Energy audits are a critical tool that uncovers improvements on operations and equipment/machinery that will save energy, that in turn reduces energy costs, and consequently lead to higher performance.
Whether you are looking for quick fixes or long-term energy investment opportunities, an energy audit is the first step. Not only will you gain immediate energy savings from no-cost opportunities, you will be well equipped to develop a plan for action for short-term as well as longer-term energy savings investments.
An effective energy audit will provide the following:
- Energy consumption levels – Energy Audit identifies the types of energy being consumed and their corresponding cost. Energy Balance is developed to help locate sources of high energy usage.
- Energy Saving Opportunities – Audit identifies areas of energy wastage.
- No-cost operational or maintenance adjustments that will save energy
- Short-term, low-cost energy efficiency retrofit recommendations
- Action plans for energy efficiency capital investments
- Comfort and code issues that can be addressed immediately
- Opportunities for better adherence to lighting and comfort standards
- Guidance for prioritization of actions – An energy management plan is formulated which includes recommendations, a cost-benefit analysis, prioritization of best practices, and identification of quick wins.
Typically, energy audits uncover deficiencies in energy consuming systems, such as motors, pumps, lighting, process machinery, steam distribution system, water heating systems, HVAC, refrigeration, compressed air systems, process equipment and machines etc. In most industrial facilities, compressed air leaks, inefficient motors, failed steam traps and pumps form the largest energy wasters. On the other hand, lighting, refrigeration and HVAC Systems are often the major culprits in commercial buildings.
Audit can range from a snapshot measurement, to a walkthrough, to detailed measurement and monitoring over a significant period of time. The duration, frequency and the number of data points to be tested or measured may vary depending on the type of the audit as well as nature of application being assessed.
Types of Energy Audits
Energy audit generally takes a whole facility approach. This entails examining the facility envelope, facility systems, procedures in operations and maintenance, as well as the facility schedules. Whole-facility audits gives the most accurate depiction of energy savings opportunities at the facility. Energy audits can also be targeted to specific systems such as lighting or heating, refrigeration, compressed air system, ventilation and air conditioning. Targeted audits may miss out on significant bigger picture of the energy savings opportunities but can be off great help especially when one has limited funds and is interested a particular retrofit.
Categories of Energy Audits
We conduct both electrical and thermal audits.
Energy audits can be divided, for this purpose, into two categories, taking into account the kind of audited systems and equipment, as well as the respective energy loads:
- Electrical Energy Audits, for equipment or systems that produce, convert, transfer, distribute or consume electrical energy or for electrical loads auditing.
- Thermal Energy Audits, for equipment or systems that produce, convert, transfer, distribute or consume thermal energy or for thermal loads auditing.
Levels of Energy Audits
There are three levels of energy audit, and each level is normally built on the previous level. The complexity and thoroughness of assessment increases as the levels increase. These include:
Level I: Site Assessment/Preliminary Audits
Entails identification of no-cost and low-cost energy saving opportunities, and a general view of potential capital improvements. Activities include an assessment of energy bills and a brief site inspection of the energy consumption at the site as well as other relevant costs on the basis of energy bills-invoices and a short on-site autopsy.
Level II: Energy Survey and Engineering Analysis Audits (General Energy Audits)
Involves identification of no-cost and low-cost opportunities, and also provides Energy Saving recommendations in line with the financial plans and potential capital-intensive energy savings opportunities. Level II audits include an in-depth analysis of energy costs, energy usage and building characteristics and a more refined survey of how energy is used in your building.
Level III: Detailed Analysis of Capital-Intensive Modification Audits (Investment Grade Audit)
Provide solid recommendations and financial analysis for major capital investments. In addition to Level I and Level II activities, Level III audits include monitoring, data collection and engineering analysis.
The energy auditor you select will work with you to understand your project goals and available budget, and help you determine which level of audit you need. For smaller facilities where there is no major capital improvement plan or budget, a Level I or II audit could yield results that make the cost of the audit worthwhile.
Energy Audit Process
The energy auditor leads each phase of the energy audit process, but the facility owner, key operations and maintenance staff, and controls contractor (if applicable) also play key roles and should be actively engaged throughout the entire process. In multi-tenant buildings, it may make sense to include inﬂuential tenants or occupants in the process if shared energy costs or building comfort issues are a potential concern. Identifying an internal project manager to oversee the project will help to ensure success.
Regardless of the audit level you choose or the number of facilities you wish to audit, the energy audit process is generally the same. The first step is to select an energy auditor and develop a contract. From there, phases of the energy audit include:
Phase 1 Preliminary Review of Energy Usage
Involves collection and analysis of historical utility data, calculation of Energy Utilization Index/ Specific Energy Consumption, and assessment of energy efficiency improvement potential
Phase 2: Site Assessment
It involves collection (from in-site measurements) and processing of data as well as a full examination of the installed energy systems of facility. This procedure helps develop a sound techno-economical evaluation of one or more energy-saving approaches, with medium to high investments on specific systems, after a relevant study.
Phase 3: Energy and Cost Analysis
Entails analysis of energy and cost savings as well as development of a list of recommended energy saving measures. The measures are prioritized in accordance to facility’s financial goals and projected savings.
Phase 4: Report Development and Presentation
Findings are compiled in a detailed report and presented to the management for actioning. The audit report should provide enough information to allow the management make informed decisions about next steps to meet the energy savings and financial goals. Audit reports include an inventory of existing equipment, a summary of your facility’s current conditions and energy use, and a list of recommended no-cost, low-cost, and longer-term EEM recommendations based on analysis of historical energy use and the onsite assessment.
Post Audit Activities
Development of Energy Investment Plan
Facility Owner/ Occupier is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the Energy Investment plan. The Investment plan comprises of the projects that a facility commits to implement, the projected savings, projected cost of investment, duration of implementation, dates of implementation and the resources required such as finances, labor etc.
The facility starts implementing the projects as stated in the energy investment plan.
Measurement and Verification
Implemented projects are monitored and evaluated to determine whether the projected savings have been achieved. This is done by comparing measured consumption or demand before and after implementation of a program, making suitable adjustments for changes in conditions. The comparison of before and after energy consumption or demand should be made on a consistent basis, using the following general M&V equation:
Savings = (Baseline Period Energy – Reporting Period Energy) ± Adjustment