RALEIGH – Innovations in energy-saving technologies both save money and are good for the environment, said several experts at the North Carolina State Energy Conference in Raleigh on Wednesday. Among the companies helping set the pace – Bayer Crop Science.

Mike Curry, manager of site services for Bayer’s 125-acre RTP Crop Science facility [pictured above], corporate headquarters for its agriculture division, said Bayer has saved nearly a third on its energy costs via its modern office project.

It manages those savings via a number of technologies. “We have complete control of all of our buildings with our automation system,” he said. “We can go into individual rooms, remotely troubleshoot problems, and work with technicians.”

He said energy savings come from numerous sources. “Don’t waste money on empty rooms,” he said. “We have CO2 monitors so we can tell when a room is occupied. That kind of stuff can save lots of money over the years.”

Considering the site’s location in North Carolina, they replaced the roofs with reflective white thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) systems. “In NC, it makes sense to reflect energy away from the building,” Curry said.

Bayer’s greenhouses are also on automatic systems that control the amount of light used. They also use what’s called “invisible glass” to allow 98 percent of natural sunlight through, thus using natural energy to supplement controlled artificial lighting.

Bayer greenhouse with rainwater collection system, sensored lighting, daylight harvesting and reflective roof.

Bayer also collects all the rain water falling on its roofs in a reservoir, as well as condensation so that 99 percent of its water use comes from rain or reclaimed water. That, Curry said, saves 20,000 bathtubs of water a year.

The conference also featured a presentation by ABB’s top North America exec, who talked about the firm’s growing North Carolina presence and its growing number of innovative energy projects.

Explaining CHP – combined heat and power

Tom Parker, a business unit manager for Burns & McDonnell’s Onsite Energy and Power Group, explained the benefits of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, also known as cogeneration, which generate electricity and capture the heat otherwise wasted as thermal energy. The captured thermal energy can then be used for heating, cooling, hot water and industrial processes.

Tom Parker, Burns and McDonnell.

Almost two-thirds of conventionally generated energy is wasted as heat discharged into the atmosphere, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  More is wasted during distribution of energy to end users.
By capturing the heat and avoiding distribution losses, CHP can achieve efficiencies of up to 80 percent compared with the 50 percent from conventional electricity generation.

“CHP is the best bang for the buck,” Parker said. Its benefits include the ability to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, provide operational savings, and adds resiliency to energy systems. Resiliency is particularly important, he added, since power outages and spikes cause $150 million in damages annually.

CHP is primarily used in industry, manufacturing, and commercial and institutional applications, such as hospitals, schools, offices, and universities.

Ongoing Commissioning services

Janelle Griffin, project manager, energy solutions at Dewberry, explained ongoing commissioning services – a monitoring-based approach to maintaining and optimizing performance of building energy systems. It combines technology with management culture based on best practices.

Janelle Griffin, project manager, Energy Solutions, Dewberry.

The term “commissioning” comes from a quality assurance process in the shipbuilding industry involving systematic tests and regulated checklists. The building industry adopted the process about 25 years ago. Persistent commissioning is the latest advance.

“All buildings tend to degrade over time,” Griffin said, including their energy performance. Causes include entropy, space renovation, mechanical and control failures, control sensor drift, operator errors and more.

Ongoing, persistent commissioning is a four-step process. First, Griffin said, a building’s actual performance is measured using whatever existing data is available and/or by installing additional devices.

Then, management must set objectives and determine key performance indicators and monitor their progression toward those objectives. “The most important thing to know, is what are the goals of your organization,” Griffin said.

Then, management can take whatever action is necessary to improve building performance. Implementing a preventive maintenance process prevents breakdowns or malfunctions via fault detection tools.

The process requires involving a lot of stakeholders, Griffin pointed out. They include service personnel, facilities management, building experts, systems integrators, engineers and tool experts. “Nothing is plug and play,” she said.

Ongoing commissioning results in extended equipment life, fewer comfort complaints from building occupants, and increased reliability, Griffin added.

Dewberry is performing persistent commissioning for North Carolina State University.

Dewberry offers this video explanation of Persistent Commissioning (PCx).