Manufacturing energy modeling is a complex, multifunctional and challenging endeavor – especially to get through the LEED process. Manufacturers face hurdles that don’t apply to office buildings. Typically manufacturers use a large amount of energy and baselines don’t exist for most manufacturing equipment.

Baselines Must be Established

The LEED submission process should be kept simple, logical and transparent. The scope of manufacturing projects is part of the challenge. Another hurdle is that manufacturing equipment can be very unique, custom built, and void of a comparable baseline with industry standards.

Even standard pieces of equipment may not have an available ASHRAE or other similar industry regulatory standards from which to draw baselines. There are simply too many specialty items and situations for every piece of equipment in the facility to follow a standard.

In these cases each piece of equipment must be evaluated separately for energy use and savings above and beyond what was used previously or similarly available. There is no common metric.

Working with an experienced consultant can help to simply the process. For example, when we work on a LEED submission, we know through experience what the baseline is likely to be or the appropriate way to establish a new baseline. Motors have a baseline set by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). ASRAE sets HVAC baselines and each HVAC piece of equipment has its own baseline.

After that it’s a hodgepodge, and we will often work with the project engineer and the equipment manufacturers to discuss an appropriate baseline.

This adds to amount of time and the complexity of submissions for LEED review. All this individuality and customization can quickly lead to an information overload and a mess for the reviewer.

Keep it Simple

This is where simplicity, logic and transparency play a huge role. The energy model should flow from one section to the next, with clear identifiers that direct the reviewer to the next/supporting information. Think of the energy model calculations and documentation, as a Rand McNally map book. The main map is divided into numbered squares that direct the user to pages in the book that provide more details. The manufacturing energy model follows the same flow.

Energy Modeling Dashboard

Click on the image to download a larger PDF.

The LEED reviewer that is assigned to your project’s review may have extensive experience reviewing manufacturing energy models or he may have none. Regardless of experience, the reviewer needs to be able to follow and account for all the energy use in the facility. The reviewers also have substantially less time to process the volume of information that went into the manufacturing energy modeling, especially compared to the modeling team.

The reviewer is looking for specific pieces of information. These should be easy to find, with straightforward calculations available. The inability of the reviewer to quickly and logically locate information in the model is likely to result in questions about the model as a whole. Even worse, the reviewer might reject an entire section/calculation outright.

Our preferred Energy Model format consists of a main dashboard and a split dashboard. The split dashboard is generally broken into the manufacturing portion of the model (~99% of the energy use) and the office model (~1% of the energy use).

The office section is modeled using standard energy modeling software (eQuest, IES, etc.). The manufacturing section of the building is broken down into different tabs – or inserts – for specific areas like process equipment, process heating, and process cooling. The most important and often largest segment of inserts deals with the ECM’s (Energy Conservation Measures).

In a future blog post we will discuss rules of thumb and best practices in choosing and documenting ECM’s for a project, because the choices and clarity of documentation can make or break a project model.

Simplify the LEED Submission for Manufacturing Energy Modeling





Grey Fowles is an Associate Green Building Consultant, CDT, LEED® AP in Paladino Seattle.

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