If you saw our last newsletter, you know we are working with CanMET ENERGY, a division of Natural Resources Canada, to further our energy conservation efforts. Our goal – to reach net-zero energy status. What does that mean for us?
Using our energy management information system we can see which systems are using energy, water or gas, and if temperature and humidity levels are on target. Earlier this year, we evaluated the performance of our energy use in 2012 and a couple of areas stood out.
First, we noticed a significant improvement with the HVAC system, which we spent the most time tweaking, watching and evaluating, and which accounted for 34% of the total electrical energy consumed by the building. Our diligence showed in the performance results, with a 10.8% energy savings over 2011. A small percentage of that can be attributed to a milder heating season, but our conservation efforts are clearly working.
Second, our plug loads – everything NOT measured by the current system – have increased 15% year over year, almost entirely off-setting the savings achieved in HVAC reductions. We are now looking at additional sub-metering to determine where this energy is being consumed. Is it all attributable to our offices? Is it being used mostly on the first floor or second floor? Do we have additional energy needs for new animal ambassadors? Our plan is to break down these areas and add measurement points to six breaker panels currently not measured to provide a clearer picture on where this energy is being used and how best to deal with the increasing load.
The additional metering will not be limited to energy. A water meter to record how much non-potable water we use to irrigate our green roof will also be added to the system. We only irrigate the green roof when we have prolonged periods without rain, but have not quantified how much water we actually use for this purpose since we installed the irrigation system in July 2012.
In 2012, 5% of the building’s energy consumption was a result of wastewater treatment, so if we understand exactly where we are using water, we can reduce that energy use and cost as well.
In short, we have an incredible amount of transparency as to how, where and when we use energy and water, but we’re still looking at ways to improve.