4 Steps To Perform A Virtual Assessment
Properly operating and maintaining a building can be a difficult task and, for many facilities, utility costs are the largest operating expense. Numerous equipment and operational factors contribute to a building’s ability to perform at its peak efficiency. A facility assessment equips building owners and operators with the information they need to make informed decisions and take corrective actions that improve overall building performance. Traditionally, building assessments have included a site visit to collect information for an analysis. When a site visit is not practical – or a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work – a virtual assessment provides a flexible alternative.
To perform a virtual assessment of a project, follow these four steps:
Step 1 – Plan the Approach and Gather Information
Good communication and collaboration is essential. Setting a plan in place to clearly define what information is needed, who will gather it, and how it will be obtained will lay the foundation for a successful outcome. Strategies include:
- Communicate with the team in advance, identifying a list of key parameters (Operational, Architectural, Electrical, and Mechanical) that will be required for the analysis
- Identify responsibilities (i.e., owner provides utility bills and facility staff provides equipment and operational information)
- Discuss how information will be exchanged (photos, BMS access, video chat, phone, or email)
- Hold a conference call to exchange information, clarify questions, and discuss goals
Step 2. Interpret the Information
Once the building data is collected, an analysis is needed to determine the current operating conditions and provide a benchmark for comparison against established norms in building energy use. The benchmark analysis can then be used to inform and educate the owner of the energy savings potential for their building and determine what areas are most important to target for improvements.
Model confirmed increased electric consumption in the cooling season associated with existing thermostat setback and deadband settings
Increased gas consumption throughout the year is driven by high infiltration and simultaneous heating and cooling of the HVAC system.
Step 3 – Customized Real-Time Optimization
Equipped with the existing conditions assessment and an understanding of the savings opportunities, it’s time to explore strategies with the owner in order to optimize the building’s performance and realize the defined goals. Customization of the key efficiency parameters in real-time gives the decision makers the ability to weigh different options and see the bundled effect of a group of strategies compared to their desired goals.
Step 4 – Implementation of Measures
Once measure optimization is complete, an analysis of the bundled measures provides a holistic perspective of the project. The whole building model provides a final opportunity for the owner and team to make adjustments that address financial, energy, or environmental considerations. At the conclusion of the virtual assessment, a final report should be developed that contains building energy use information, recommended bundled improvements, an energy savings analysis, and financial modeling based on funding options.
Because you can’t manage what you don’t measure, a facility assessment will provide a deeper understanding of how a building is operating. With proper planning, communication and collaboration – and using the four steps above – you can conduct an effective virtual assessment that will achieve significant resource benefits for your project.