Technology innovations for energy masterplanning

Strategic energy planning can produce significant cost savings by increasing energy efficiency, reducing energy consumption and lifecycle operation costs and ultimately by prioritizing long-term, key improvement investments.  Energy technology experts, Avi Srivastava and Calum Thompson set out how to fully realize these benefits through a structured, innovative approach.

By securing a more in-depth understanding of their installation, campus or community’s collective energy needs, project leaders can uncover conservation strategies and cost savings that often get missed in a traditional, facility-by-facility approach.

As a first step in energy planning, the process begins by conducting campus and region-wide assessments of energy performance, patterns, and trends — compiling and analyzing utility, project-programming and infrastructure-systems data, as well as detailed site interviews. This enables the team to build a holistic picture of operations.

Innovation in practice

To encourage the latest thinking in strategic energy planning, an innovative methodology has been developed called the Sustainable Systems Integration Model (SSIM™). The framework and models make it possible to create and test multiple scenarios across various performance levels and cost-benefit outcomes.

Using a gaming process, SSIM incorporates the unique aspects of building age, typology, condition, improvement level, and mission-dependence criteria.  This creates a sustainability program that targets energy and High Performance Sustainable Buildings (HPSB) mandates. Energy conservation measures can be identified and applied though facility prototype modeling to yield a preferred scenario that considers energy return on investment (e-ROI) criteria, stakeholder input, energy efficiency, and other drivers. Additional workshops can also explore functional requirements, needs (e.g. technology, hardware, software, and people resources), and solutions for implementing smart energy strategies across a portfolio of facilities.

The SSIM was developed by AECOM and can be teamed with the SSIM Vision model for an exploration of scenarios that simulate energy outcomes. The Strategic Energy Investment Plan (SEIP) can help reduce utility costs starting in the short-term and can position for long-term savings, as strategic energy investments are undertaken each year.

Keeping score

In addition to the SSIM technology, a resiliency scorecard has been developed as a quick way of assessing the resiliency of an installation, campus, or community. The metrics have been aligned to energy resilience, community resilience, and infrastructure resilience.

This scorecard was successfully used for the master energy planning of three facilities on the island of Guam for the U.S. Navy. By modeling the energy reliability, resilience, and efficiency based upon four scenarios:

  1. ‘Business as usual’
  2. ‘Meeting mandated compliance’
  3. ‘Investment in resilient with Net-Zero MCBG’,
  4. ‘Investment in Resilient Plus’.

With varying levels of investment and length of payback, it was possible to demonstrate how much these factors were impacted by investments in energy conservation measures. While all levels of investment scored well on efficiency, only two scored well on resiliency and reliability, indicating that ‘business as usual’ or just ‘meeting mandated compliance’ with energy efficiency measures will not allow the installation to meet the reliability and resiliency goals.

The methodology is designed to be scaled, replicated, and applied to any agency that has multiple facilities or sites.

Case study – NASA and multimillion dollar energy savings

Working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the SEIP process was developed to provide an integrated, agency-wide strategy. The ambition was to achieve the best return on investment in meeting federal ‘energy use intensity’ (EUI) and renewable energy goals.

During the SEIP process, AECOM engaged with NASA’s headquarters personnel, and planners and energy managers from 16 NASA sites. This large-scale planning program incorporated the ideas of sustainability, innovative problem solving, and coordinated planning processes. Overall, the actions recommended will help NASA achieve a 23.7 percent EUI reduction and cut energy-related facility operating costs by over $160 million by 2025, offsetting rising utility rates and declining facility efficiencies due to age. Without the SEIP, NASA’s business-as-usual, bottom-up approach to investments would achieve only a 14 percent EUI reduction by 2025.