As you’ve read in our previous blog, for this year’s Green Energy Challenge (GEC) Competition, we are designing net-zero energy retrofits for Armour Heights Presbyterian Church and volunteering in their programs to give back to the community.
What is an Energy Audit?
An energy audit involves analyzing the flow of energy through a building to find opportunities to reduce energy input without negatively impacting the ability to meet energy demands. It allows one to understand how the building can conserve energy and become energy efficient, which would result in significant savings in utility bills and reduced environmental damage.
Armour Heights kindly welcomed us for our walk-through energy audit. Our team split up into small groups and gathered information on lighting, solar, building envelope, plug loads, and HVAC systems from the three floors of this facility.
Our lighting team examined the lighting inside and outside of Armour Heights using an app that measures the intensity of lighting.
Our lighting team inspected natural and artificial lighting conditions in each room, hallway, staircase, as well as at the exterior of the church. Some of the main information collected were the different lighting types, wattage, number of switches, mounting types, and the lighting layouts. Also, lux readings were taken using a cell phone app to determine lighting luminance at varying distances from working light sources and with just natural lighting. This information would help the team figure out how intense lighting in each area is and where possible improvements could be made to save energy, improve efficiency, and enhance the user experience.
With the help of Rick, the utility manager at the church, the solar team was able to get access to the structural blueprints of the roof. However, due to the steep slope of the roof and melting snow, we were unable to get on the roof. Nevertheless, the drawings we gathered were very helpful in developing a 3D model of the entire building, which in turn will assist us in assessing the solar potential of the church. You can check out this cool model here: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=AZrFtbgaKL5.
Our building energy team observed the different types of windows and doors in each room. Using an infrared thermometer, heat leakages were identified on doors and windows to determine potential measures to incorporate into our designs to minimize heat loss. Additionally, the model number and energy consumption of the air conditioners in each room were noted, which would help us to come up with innovative ways to cool the buildings. To gather plug loads data, the team recorded the energy consumption and how long any devices or equipment using electricity were plugged in. Lastly, during the tour of the mechanical systems, thermal efficiency, standby losses, recovery rates, floor ventilation systems, and the functioning of the radiators were noted down.
Our Building Energy Performance team used thermal imaging to analyze the heat distribution along doors and windows at Armour Heights.
Since the energy audit, our team has been busy analyzing the gathered data to design improvements to decrease the energy consumption in the building. These improvements can range from efficient lighting and appliances to better insulation that reduces heating demand. In addition, we will design a solar energy system that will generate enough energy to offset the consumption by the building through the years. In the meantime, our community engagement team is coordinating with Armour Heights to create an energy awareness campaign in the Sunday School program. Stay tuned for our next blog on our volunteering efforts with Armour Heights.
Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cecauoft/ for more on our GEC journey this year!