In commercial buildings, energy costs are insignificant compared to the sum of the salaries of the building’s occupants. Saving energy at the expense of their productivity is a ‘Zero-Net-Sum’ solution.
Richardson, TX (PRWEB) March 20, 2013
Today’s designs are greatly influenced by new or revised rules and regulations, industry standards, and certifying organizations. In fact, the slogan “Net Zero Buildings” has become a popular mantra among many design engineers, which is a movement to develop buildings that have zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions. While an admirable and strategic goal, few engineers have actually accomplished such a feat. Nevertheless, they continue to make great strides in their building designs to reuse and recycle materials, choose energy-efficient products, and reduce waste.
The amount of planning and consideration to be given with any building project is already sizable, but for green building designs, everything is more closely scrutinized, from the type of land on which the building is to be constructed to the energy consumption of the equipment, and even the locations from which the materials are to be shipped. Unfortunately, amongst this lengthy list of special considerations, the one item least accounted for, and yet most important, is the occupant, the entity for which the building has been fashioned.
“It is important to put everything in a proper perspective. In commercial buildings, energy costs are insignificant compared to the sum of the salaries of the building’s occupants. Saving energy at the expense of their productivity is a ‘Zero-Net-Sum’ solution,” said Dan Int-Hout, Chief Engineer of Krueger-HVAC. “BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) has stated that the highest reason given for not renewing the lease (for a building space) has been occupant dissatisfaction with the environment.”
On average, an occupant’s salary in a commercial office building has been estimated between $200 and $300 per square foot, per year. In contrast, total building energy costs are approximately $2 to $3 per square foot, per year. Should an engineer actually achieve a Net Zero Building, it would only save about 1% of the total cost.
“It is proposed for LEED 2013 that a comprehensive occupant survey be a mandatory requirement,” says Dan Int-Hout, Chief Engineer of Krueger-HVAC. “A building which is unacceptable to the occupants should be considered a design failure, no matter how much or how little energy it consumes.”
If a building’s function (green or otherwise) is to provide a suitable environment for its occupants, design engineers must give thought to proper specification of the air distribution system and follow known and accepted guidelines. The consequences of improper design and selection can lead to excessive stratification or uncomfortable, drafty spaces. Albeit difficult to quantify an occupant’s productivity or lack thereof, building owners may very well see energy usage increase above initial estimations as distracted occupants find ways to improve their thermal comfort through fans, heaters, or constant thermostat adjustments.
For more information about air distribution best practices, find a wealth of information on the Krueger-HVAC website at http://www.krueger-hvac.com.
Krueger-HVAC is a leading manufacturer of air distribution solutions for commercial and industrial applications, including grilles, registers, diffusers, terminal units, fan coils, underfloor products, critical room products, fan filter units, displacement ventilation, as well as chilled beams. Krueger-HVAC is a division of Air System Components, Inc. (ASC). ASC is a subsidiary of Air Distribution Technologies, Inc.