Ensure persistence of energy conservation
Back in the 1980s, when I was a computer science student, I was taught that a good systems designer would design him- or herself out of the system. This meant that the system worked, it was well documented, operators were well trained, and the system could be maintained. The system designer, like a house builder, could close the door on a project with a clear conscience and whistle while walking away, content with a job well done.
In the world of energy efficiency, there's a word for that: persistence. Persistence is the ability of an energy conservation measure (ECM) to last—for the energy, financial, and carbon savings to accrue over time, as planned. In the parlance of systems engineering, energy engineers will round off an ECM project with persistence measures with performance benchmarks, documentation, and training.
To do anything less, engineers are shortchanging owners because the ECM won't last long, thus undermining the integrity of any cost-benefit analyses performed that led to the ECM. It's like selling a car without oil or transmission fluid. The owner might get the car out of the lot, but it won't be long before the car ceases to function.
But how far should persistence measures go? The answer is that it depends on the ECM. A study by Portland Energy Conservation Inc. (PECI) and Texas A&M University on persistence of repairs stemming from commissioning buildings found that persistence has a signature: ECMs impacting the surface of systems, like thermostat setpoints and set-back schedules, were changed to accommodate immediate needs for comfort or lighting, and sometimes were not changed back to original settings. On the other hand, ECMs made deep into a system—such as trimming a pump impeller, changing control software code, or replacing a chiller—had stronger persistence. Knowing about this signature can help you with persistence planning.
Research conducted by Consulting-Specifying Engineer for the MEP Giants report on page 20 found that commissioning (Cx) and maintenance/repair/operation (MRO) services are on the rise among engineering firms. A lot of this work is energy related, as discussed in my Viewpoint last month, "There's gold in building performance data." Engineers entering into the Cx and MRO markets need to be aware that persistence is important to building owners and program managers dispensing capital budgets and rebates. Based on the wisdom from energy conservation programs spanning 30 years, projects increasingly are requiring that ECM cost-benefit analysis include persistence measures such as documentation, training, scheduled maintenance, and ongoing/continuous Cx.
Please visit my Give and Take blog at www.csemag.com/blog , where I have posted this Viewpoint along with hyperlinks to reports and presentations on persistence that can will help you build persistence measures into your energy and environmental projects.
Send your questions and comments to: Michael.Ivanovich@reedbusiness.com
Case Study Database
Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.
These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.
Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.
Annual Salary Survey
In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.
Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.