Introducing an Energy Auditing Tool to the Rhode Island Public Sector

My name is Andrew Hintlian, and I am pursuing a double major in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics and Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island. Participating in this locus of study gave me the opportunity to take part in the yearlong URI Energy Fellows Program through the Extension Outreach Center. Throughout my engagement in this internship, I worked with the Rhode Island Public Energy Partnership (RIPEP) Team. RIPEP was a three-year initiative supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) to achieve an overall energy savings of 20% throughout approximately 100 buildings in Rhode Island’s public sector. I took part in analyzing the energy usage data from about 50 of those municipal, state, school and water facilities.

Building Energy Asset Score (AST)

This past summer, I earned the opportunity to take on a lead role in the program by introducing an auditing tool to four school and municipal departments. The DOE’s Building Energy Asset Score (AST) is a free tool that uses a building’s structural data (lighting, HVAC systems, structural assemblies, etc.) to calculate an energy efficiency score. AST provides energy efficiency scores between 1 and 10, 1 meaning the building uses more energy than it should and 10 meaning it uses less energy than expected. A current and potential score are provided to highlight what the building can achieve from completing suggested projects. As part of the RIPEP initiative, I was tasked with collecting building information for at least 30 public facilities.

andrew_hintlian

Data Collection Process

To make sure we achieved our goal of collecting data for 30 buildings, we first contacted those municipalities, school districts, and state agencies that showed prior interest in the tool and a high level of engagement in the RI Public Energy Partnership. We received responses from North Kingstown School District (10 buildings), Cranston School District (5 buildings), Warwick Municipality (10 buildings), and the University of Rhode Island Capital Projects (6 buildings). Once we received feedback, I was able to schedule meetings with the community directors to rationalize the best approach in collecting data. We found the best way to collect this data was to start by viewing blueprints and upgrade schedules. If there was any missing information, we would perform on-site visits to attain the remaining building characteristics. The data was then entered into the Tool’s online database to receive scoring and efficiency reports. Once the buildings were scored, we met with customers again to discuss findings. Using the results, we offered recommendations on how to use the tool to identify next steps for energy efficiency investment

Customer Takeaways of AST

The intention of introducing this tool to the Rhode Island public sector was not necessarily to provide building results, but to show the usefulness of the tool. When presenting results, I focused on three takeaways that the customers can achieve from independent use of AST.  One benefit was the creation of a central database of building information. Through consistent use of this tool, the Asset Score compiles building structure and efficiency information into a single location accessible by the building operator with just the click of a button. Another takeaway is the fact that it can be used alongside Energy Star Portfolio Manager (PM) to provide further knowledge of the building. PM is a tool that the RIPEP Team used with our Rhode Island partners to analyze building energy consumption values through examining utility bills. Using the Asset Score alongside ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager Tool can compare how a building could be performing to how it is actually performing. The final takeaway we wanted to achieve was to streamline next steps in energy efficiency project implementation for these partners. By introducing this unique tool to this public sector, they can use its feedback to schedule preliminary energy audits directed by the results, continue using the tool as a resource for planning future projects and updating building structural characteristics, and understand changes in energy consumption over time from collaborative Portfolio Manager reports.

Working on RIPEP has helped to shape me professionally, and enhanced my familiarity with entry into the energy workforce. I knew I made the right choice with the Energy Fellows program as I got to partake in work that not only interested me, but challenged me to a large extent. I’ve also become more confident with my leadership and professional communications skills from my constant involvement around the office, work meetings, energy tabling events and trainings. My hope for the future of AST project implementation is that this program will help Rhode Island achieve a more sustainable future through improved energy awareness.

by: Andrew Hintlian

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics & Marine Affairs Double Major

December 11th, 2015

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