SUSTAINABILITY-HOW THE FACILITIES TEAM CAN CONTRIBUTE
The examples noted in this paper are a compilation of the many programs and standards modifications that were executed over the years in efforts to become more sustainable, energy efficient and more recently to earn LEED credits in conjunction with new store construction. The following are only two of the recommended best practices relating to HVAC.
Each company has its own unique hierarchy and politics to manage through, and many may find it difficult to implement changes or receive approvals to deviate from existing programs or standards. However, whether it is under an official LEED moniker or simply the efforts of all becoming more aware of the environment and conscious of the need for sustainability, these changes will become standards in the future.
Install an EMS (energy management system) to control HVAC and lighting.
There are many solutions, small to large, to fit a company’s needs, from simple motion detector light switches, time clocks and programmable thermostats, to full blown EMS programs. The key is to ensure that when HVAC and lights should be off, they are off, and are only on when they need to be.
Lighting schedules can be adjusted remotely as well as HVAC set points. If the HVAC equipment isn’t operating as called for, an alert is sent, which allows the remote monitoring vendor to investigate.
Significant savings have been realized in reduced energy consumption and avoiding charges from rolling trucks to address issues when repairs are made remotely.
Results have been very promising. There were many learning curves in this project, as there are with most large projects, mainly around planning and communication. The time lines should be built around how long the project should take to be implemented successfully, rather than around fiscal year or budget deadlines.
Multiple issues were discovered after the fact as a result of rushing crews from site to site on tight deadlines, issues which could have been avoided given sufficient time on site. Another call-out would be around the timing of the project. Modifications to the HVAC system during summer months create additional pain points should issues arise with the system. Ideally, implementation should occur during winter/summer shoulder seasons when possible, to avoid the extreme seasonal temperatures where the HVAC is most needed.
Specify energy efficient HVAC units with more environmentally friendly refrigerant.
Though R-22 units were still available it was decided to begin the conversion to R410a when replacing our HVAC units. Utilizing the equipment list and long-term replacement program, the number of units to be purchased over the next few years was identified. With that information one brand of unit was chosen, and bulk pricing through a National Accounts type program was negotiated.
Higher efficiency units, which qualify for rebates in some locations as well as contribute towards earning LEED credits, were specified. When not replacing like for like, a couple of instances occurred where structural engineering studies needed to be performed, and in one location additional structural supports were installed to accommodate the increased weight on the units. Curb adapters are also needed in most applications when changing from brand to brand.