Celebrate October — National Energy Awareness Month!

October 20, 2014 by

Every year the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) designates October as Energy Awareness Month. This national effort was established by the DOE in 1991 to emphasize the importance of energy to the nation’s prosperity and environmental well-being, as well as inspire everyone to step-up their conservation efforts.

Commercial buildings waste up to 30% of their energy, according to ENERGY STAR. With that in mind, there is a lot building owners, property managers, and even occupants can do to improve their efficiency and reduce energy usage.

In honor of Energy Awareness Month, check out this informative Infographic. It includes some great energy-saving actions that require minimal time and resources.

Energy Tips for Buildings


Trending: Micropower

October 10, 2014 by

Micropower TrendsWhat’s new with micropower? According to a recent Forbes article, it is quietly taking over the energy market. How do we know? Thanks to the recently updated RMI Micropower Database that has made tracking the global progress of renewables very transparent.

Started in 2005 and updated with a fifth edition in July of 2014, the RMI Micropower Database’s latest revelation is that as of 2013, micropower now produces about one-fourth of the world’s total electricity!  Other findings of note in the article include:

  • Nearly half of the world’s electricity was produced with little or no carbon release (when you include big hydroelectric dams and nuclear power)
  • Modern renewables alone (other than big hydro dams ) reached 1.95 times nuclear power’s capacity in 2013 and should exceed its annual electricity output by 2015
  • More new renewable capacity than fossil-fueled plus nuclear capacity was added in 2013
  • For micropower for mobile phones and personal computers, the race goes to the quick — but photovoltaic power worldwide is scaling up even faster than mobile phones

Coined in 2000, micropower is an umbrella term for electricity generation by small-scale fuel cells and gas turbines. The term generally refers to renewables and cogeneration. Energy gained from micropower is essentially carbon-free, more efficient, more reliable, less wasteful, and cheaper as compared to energy generated from traditional power plants and refineries.

For more of the latest trends in micropower, read the complete Forbes article.

CA Title 24 Energy Building Standards to Get Major Renovation

September 22, 2014 by

title 24To boost energy savings for the state even more, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has begun the process of updating California’s building energy code known as Title 24. The new 2016 standards, which serve as minimum efficiency standards for new construction and major renovation, will include even more cost-effective efficiency measures that will save building and home owners thousands of dollars, conserve millions of gallons of water, and avoid tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a recent Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) blog post, the updates will also help lay the groundwork for meeting California’s Zero Net Energy (ZNE) goals. ZNE is a state initiative that requires all newly constructed buildings and homes to produce as much energy as they consume — something they will achieve through a combination of energy efficiency measures and distributed renewable energy, such as efficient lighting and solar power. New residential construction will need to meet ZNE mandates by 2020 and non-residential by 2030.

What is Title 24?

Title 24 sets the requirements in California for everything related to a building’s energy use — from lighting to insulation. The standard was first adopted in 1977 and has delivered tremendous benefits over the past several decades, including saving Californians more than billions in reduced electricity bills while cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, reducing the need for new power plants, and cutting peak electricity demands. The standards have helped Californian keep per capita electricity use flat over the past three decades while the rest of the country saw per capita electricity use increase by 50%.

The last update to the standards in 2013 were implemented in July 2014, and are expected to result in 30% less energy consumption for non-residential and 25% less for residential buildings over the previous 2008 Energy Standards.

Expansion to Other States Being Considered

As part of the new updates, the CEC is proposing to make Title 24 equivalent to ASHRAE 90.1-2013, a national model code adopted by states other than California, in places where it has fallen behind. This includes updates to the requirements for:

  • Indoor and outdoor lighting
  • Non-residential envelope efficiency
  • HVAC and water heating equipment efficiency

For residential, the Title 24 enhancements under consideration include:

  • High performance walls
  • High performance attics and ducts
  • 100% high efficacy lighting
  • Credit for photovoltaic systems
  • Tankless water heaters

In total, the changes could save an estimated 195.3 gigawatt-hours in the first year of implementation, reducing emissions equivalent to those produced by 28,000 cars. According to the NRDC, though, the CEC has left some cost and energy savings on the table with these measures, and they can do more, particularly for non-residential buildings. Here are their comments.

Title 24 Commissioning Report Requirements

Another big change is that commissioning reports are now required by Title 24 for the installation of advanced lighting controls systems, and must be completed by a Certified Acceptance Test Technician.

To become certified, technicians and their employers must attest to their proficiency and understanding of the latest Title 24 standards through a state-approved program such as The California Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program (CALCTP). Becoming certified as an Acceptance Test Employer through CALCTP allows companies to send their technicians through the CALCTP course to become Certified Acceptance Test Technicians. Once complete, certified technicians are able to complete and submit the commissioning reports now required by Title 24 standards.

The CEC plans to finalize the updated standards by May 2015 and they will take effect in January 2017. For more detailed information on this, check out the NRDC blog post.

See the Latest Facilities Energy Solutions at IFMA

September 18, 2014 by

ABM will be at the IFMA World Workplace Conference & Expo in New Orleans again this year. If you are attending the show, stop by Booth #923 to check out our latest sustainability solutions including:

Hope to see you at IFMA! For more details, visit our website.

Energy-Saving Opportunities for County Buildings

September 11, 2014 by

Energy Efficient County BuildingsResults are in! The Energy Efficient County Buildings study by the National Association of Counties (NACo) shows that counties across the country are starting to take advantage of energy saving initiatives, as well as budget-neutral improvements financed by third-parties and paid over time through the resulting energy and operational cost savings. By doing so, they are positioning themselves to make 10% to 20% energy saving gains in their buildings, with very limited investment!

However, the study — co-authored by the Institute for Building Technology and Safety — also reveals that a majority of counties lack the proper know-how or third-party organization partnership to manage their buildings more efficiently. It points out counties need to be better educated about the challenges and opportunities around energy management, and encouraged to better track, benchmark, and reduce their buildings’ energy consumption.

To gather its research data, NACo interviewed nearly 400 counties regarding their energy costs, usage, tracking habits, and improvement activities. With the data, they were able to build the County Building Database that will serve as the foundation for energy efficiency strategies for county governments. The database will help counties compare energy use against peers nationwide and recognize opportunities for improvements in county building performance.

To see the rest of the results, and find out the best performing counties in the country in terms of energy management, read the full study — Energy Efficient County Buildings. Also, if you are interested in finding out more about cost-neutral facility improvements that are funded from guaranteed energy savings, contact ABM. Our Bundled Energy Solutions do just that.