During its annual conference this summer, ASHRAE introduced its executive committee officers and directors for the 2019/2020 session. The new president is Darryl K. Boyce, who used his inaugural address at the conference to announce the society’s next theme—‘building for people and performance; achieving operational excellence’—and, as part of that theme, a focus on overcoming the challenges associated with improving energy efficiency for the built environment.
Hailing from Canada, Boyce is also special advisor to the vice-president (VP) of finance and administration at Ottawa’s Carleton University. We caught up with him to learn more about his past and his vision for the future.
Congratulations on being named president of ASHRAE. When you think back on your career, when and how did mechanical engineering first become part of it?
When I was growing up, my father owned a logging company. For him to keep working, we regularly moved to new locations, including remote islands off the west coast of British Columbia. My childhood memories are of being around large equipment and the rugged individuals who operated and maintained it.
After the logging business closed, we continued to move around and I attended several schools. When I was 14, my father left our family. My mother, younger sister and I were left on welfare. I was thrust into the role of ‘man of the house’ and, as such, became the chief operating officer (COO) of our sub-standard home. There was no money to hire a plumber or electrician, so I was in charge of repairing any problems in the house. I began to appreciate the importance of safe, healthy and effective building operations.
At 15, I went on a junior high-school trip to the local university and we toured its power plant. Again, the large equipment fascinated me.
“Who is responsible for all of this equipment?” I asked.
“Mechanical engineers,” replied the tour guide.
When we returned to class, we had to write a paper about future careers that interested us. I wrote about mechanical engineering. It was then I caught the bug.
Going forward, what will be the biggest challenges in reducing existing buildings’ consumption of electricity, natural gas, water, etc.?
My theme for ASHRAE this year reflects how buildings are often falling short on performing to the expectations of their designers and operators. By way of example, the Alice Turner Branch Library in Saskatoon is using 58% more energy than the design intent. The Roblin Centre at Red River College in Winnipeg is using 69% more. And the District Education Centre in Surrey, B.C., is using 203% more!
Here are three main reasons why. First, during the design process, the designers are not always focused on ‘operability.’ Secondly, buildings have become more complex. And that leads us to the third reason: operators are overwhelmed and end up lagging behind. They generally do not have the right skills to operate today’s buildings, as they are rarely trained and oriented properly at the ‘turnover’ point.
In 2010, for example, we opened a state-of-the-art engineering building at Carleton with Power over Ethernet (PoE) controls and enhanced submetering of equipment lighting and plug loads—but we soon found all of the additional data was overwhelming our control technicians.
To help achieve operational excellence, we need to apply some best practices:
– Include a representative of the building operations team all the way through the design process, not solely at the end.
– Ensure the design is suited for and reflects the capabilities of the people occupying and operating the building, so we are not leaving them wondering, “How do I make this work?”
– Establish an effective turnover and orientation training process.
– Evaluate design decisions for their impact on indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and remember the people in that building will be the best ‘sensors’ of comfort.
You’ve dealt with many newly constructed buildings, but what about improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings?
ASHRAE helped develop the Advanced Energy Design Guide for Small to Medium Office Buildings: Achieving Zero Energy. While it provides direction for designing and constructing new buildings that are ready to accept renewable energy systems and meet low energy loads, it also applies to retrofits of existing buildings, depending on the depth and breadth of the work. The guide was co-developed with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), with support and funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Also, ASHRAE created the Building EQ program to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings. This tool, which can be accessed online, provides an effective way to measure a building’s energy use through a documented Level 1 audit, take specific actions to reduce it and track year-over-year data.
In terms of achieving energy consumption goals, when (if ever) does it make more sense to tear down and rebuild, rather than renovate or retrofit a building?
ASHRAE does not advise owners on when they should rebuild, renovate or retrofit. We just say that regardless of the choice, it should be a well-built and energy-efficient building.
That said, if renovations or retrofitting cannot possibly result in a well-built, energy-efficient building that complies with applicable codes and standards, then it should be rebuilt so it can comply.
To take a real-world example, when you were assistant VP in facilities management and planning at Carleton, what measures was the university taking to address its energy consumption costs?
In the last few years, we were implementing a program to reduce energy use in the university’s existing buildings. This started with a campus-wide evaluation of energy reduction opportunities in each building, through the use of a system that included actual energy use data and a Level 1 energy audit.
The information gathered was used to prioritize buildings for implementation of guaranteed improvement projects, which involved repairing or replacing key system components. The goal of these projects was not just energy reduction, but also improvement of IEQ.
The reality is you cannot properly manage what you do not measure. So, it is critical for measurements to be reliable and connected to the systems that can effectively use the information. The improved connection of Carleton’s metering systems to the building automation system (BAS) is very important and the expanded use of analytical tools will increase the amount of data available to enable better decisions about building operations and energy use.
In another Canadian example, an integrated approach to energy-efficient retrofits at Montreal’s Olympic Park recently won an ASHRAE Technology award. What lessons would you say can be learned from such projects?
The key to this project was the holistic, comprehensive approach to the retrofit/renewal, resulting in a longer payback and greater impact on the effective operations of the facility.
This project also demonstrates the value of working closely with building operators to achieve the best results and backing up the work with guaranteed energy savings.
What roles do you see computers, software and the Internet of Things (IoT) playing in improving aging buildings’ energy efficiency further?
We are at a point where analytical software and fault detection can truly improve the operation of the built environment and reduce its use of energy. Lighting controls are one way to improve efficiency, along with BASs, metering, monitoring, sensors and various applications. ASHRAE Technical Committee 1.5, Computer Applications, is concerned with the design and optimization of refrigeration, heating and air-conditioning systems, equipment and components thereof.
How does ASHRAE interact with energy managers and address their needs?
We regularly try to get building managers involved in ASHRAE’s standards writing committees and we encourage them to review drafts. The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International has organizational representation on many of our big project committees that have an impact on professionals in these industries, including those for Standards 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, and 189.1, International Green Construction Code.
We also see participation from individuals who help run university and hospital campuses. If any energy management professionals feel their needs are not being met, we encourage them to get involved in the process.
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