Sep 17, 2020 | Trends

Extraordinary COVID-19 Response by Energy Managers

COVID-19 has been an unmitigated challenge for building Energy Managers worldwide because buildings were instantly empty due to work from home mandates. Faced with broader responsibilities, Energy Managers also find themselves the focus of the building occupant’s increased attention around health and safety. When occupants return to buildings, building operations and management will be vastly different. Energy Managers will need to be prepared by implementing safety guidelines, communicating protocols to occupants and stakeholders, and revising strategic plans to adapt to the new requirements.

Safety Guidelines

Industry compliance leaders such as ASHRAE, the World Health Organization and even local government have released building safety guidelines for the reopening of buildings and management going forward. Energy Managers are responsible for understanding the rapidly changing guidelines and implementing measures to ensure their building remains in compliance, and more importantly, is safe and healthy. It will fall within their responsibilities to communicate the updated and implemented protocols effectively and in a timely manner.

Providers such as Albireo Energy can guide managers through the ins and outs of ASHRAE guidelines creating cost effective solutions to address protocols. ASHRAE’s recommendations for building safety include ensuring supply chain for critical items like filters and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are in place, HVAC programming around air quality, air damper and exhaust fan settings is functioning, and opening windows for fresh air.

Strategic Planning

Strategic plans for implementing solutions around energy conservation that were in place pre-pandemic will be modified to include increased remote monitoring, capturing real-time data to support new safety protocols and ensure high performance of equipment. Smart buildings will be far ahead in keeping up with the changing conditions. If updating monitoring systems wasn’t in the building’s strategic plan, it should be now. To be prepared for the vast changes in energy usage and ventilation requirements when going from unoccupied to fully occupied, building energy models that can forecast expected energy use and account for increased ventilation will be valuable. Setting alerts in the monitoring software will keep teams on top of changing conditions to be proactive about crucial safety measures. Adding these tools to existing conservation plans may be accelerating the team’s goals, but Energy Managers are stepping up to the challenge.

Albireo Energy uses energy modeling software that is highly adaptable and can provide metrics to predict energy consumption and air movement throughout the building. Stakeholders are required to provide detailed reopening plans. The energy model can be updated with the number of occupants, weather data, and other specifics that can assist in predicting the building performance during the changes. Using the resulting information, HVAC and air handler settings can be modified to match the stages of re-opening. This data can support the re-opening plan.

Smart Tech

As a Smart Building Solutions provider, Albireo Energy can work with the team responsible for the re-opening plan to identify building performance requirements, design fast, effective solutions and manage implementation to ensure occupant comfort and success in re-opening. After any necessary installation, Albireo will provide monitoring and ongoing consultation to ensure the building performance continues to provide a healthy environment while remaining cost effective and efficient.

Once the plan is in action, Albireo has smart tech and remote monitoring devices that can provide real time data that will inform if the building performance meets expectations. Hyperawareness around occupant health and safety will require building managers to have information at their fingertips to provide communications to the organization. The monitoring platform will provide the data to clarify the state of the building for those communications.

More ASHRAE Guidelines

The ASHRAE recommendations list proper cleaning procedures, approved products, and methods. How to run the HVAC system on minimum outside air when unoccupied but opening windows for fresh air two hours before occupancy is also outlined. The effects of decreased water usage when the building is empty can increase bacteria growth, so a water management standard can be found amongst the guidelines. ASHRAE is continuously releasing new guidance as the pandemic mandates evolve. Albireo expert consultants are staying on top of all new recommendations and are prepared to offer working solutions.

The pandemic has challenged the world in unexpected ways, but humans have proved their ingenuity by providing sympathetic and innovative solutions. The building industry has been hard pressed to give their occupants confidence and security in their return to spaces where they will be required to spend most of their time. Albireo is ready to partner with building stakeholders to support these heroic efforts and assist in the success of reopening organizations. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help with the flood of ever-changing requirements and allow Albireo’s expertise to lend confidence to your new strategic plan.

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