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A Question Energy Auditors Don’t Ask – But Should

Jun 23

Written by:
6/23/2015 10:04 AM  RssIcon

Energy auditors ask a lot of questions when performing an audit. One question they don’t ask is, “What software do you use for room scheduling?”

They don’t ask this question because room scheduling is not usually a function of facility operations. Room scheduling is usually performed by administrative personnel in a different department.  It is not considered to be related to saving energy in buildings.

But this needs to change. Energy auditors need to start asking every client “What software do you use for room scheduling?”

They need to ask this question because room scheduling software can be integrated with lighting, HVAC and security systems to automatically control building systems based on room schedules. This integration maximizes energy savings by eliminating heating and cooling empty rooms between classes, meetings, and special events.

Let’s consider some common examples:

  • Many energy audit clients already have sophisticated building automation systems (BAS) in place, but they don’t have time to schedule each room of a large building or campus individually. So they schedule entire buildings and set them back to unoccupied only at night. By integrating their room scheduling software with their BAS, they can automatically return HVAC equipment to unoccupied settings between events and save energy.
  • Other energy audit clients need to upgrade to a BAS or other modern HVAC controls, but the return on investment (ROI) may not be attractive. In these cases, combining the upgrade with room schedule integration may improve the ROI enough to get the whole project approved.
  • Some clients have large air handlers that should not be stopped and started throughout the day. But they can still save energy by varying the start time for the first event and the stop time for the last event each day. Again, this is usually not done due to the time required. These buildings are usually run on a “worst-case scenario” schedule, something like 5 am to 11 pm every day. Schedule integration can automatically pre-start these systems a certain amount of time before the first event, and set them back to unoccupied at the end of the last event for the day, maximizing energy savings.
  • Some clients may already have occupancy sensors for lighting control. It may be tempting to use these for HVAC also. But occupancy sensors cannot pre-start equipment before guests arrive, so rooms may be uncomfortable for a period of time. Also, you don’t want to turn on a cooling system in a large auditorium just because one students stops by to sit and study for two hours between classes. You want these spaces to be controlled based on scheduled events so that you have control over operating expenses.
  • In all of these examples, if energy auditor knows that the client is using a compatible room scheduling software, the auditor can consider schedule integration when evaluating the clients’ systems to maximize energy savings. But the auditor will not have this option if they don’t ask the question!

    Purchasing a new BAS or installing occupancy sensors in every room can be very expensive. The ROI is often measured in years or even decades. But schedule integration is a software solution. There are no physical components to purchase, mount, or wire. With this solution, ROI is measured in months. Clients who choose this option can begin saving energy immediately, and use that savings to fund other energy efficiency projects and system upgrades.

    So read some case studies about this type of integration, take a look at this sample integration spec you can modify for clients who have compatible systems, and start asking each client “What software do you use for room scheduling?”

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Founded in 1998, Streamside Solutions provides software products, solutions and services for the building automation industry.

Phone: (888) 320-4277



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