Green Auditing is also known as energy auditing. It is a fairly new form of auditing. This initiative will address the importance of energy audits. It will show you thank here in Lancaster, these audits do exist. This initiative will also show you who conducts energy audits and tips on how to do your own audits (Do-It-Yourself Audits).
Energy audits are growing rapidly throughout Pennsylvania and across the nation. There are benefits for having an energy efficient home and there is information about the government and other grants that you may be eligable for. So if you would like to learn how to save money, become energy efficient, and learn more about Lancaster, please read on.
Energy Audits in Lancaster
Lancaster City and PPL:
On November 13, 2007, Lancaster announced in a Mayor’s Report to City Council that it had officially become a “Cool City”. Lancaster City’s Public Works Department tested an electric vehicle, placed recycling bins in every city building, and they are changing all traffic lights signals with LED bulbs.
The next step to being a “Cool City” is that energy audits will be conducted in all Lancaster City buildings. Lancaster City and PPL Energy have been recently working together to conduct energy audits. Lancaster City buildings and the public schools in Lancaster City are the first buildings that will be audited during this time.
PPL is currently on the preliminary stages of these energy audits. Right now they are gathering all of the energy bills from every building. This step is to measure the energy being used and its efficiency. Each building is being looked upon separately to see which buildings have the greatest needs.
PPL has many energy engineers who conduct these energy audits. Most of them specialize in different aspects of energy audits. One type of engineer tests, fixes, or replaces heating, venting, and air conditioning. These engineers also specialize in insulation, such as roofs and windows. PPL also has engineers who specifically deal with mechanical and control as well as lighting.
These energy engineers reduce and calculate energy. They also specialize in mechanical designs, temperature control, and measurement verification.
Heating and cooling is a major issue during these audits. Air conditioners will be placed in needed city buildings. Not only does it make the employees and students feel comfortable but it is also energy efficient as well.
Millersville University Energy Audits:
Millersville University and Noresco Energy have been working toward conducting energy audits in 12 buildings throughout Millersville University. The preliminary work has been completed. They are in the review stages of signing a contract and are hoping to have this completed by sometime in July 2008. These buildings range from academic buildings to dining halls to administrative.
The 12 buildings are:
Caputo Hall/ Roddy Science Center
Hash Building/ Bassler Hall
Duncan Alumni House
On another note, Stayer Hall, the new school of education, has become the University’s first Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) building.
(LEED) is a third-party certification program that is a benchmark which is accepted nationally for the construction and operation, design as well as performance for green buildings. This is essentially a rating system that promotes global adoption of sustainable green development and building practices. The tools and criteria that are used are universally understood and accepted.
Millersville Students Take Initiative:
Dr. Kathleen Schreiber’s “Climate and Society” class is doing its part in energy auditing for Millersville University. The class is currently conducting a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory for the entire campus. They have collected data for each of the past couple of years. This data is the total energy used by Millersville University, per kilowatt-hour. This information has been provided to the class from the electric company.
They calculate past years' trends as well and predict what the trends will be in the future from this data. They also coordinate with other universities nationwide and compare their data. Then the University will try to develop control strategies to reduce greenhouse has emissions.
Dr. Kathleen Schreiber said, “We simply find out how much energy we purchased that calendar year. That information is plugged into a greenhouse gas emission calculator; ours is from Clean Air, Cool Planet. The calculator figures out our emissions from the amount of energy purchased.”
Residential Energy Audits:
Many people wonder how to conduct an energy audit and also which companies conduct them for you. There are many options here in Lancaster.
Free Energy Audits:
There are free audits provided for low-income homes sponsored by PPL Energy.
Certain private businesses offer audits as well, such as Tamasin Sterner from Pure Energy Audits, located in Lancaster. There are several different levels of audits that they offer. These audits include: Jiffy Audit, Walk-Through Audit, and Comprehensive Audits. Each audit is specifically customized for different individuals and their situation.
Jiffy Audit: They will evaluate your utility usage and let you know if they think you have an energy-related problem. By doing so they ask for information such as.
- Your name, address, and phone number.
- The square footage of your home.
- The age and style of your home.
- Number of people living in the home.
- Your heating source. For example: electricity, oil, gas, solar, etc...
- Your water-heating source. For example: electricity, oil, gas, solar, etc...
- At least 13 months of your electricity use. Call your utility for these printouts or
use the utility website to print the past use.
- At least 13 months of any other fuel source such as gas or oil.
Walk-Through Audit: This audit will include everything in the Jiffy Audit, along with...
- Evaluate your home’s insulation levels.
- Identify potential health and safety problems.
- Teach ways to reduce energy waste and increase energy efficiency.
Comprehensive Audit: This audit will include anything and everything that is needed and appropriate for your situation.
- Interview you and your family regarding your energy concerns/needs, including your health, comfort, energy bills, and future home remodeling plans.
- Analyze your energy bills to separate seasonal use from base-load use.
- Compare your energy use for your house with the “average” house.
- Evaluate your home’s energy conservation and efficiency opportunities through
the use of the blower door, infrared scanner, duct tester (when appropriate).
- Check your appliances for energy waste.
- Check your heating system for safety and efficiency and your cooling system for
- Recommend ways to improve your home’s comfort, efficiency, and indoor air quality.
- Recommend ways your family can reduce energy use and improve energy efficiency.
- Prioritize the list of recommendations, with referrals to contractors who can do the work
DIY Energy Audits:
Do-It-Yourself energy audits can also be useful. Electric companies such as PPL Energy and government programs such as Energy Star can give you guidelines and tips on how to conduct a Do-It-Yourself energy audit. Although there are many different types of DIY energy audits and most of them are not exactly the same, most of them hit the same main points.
These main steps are usually similar:
- Evaluate your energy bills
- Locate air leaks
- Moisture control
- Examine heating and cooling equipment
- Examine your windows
- Water heater and other appliances
- Evaluate your results
There are many sites that go through the steps Do-It-Yourself audits (DIY). Listed below are some specific sites that give you steps on how to conduct these audits.
Although a Do-It-Yourself audit may be convenient, you have to understand that it does come with risks. Once something is changed in your household, it can ultimately affect another area in a negative way. When you conduct a DIY audit, you have to be careful if you change anything yourself, because it can be a safety risk.
10 Tough Tips
Tamasin Sterner, from Pure Energy Audits in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, provided these 10 tough tips for saving energy. I am paraphrasing parts of this document, so some information may be left out or changed a bit.
Tip 1: Set priorities for what you want to do to your house. Do you want to lower your bills and/or improve comfort or even moisture problems? First, put together a summary of your heating and electric costs for the past year. Get copies from your utilities and heating oil companies if you don’t have them. Then analyze your bills. Make note of any moisture or air quality problems. You need research a bit about saving energy before you start.
Tip 2: If you feel that your house is uncomfortable or drafty and your bills are higher than they should be, then something may be wrong. It is best to have a trained professional in whole house or home performance techniques or even an energy rating. This audit may cost from $300 to $500 dollars, so only do this if you plan to actually take their advice. Ask what tools the technician will use and what training they have. If they don’t use a blower door and other diagnostic equipment, look for someone else.
Tip 3: Be prepared to upgrade your insulation, particularly in the attic. The auditor probably will also recommend air sealing passages (bypasses) that leak air to the attic or to other unconditioned spaces. Older homes usually don’t have enough attic insulation. Even new homes can have gaps and poorly sealed air passages, which is where the blower door is a useful tool. Ask the auditor for recommended insulation installers. Also ask about dense pack and foamed-in-place insulation, which are newer techniques.
Tip 4: Your furnace, boiler, or heat pump should be tested for efficiency by a good heating contractor. It should then be cleaned and tuned. Let them know if you have rooms that are too hot or cold. If you have a furnace or heat pump, ask them to check the duct connections and boots, particularly if they run through unheated space, such as a crawlspace, garage, or attic. Make sure they use mastic and mesh tape, not duct tape, to seal any gaps. For boilers, they may check for air in the line or recommend that you use thermostatic radiator valves for individual rooms. As said before, find out what equipment is being used and what training they have had.
Tip 5: Changing your furnace or boiler is a tough and expensive decision to make. Figuring out efficiencies and what you will save is a bit complicated. A good contractor should give you an analysis based on your recent fuel bills. If your heating equipment has a low efficiency (60 – 75%), is older than 10 years, or would cost over $500 to fix, you should replace the unit. Ask the contractor to calculate what size you need, not just do an estimate. Buy only ENERGY STAR® qualified units. With high fuel and electric prices, the payback time is much shorter than it used to be.
Tip 6: You should replace inefficient appliances. Older refrigerators and electric water heaters use the most energy. Replace any refrigerator that is older than 15 years. Choose a smaller model and consider if you really need an ice maker or in-door water supply. Get rid of second refrigerators and freezers, particularly refrigerators that are older models.
Tip 7: Check for and repair all plumbing leaks. You’re wasting not only water, but also your electricity or gas for any hot water leaks. Turn the temperature on the water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Insulate pipes that run through unheated spaces.
Tip 8: Buy a front-loading clothes washer, particularly if you do three or more loads a day, have high water bills, or have experienced water shortages.
Tip 9: This may seem obvious, but it is very important. Unplug or shut-off anything you are not using. TVs, DVD players, entertainment centers, computers, printers, and battery chargers all draw a small amount of energy even when they are off. Plug these into power strips that you can shut off easily. Dehumidifiers, hot tubs, and aquariums are real energy hogs.
Tip 10: Choose behaviors that reflect your priorities. Think about how you use energy. Turn off equipment and lights. Set back your thermostat at night and when you are away. Wear warmer clothes. Set back the thermostat or shut off rooms you are not using. Drive less and carpool.
Benefits Of Energy Auditing
Government Tax Credits, EPACT:
On August 8, 2005, President Bush signed The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT). It offers consumers and businesses federal tax credits for purchasing fuel-efficient hybrid-electric vehicles and energy-efficient appliances and products. Some consumers will also be eligible for state rebates, as well as state tax incentives for energy-efficient homes. Many of these tax deductions expired as of 2006 or 2007 but may be renewed by Congress. Contact your local government office and make sure that what you are buying and/or building is eligible for tax relief from the government.
Citizens who purchase and install themselves specific products such as energy-efficient windows, insulation, doors, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment in their home can receive a tax credit of up to $500 beginning in January 2006.
EPACT also gives a credit equal to 30% that does not exceed $2,000 when you purchase qualified photovoltaic property and solar water heating property used exclusively for purposes other than heating swimming pools and hot tubs.
However these improvements made to your home must be done on the taxpayer’s principal residence in the United States. Tax credits for improvements to new homes were extended until December 31, 2008; however tax credits for improvements to existing homes ended on December 31, 2007. It is recommended that if you are unaware if you will receive tax relief's or benefits that you ask your tax preparer.
There are many other types of federal tax relief as well. For instance…
Business credit of energy-efficient new homes:
Tax credits will be provided to eligible contractors for the construction of a newly qualified energy-efficient home. These criteria must meet Energy Star’s criteria, and other homes saving 50% of the energy compared to the EPACT standard. This ran through 2007 but Congress is discussing a renewal.
Energy-efficient commercial building deduction:
This is a provision by the government that gives tax deductions for energy-efficient commercial buildings that their reduce annual energy and power consumption by 50% compared to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 2001 standard. This deduction would equal the cost of energy-efficient property installed during construction, with a maximum deduction of $1.80 per square foot of the building. Also, a partial deduction of 60 cents per square foot would be given for building subsystems.
Tax Incentives Assistance Project
The Tax Incentives Assistance Project (TIAP) is sponsored by a many public-interest nonprofit groups, government agencies, and other organizations in the energy-efficiency field. This group is designed to give consumers and businesses the information they need to make use of the federal income tax incentives for energy-efficient products and technologies passed by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed by President Bush.
This project gives information throughout their website about how homeowners can save money through taxes. Homeowners can get credits for energy improvements to their homes, such as insulation and envelope and duct sealing and windows. Homeowners can also get credits for installing efficient air conditioners and heating pumps, oil or gas furnaces and furnace fans, and gas/oil/electric heat pump water heating in either new or existing homes.
TIAP also gives instructions for businesses and how they go about earning tax relief from the American government.
In 1995 the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) was established as a project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. This website has a map of the United States and every state has its own link. DSIRE gives a great deal of information about local, state, and federal incentives for citizens who take part in renewable energy and energy efficiency. It gives different links and information about local and state loans but also grants. Rules, regulations, and policies are also given on how to build energy-efficient buildings.
Energy Smart Schools and Universities
Elementary and High Schools:
Our kindergartens through 12th grade schools are growing by the year. In addition to that, the buildings are aging and with stagnant budgets, the energy bills are increasing constantly.
Taxpayers each year spend roughly $6 billion on energy for these schools. That is 25 percent more than what is necessary. That equals $1.5 billion, and that money could be redirected to hire 30,000 new teachers or purchase 40 million new textbooks annually.
People may think that is will cost the community much more up front but that is false. Here are some examples of schools that have taken the initiative to build energy-efficient schools.
Clearview Elementary School:
This school is located in Hanover, Pennsylvania. This school was estimated at $6.35 million to build. This is only $150,000 more than the average for elementary schools in Pennsylvania. The annual energy savings for this new school are projected at 40%. That means within nine years, the price difference for the new energy efficient school will be made up. Not to mention it is more comfortable for employees and is great for the environment as well.
Oberlin College is located in Oberlin, Ohio. This is another great example of how colleges can be energy efficient as well. This building is a home and a classroom for the environmental studies program at this college. Although it is located on urban land, it still can demonstrate landscape practices and a sustainable building.
Many people do not realize that colleges are like mini-cities: they hold restaurants, houses, sports facilities, and entertainment complexes. The numbered of enrolled college students is rising every year. Universities are starting to understand that they can reduce operation costs and improve the environment of their campus at the same time by making energy-efficient building improvements. The greatest potential for energy savings comes from improvements in building controls
Those were just a few example but there are many other schools and universities across this country that are building energy-efficient buildings and they are paying off.
Center for Sustainability at Penn State:
Penn State has created a center that resides on an 8.5-acre piece of land. It is located a few hundred yards away from Beaver Stadium (the football stadium). The Center for Sustainability at Penn State has initiated collaborative relationships with multiple administrative, academic, and research programs. Their new initiative were created to help Penn State refine their education and research in the four targeted areas of (1) green building, (2) hybrid energy systems, (3) food security, and (4) water conservation.
The Center, which dates back to 1995, is growing stronger than ever. Currently, The Center for Sustainability at Penn State has four projects that they are working on: Ecological Systems Lab, The Morning Star Solar Residence, Renewable Energy Homestead, and The Instructional Garden Project.
Penn State continues to set an example not only for Pennsylvania but for universities across the country as well.
University of Pennsylvania:
The University of Pennsylvania (not to be confused with Penn State University) has conducted an energy audit on the campus environment. Energy Management at the University has brought this initiative up. Since then, the University has come to an agreement.
The audit had specific missions:
- provide an infrastructure to meet the University's energy demand
- maintain and service all energy technologies
- to assess the efficiency, quality, and cost effectiveness of Penn's energy systems
After understanding its mission for this audit, then these specific questions were imposed:
1. What are the sources of energy for the electric utility serving the school?
2. How much energy did campus buildings and grounds consume in the last academic year and what were the costs associated with each type of fuel?
3. How has campus energy use changed over the past five years?
4. Does University of Pennsylvania have an energy-efficiency program?
5. If so, what kinds of programs does it include?
As a result of this audit, the University of Pennsylvania has reached several conclusions. For example, one problem was that many buildings on the campus are old and have large building envelopes, and therefore lose heat and need extra cooling. The solution was to utilize storm windows and floors, window treatments, improved insulation, and door seals.
Examples of Energy Auditing Across America
San Francisco, California:
Reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco’s local government is in the process of passing new laws that will require all new large commercial buildings and residential high-rises to contain key eco-friendly features. These features include solar power, nontoxic paints, and water-saving plumbing fixtures. Officials have estimated that by the 2012, these new green building codes could save 220,000 megawatt hours of power and 100 million gallons of water, and also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60,000 tons. If this is passed, it will gradually kick in and by 2012 it should be set.
All residential high-rises taller than 75 feet, new commercial buildings larger than 5,000 square feet, and renovations on buildings larger than 25,000 square feet will have to comply with (LEED) standards.
Also, all new residential houses will also have to comply with California's Green Point Rated system from Build It Green, a company with its own verified criteria for green building.
Hollywood Movie Studios:
Even Hollywood is deciding to go green. California's film industry is the state's second largest polluter, according to a recent UCLA study. Although this is not the traditional sense of Energy Auditing, it is in the same ballpark. Actors, actresses, and producers have been doing their part to keep Hollywood green. Some examples would be that Cameron Diaz made sure the set for her movie “In Her Shoes” met the standards for a “green seal” (set by Environmental Media Association).
Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio also set strict rules for their set to be environmentally efficient. Although these are not traditional methods, these movie stars are getting the word out. The 2008 Emmy Award show rolled out a red carpet made from recycled plastic bottles, used solar-generated power, and served organic food at the Governor's Ball, among many other eco-feats. Plus, presenters and host Ryan Seacrest all arrived in hybrids. The station NBC TV recently went green for a week, with shows like “Scrubs,” “30 Rock from the Sun,” “Singing Bee,” “ER,” “The Biggest Loser,” and much more. Most notably, Fox Studios is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2010.
Chicago’s Smart Home:
In January of 2008, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry announced that it will be completing a construction of a 2,500-square-foot green home. This will be located on the museum's east lawn and is designed to be a showcase for green living. It is scheduled to be open for visitors in January 2009.
This house will contain two bedrooms and two bathrooms and will feature many green building designs. The bathrooms will use a gray water recycling system that redirects filtered sink water into the toilets. Other green designs include cement siding, energy-efficient LED light fixtures, insulating triple-pane windows, landscaping chips made of peach pits, recycled ceramic tiles, and a green roof. Last but not least, this house will be powered by solar and wind energy.
What is Energy Auditing
Energy audit has many different meanings and definitions. Energy Auditing and Green Auditing essentially stand for the same thing. According to the website of Malaysian Industrial Energy Efficiency Improvement Project (MIEEP), “Energy audit is a systematic study or survey to identify how energy is being used in a building or plant, and identifies energy savings opportunities. Using proper audit methods and equipment, an energy audit provides the energy manager with essential information on how much, where, and how energy is used within an organization (factory or building). This will indicate the performance at the overall plant or process level. The energy manager can compare these performances against past and future levels for a proper energy management. The main part of the energy audit report is energy savings proposals comprising of technical and economic analysis of projects. Looking at the final output, an energy audit can also be defined as a systematic search for energy conservation opportunities.
“This information can be transformed into energy savings projects. It will facilitate the energy manager to draw up an action plan listing the projects in order of priority. He will then present it to the organization’s management for approval. Providing tangible data enables the management to be at a better position to appreciate and decide on energy efficiency projects. Adopting this activity as a routine or part of the organization's culture gives life to energy management, and controlling the energy use by energy audit is what we refer to as Energy Management by Facts.”
The history of energy audits varies. It has said to have been around since the beginning of the 1980s. A group of mortgage leaders set up a group called National Shelter Industry Energy Advisory Council. This group set out to find out the monetary savings that these energy-efficient homes brought in. Their goal was to credit the energy efficiency of a home to their mortgage loan. This actually resulted in the establishment of Energy Rated Homes of America, a national non-profit organization.
Also in the early 1980s Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Veterans Administration (VA) came together to adopt a new energy mortgage program. This program seemed to be ahead of its time. Although it was a great idea, it was not widely used due to lack of awareness and no true uniform method of efficiency evaluation as well as its complicated program procedures.
In 1995 the National Association of State Energy Officials, Energy Rated Homes of America, and many representatives from the national mortgage industry founded the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). The purpose of RESNET was to develop national standards for home energy ratings, an energy ratings system, and energy mortgages. Since 2000, there have been many different standards for energy ratings, but RESNET is one of the leading examples. By 2002 they were established as a non-profit organization.