We provide the services needed to evaluate all parts of a facility, including the roof, windows, doors, walls, mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment, and for an industrial setting, process equipment and infrastructure. Based upon this evaluation we are able to make recommendations to increase the life of components, and reduce operating and maintenance costs. We base our recommendations on actions that will achieve the lowest cost of ownership for the remaining life of the facility.
The total cost of operating a facility includes recurring costs for energy, maintenance and replacement. Fortunately, these costs can be minimized by proactive programs of energy conservation and building maintenance. As a starting point, the facility needs to be evaluated to find targets of opportunity for savings. Depending upon the needs of the facility, we may recommend an Energy Audit, MEP Audit, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Audit, Envelope Audit, and Maintenance Audit.
Energy conservation measures (ECM) will be identified, and implementation costs and savings estimated. No-cost and low-cost ECMs can be used to immediately lower operating costs, or can be used to pay for more expensive measures with greater long-term savings potential.
We evaluate equipment for correct operation and controls, and when needed, will perform tests to determine actual operation and control sequences. When needed, we perform the following specific studies:
- Measurement of ventilation rates, possibly using occupant generated carbon dioxide as a tracer gas to determine actual ventilation rates including infiltration as well as mechanical ventilation. This allows ventilation to be optimized to assure good indoor air quality while minimizing the energy cost of ventilation.
- Measure actual water flow and temperature to determine if heated and chilled water flows are adequate to meet facility needs.
- Electrical load analysis to determine if the existing electrical distribution system is properly balanced and if it has capacity for anticipated load increases occasioned by facility upgrades.
- Air Flow analysis to determine if designed air flow rates are being provided and if pressure differentials are in place, as needed, for isolation of areas such as garages and laboratories, for infection control or isolation of odors
- Heat Gain calculations incorporating information about measured ventilation rates may be useful to determine if existing equipment is properly sized. Properly sized equipment is not only most economical to operate, but also assures good air quality and humidity control.
- A Domestic Hot Water Study determines if existing equipment is sized properly for the facility’s needs, to avoid excessive energy loss from oversized hot water storage tanks, and provide data to determine if energy conservation measures, such as instant-on hot water, schedule boiler use, or modular boilers, provide an economic advantage.
- Solar availability and shadowing study to determine the feasibility of solar heating or photovoltaic systems.
- Wind survey to determine the feasibility of wind energy conversion systems.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Audit
Because we have both industrial hygienists and engineers on staff, we are able to measure contaminants in the air, and thus determine exactly what ventilation rates are needed to maintain good indoor air quality in a facility, rather than, as is normal engineering practice, blindly pick a ventilation rate that a table referenced by building codes. We determine the quality of air in a facility, the ventilation rates, and air distribution by actual measurements in the facility. This allows us to recommend ventilation rates that will maintain good air quality, and correct deficiencies in air distribution, while minimizing the cost associated with heating and cooling excess ventilation air.
The building envelope, roof, and exterior walls, includes many components and systems that age and fail at different rates, and may then admit air or water into the fabric of the building causing damage and excess energy consumption. We use a multi-disciplinary approach to inspections of the building envelope including the disciplines of building science, material science, and architecture. Building science considerations include issues such as water and moisture control elements, and impacts due to aging; material science informs about the life of materials, such as sealants, that degrade over time; and architecture is concerned with details and proper construction. Combining these disciplines allows us to make recommendations regarding repair and maintenance that will extract the maximum life from the building envelope at the lowest cost of ownership. Initial costs, replacement costs, energy costs, and maintenance costs make up the cost of ownership of a facility. We perform a cost benefit analysis to find the true lowest cost of ownership. Timely maintenance can drastically reduce costs by extending the life of systems thus reducing replacement costs. For example, roof membranes routinely last for 30 to 40 years but are frequently replaced in 10 years due to improper maintenance of flashings. Sealants have a life that varies with solar exposure and will require less maintenance on the north side of a building than on the south side.
Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment consume energy. Effective operation and maintenance not only reduces equipment costs, but also reduces operating costs by saving energy. This starts with an evaluation of each piece of operating equipment to determine its current operational status, repair, and maintenance needs. As timely maintenance can drastically reduce costs by extending the life of systems thus reducing replacement costs, this becomes the basis for a program to maintain equipment in a managed fashion to reduce costs. To find the optimal balance between the competing costs of maintenance and replacement we perform a cost benefit analysis, and use this as the basis for an operating and maintenance plan.
Here are some examples of past projects that illustrate our approach.
- Ventilation Rates Determined by IAQ Studies
- Plaster Study Classifies Wall and Ceiling Plasters in 200 Buildings Built Between 1880 and 1980
- Thickness of Fireproofing at World Trade Towers
- Evaluation of Mold Amplification and Moisture Dynamics in University Dormitory
- Water Intrusion in Community Library Building
- Water Damage Analysis Improves Building HVAC Performance