When a Level 3 ASHRAE energy audit is the right choiceOct 25, 2013
Today we conclude our series on ASHRAE and its different levels of energy audits. ASHRAE — the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers — has a series of audits that build on each other to assess the energy efficiency and sustainability of a company’s buildings.
Level 3 ASHRAE energy audits are for those major projects that are sometimes referred to as “investment grade” undertakings. Chances are that a Level 2 audit will reveal retrofits or system improvements that would require a significant investment of company resources in terms of both funds and personnel. In this case, company leaders and stakeholders are likely to want more details in order to have a complete understanding of both the costs and benefits of the project.
A Level 3 audit focuses on creating a computer simulation of the entire building, in order to model exactly how it would respond to the significant changes being proposed. For example, a major HVAC retrofit might have unintended consequences without accurate modeling, especially in older buildings that might initially have had no air conditioning at all. In order to build this computer simulation, data will need to be collected over the course of weeks or even months, by placing special tracking equipment on pumps and motors, and within various rooms of the buildings to collect data on temperature and lighting levels. This allows the computer to create a model that accurately reflects the building’s current functioning capability.
The emerging computer model will then be run through a series of tests, comparing the model’s response to a variety of weather and other environmental situations, to see if it responds in the same way that the real building’s energy and power usage responded to similar conditions during the data collection process. Once this model is deemed “calibrated” through this testing, changes will be made to the model to simulate the systems upgrades suggested in the Level 2 ASHRAE audit. The results of these changes will be documented and can then be presented to company leaders and stakeholders to justify — or not — proceeding with the suggested capital improvements.
A Level 3 ASHRAE energy audit is a major investment for any company — but if the long-term benefits suggested by the Level 2 audit are to be realized, it’s important to have confidence in the results. So if your company is considering “investment grade” improvements, an investment in a Level 3 energy audit is probably worthwhile.
Contact sys-tek today to learn more about our ASHRAE energy audits and how they can benefit your organization!