Strategic Sustainability Services
Pamela Lippe and e4, inc. have been advising owners and principals for over 15 years on how to cost-effectively respond to the increasing internal and external demands for improving the sustainability and performance of their enterprise. We specialize in guiding and supporting owner decision-making in this complex and competitive arena and providing cost-effective support to those responsible for greening existing real estate assets or new developments.
Energy Audits and Feasibility Studies
The energy audit process goes beyond reviewing energy bills. It does a more in-depth analysis of heating, cooling, lighting, plug loads and other energy uses and results in a report identifying specific ways to reduce energy use. ASHRAE defines three levels of energy audits that range in complexity. The simplest ASHRAE audit utilizes tools such as simple Excel calculations whereas the most intensive “investment grade” audit might use a computerized energy model of the building to evaluate the “before” and “after” effects of different options such as equipment upgrades, new controls or free cooling. The process identifies a range of actions from low and no-cost options to significant capital improvements and provides simple paybacks to assist ownership and management evaluate the best choices. Feasibility studies are typically engineering assessments of specific equipment upgrades or replacements that provide detailed cost estimates and savings analysis.
Existing Building Commissioning
Existing building commissioning (EBCx) consists of defining optimized building operational parameters and then testing equipment and systems to confirm or correct operations. The commissioning authority tests lighting, HVAC equipment, controls and other building components. Low-cost or no-cost corrections (broken control wires, sticking valves and dampers) are repaired immediately and retested. This provides an immediate savings from the building “tune up” while further assessing equipment condition. In addition to functional testing, the EBCx process includes renewing and revising O&M documents and procedures, identifying opportunities for O&M staff retraining and establishing measurement and verification plans to confirm ongoing correct operation.
New Building Commissioning
Ron Wilkinson is a national and international leader in commissioning and operation quality assurance. New building commissioning is a process of establishing clear requirements followed by functional field-testing that ensures the building meets the owner’s expectations and the design’s technical specifications. The detailed process catches both design and installation problems before occupancy, and sometimes even before construction. Commissioning can include a charrette to clarify the owner’s project requirements (OPR) and establish the initial course of the design or simply a review of the OPR and Basis of Design (BOD). This is typically followed by design reviews, commissioning specifications, field inspections and functional testing. After equipment is verified to be working correctly, the process continues into the first year of occupancy with trend logging equipment to create a track record of actual operation.
Automated Ongoing Commissioning
Automated Ongoing Commissioning refers to the programming of simple rules into a building management system (BMS) that alerts the O&M staff to abnormal operations. An example would be to monitor the current at a lighting panel and notify the staff the next day if the lights are on at night. Similarly, the current at a plug (outlet) power panel could be monitored to show electronic equipment operating during off-hours. More advanced strategies include measuring mixed-air temperature at an air handling unit to confirm it is taking advantage of free cooling in the presence of cool outdoor air temperatures.
Semi-Automated Ongoing Commissioning
Not all buildings have BMS systems. e4 can assist in developing ongoing commissioning processes using data loggers and other technology to allow building staff to manually check to ensure ongoing and continuing efficiency. For example, many large buildings use cool outdoor air for the free cooling. Data loggers can be used to create a record of air and water temperatures that can help identify free cooling problems before they have a major impact on energy bills.
The first step in reducing energy use is benchmarking which compares a building’s energy efficiency to other facilities of like kind and size, normalized for weather and other factors. The analysis is largely based on utility bills and other basic information about a building. The EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager is a commonly used tool to benchmark both energy and water use which helps owners and managers understand how a building compares to its peers. e4 provides benchmarking in compliance with both LEED EBOM and New York City Local Law (LL) 84 and then uses the results to suggest next steps in the auditing and existing building commissioning process.
Operational Policies and Plans
LEED for Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance (EBOM) requires a Sustainable Purchasing Policy, Solid Waste Management Policy and a Green Cleaning Policy as well as specific plans to implement these policies. Even when not pursuing LEED EBOM, this approach is useful to provide direction, accountability and focus around these broader sustainability issues. e4, inc. can assist in the development and/or review of these policies and the draft plans. We help ensure that the required policies and plans are in place in a timely manner, that their intent and requirements have been fully communicated to the relevant parties and that they are effectively managed to ensure compliance. e4 can also work with O&M staff to update building energy management documents, improve training levels, fine tune existing HVAC and lighting controls and build in straightforward diagnostics that will help the staff do their job more efficiently.
Green Project Management
e4, inc. works to ensure that the environmental goals of the project are achieved at the lowest possible cost. What makes our services unique in the marketplace is our hands-on management and follow through. In addition, we can manage the process to ensure early and thorough consideration of the owner-selected requirements (e.g. LEED or energy or water reductions); assist in the cost evaluation of the greening strategies; evaluate the need for other consultants and provide other support that the client may require through the life of the project.
Building Management, Vendor and/or Subcontractor Education
Changing long established habits is one of the most challenging tasks facing building owners and operators. e4, inc. can help educate and provide support to building management, vendors and/or subcontractors on sustainable operations and procedures. In new construction, e4 can assist the project team in developing a process to monitor and improve (if necessary) sub-contractor activities. Ongoing education, monitoring and corrections are absolutely critical to successful implementation of sustainable designs and specifications throughout the construction process and into operations.
Government Funding and Incentives
Pamela Lippe has successfully secured funding from a variety of sources for many projects she has worked on, including a $3 million cost share from the US Department of Energy. e4, inc. was a NYSERDA New Construction and FlexTech provider for four years. Ms. Lippe and others at e4 are extremely familiar with this type of program and can coordinate the application for and management of the relationship with any funding agency that might help underwrite the project.
High Performance Building Design Reviews
e4’s professional engineering staff provides design reviews involving a systematic method of eliminating ambiguity in plans and specifications. This process provides one more set of independent and knowledgeable eyes looking at plans from an operations perspective. Having clear well-written plans and specifications is a key component of a successful installation process. e4 has provided peer reviews for dozens of projects.
High Performance Building Workshops
e4, inc. facilitates high performance workshops or sustainable design charrettes with relevant experts and the project team early in the design process. The workshop can provide structured brainstorming sessions that will explore high performance building opportunities and establish energy/environmental goals and performance benchmarks that then guide the design as it moves forward. The workshop can also begin the critical process of integrating the project team. A recent study indicated that the most significant energy and cost savings are achieved not from the application of technology, but from the close collaboration of the project team, with clear performance criteria and a managed delivery process.
Materials and Technology Research
e4, inc. supports the project team by researching and providing multiple sources (when possible) for cost- effective, environmentally responsible technology (e.g., low flow water fixtures, combined heat and power options, water and air filtration, etc.) e4 can also support projects with research and recommendations for products that meet criteria for recycled content, local and regional sourcing, sustainably harvested, rapidly renewable and low emitting materials. This can include a review of existing specification language.
Support for LEED Implementation
e4, inc. works closely with the project team and provides assistance as needed to research and implement LEED prerequisites and points. Individual members of the project team are usually focused, as they should be, on designing, constructing or managing the building. e4 supplements their expertise by researching similar projects, relevant topics and LEED credit interpretations or other advisory opinions. e4 manages the LEED process to make sure that the requirements are explored and addressed as early as possible when potentially required design changes are least expensive. This helps ensure that implementation is completed at the lowest possible cost, frees the project team from LEED administration and allows them to focus their attention only on the details where their expertise is needed.
Construction Plans and Reporting
LEED for New Construction requires an Erosion & Sedimentation Plan, a Construction Waste Management and a Construction Indoor Air Quality Plan to be developed by the Construction Manager and implemented by the contractors and/or subcontractors. e4, inc. can assist in the development and/or review of the specification language and the draft plans. We help ensure that the required plans are in place in a timely manner, that their intent and requirements have been fully communicated to the relevant subcontractors and that they are effectively managed to ensure compliance with all LEED requirements. We can assist in the development and review of reporting forms to ensure that if a problem exists, it is identified while it can still be addressed, not after the project is completed.
Documentation Coordination and Submission
The project team has many responsibilities, most importantly designing, constructing or managing a project on schedule and on budget. e4′s role helps ensure that their “LEED time” is focused primarily on the discrete tasks needed to implement and document the points and prerequisites. Executing this work as early as possible minimizes the costs and streamlines the process. e4 can create and manage the documentation that will be provided to LEED or support a member of the project team in compiling the submission required for certification.
Tenant Guidelines and Green Lease Support
e4, inc. can support an owner’s green goals through the development of voluntary tenant guidelines or mandatory green lease requirements. e4, inc. has broad experience in working through tenant-landlord issues and has developed tenant guidelines for a number of projects including Four Times Square, One Bryant Park and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. e4, inc. is an independent third party that is extremely knowledgeable about sustainability and green buildings. We can cost-effectively engage both parties to a lease and facilitate the understandings and agreements that are necessary in order to green a building or space where responsibility is shared between landlord and tenant.
e4, inc. can coordinate regular LEED meetings and commissioning-specific meetings to help manage implementation and documentation with key members of the project team and relevant consultants. In addition, we often organize meetings to delve into specific topics and further explore LEED requirements with subcontractors or smaller sub-groups of the full project team.