GHG inventory emissions rising by John A. Herbert

by John A. Herbert
wasting energy lighting

GHG inventory emissions rising

Since 2000 Hong Kong installed approximately 9000 (wet) cooling towers according to EMSD, these provide heat rejection for comfort air conditioning, it follows the HKSAR Government policy to reduce energy consumption by 1,360 million kWh, and resultant greenhouse gas emissions by 950,000 tonnes annually[1].

Continue reading

Productivity where are thou

Improving productivity is one of those subjective areas that rarely attracts much attention, studies show that comfort conditions are critical, is it a key part of the goals for a green building, for productively.

Where the people feel their work environment is too hot, too cold, too dry or too wet, productivity drops, and in Hong Kong it is a real issue since most buildings have no winter heating.

A recent survey, by a software company, supports the notion that your workers are dissatisfaction with environmental conditions, and that in turn impacts the productivity of your business.

More detailed than other studies, this survey covers different genders, and different seasons. One finding is stands out immediately the report states 10% of staff are totally dissatisfied.

Whilst this will not be surprising to Building Services engineers who are taught that engineering systems can only satisfy 80% of the occupants in room, It is time to challenge those empirical tests, when we have better options, underfloor distribution, and smart phone computers in our pockets.

However, visit any modern building and you will still find the room sensors in odd positions, often outside the occupied zone, this strategy only provides the general/average room condition (often near the ceiling) not the conditions where the people are working.

sensors-2

Hotel function rooms have sensors located 6m above the occupants, so the HVAC system is working hard to main the conditions for the ceiling zone not the people zone. Also lighting fittings, hand dryers, etc. which act as localized heaters, installed beneath sensors influencing the room conditions.

by John. A. Herbert

Green Building Regulations & Certifications (BEAM)

Heads up! this month the Hong Kong International Building and Decoration Materials & Hardware Fair will be held at AsiaWorld Expo in Hong Kong. It opens on 27th October 2012, and I’ll be speaking about my favourite topic Hong Kong BEAM in the Green Building Regulations & Certifications session!

It’s an opportunity I doont want to miss, because I want to help the players in the building materials industry, its vendors, suppliers or perhaps that entire supply chain, to understand what Green Building professionals actually need!

john herbert zero landfill logo

And one area specifically we do need more information – affordable smarter materials! We want businesses to have clean environmental records, we want Zero Landfill policies, and so much more…….

Time: 11:30 am – 12:45 pm
Date: 27 October 2012
Venue: Seminar Room, Hall 8, AsiaWorld-Expo

visit the website

see you there!!

 

Steam, Cogeneration and Efficiency

With all the talk about carbon and renewable energy the largest energy losses often escape the limelight, and we already have the solutions that could be implemented today but decades of infrastructure development and misinformation often block us from making the smarter choice.

Power generating stations were once upon a time, small, and local, often located right on the edge of town.  Now remember at that time the fuel of choice was coal, so as the demand for the new electricity service increased, more coal was burnt in the cities increasing local pollution. Faced with the choice of clean up or move out, the generators moved outside the communities they served to remote locations that allowed larger plants to be constructed, they were out of sight and out of mind.

As the distance between the generator and consumer increased, extra losses in the form of transmission losses occurred, to cover the vast distances the transmission voltage was increased incurring transformer losses at each end of a circuit.

 

Long Transmission Lines Increases losses

Also have you ever wondered why many power generating stations are located near rivers or coastline? Because the process of using steam to electricity generates vast quantities of waste heat, and with the generators now located at distal sites there are few neighbours to use this high grade waste heat so its dumped into the nearest convenient river, cooling tower or seashore.

Inland generators overcome the problem by building cooling towers (pictured below) using vast quantities of water to dump the waste heat into the atmosphere.

Power Generation Cooling Towers

FLICKR http://underclassrising.net/

To be frank the thermal efficiency of a typical coal fired generating station is miserably low approximately 30 -35 percent.

So today, after pushing the generators and pollution away from us, it should not be a surprise to find that less than 10 percent of the energy in fuel ever reaches the consumer or put it another way 90 percent of energy in the fuel is lost forever.

There are viable alternatives for China and elsewhere in Asia. Cogeneration is the engineering term we use, essentially it is a system that will use that waste energy and that means a dramatic efficiency improvement.

The waste heat energy can be used for heating,  process, or air conditioning system and provides an overall thermal efficiency nearer 85 percent,  nearly 300% improvement over conventional plants.

Absorption chillers are a breed apart, they create chilled water but heat energy through a process of concentrating and dilution of spacial salt compounds. High grade waste heat from any source could be used to power air conditioning without the need for large electrical supplies (some electricity would be still needed for the associated air handling units, pumps and automatic controls). 

Local Cogeneration as the name implies is close to the consumer and demands a cleaner fuel, natural gas is a good choice where available.

One barrier for the wider implementation is the utility companies themselves, having invested billions of dollars to build and operate the plant and equipment, they have unsurprisingly created rules to protect that investment.

What is needed is community based approach, for example use the locally created waste to fire cogeneration plants for that community. Instead of hiding from the problem, make it visible, a showcase,  demonstrate that waste from their office or home will be burnt across the street to provide local community electricity.

For manufacturing plants using high pressure steam, a simple design change can result in large benefits, generate superheated steam to drive an electricity turbine first, that will power your factory, and use the turbine exhaust saturated steam to serve your process, and return the condensate to the boiler – its a simple and elegant solution but often overlooked.

Here is a link to an interesting article about the multiple use for steam generation

steam generation and energy efficiency Kelcroft

Instead of using technology, China has sadly followed the western development model for coal fired plant, plus suffering the torment of wasted energy plus regular power outages. Many businesses in China, particularly in Guangdong have no choice except diesel fuelled engines to overcome frequent blackouts and shortages, whilst simultaneously wasting Gigawatts in wasted heat.

Countries with a strong demand for heating homes and offices, such as Germany and Nordic countries in Europe waste heat from power generators is used in district heating systems delivering heat to the doorstep. Here in Asia, and the tropics where air conditioning is demanded for comfort, waste heat from power generators, or biomass boilers should be used to power to absorption chillers.

The public and governments are increasingly focused on demand side awareness, and it is noticeable, through more efficient lighting, LED’s fittings, and air conditioning systems but remember that is one part of the story.  In Hong Kong 1/3rd of the power generated is used to drive air conditioning equipment,  so businesses today are paying utility companies to waste fuel resources that can’t be replenished. Don’t you think it is time to get smart? I do.

John A. Herbert, Kelcroft, Consultant

Building MPG

On 5th September 2008, I pitched my idea to encourage energy efficient buildings, I will not bore you with the speech, essentially it boils down to providing a metric, to assess, rate and compare building performance.  We need a simple concept, that encourages building energy efficiency, creates a certain competition between building owners, and last but not least a metric that is easily understandable by the general public, so created MPG for buildings.

EUI, or the other commonly used metrics for building efficiency are childs play to professionals, but the general public doesn’t get it. You need to spend your resources educating people what the metric means, but with MPG they get it!  Although the HKSAR hasnt taken up the challenge, opting for another EUI as part of the new building energy efficiency code (cap 611), the idea has taken hold in USA link from the Department of Energy Resources.

The USA State of Massachusetts has published a white paper ( link PDF white paper MPG for buildings).  Thanks for reading, here is my presentation slides on slideshare:

Building Energy Efficiency Seminar

 

So besides some bragging rights,  what is the point of this post you might ask,  if your looking for energy solutions engage right people or you’ll be taking a haircut too.

John Herbert, Consultant

Energy Efficiency is easy?

Three sensors neatly located directly above heater (lighting fitting)

Energy efficiency is easy right?  In a seminar about carbon and energy efficiency I noticed the neat location of three air conditioning return air temperature sensors – direct over a heater (aka lighting fitting) .  The truth is, energy efficiency is hard.

~~~ John Herbert, Kelcroft, Consultant.

Don’t do stupid things

It’s hard to believe another year is coming to a close, and so much work remains undone…. I stumbled upon a lecture titled “Don’t Do Stupid Things” by Dr Joseph Lstiburek on youtube it is worth the time to listen.

He makes Building Science more interesting, and honestly more interesting than my pitch. I can’t agree with him on every point,  although he is primarily focused on the US/Canada region,  I have witness the same type of mentality every day in Asia.  Finally, I would like to wish a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year to you.

Enjoy!!

Building Energy Label – Mandatory

Here in Hong Kong 89% of all electricity consumed, and 63% of Carbon emission are created from our buildings, and these rise every year. I had argued that mandatory building labelling is the future, and until customers can see an easy to read, third party verified, building energy label there is little incentive for building owners and operators to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions from buildings. The disconnect in speculative buildings (for leasing) is obvious, since the building operators profit from inefficiency [refer note 1].

Now Australia will likely become the next country to bite the bullet, realising the importance of energy usage in buildings, a mandatory label scheme is planned for mid of 2010. It seems the popular NABERS scheme will form part of the system.

Overseas, in the United Kingdom has a mandatory label scheme is in place for all government buildings, a certain forerunner for the private sector.

Mandatory building labels will create job, employment, and better buildings, REITs, fund managers, and consumers will have a choice, a choice I believe they will exercise. At the recent HKGBC conference, a building fund manager endorsed building labelling for this very reason, and early adopters and users of of the green building labels [refer note 2] would testify.

Notes:
[1] A building with numerous owners or tenants cannot be managed effectively, therefore a property management company is employed to operate and oversee all the building common area operations, for example the central chilled water equipment. For multi-owner buildings, it is common for a committee to drive the scope of the property services provided. However, many of these property management firms are compensated on a percentage fee basis or cost plus basis, therefore if more fuel used, the management charge is also higher.

Also all tenants typically pay a management fee based on Gross Floor Area (GFA) of the leased accommodation, irrespective of the actual energy usage, therefore we have a situation where there is no financial incentive to lower the use of central services such as central air conditioning because they don’t benefit from the saved costs or lower emissions.

[2] BEAM is the local green building label system. Buildings are assessed against various criteria, and can be awarded a green building label to distinguish them from other buildings. Once a valid scheme is established customers and facilities personnel have a choice and often use that label as a key criteria for choosing accommodation – that is exactly what happened in Australia, the voluntary NABERS scheme became a customer requirement.

– John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited
lowering the cost of doing business in Asia.

Alternate EE models

Energy Efficiency might well be the fastest, least intrusive and lowest cost solution to implement energy conservation projects that also lowers your carbon footprint, the McKinsey report even highlights these opportunities. However, it does not take way from the fact that little improvements have been made.

This report dated March 2009 covers much of the same ground, only offering legislative improvements to encourage take up of energy services.

John Herbert
Consultant
Kelcroft E&M Limited
helping lower the cost and impact of doing business in Asia

A Big Ask

John Herbert Keynote speech at Energy Business forum June 2009

I know many have high hopes for the forthcoming treaty negotiations in Copenhagen, I don’t. In my view only an overwhelming ground swell of public opinion today has a chance to sway our local officials from the typical do nothing course.

Need evidence? Let’s review the Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development media output over the last two weeks. The Chairman, Mr Bernard Chan, recently commented upon the soon to be released green building consultation. Being the Government de facto sustainable development proponent one should expect a little waffle.  But No, it was an avalanche of warnings.  The chairman spent his air-time warning the general public about the dire consequences of asking for green buildings, including a thoughtful statement about “extra cost” of energy efficiency, without reference to the missing part of the puzzle – externalities (social cost).

To add insult to injury, the general public will not get sight of the consultation, until those renowned building energy efficiency experts Hong Kong’s “architects” and “developers” have given there views first no doubt to shape what will be finally issued to the public.  Yes, your read it correctly, we can’t have a consultation with prior approval.

It seems Europe is suffering too, here is a great little video to encourage action. enjoy.

~~

John Herbert
Consultant
Kelcroft E&M Limited

What tune does your building play?

Buildings account for the largest proportion of greenhouse emissions in Hong Kong, currently that is sixty three percent (63%) of Hong Kong’s carbon footprint. Whilst initiatives for new buildings are indeed welcome, the influence of the measures are limited to 500-600 new buildings, a very small proportion of the total 40,000 buildings in Hong Kong.

Building Tuning

Improving the existing building stock is critical issue, and one solution is tuning your building. If you owned a vehicle – would you run it year after year without a regular tune-up? of course not, yet buildings are often run for fifty years or more, without tuning.

Behind the glass façade air-conditioning, lighting and other environmental systems of commercial buildings, hotels, shopping malls are burning electricity contributing to the Hong Kong carbon footprint, for efficient operation the engineering systems need to be tuned and optimised and I would argue that it should be conducted annually.

One interesting point I have noticed, often I find firms have an elaborate ISO 14000 EMS (Environmental Management Systems) protocols in place, seemingly unaware that the building energy consumption is causing a larger, and more significant environmental impact!

Building Tuning means optimising the operation of the energy systems, including the chiller plant, pumps, and other systems to identify opportunities to lower the building carbon footprint based on today’s operating environment.

Changing Times

It is one of those facts of life, things change. For a building it is no different except it doesn’t it complain so loudly. Electrical tariffs, usage, building codes, the neighbourhood is a little more crowded, social pressure, these and other influences occur over the operating life of a building and may impact the building energy consumption.

Other influences include new legislation also play a role. For example the relaxation on the use of water and cooling towers for air conditioning systems in 2000, offers opportunities to lower operating costs for hotels and other commercial buildings in Hong Kong.

One approach is the hindsight method – review all every engineering system as if it was a new project – what would you do differently today?

The electricity tariff for commercial buildings in Hong Kong island is significantly higher than Kowloon.  Is this fact taken into consideration when designing a building for Kowloon side or HK island?  In my experience unfortunately not.  The main reason often cited is the structural disconnect between building developers don’t pay the fuel and electricity bills. All the operating costs are paid by the tenant, including any core services such as air conditioning, which is charged in the form of a management fee, charged by square foot not actual usage.

Industrial Tunes

Building Tuning is not limited to just office buildings, factories and manufacturing facilities are not immune to the influence of change.

When you lead others follow

Presently, any tenant of a grade A building in Hong Kong looking to lower their carbon footprint presently has limited opportunities while the primary cost, the cost of air-conditioning, is charged on a square foot basis irrespective of actual consumption. Now that’s true for the majority. However, some innovative developers have seen the light, and have started to provide a metered service, therefore tenants will only pay for the actual usage.

Buildings don’t have any voice to complain, and let you know where the problems are located. A buildings Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is correlated with its annual energy consumption, over its entire life the OPEX (Operating Expense) is significantly higher than its CAPEX (Capital Expenditure), mortgage, cost of finance, etc.  For single owner buildings its a no brainer, the real challenge is multi-owner buildings.

I talked with a client last week regarding his facility, apparently it emerged that a competitor had already completed some work, and now they needed the same work stat. To remain competitive and distinctive in the market place, you either lead or follow.

John Herbert
Consultant
Kelcroft E&M Limited
helping lower the cost and impact of doing business in Asia