Evaluating an energy efficiency project for an existing commercial building
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In this thesis I provide general guidelines for a commercial building owner’s decision making process for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system energy efficiency projects, discuss an example HVAC project at an existing building, and recommend the most energy-efficient, cost-effective project option. First, a building’s HVAC system’s inefficiencies are identified. The systems and the components can be investigated to understand the nature of the operations. In the building owner’s interests, possible alternatives can be developed to address the systems with improvements. Consulting engineers, contractors, and other building professionals can assist in this process. There are necessary engineering and construction considerations for defining realistic project alternatives. With the alternatives, there are costs, benefits, and trade-offs. The costs, which mainly include the investment and the operational costs, and the benefits, which mainly include the available financial incentives, defined in dollars, are identified for the alternatives. The alternatives can be evaluated with Building Life Cycle Cost (BLCC) software. In this evaluation the net present-value (NPV) method is used to rank the alternatives. Then, the highest-ranking, lowest life-cycle cost, alternative is recommended for the owner. In the example, an existing commercial building’s HVAC systems are considered. The construction plans, the facilities records, and the existing field conditions were investigated and analyzed. A few operational inefficiencies were identified. To address two of these existing inefficiencies, there were alternatives considered to replace the standard-efficiency air handling unit motors with premium-efficiency motors and to renovate the ventilation system with an energy recovery wheel. The investment costs, the available rebates, the net annual energy savings, and the energy and other operational costs were estimated, over a 30-year study period, for each of these alternatives, and compared to the costs of the existing system. The BLCC evaluations were performed across a range of discount rates in the present-value calculations. Based on the lowest present-value life-cycle cost reports, the premium-efficiency motor replacement project only is recommended.