Measuring energy efficiencies in buildings

Fluke Australia Pty Ltd
Monday, 31 May, 2010

Troubleshooting energy efficiency for buildings may feel like searching for a needle in a haystack; but for the sustainability team at Mirvac, it’s all in a day’s work.

Buildings under the Mirvac portfolio have a measurable impact on the environment. Because of this, Mirvac has set up a sustainability team to monitor and recommend strategies for the development of climate sensitive buildings. By doing so, Mirvac will be able to make the most of its resources and deliver the best impact for climate-sensitive buildings, and ensure efficient operation of Mirvac’s assets.

Part of the team’s responsibilities include monitoring and identifying necessary changes to the way energy is used to provide lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation, as well as monitoring water use, waste management, air quality, impact on local biodiversity, and on toxic materials that may be present in Mirvac buildings.

To achieve this, the Mirvac sustainability team established a national energy audit program that complies with the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) Act and is recognised by NABERS.

From start to finish

Before Adrian Michaels, Sustainability Manager, and Steve Zinga, the Sustainability Engineer for the Mirvac sustainability team, can monitor energy usage and efficiency, they must first set up a benchmark of energy usage within a building. The team uses this benchmark to compare with future data, and to verify that the building is operating at maximum efficiency levels and to ensure future recommendations work.

For Adrian and his crew, data helps the sustainability team analyse exactly what takes place in a building.

Steve Zinga said, “We monitor all energy usage against this initial baseline and compare it to results after 12 months, to see if energy usage has decreased.

“This is an ongoing process for the Mirvac sustainability team. We need to constantly improve a building’s efficiency to properly plan for a building’s future.”

To help accurately measure the power usage of its sites, Mirvac chose the Fluke 1735 Power Logger for its ability to conduct energy studies and power quality logging. The Power Logger can be ready within seconds, using the included flexible current probes and colour display. The power quality meter can measure a building’s electrical power parameters, harmonics, as well as capture voltage events.

“We needed a high-performing, quality tool that could keep up with our needs and offer accurate readings, which in turn will affect any decisions we make to our buildings’ energy usage. Fluke 1735 Power Logger did just that and more.”

Designed to measure the most critical three-phase power parameters, the Fluke 1735 can log rms voltage, rms current, phase angle, voltage events, voltage and current THD, voltage and current harmonics up to the 50th, active power, reactive power, power factor, active energy, reactive energy, and more. With memory for up to 45 days of data, the device can uncover intermittent or hard-to-find issues.

The four current probes are connected with one plug; the instrument automatically detects, scales and powers the probes, making the product easy to use. These variable range current probes are easily set to 15, 150 or 3000 A for high accuracy in nearly any application. The voltage connections are single leads, enabling easy and quick set-ups. The colour screen provides instant confirmation that connections are correct, and then logging begins when the record button is pressed.

The energy assessment capability in the device quantifies energy consumption before and after improvements. This functionality will help Mirvac’s management team justify investments in energy-saving devices within a building.

Zinga says that the ability to monitor loads helps Mirvac optimise the efficiency of buildings by verifying electrical system capacity before adding loads. Energy and power quality assessment used to validate performance of facility improvements can be quantified by energy consumption, power factor and general power quality, before and after improvements.

Often huge energy and savings on electricity expenditure is achieved through simple changes such as switching regular light bulbs to more energy-efficient types, or adjusting the temperature.

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