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  • Molly Jones

Guiding Principle 2: Optimize Energy Performance

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

This is a weekly series for the next 6 weeks reviewing the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings and Associated Instructions.

The second Guiding Principle is about optimizing energy performance. There are 4 subsections: energy efficiency, energy metering, renewable energy, and benchmarking.

2.1 Energy Efficiency

This principle is about energy efficiency itself. (Other relevant statutory and regulatory requirements are Epact 2005 and Ashrae 90.1.) If you are working on a DoD project, there are even more regulations to follow.

It’s essential to confirm with the mechanical engineers that the project is on track to achieve an Energy Star score of 75 or higher. It’s also critical to ask if the design targets energy reduction 20% below the 2015 baseline.

That’s just the beginning! Each agency will determine a baseline threshold for them that may be different. Make sure you do your work to know the threshold for each project you are working on.

Within the Compliance Table of the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings and Associated Instructions, five options exist to improve energy performance and reduce energy usage.

2.2 Energy Metering

Energy Metering ensures the building level energy meters are in place for electricity, natural gas, and steam (as applicable to your project).

Advanced meters are required to maximize the extent possible and practical for your project. It’s critical to understand the feasibility of smart meters. If smart meters cannot be used, standard meters are an acceptable option.

So ask, “Are meters in place for all the energy types used on the project?”

Having simple documentation to substantiate the meters in place is important too.

2.3 Renewable Energy

Are you employing strategies to integrate the lifecycle of cost-effective renewable energy? Right now, the focus is on electric and thermal. It's critical to the project that the renewables align with the agency's priorities to make sure we’re supporting their agency-wide renewable goals.

A few questions to ask about Renewable Energy:

  • Have you looked at the lifecycle renewables? When reviewing the integrated design, they should be reviewed at the very beginning of a project.)

  • What are the agency’s goals?

  • How would renewables be best applied to this project?

  • How would renewables fold into a larger overall energy strategy?

Solar Thermal doesn’t come back as feasible for projects, but it’s required to use it. That usually gets a lifecycle cost reduction or lifecycle cost analysis completed.

There are 3 Renewable Energy Requirements.

2.4 Benchmarking

In most cases, benchmarking is done through the Energy Star Portfolio Manager. It's required to be completed annually.

If you use a third-party rating system such as Lead or Green Globes, you’ll want to ensure that you report more frequently. Most agencies are already. The intent is to make sure you can regularly monitor the energy use in your building and know what’s trending in your building.

I saw this recently on a project with a continuous water monitoring system. At about 10 am, I noticed that there had been no water use in this facility and brought it to the attention of the energy manager. He discovered the meter was broken.

Having a system in place will help you understand what’s happening in the building. For Benchmarking, there are two different options.

For more information on this principle or the guidelines for modernization projects, refer to the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings and Associated Instructions.


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