<![CDATA[7th Gen Energy Solutions - Blogs]]>Mon, 15 Feb 2016 18:47:34 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Boiler Bob Version 2.0]]>Wed, 31 Dec 2014 04:01:28 GMThttp://www.sevengenergy.com/blogs/boiler-bob-version-20There is a guy that works in the unseen parts of the building. He’s got thick fingers with dirty fingernails, a wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek, and a hatred for young engineers who come into his mechanical room with aspirations of showing him how to operate his building “better.” His name is Boiler Bob.

Bob is a guy that nobody notices or thinks much about, until their office is too hot. Or too cold. Or there is air blowing down directly on their head. And most people that live or work in the building with Bob don’t understand what Bob does.

Bob likes HVAC Larry, and Refrigerant Tech Rodrigo, and he can stomach BAS Billy and even Manufacturer’s Rep Reggie, on occasion. Even though it seems that the parts he needs for the boiler his building just bought are no longer being supported.

But he definitely does not like young energy engineer Eddie McSavetheworld.

The problem is that Bob’s core job description runs counter to the goals of energy efficiency. His job is to receive as few complaints as possible. And the best way to do that is to run everything, all the time, in “hand,” at full capacity. Full sails, all day, every day, day and night, including holidays and weekends.

The truth is that Bob wants his building to be energy efficient. But his directives push him the other way. And there are other barriers too. Lack of attention, lack of support, lack of training, and lack of incentive all conspire against Bob’s transformation to the new Boiler Bob, Version 2.0.

Four Steps to Upgrading Boiler Bob

So how do we get Bob on board with energy efficiency? There are four key ingredients to a successful Boiler Bob upgrade:

1.      Attention. Understanding Bob’s world, and gaining his confidence is the first step. It involves listening; most facility guys are reluctant to speak at first. They think you are there to show them what they’ve been doing wrong, or to tell them how to do their job. The fact is, if you can win their confidence, and listen, a brief often icy “breaking in” period becomes an avalanche of information.

Most people have not listened to Bob before. But providing some attention to his world gives him a chance to voice everything he’s been storing up. And he usually knows many of the opportunities to save energy – he’s just never had an audience that was ready to listen and act on them before.

2.      Support. The problem with most energy efficiency projects is that Bob is left with new controls, new systems, and new strategies, but when something goes wrong, no one is there to help him figure out why. So his response, and rightfully so, is to override whatever is causing the problem.

Developing a support network for Bob is critical. This involves putting together a management structure that gives him clear direction as to what to act on, what to try first, and then where to turn to when what he tries doesn’t work. How does he document the problem, and who does he report this to? Does he need access to a third-party to help with specific issues? Does he need other tools such as a fault detection and diagnostics system, or an updated Systems or Operator’s Manual?

3.      Training. Training of the facility staff and building operators may be one of the most important factors determining the operational performance and persistence of energy savings. Without proper understanding of new systems, the skills to operate the systems properly, and a plan regarding how to resolve or report issues, it will be impossible for a building to operate efficiently and optimally over time.

Bob should be involved with any commissioning and/or recommissioning efforts. From planning through implementation. This will provide critical on-the-job training and familiarity with his new systems, controls, and management structure.

4.      Incentive. Relying on Bob’s inner need to do good might be enough to get him to change the way he thinks about his building and its operation. But then again, there’s nothing like cold, hard cash to change someone’s thinking! Or a cruise, an espresso machine, a riding lawn mower. Incentives based on specific performance goals can work wonders – we’ve seen this work first hand. Real incentives can provide the necessary motivation for Bob and his team to upgrade to new-age thinking, and feel recognized and appreciated for their efforts.

There is no greater energy conservation measure that can be performed in a building, and no greater impediment to a successful energy efficiency project, than Boiler Bob and his team. They represent the keys to any successful project. And have the power to crush energy savings with a single setpoint. Applying these key ingredients can transform even the most curmudgeonly Bob into a finely-tuned instrument of energy efficiency!

The Investor Confidence Project and the Project Development Specification describe specifically how to address the facility staff and building operators, and how their role is defined in the development of an energy efficiency project. From commissioning (operational performance verification) to operations, maintenance and monitoring, and what the management structure, training, and resources need to include.

To find out more, visit our website, or feel free to reach out to us directly (Matt Golden at matt@efficiency.org or Tracy Phillips at tphillips@sevengenergy.com)

<![CDATA[Data Accessibility - Pushing the Industry Forward]]>Fri, 02 May 2014 18:19:01 GMThttp://www.sevengenergy.com/blogs/data-accessibility-pushing-the-market-forwardA particular challenge to energy efficiency project development, especially some multifamily projects, involves access to utility data. Critical to the development of a project's baseline, these data can be difficult to obtain, especially considering tenant privacy laws. Even when tenant privacy is not an issue, access to these data in a usable format can be challenging.

Consider this example: I am currently a member of my hometown's energy and sustainability committee. As part of our efforts to revise our city's master plan, we have been working with our utility to obtain aggregate monthly electricity and natural gas consumption data for the residential and commercial/industrial sectors within our community. Not individual customer's usage data (which would butt heads with tenant privacy laws), but aggregate data for the entire city. We started working with the utility to obtain these data six months ago. And we're still waiting...

But the winds of change are blowing, and gaining speed. Presented for consideration are two examples of significant developments on the data access front.

Green Button
Green Button is an industry-led effort determined to provide electricity customers with easy access to their energy usage data in a consistent and easy-to-use format. This data access concept is based on a common technical standard developed in collaboration with a public-private partnership supported by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

The idea behind Green Button is to provide a secure, consistent, and easy-to understand method for downloading data directly from the utility's website. At current count, there are 31 utilities and energy suppliers that have implemented Green Button, and nine additional utilities have expressed a commitment to implement Green Button.

Providing access to utility data in a consistent and easy manner not only provides these data to end-users, but also provides a platform for developers to create innovative web-based, smartphone, or other platform applications. These tools can deliver a host of potential services, things like rate plan selection assistance, renewable energy sizing and financing, virtual energy audits, measurement of energy efficiency investments, or energy usage visualization.

Another exciting development in the utility data accessibility world recently came from Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Mark Udall (D-Colo) who joined together to introduce the Access to Consumer Energy Information (E-Access) Act on March 27, 2014.

Like Green Button, this bill seeks to improve access to energy consumption data, providing incentives to utilities and states that offer utility information to commercial and residential customers. If the bill is enacted, state activities meant to improve customer access to and understanding of energy usage would qualify for government funding. 

Furthermore, this E-Access Act would require the DOE to create guidelines for improving access to electric energy information, and would address specific issues including time frame, consumer data, privacy protections, security, and how to present the information in a readily understandable format.

Building Momentum
While access to utility data is still challenging, the market is clearly building momentum to improve this situation and overcome this long-standing hurdle to energy efficiency project development. Green Button, complimented by the E-Access Bill, represent two powerful tools that will help continue to push the industry forward, improving data accessibility, and promoting innovative uses for data that were, until recently, difficult to access or receive in a consistent, usable, easy-to-understand format.]]>