Energy Audit

Alfagy Energy Audits

The term energy audit is commonly used to describe a broad spectrum of energy studies ranging from a quick walk-through of a facility to identify major problem areas to a comprehensive analysis of the implications of alternative energy efficiency measures sufficient to satisfy the financial criteria of sophisticated investors. Numerous audit procedures have been developed for non-residential (tertiary) buildings. An Alfagy Energy Audit is required to identify the most efficient and cost-effective Energy Conservation Opportunities (ECOs) or Measures (ECMs). Energy conservation opportunities (or measures) can consist in more efficient use or of partial or global replacement of the existing installation.

The main issues of an Alfagy Energy Audit are:

  • The analysis of building and utility data, including study of the installed equipment and analysis of energy bills;
  • The survey of the real operating conditions;
  • The understanding of the building behaviour and of the interactions with weather, occupancy and operating schedules;
  • The selection and the evaluation of energy conservation measures;
  • The estimation of energy saving potential;
  • The identification of customer concerns and needs.

Common types of energy audits are listed below, although the actual tasks performed and level of effort may vary with the consultant providing services under these broad headings. The only way to ensure that a proposed audit will meet your specific needs is to spell out those requirements in a detailed scope of work. Taking the time to prepare a formal solicitation will also assure the building owner of receiving competitive and comparable proposals. Click here to request a quote.

Generally, four levels of analysis can be outlined (ASHRAE):

  • Level 0 – Benchmarking: This first analysis consists in a preliminary Whole Building Energy Use (WBEU) analysis based on the analysis of the historic utility use and costs and the comparison of the performances of the buildings to those of similar buildings. This benchmarking of the studied installation allows determining if further analysis is required;
  • Level I – Walk-through audit: Preliminary analysis made to assess building energy efficiency to identify not only simple and low-cost improvements but also a list of energy conservation measures (ECMs, or energy conservation opportunities, ECOs) to orient the future detailed audit. This inspection is based on visual verifications, study of installed equipment and operating data and detailed analysis of recorded energy consumption collected during the benchmarking phase;
  • Level II – Detailed/General energy audit: Based on the results of the pre-audit, this type of energy audit consists in energy use survey in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of the studied installation, a more detailed analysis of the facility, a breakdown of the energy use and a first quantitative evaluation of the ECOs/ECMs selected to correct the defects or improve the existing installation. This level of analysis can involve advanced on-site measurements and sophisticated computer based simulation tools to evaluate precisely the selected energy retrofits;
  • Level III – Investment-Grade audit: Detailed Analysis of Capital-Intensive Modifications focusing on potential costly ECOs requiring rigorous engineering study.

Benchmarking

The impossibility of describing all possible situations that might be encountered during an audit means that it is necessary to find a way of describing what constitutes good, average and bad energy performance across a range of situations. The aim of benchmarking is to answer this question. Benchmarking mainly consists in comparing the measured consumption with reference consumption of other similar buildings or generated by simulation tools to identify excessive or unacceptable running costs. As mentioned before, benchmarking is also necessary to identify buildings presenting interesting energy saving potential. An important issue in benchmarking is the use of performance indexes to characterize the building.

These indexes can be:

  • Comfort indexes, comparing the actual comfort conditions to the comfort requirements;
  • Energy indexes, consisting in energy demands divided by heated/conditioned area, allowing comparison with reference values of the indexes coming from regulation or similar buildings;
  • Energy demands, directly compared to “reference” energy demands generated by means of simulation tools.

Walk-through or preliminary audit

The preliminary audit (alternatively called a simple audit, screening audit or walk-through audit) is the simplest and quickest type of audit. It involves minimal interviews with site-operating personnel, a brief review of facility utility bills and other operating data, and a walk-through of the facility to become familiar with the building operation and to identify any glaring areas of energy waste or inefficiency.

Typically, only major problem areas will be covered during this type of audit. Corrective measures are briefly described, and quick estimates of implementation cost, potential operating cost savings, and simple payback periods are provided. A list of energy conservation measures(ECMs, or energy conservation opportunities, ECOs) requiring further consideration is also provided. This level of detail, while not sufficient for reaching a final decision on implementing proposed measure, is adequate to prioritize energy-efficiency projects and to determine the need for a more detailed audit.

General audit

The general audit (alternatively called a mini-audit, site energy audit or detailed energy audit or complete site energy audit) expands on the preliminary audit described above by collecting more detailed information about facility operation and by performing a more detailed evaluation of energy conservation measures. Utility bills are collected for a 12 to 36 month period to allow the auditor to evaluate the facility's energy demand rate structures and energy usage profiles. If interval meter data is available, the detailed energy profiles that such data makes possible will typically be analyzed for signs of energy waste.  Additional metering of specific energy-consuming systems is often performed to supplement utility data. In-depth interviews with facility operating personnel are conducted to provide a better understanding of major energy consuming systems and to gain insight into short and longer term energy consumption patterns. This type of audit will be able to identify all energy-conservation measures appropriate for the facility, given its operating parameters. A detailed financial analysis is performed for each measure based on detailed implementation cost estimates, site-specific operating cost savings, and the customer's investment criteria. Sufficient detail is provided to justify project implementation. The evolution of cloud-based energy auditing software platforms is enabling the managers of commercial buildings to collaborate with general and specialty trades contractors in performing general and energy system-specific audits. The benefit of software-enabled collaboration is the ability to identify the full range of energy efficiency options that may be applicable to the specific building under study with "live time" cost and benefit estimates supplied by local contractors.

Investment-grade audit

In most corporate settings, upgrades to a facility's energy infrastructure must compete for capital funding with non-energy-related investments. Both energy and non-energy investments are rated on a single set of financial criteria that generally stress the expected return on investment (ROI). The projected operating savings from the implementation of energy projects must be developed such that they provide a high level of confidence. In fact, investors often demand guaranteed savings. The investment-grade audit expands on the detailed audit described above and relies on a complete engineering study in order to detail technical and economical issues necessary to justify the investment related to the transformations.