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Midyear Tune-Up Preparing Your Building For Efficient Fall and Winter Returns

July 22, 2022

BOSTON — With the exorbitant cost of energy and the skyrocketing cost of utilities, this is the perfect time to take a look at your building’s energy efficiency for the upcoming fall and winter seasons. “You’d be surprised how many property owners and managers are throwing money out the window when a simple energy audit done now can identify issues that can save thousands as we transition to the upcoming winter season,” said Brian Crafts, President of FMC Technologies. FMC specializes in leveraging building automation technology to enable HVAC systems to run more efficiently.

Crafts notes that while each building is unique with its own set of operational challenges, what’s common is that there are actions most property owners can take now to save energy, and costs - as they transition to the heating season. Crafts explains that buildings have different types of HVAC systems, use different types of fuel (gas, electric, etc.) and they all have different uses with varying requirements that respectively contribute to their overall energy consumption.

A change in seasons often requires changes to the Building’s Automation System (BAS) parameters. Another contributing factor is the evolving hybrid workplace model, which means fewer people per square foot, but with COVID concerns still looming, outdoor air requirements (which translates to indoor air quality) are more important than ever.

FMC, and other energy companies that specialize in helping buildings run more efficiently, have a range of options they look at to help building owners and property managers save money from their operating budget while improving the overall indoor air quality and comfort One of the first things an energy efficiency company will look at is to ensure that economizer dampers are working properly. When properly functioning, they bring in fresh air and “free cooling” when cooling is needed, and the outdoor air temperature is at or below 55-60 degrees. Crafts also said it’s also important to implement a morning cool-down when the outside air temperature is right for free cooling. He notes that another important factor that is often overlooked is that building managers should always be thinking about the building’s occupancy schedules.

“In addition to making sure the BAS schedules match the actual occupancy, building engineers can utilize an optimal start/stop program to make sure the systems are not operating when not needed and make sure night setback temperature setpoints are at the correct level and make use of trend and data logs to verify,” says Crafts. Crafts notes that fine-tuning building efficiencies should begin ahead of the seasonal changes and it’s important that building owners and managers work with their HVAC and BAS service companies to fine-tune a building for the change of seasons.

“Building operators know the building; the contractors know how to program the BAS and make the system function best for your HVAC equipment,” said Crafts.

It’s also recommended that building owners and managers stay in regular contact with representatives from their utility companies. “They bring experience, engineering, and sometimes even have access to incentive funds to help push energy efficiency projects forward,” Crafts asserts.

Lastly, as building owners and managers think about making improvements, Crafts notes it’s important they take the steps to benchmark their facility.

“Not only are some communities requiring this for larger buildings (i.e., Boston’s BERDO) but it’s helpful to compare between portfolio properties and year-over-year performance of single properties to assure progress,” he adds.

There are numerous ways building owners can save valuable dollars this coming fall and winter, and the investment can yield a 20-30 percent ROI while also reducing a building’s carbon footprint, helping building owners prepare for future compliance ordinances.

Brian Crafts is CEO of FMC Technologies, based in Chelmsford MA. The company provides complete turnkey building solutions with Energy Management Systems designed to optimize building performance and leverage open standards and system integration for cost-effectiveness and scalability. www.fmc-technologies.com

Mark Crafts