Building Management Hawaii February/March - (Page 22)

Solar: Not A Singular Solution How to build a comprehensive energy plan. By Brian Kealoha Energy First Things First Energy expenditures— including expenditures for building maintenance—represent a large portion of almost every business’ budget. With the cost of electricity here in Hawaii being the highest in the nation, I end up having this conversation several times a month: “I’m thinking of installing solar. How much do you think we need?” “First tell me … When do you use your energy, and how much do you use? How is energy used in your facility? What have you done in your business to reduce your usage?” “No, I’m talking about solar, not reducing my energy use.” “I know, but listen … If you had a hole in your gas tank, would you fill it up with premium fuel?” “No.” “Why not?” “Why would I pay extra when I’m just going to lose it to a leak?” I often run through this hypothetical Q&A with people to demonstrate that, before they think about how much solar to buy, they should first address their inefficiencies to avoid buying more solar than they need. Don’t get me wrong; solar, as a clean, renewable resource, provides a great hedge against future electricity price increases and volatility. Solar should be considered as part of an energy cost-reduction strategy. However, there are some limitations you’ve got to be aware of while planning a solar-power installation as part of a viable energy plan. For example, unless you qualify for net metering (systems more than 100kW capacity don’t), you can’t sell your excess solar power to Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO). Even if you’re able to link your system with HECO, you may face restrictions such as the limit on the number of subscribers using the circuit that feeds your facility. At best, you give your excess solar power to HECO for free. So to avoid this inefficiency, you should size your solar PV system to your lowest load point during daylight hours. As a result, solar power will probably only cover a small percentage of your energy needs. Build a Comprehensive Energy Plan The first step in any business process is creating a plan. This is no different when it comes to energy planning. To create a plan, you should do your research. Let’s go back for a moment to the questions I asked earlier. Do you know the answers to those questions for your facility? The majority of people have only a very general idea. Knowing how much energy your building uses, along with when and how that energy is used, forms the foundation of the comprehensive energy plan. Once you have a clear understanding of your current energy usage, the next step is to develop energy-usage goals for your facility. These goals can be used as a standard of measurement to gauge progress and mark success. They can also give you an objective basis to gain support for the energy projects you wish to implement. Establish a timeline to achieve your goals. Of the programs I’ve seen, the most successful ones set realistic goals to be accomplished over a fiveyear horizon. Why so long? Success breeds success, and there is no better way to get a program into action than by having quick, easy successes that can be simply and widely recognized. Since you will need funding to implement your plan, demonstrating positive results often paves the way for additional capital requests. Starting Smart Fuel cell installation at the Santa Rita Jail in California 22 February–March 2013 BMH So, how do you get started with a comprehensive energy plan? Figuring out your annual energy usage and cost is relatively easy, yet evaluating the equipment utilizing the energy can be a bit more challenging. Furthermore, coming up with a plan that will actually achieve the desired results takes a fairly sophisticated level of expertise and experience. You will need to work with a firm that has experience developing an energy

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Building Management Hawaii February/March

Top 3 Energy Incentives
On The Grid
Solar: Not A Singular Solution
Saving Money & Art
Payback Projects
Top 10: Turn Energy Into Value
AC: Light-Zapping Clean
Does Your HVAC Talk BACnet?
Editorial: Industry Insights
Association Updates & Industry News
Ask An Expert: No One Likes To Sag

Building Management Hawaii February/March