Feeding off Engineers’ Energy

Could energy auditing be in your future?

Are engineers having all the fun lately or can architects get in on the action? At the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects lately they’ve been kicking around the idea of getting architects in on the energy auditing game. At a recent Not Business As Usual luncheon, reps from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) along with a handful of engineers came to explain what energy auditing is and how it’s done. The engineers say that having engineering know-how is critical to analyzing mechanical systems, but that doesn’t mean they have the monopoly. If you like this initiative, maybe it’s time to start thinking about it as a business opportunity.

Teach building owners how not to feed the meter

An in-depth energy audit starts with analyzing a building’s electric bill followed by a walk-through where building elements and including the building envelope, lighting, HVAC system, control mechanisms, occupant behavior patterns, and water usage are evaluated. Thermal imaging and infrared cameras are often used to find energy leaks. And finally the professional offers advice–from picking the low-hanging fruit, like switching to compact fluorescent lightbulbs to the more invasive upgrades.

Everyone should be thinking about maximizing energy efficiency, but if you’re considering it professionally in New York State, NYSERDA is a great place to start. (Check the federal Department of Energy site to get pointed in the right direction for other states). The organization has periodic competitive bidding to determine the companies that they send out on energy audits. While demand for these services tend to fluctuate with the seasons, according to NYSERDA project manager Joanna Moore there’s been steady interest lately.

If you’re looking to request an energy audit, it’s more affordable then you might think. For buildings with annual energy bills less than $25,000 its only $100 for the service through NYSERDA. For bills that range from $25,000-$75,000, the audit will cost $400. The organization even has funds to assist the implementation of energy-saving strategies. These funds come from the Systems Benefit Charge (SBC) added to every electric bill in the state.

New York AIA’s Not Business as Usual luncheons have more ideas to keep busy in this season of slowed building. The next event is Speed Portfolio Review this Wednesday. The group has also launched a new job finding service called Exchange Point hosted by the Architect’s Newspaper.

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