Jennifer Graham is the assistant editor of Facilities Manager and APPA's publications and marketing assistant. She can be reached at email@example.com..
There's been discussion lately regarding APPA members participation in information sharing, both with each other and with APPA headquarters. Being relatively new here, I was impressed by the energy and enthusiasm on the APPAinfo e-mail list, not to mention the valuable information that you are sharing with each other. So I thought what better way to highlight this member activity than resuming the Listnotes column.
In keeping with the theme of this issue, I have incorporated your advice and suggestions on energy and utilities issues. Remember that what is most appealing about the list is gaining valuable information in a form that is much more interesting than a textbook or a seminar, while communicating with your colleagues, fellow members, and APPA staff. To join APPA's e-mail list, register at www.appa.org/resources.
Question: I am interested in hearing from those of you who have recently communicated to campus building occupants measures they can take in their office and/or at their desktop to conserve electrical consumption. Recent literature suggests that significant savings can be made by turning off computers, monitors, printers, etc., as well as lights.
Question: Does anyone have and/or know of a website(s) that promotes office/desktop energy savings opportunities? Is anyone aware for public entities, utilities, and/or corporations that have promoted office/desktop energy savings opportunities? How about information on recent energy conservation projects?
- In response to your question about personal workstation office equipment energy use, EPA has a lot of information in their Energy StarProgram about energy efficient office equipment. Energy Star labeled equipment has power management features that put equipment into a "sleep" mode when it is not being used and then return to full power almost instantaneously. Energy Star products have all the performance features of standard equipment, but you must make sure the power management features are activated in order to get the savings. Multifunction office equipment with power management features can operate as printers, copiers, or fax machines. On a monthly or annual basis, this equipment uses about half as much electricity as conventional equipment. This means a typical office could save approximately 50 percent on the energy costs for these products by taking advantage of the power management features of Energy Star-labeled office equipment. Interestingly enough, specifying Energy Star-compliant features on equipment generally doesn't increase equipment cost in quality equipment.
- Take a look at the EPA website www.epa.gov/appdstar/esoe/index.html for a good description of myths and facts about energy efficiency and office equipment operation. Another source of energy efficiency information is the Energy Solutions Database operated by the Energy Ideas Clearinghouse at www.energyideas.org/energy_solutions.
- We have identified computers as a major source of growth in load in our facilities. In addition to the increase due to larger monitors and power supplies, there is the impact on demand, and a/c costs. Our users are difficult to convince that systems should be turned off when not in use. The response to a college-wide effort has shown less then 10 percent cooperation so far. We are working on an awareness campaign. I have not found any really good sites for information, but will share our experiences as we have them.
- The University of Buffalo is very proactive on energy conservation and has some information on "Green Computing." You may find more useful/pertinent information in other parts of their web site: wings.buffalo.edu/ubgreen/energy_conservation/green_ computing.htm
- There is an excellent website that might have what you're looking for: www.energyideas.org.
- Visit www.epa.gov/energys-tar and learn more about the Energy Star programs!
- www.epa.gov/building /index.html is a good start.
- Below is a collection of URLs you might find interesting. There definitely are opportunities. The task is to find ways to entice folks to realize that their individual efforts will collectively make a difference. It's worth the challenge! www.epa.gov/appdstar/esoe/index.html wings.buffalo.edu/ubgreenenergy_conservation/green_com- puting.htm www.energyideas.org www.epa.gov/energystar
Question: I am needing information regarding the cost of fluorescent lighting. In particular is it more cost effective to leave a fluorescent light on or turn it off throughout the day? The argument is that it cost more to turn it on/off than it is to leave it on.
- Several decades ago it was argued that due to wear of electrodes in fluorescent tubes it was more cost effective to leave the lights on. That changed at least ten years ago and subsequent articles were published in Architectural Record and other locations. Electronic ballasts and T8 lamps are very efficient and have the capacity to endure thousands of on/off cycles, check with manufacturers such as GE's Nela Park for their research. The EPA Green Lights or Energy Star programs are another excellent source of conservation information.
- I've seen a number of analyses that show cost effectiveness in turning fluorescent lights off even if the off time averages a couple of minutes. For a very thorough analysis and list of references and referrals see the Energy Ideas Clearinghouse Energy Solutions Database www.energyideas.org/energy_solutions under Lighting, Operation and Maintenance. The recommendation from the California Energy Commission seems to sum up the situation, "When to Turn the Lights Off: Anytime You Leave the Room."
- This "myth" has been around for some time. Yes, turning off fluorescent lights more frequently does decrease the rated lamp life (usually lamp life ratings are based on a minimum of three hours on). However, leaving the light on all the time means that it will reach those rated lamp life hours that much sooner. Typically turning the lamps off will give you longer time between lamp changes. The best way to figure out the answer is to determine the crossover point. This point is where the savings in electrical energy begin to outweigh the cost of decreasing the life of the lamp. It depends on your local electric rates, but our crossover point is something like 15 to 20 minutes. What that means is that if you are going to be gone from the room for more than 20 minutes, turn it off. If you are only going to be gone for a few minutes leave it on. Ask your lighting vendor for a curve that shows rated lamp life vs. switching time. You can use that data (along with local electric costs) to figure out your crossover point. By the way, incandescents have a crossover point of roughly zero. Turning them on and off does not change the rated life much, so it always makes sense to switch them off.
- From an electric standpoint there is no question that turning off fluorescent lights saves energy. There is a small spike when the lights are turned back on, but it is of such short duration that the kWh is negligible. Turning the lights off saves kWh, usually saves on air conditioning costs (reheat systems excluded), but can add slightly to the heating costs in perimeter rooms during the heating season. The impact on the heating costs is almost always less than the electrical savings.
- Depending on the application an aggressive campaign to turn off lights during the day, or the installation of occupancy sensors, can also save substantially on KW or demand costs. In schools this depends greatly on the usage and occupancy patterns of the school. Again depending on your utility rate structure and occupancy patterns this savings can be considerable. In our newest building we tied the room occupancy sensors into both the lighting and HVAC systems. In unoccupied rooms we shut off the lights, and switch the room HVAC into an unoccupied mode which reduces ventilation rates and heating/cooling costs.
- The only added cost to aggressively turning off lights is that it does shorten the life of the tubes. The 20,000 hour rating is based on very few on-off cycles. The energy costs usually far outweigh the relamping costs for fluorescent tubes. If you are group relamping every 36 months, the impact of the slightly shorter lamp life is usually zero.