CIET’s Ask Us Anything series is a free monthly Q&A session with industry experts.

The Building Energy Audits session featured Clint Christenson, Energy Management Consultant and Instructor, and CIET Trainer.

If you missed the Building Energy Audits Ask Us Anything, here is a key topic that was discussed during the session.



Question: How do you prioritize areas to audit?


In most cases, the easiest way to answer this one is by looking at the type of facility we’ve got and then look at some of the benchmarks that we would compare to. So as we look at it, if it’s a school, an office building, a retail facility, or even industrial, in most cases, there are some studies from the past.

So we can identify the fact that there are certain technologies that are expensive. In certain places in the country it’s hot in the summertime and cooling could be a big user. In other cases, say with the school district, something you may not recognize: cooking meals could be a large component of the facility.

But in most cases, I let the facility tell me where I should spend my time. So that is one of the first steps even before we show up on site; look at the utility bills to see if there’s seasonality, because heating loads could be a big component.

And of course, just because we have a big gas bill or heating bill, that may not necessarily say that the equipment is bad, but that my building may need some improvements — better windows, better insulation.

So once again, the worst thing I think we can do as Auditors is walk in the door with LEDs in our pockets and not necessarily have a prescritive¬†Hey, this is what we’re going to apply,¬†but to let the facility tell us. I find that in a lot of cases if you specialize in, say schools, you kind of know what you’re going to find, but you have to be very careful because then you start doing the prescriptive and you show up with a trunk full of lightbulbs, and that may not necessarily be what that customer is looking for.

It may be controls because they’re leaving the systems on all night. So you have to go through that process of doing the study.

That’s probably the only part that I have that’s somewhat problematic: we walk in with solutions before we ask any questions or before we do the research. That’s pretty important.

In some cases, benchmarking can help us because there have been a lot of schools that have been analyzed and a lot of office buildings, so we can have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to count and how to add it up. But it comes down to it, it’s load and hours. I like to talk about it as amps and hours, so wherever the amps are going, wherever the joules, the energy, the heat is going, that’s where we need to try to minimize as best as we can.


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