December Issue: Sustainability–Averting Drift
- Dec 11, 2014
A half-decade ago, when Environmental Sysems Inc. needed a larger facility, an internal team led by green-minded engineers helped plan a 34,100-square-foot headquarters in Brookfield, Wis. With an EPA Energy Star score averaging around 98 and LEED Platinum certification, the new home of the energy-efficiency consulting firm ranks among the highest-performing office buildings of its kind.
But as ESI president & principal Paul Oswald and his colleagues know from years of advising clients, state-of-the-art energy management systems and performance-analytics platforms cannot guarantee that a facility will maintain its initial stand-out efficiency level as years pass. Unless building operators supplement building-automation and fault-diagnostics technologies with human-centric strategies and processes aimed at maintaining optimal energy performance, even the highest-rated properties become vulnerable to the gradual efficiency deterioration many professionals dub “energy drift.”
Today’s technology automatically controls HVAC and lighting systems, and can also provide performance surveillance—and recommend or even initiate remedies—to an extent hardly imagined only a decade ago. But these tools alone will not prevent electricity consumption from drifting back toward levels seen before efficiency-boosting automation equipment was installed—or simply deteriorating from initial levels in the case of new construction.