Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) announces the successful completion of two joint energy efficiency projects. In total, the projects are saving the university 66,000 therms of energy every year.

The reduction in energy use equates to removing about 350 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the same as a reduction of 866,516 miles driven by passenger vehicles per year. Both projects were part of California's joint Energy Efficiency Partnership between state universities and investor-owned utilities.

Energy efficiency programs

Over the last five years, SoCalGas has supported over 184 energy efficiency projects, saving university campuses over 6,000,000 therms of energy, a $6 million savings, and providing over $6,300,000 in incentives through this state program.

In 2013, the University of California (UC) system announced its Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which commits UC to emitting net zero greenhouse gases from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2025, something no other major university system has done. SoCalGas' energy efficiency programs support the campus and their ambitious conservation goals.

Energy efficiency solutions

Whole-building energy efficiency projects at UCSB have proven to be strong financial investments"

"SoCalGas is committed to providing affordable, clean energy solutions to our customers," said Brian Prusnek, director of customer programs and assistance at SoCalGas. "We value our partnership with the UC and CSU university systems, and through our energy efficiency solutions, we are working together to lower utility bills and curb carbon emissions."

"Whole-building energy efficiency projects at UCSB have proven to be strong financial investments and have helped us create more comfortable, safer, and more controllable environments for campus end users," said Jordan Sager, energy manager at UCSB. "SoCalGas has been a great partner to work with on these projects from start to finish."

Energy management plan

The first of the two UCSB projects began in 2018 as part of the university's high opportunity projects and programs (HOPP's) initiative. SoCalGas and Southern California Edison co-funded the project, which investigated how best to update two important laboratories at the university. The utilities conducted an energy management plan to document and list the savings, costs and measures to implement an energy efficient system.

The utilities identified multiple measures to reduce energy consumption in the building's lighting and HVAC systems by installing occupancy sensors, wireless thermostats and low-power LED lights. The campus also added high efficiency dedicated natural gas boilers to each building. A new chilled water system including a cooling tower, and pumps were also installed.

Building-Level metered energy data

SoCalGas continues to be a pioneer in researching and developing new technologies

Following the installation of the energy efficient system, the utilities verified the energy systems using the Normalized Metered Energy Consumption (NMEC) approach, which uses building-level metered energy data to verify savings. The project resulted in natural gas savings of 60,959 therms, and the university received an incentive from SoCalGas of $152,000.

UCSB also installed an ozone laundry system to support their laundering of uniforms and sports gear for the university's athletic department which was eligible for a rebate from SoCalGas in the amount of $5,850 and will save the university approximately 5,880 therms of energy. SoCalGas continues to be a pioneer in researching and developing new technologies that improve energy efficiency and protect the environment.

Over the past five years, SoCalGas energy efficiency programs delivered more than 204 million therms in energy savings, enough natural gas usage for 125,000 households a year, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 1,000,000 metric tons, the equivalent of removing more than 230,000 cars from the road annually. These advances have also helped save SoCalGas customers nearly $225 million in utility bill costs.

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2021 Technology Trends In The HVAC Industry
2021 Technology Trends In The HVAC Industry

As we look back at 2020, we are all reflecting on the year that was, and what we have learned from it. In the HVAC space, the year provided us with opportunities for growth and change, as we adjusted to our “new normal.” Here’s a look at some of the HVAC trends we see happening now taking hold as we head into 2021. Advancements and applications in indoor air quality - especially in HVAC space (SF / MF / CRE) 2020 was filled with starts and stops with regards to innovation. Covid-19 halted work in some facilities altogether earlier in the year. The pandemic has brought with it a re-energized interest in the air quality around us, especially in the public sector. There has been a newfound imperative in creating indoor air quality solutions that ensure that air is circulated, sanitized and purified to reduce the likelihood of the spread of sickness. This is a massive issue and 2021 will see growing efforts in these areas and the increased introduction of systems that will purify air quality. HVAC building systems Continued push toward energy efficiency (mainly SF but also CRE) Energy efficiency will be an ongoing issue into the foreseeable future. Once we have looked back at 2020’s carbon emission reductions (because fewer people were flying and driving) there will be no turning back. The same can be said for HVAC. Increased efficiency will continue to be an ongoing pursuit in 2021 and beyond. On average, HVAC appliances consume 48% of a household’s total energy usage. The latest generation of smart thermostats that use the newer 410A refrigerant have brought about reduced energy consumption by up to 35% optimizing how HVAC building systems are operated (reducing the possibility of leaving the AC on too long, and when it’s not necessary to use). convenience and energy savings Increase in supply chain management / platform services HVAC services such as those that collect and manage data including HVAC unit age, efficiency and condition at the property and portfolio level will continue to see increased adoption. These convenience and energy savings they provide is being seen in the multi-family and commercial space, especially with some building owners having been grounded by the pandemic in 2020. New construction had a role in expanding interest in HVAC asset tagging and helping it gain traction in the industry The data gathered by these services can be used in the future to predict HVAC system failures with significant accuracy before they happen. The convenience and potential cost savings acquired by implementing these services will continue to push their popularity into 2021. Additionally, it is interesting to note that new construction in 2020 had a role in expanding interest in HVAC asset tagging and helping it gain traction in the industry. Cataloguing HVAC assets ensures the follow up and guarantees that warranty registration holds and can help track future maintenance during a hold. At the time of sale, the current owner can present true data of the maintenance of these systems, which can increase the current value of the property and can also be used as a tool in negotiation. performing regular maintenance Remote monitoring can be the end to end solution that completes the action behind the alert (CRE mainly) Remote monitoring will continue to see adoption in 2021. Service providers will continue to rely less and less on clients identifying and reporting a problem a heating/cooling issue. The complaint from the tenant may come in some hours after the problem actually starts, and then by the time they get a service request completed, several hours more. And by the time the contractor is on the scene, it is likely more time has elapsed. Remote monitoring also results in regular maintenance, extending the lifetime of a HVAC system. By proactively performing regular maintenance, the overall costs of maintaining a system can be reduced by 40 percent, in addition to ensuring that units are always using the least amount of energy necessary. seamless customer experience Consolidation of HVAC services and equipment - the way people buy - turnkey integrated services One stop shopping for HVAC services and equipment gained popularity in 2020 One stop shopping for HVAC services and equipment gained popularity in 2020 and we will continue to see increased traction in 2021. There are many reasons why developers what to buy equipment directly from the manufacturer, such as convenience, working with a supplier because of its reputation, cost and guarantees on product and services. As more developers buy equipment directly, these manufacturers are responding by helping out with mechanical drawings. This process cuts down the supply chain, allows certainty that correct equipment is quoted, and saves money. The HVAC industry is also turning the corner in becoming more proactive in remediating failing assets and contractors are redoubling their efforts to provide a seamless customer experience increasing customer satisfaction for multi-family communities as well as other means of optimization of services that positively impact tenants, helping increase retention. HVAC providers that can manage the entire process from installation, to job request to invoicing, even reporting and tracking for each job, will be increasingly in demand in 2021.

Start-up and Inspection of Factory-Assembled Cooling Towers After Unplanned Shutdown
Start-up and Inspection of Factory-Assembled Cooling Towers After Unplanned Shutdown

Until very recently the concept of unplanned shutdowns of HVAC systems and other evaporative cooling equipment in facilities was foreign to most building managers. Shutdowns would usually occur on a wholly scheduled basis, when equipment required planned maintenance, component repair, or replacement. But, with the occurrence of the global COVID-19 pandemic which saw hundreds of thousands of workers asked to work remotely literally overnight, we have seen thousands of buildings effectively mothballed with no time for planned system shutdown operations to take place. In this article, we will highlight best practices to follow after an unplanned shutdown of factory-assembled (package) cooling towers as well as inspection and start-up activities. As resources, we recommend following industry best practices as outlined in ASHRAE Standard 188 – 2018 and ASHRAE Guideline 12 – 2020. Additionally, your Water Management Plan, cooling tower user manual, and the advice of your cooling tower manufacturer and water treatment professional are essential resources. Follow HVAC safety protocols We have seen thousands of buildings effectively mothballed with no time for planned system shutdown operations to take place Before beginning inspection and start-up activities, consult with your safety officer and follow all safety protocols. Always shut off electrical power to the tower fan motor prior to performing any maintenance using lockout/tag out procedures. When planning to start up any cooling loop system after an extended period of shutdown, operators must consider the potential hazards that may exist in the stagnant water within the system. One concern is the potential growth of microorganisms, including legionella bacteria. Microorganisms, including Legionella bacteria, can grow in water distribution systems containing water that has been stagnant for longer than five days, as cited in ASHRAE Guideline 12-2020. These systems include community water supply pipes, building plumbing, and evaporative cooling equipment. First steps in starting up a cooling system The first step to a safe evaporative cooling system restart is to confirm that the quality of the water coming into the system is acceptable. That may mean flushing the facility’s feed lines as well as checking for “dead legs” throughout the distribution system. Microorganisms can grow in water distribution systems containing water that has been stagnant for longer than five days For the cooling tower specifically, fully draining and thoroughly cleaning all elements, including the cold and hot water basins and all mechanical equipment, is recommended. More on this later in the article. After cleaning, the cooling tower must be thoroughly flushed with fresh water and refilled. Your water treatment professional may recommend operating the cooling tower at elevated chemical levels verified via biological test before returning the system to standard chemical levels. Upon verifying acceptable water chemistry and biological activity, and documenting the treatment steps, the cooling tower components are ready for inspection before re-starting. Inspections and checks to do before restarting your cooling system Tower casing: Inspect the exterior of the tower for leaks and cracks. We recommend walking around the tower twice. First, be aware of trip points and focus on the lower portion of the tower. The second time look higher for cracks and leaks, signs of vibration and loose hardware, and presence of rust that may have been caused by an overflowing hot water basin. Louvers, Fill & Drift Eliminators: Check louvers for deterioration and excess scale build-up. Inspect the fill media for build-up of scale, algae, and other contaminants. Some light scale is typical on fill and can be easily removed with brushing. If the fill is heavily scaled and damaged, tower performance will be adversely affected. Drift eliminators should be clean and free of debris. Ensure the seals are in place and in good condition. Cold water basin: It is vital that your cold water basin and anti-vortex screens are clean, free of debris, and properly in place. If you have other equipment in your cold-water basin such as basin sweepers that go to side filtration, check nozzle placement to ensure proper water flow. Inspect water level probes, whether manual or electronic, for corrosion. When the basin is clean and operational condition of components is confirmed, refill the cold water basin to the recommended operating level. Hot water basin: Remove the basin covers to clean the water distribution system basin and nozzles. Then properly secure the covers. Piping: Check all supply and return piping to and from the tower; confirm valves are open and the water treatment system is operational. Mechanical Equipment – Fan, Motor, Gearbox, Belt Drive and Driveshaft Fan: Check the fan; blades must turn freely with proper tip clearance between the blade and the shroud. Verify blade pitch to eliminate vibration. Check the fan; blades must turn freely with proper tip clearance between the blade and the shroud. Verify blade pitch to eliminate vibration Motor: Turn the motor manually and confirm hardware is tight and free of corrosion. Moisture and heat are detrimental to motors. Check that open drain holes match motor orientation. Belt drive: Check tension on your belt drive. Inspect pulleys for corrosion and loss of metal in the grooves. Geardrive:  Check oil level. Check oil appearance for cloudiness or particulates, signs of water and other contaminants. Check and lubricate bearings. Driveshaft: Check alignment of driveshafts and couplings. Inspect for corrosion and damage. Check rubber components for cracks and brittleness. Start-Up Procedure Start pumps only with fans off. Check water level in hot water distribution basin and avoid overflow. Confirm water flow through the cooling tower is clean. Check cold water basin. If using a mechanical float valve, ensure that it is functioning correctly. Confirm water level sensor is operating correctly and that make-up water flows when required. Check below and around basin perimeter to rule out leaks. Start the fan motor at low speed – 25-30%. Observe fan operation and listen to confirm free movement with no obstructions. If fan operates freely, increase to full speed; Continue listening for unusual noises and monitor vibration levels in the cooling tower and on the fan deck. This article provides an overview the many considerations necessary to safely restart a factory-assembled cooling tower after an unplanned shutdown. These guidelines are merely a starting point for the process. Always consult the manufacturer and the cooling tower user manual and follow the recommended practices before proceeding. By Stephen Andrew, Parts & Service Manager - EMEA, SPX Cooling Technologies, Ltd., Worcester, UK and Robert Swafford, Aftermarket Channel Manager, SPX Cooling Technologies, Inc., Overland Park, KS, USA.

How SaaS Enables Sustainable Supermarkets: Food Waste Reduction and Energy Efficiency
How SaaS Enables Sustainable Supermarkets: Food Waste Reduction and Energy Efficiency

Across the globe, annual food loss amounts total to approximately 1.3 billion tons of waste and 4.4 gigatons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To put that in perspective: If food waste were a country, it would rank as the third largest GHG emitting country in the world, surpassed only by the United States and China. The average supermarket, which brings in about $35M in annual revenue, will see $526,590 worth of food waste and 3,600 MWh worth of wasted energy use, where about 2,000 MWh is used for refrigeration—the equivalent of 170 households. SaaS for temperature monitoring Clearly, there is both an economic and sustainability burden to food loss besides the revenue loss and environmental impact. Luckily, this burden can be eased when using Software as a Service (SaaS), like food temperature monitoring. Supermarkets who monitor their food temperatures will improve their margins and overall profitability by selling food at its full price rather than marked down due to over ripening or close to expiration date. This, in turn, will deliver improved customer satisfaction because supermarkets will be able to continue to stock fresh food while minimizing the sale of old and ripened provisions.Supermarkets who monitor their food temperatures will improve their margins and overall profitability There are many benefits of using SaaS to improve supermarket efficiency, which can help to reduce food waste and lower energy costs in countless supermarkets worldwide. Many of the roughly 50,000 food retail locations that utilize electronics controllers use some level of SaaS technology like Alsense Food Retail Services, the newest cloud offering from Danfoss Climate Solutions for supermarkets and food retail applications. Alsense Food Retail Services is a sustainable, scalable, and secure modern platform that delivers tangible data to improve operational and energy efficiency while optimizing the performance of food retail operations. Its technology is engineered to provide supermarkets with actionable insights that allow you to track refrigeration asset performance, respond to alarms, integrate 24/7 monitoring, reduce energy consumption, and more to deliver savings as high as a 40% reduction in food waste and 30% decrease in energy costs. Examples of food loss prevention with Alsense Food Retail Services The sensor in the meat fridge notices a high temperature and submits an alarm to the cloud The alarm is analyzed by the Danfoss Enterprise Service Team (Managed services) The reason for the alarm is determined and a service provider is contacted The service provider is dispatched to the supermarket to fix the issue in the meat fridge to avoid food loss Danfoss’ advanced algorithms detect if the refrigeration systems are running efficiently or if they are over consuming energy Alsense Food Retail Services is a sustainable, scalable, and secure modern platform that delivers tangible data to improve operational and energy efficiency while optimizing the performance of food retail operations aktiv & irma, a supermarket in North Germany, has shown significant savingsWithout SaaS, the store’s ROI will take much longer than if you rely solely on the hardware as part of the Alsense Food Retail Services pilot program. In collaboration with Danfoss, they installed a solar photovoltaic system, storage system, and a charging station for guests. All major assets in the supermarket system are linked through the Alsense Food Retail Services cloud to manage loads and eliminate unnecessary peaks to best use each store’s energy. Regulating energy levels is accomplished through a variety of methods that offer potential savings: Load shifting: As high as 20 kW in additional peak reductions ($1,758.30 potential savings). Compressor curtailment Solar: 112 MWh electricity produced ($16,410.80 savings) Battery: Grid demand reduced by 40 kW ($3,516.60 savings) Peak load shaving: Charging station is throttled if needed to maintain target max peak level in the store. ($2,344.40 potential savings) aktiv & irma saved about 15% in additional energy costs and reduced over 70 tons of CO2 for a total savings of $20,168.80 compared to other supermarkets. For supermarkets that are considering marrying SaaS with their hardware expenditure, the return on investment (ROI) will depend largely on their level of SaaS investment. Without SaaS, the store’s ROI will take much longer than if you rely solely on the hardware. To put it simply, the more robust the SaaS program, the quicker supermarkets will see a return on the overall system investment. Alsense Food Retail Services? A zero-net, even net positive, billable energy supermarket is possible. The prerequisites to make these savings happen are based on energy efficiency, particularly reducing overall consumption and onsite heat and electricity generation and storage. Energy arbitrage services can enable energy bill optimization. Essentially, this means that energy can be stored in a battery and used when prices in the grid are high.Precooling can also be used to cool down cabinets before prices increase Precooling (curtailment) can also be used to cool down cabinets before prices increase. Another option is to turn off compressors for as long as possible when the energy prices are high. This means temperatures will drift upwards, so turn on the compressors before the temperature compromises food quality. Lastly, supermarkets have further potential to balance the grid via fast Frequency Response, peak Load Shifting, and seasonal Buffering. SaaS technology, like Alsense Food Retail Services, is a strong compliment to hardware assets that can help supermarkets achieve higher profitability and food loss and waste reduction. If a supermarket aims to go zero- or positive-net, the solution is to invest in both hardware and SaaS.

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