Continuing our series of blog posts by our awesome interns, this month we have a post about our Building Re-tuning program from Irina Arias, Boeun Choi, Morgan Parlo, Alvis Yuen, all CUNY students and BPL interns.
On February 7, 2017, Governor Cuomo announced a new program, “Renewable Heating and Cooling Policy Framework,” to promote the adoption of renewable heating and cooling technologies in New York. The Renewable Heating and Cooling Policy Framework, through NYSERDA, provides about $6000 in rebates for a residential installation of a ground-source heat pump. However, in New York City, the majority of the energy consumption can be attributed to large commercial buildings, not residential buildings.
In the BRT (Building Re-tuning) team, our job is to identify opportunities for energy conservation through improved HVAC operation in commercial buildings. We apply the principles of building-retuning (BRT) developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in many different city buildings: courthouses, libraries, schools, and office buildings.
The BRT process begins by discussing with the building operator, and getting an introduction to the buildings HVAC systems. We then decide on specific systems to analyze and collect data, either from data loggers or the BAS system. After a period of 2 weeks, we recover those data and analyze them, looking for potential recommendations and methods of optimization. Recommendations are then drafted and reviewed. Our findings are presented to the full BRT team in the form of a presentation. After more discussion and careful deliberation, the final report is given to DCAS for a formal review.
The “Renewable Heating and Cooling Policy Framework” is a positive development for our research. It demonstrates that the government recognizes the importance of HVAC systems and their significant impact on building energy consumption. When we walk through buildings for BRT, occupants are curious about the purpose and goals of our research. After explaining our research to them, occupants always follow up by saying, “So are you guys going to fix the heating/AC? It’s always too hot/cold.” Similarly, building operators often communicate the need for more funds to replace old equipment and perform maintenance. Government funding provides confidence to building operators that they will be given the tools they need to maintain good building performance and reassures occupants that their work environment will be well-maintained.