A high-rise office building in New York City has proved that reducing energy usage by as much as 80% is easily achievable. Using advanced lighting and automated shades, occupants on one floor of were able to reduce lighting energy usage by nearly 80 percent in some areas.
The US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) partnered with the Building Energy Exchange (BEEx), an independent non-profit organisation, to demonstrate that even in relatively modern office buildings, installing the latest generation of smart, actively controlled energy efficient lighting and shading can dramatically lower energy costs and enhance the quality of the work environment. Four sets of technologies were tested on one 12 000 m2 floor of the building.
T5 fluorescent lights were replaced by dimmable LEDs with new sensors, which were adjusted throughout the day using advanced controls depending on daylight levels and occupancy of the space. Automated shades were raised or lowered to open up views to the outside, admit daylight, or reduce glare as needed. Researchers monitored the effects of the retrofit for six months, following a year-long baseline monitoring period before the upgrades were installed.
They found that energy use for lighting declined by 79% and the peak lighting electricity demand went down by 74 percent%. Heating and cooling did not form part of the study, but the researchers have estimated that a building-wide retrofit would have provided massive electricity savings.
The study, entitled ‘A Post-occupancy Monitored Evaluation of the Dimmable Lighting, Automated Shading, and Underfloor Air Distribution System in The New York Times Building’, was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the California Energy Commission through its Public Interest Energy Research Program. Located near Times Square in New York City, the 52-story building has almost a million square metres of commercial office space.
According to the research, by combining smart design, efficient technology and properly integrated building systems, starting with design and moving to construction and commissioning and into operations, office buildings in an urban environment can deliver measured energy performance substantially surpassing energy codes.
“We aggressively pursued innovative designs to improve the quality of the workplace for our employees and to reduce energy use and other operating costs of our facility,” Angelo Salvatore, executive director of building operations at the Times Company, the organisation on whose premises the study was conducted, told media.
“The outcomes of this study confirm that we were successful. More importantly, our hope is that the energy efficient measures and designs documented in this independent study may inspire other companies' workplace designs.”
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