Welcome back everyone! As we wrote in our previous blog, for this year’s Green Energy Challenge (GEC) competition, we are working with Orde Street Junior Public School in downtown Toronto to create a proposal with net-zero energy retrofits as well as volunteer our time to give back to their community.
What is an Energy Audit?
An energy audit is done at a facility to analyze the flow of energy and find opportunities to reduce energy input without reducing the facility’s ability to meet energy demands. It gives insight into how the building can save energy and be more energy efficient, which saves a lot of utility costs and environmental damage.
Orde Street Junior Public School kindly hosted us for our energy audit last month. 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 the school.
Our lighting team inspected natural and artificial lighting in each room, hallway, and staircase of the school. Some of the data they were interested in was different lighting types, wattage, and the lighting layout. Also, lux readings were taken using a cell phone app to figure out lighting luminance at different distances from light sources. With this information, the team can calculate how intense lighting in each area is and figure out possible ways to save energy, improve efficiency, and enhance the user experience.
With the help of the facilities managers at the school, the solar team was able to get access to the structural blueprints of the roof. We could not do site visits to the roof, but these drawings are helpful in assessing the solar potential of the school and designing a roof mounted solar PV system.
Our building energy team noted different types of windows and doors in each room and if they sensed any heat leakage. 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 building. To gather plug loads data, the team recorded the energy consumption and user habits for any devices or equipment that use electricity. We are working with the school to get information on the mechanical system, since we cannot go inside due to safety reasons. With the mechanical systems, we would be interested in thermal efficiency, standby losses, recovery rates, floor ventilation systems, and the functioning of the radiators.
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 PV 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 Orde Street Junior Public School to create a campaign focused on sustainable buildings and healthy living. Stay tuned for future blogs on the GEC!