Maximizing efficiency with today’s technology

Today’s readily available technologies can cut the average commercial building energy use nearly in half compared to the ASHRAE 90.1-2013 requirements, according to a recently published ASHRAE-funded study. The ASHRAE 1651-Research Project aimed to develop the “Maximum Technically Achievable Energy Targets for Commercial Buildings.” Researchers assembled a list of nearly 400 energy efficiency measures and selected 30 for the evaluation:

• LED exterior lighting
• Highest efficiency office equipment
• High-performance lighting (LED)
• Shift from general to task illumination
• Optimal daylighting control
• Optimal roof insulation level
• Optimal choice of vertical fenestration
• External light shelves
• Daylighting control by fixture
• High-performance fans
• High-performance ducts to reduce static pressure
• Demand-controlled ventilation/CO2 controls
• Multiple-zone VAV system ventilation optimization
• Optimal water/air cooling coils
• Occupant sensors for air handling equipment
• Energy recovery ventilators
• Indirect evaporative cooling
• High-efficiency/variable-speed packaged DX cooling
• High-efficiency heat pumps
• Ground source heat pump
• High-efficiency and variable-speed chillers
• Heat recovery from chillers
• High-efficiency boilers
• High-efficiency building transformers
• Chilled/cooled beam
• Dedicated outside air system with heat recovery
• Underfloor air distribution
• Hybrid/mixed mode ventilation
• Radiant heating and cooling and DOAS
• Variable refrigerant flow air conditioning

Energy models for 16 prototype buildings were built and applied across 17 climate zones. Numerous iterations of the models were run to try to find the optimal combination of these 30 energy efficiency features for each of the 272 building type and climate zone combinations. The results indicate that the nationally weighted average savings was 47.8 percent versus ASHRAE 90.1-2013.

While the study did not attempt to determine which of the measures were cost effective in each scenario, the results are informative nonetheless. Despite energy codes increasing in stringency, there still is enormous potential for energy savings using today’s technologies. With proper engineering, it is possible for some projects to meet or exceed these benchmarks in a cost-effective way. A project-specific energy model and life-cycle cost analysis can help determine which technologies are right for your building.

For further information regarding Hanson’s energy services, please contact Matt Slager at