remember the mandating of energy-efficient ballasts in the mid-1990s). Back then, utilities offered credits to swap out ballasts to take the edge off of the price increase. That isn't the case with energy-efficient transformers, but understanding the benefits that will be accrued by these products despite the higher cost can help position the building and its ownership as a responsible corporate citizen (and make it much more cost-effective).

Have recent events made you think about disaster preparedness and emergency-response planning? Preparing in advance for evacuation is vital and means that building occupants are more likely to reach shelter safely.

The Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety & Health Administration has developed an Evacuation Planning Matrix (http://osha.gov/dep/evacmatrix/index.html) that offers planning considerations and online resources to reduce susceptibility to terrorist acts. The matrix covers the broad aspects of emergency planning and includes questions to help you review your existing plan. It also offers basic planning and preparedness measures for workplaces in each of the three risk zones (red [most likely targets], yellow [possible targets], and green [not likely targets]).


Plan for Secure Building Evacuation 

Have recent events made you think about disaster preparedness and emergency-response planning? Preparing in advance for evacuation is vital and means that building occupants are more likely to reach shelter safely.

The Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety & Health Administration has developed an Evacuation Planning Matrix (http://osha.gov/dep/evacmatrix/index.html) that offers planning considerations and online resources to reduce susceptibility to terrorist acts. The matrix covers the broad aspects of emergency planning and includes questions to help you review your existing plan. It also offers basic planning and preparedness measures for workplaces in each of the three risk zones (red [most likely targets], yellow [possible targets], and green [not likely targets]).


Tips on Entering into an Energy-Savings Performance Contract 

As Colorado's largest higher-education campus, The University of Colorado-Boulder is home to nearly 29,000 students and 7,000 employees. The university's housing and dining services department, which manages 3 million square feet of space, recently completed a $5.5 million energy-savings performance contract. By changing out lighting systems, adding occupancy sensors, changing to low-flow plumbing fixtures, and making steam system improvements, the university is anticipating $600,000 in savings per year.

The university used future energy and water savings to cover the bulk of capital costs of the new equipment. Bundling energy- and water-saving retrofits into one contract allowed retrofits that weren't quite as cost-effective to still be accomplished.

Here are some tips from the university's housing and dining services' facilities group when it comes time to enter into a performance contract of your own:

  • Make sure the terms of the warranty are very explicit in the contract (the energy service company [ESCO], subcontractors, and equipment manufacturers should all provide some form of warranty).
  • Specify protocols in the warranty for replacing equipment, including who is responsible for equipment ordering, removal, and installation.
  • Make maintenance staff aware of replacement protocols and warranties so that they can take steps to ensure that warranty equipment is ordered and received properly.
  • Include all maintenance staff in the project from the beginning and make an effort to gain staff buy-in, as they will become an integral part of the team when the ESCO staff is performing installations (and after the ESCO's work is complete).

Learn More about the Bridging Method

Ever heard of the Bridging method for construction project delivery? It's a hybrid of the design-bid-build and design-build methods; it better organizes the roles of architects, engineers, and contractors, and it reduces costs, construction time, and exposure to contractor-initiated change orders/claims. If you're not familiar with the method (or want to know more about it), Atlanta-based Brookwood Program Management can help: The organization put together a website (www.bridgingmethod.com) that explains Bridging method benefits, offers a step-by-step guide, and features downloadable publications on the topic. It's also full of charts and diagrams that make the method easy to comprehend.


Be a Part of Buildings's "Who's Who in the Buildings Market"

For the last quarter-century, Buildings' "Who's Who in the Buildings Market" report has recognized the companies, organizations, and departments whose innovations, accomplishments, and entrepreneurial spirit have helped define the commercial and institutional buildings industry. Whether through projects, processes, or people, these visionaries have broken new ground in an ever-increasing competitive real estate arena, differentiating themselves with confidence and know-how. Learn more about these industry leaders in the September 2007 issue of Buildings.

Has your organization been a part of this annual report? More importantly, have you completed the paperwork to be included for this year? If not, contact the Buildings Editorial Staff at (319) 364-6167 or (linda.monroe@buildings.com) ASAP and we'll consider your organization for inclusion this year.


Cleaner Coal Power

The Cambridge, MA-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) completed a study showing that carbon-sequestration technologies can enable future coal-powered energy sources to diminish the threat of climate change. The study found that carbon capture and sequestration is the critical enabling technology to help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions while allowing coal to meet the world's pressing need for energy.

Because it's so inexpensive, the use of coal is expected to rise; however, it's a highly polluting energy source. This technology may make it a promising candidate for providing power to future generations.


Clarification

Milliken's showroom location at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago was listed incorrectly in the "Facilities Manager's Guide to NeoCon (May 2007 Buildings). Please note that the Chicago Milliken showroom is now located in Suite 1149 on the 11th floor of The Merchandise Mart.

 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

 

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

Replace core drilling with Connectrac In-Carpet and On-Floor Wireways, the proven connectivity solution in open interior spaces of all kinds. These elegant low-profile wireways are great for AV / telecom connectivity wherever it’s needed.

 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

 

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

Replace core drilling with Connectrac In-Carpet and On-Floor Wireways, the proven connectivity solution in open interior spaces of all kinds. These elegant low-profile wireways are great for AV / telecom connectivity wherever it’s needed.

 


 
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