Engineered Systems Magazine

Proposed O&M guidelines open for public comment

June 1, 2011

Many buildings with great designs fade from green to grey when operation and maintenance isn’t carried out as intended, especially in regard to energy conserving systems.

A proposed guideline from ASHRAE, currently open for public comment, will help improve the performance of all buildings by providing guidance on optimizing operation and maintenance of buildings to achieve the lowest economic and environmental life cycle cost without sacrificing safety or functionality.

ASHRAE Guideline 32P, Sustainable, High Performance Operation and Maintenance, is open for public comment until July 4, 2011. For more information, visit www.ashrae.org/publicreviews.

“This guideline outlines steps that can be applied to any building to move its operation and maintenance function toward high performance,” Michael Bobker, chair of the guideline 32P committee, said. “Buildings can be designed to be high performance, but if they are not operated well that performance will not be delivered. This guideline is part of ASHRAE’s effort to strengthen its guidance for existing buildings.”

The guideline will apply to the ongoing operational practices for buildings and systems with respect to energy efficiency, occupant comfort, indoor air quality, health and safety. These systems include the building envelope, HVAC&R, plumbing, complementary energy systems, and utilities and electrical systems.

“Modern air conditioning systems protect the health, comfort and productivity of building occupants,” ASHRAE Presidential Member Bill Harrison, whose presidential theme focused on the need for operation and maintenance, said. “Unfortunately, even very well designed systems waste a great deal of energy when they are not operated and maintained properly. ASHRAE’s Guideline 32 attacks wasted energy by helping people from the executive suite to the powerhouse understand how to efficiently manage the sophisticated systems that produce healthy comfort in today’s buildings. This is a giant step forward as we strive to use only the energy that produces value in our buildings.”

Studies and documented experience have shown that improved operational strategies alone could save 10 to 40 percent in energy. These savings came about through application of expert knowledge to operation and maintenance practices, not large capital investment, Bobker noted. “We must first upgrade and then maintain the capabilities of the operations staff, which is where Guideline 32 will help play a role,” he said.

The guideline contains recommendations for three levels of building oversight: senior managers, facility managers and technicians.  Checklists for tracking that appropriate steps are being taken to move toward high-performance operation and maintenance are included for each.

Among the items on the checklist for facility managers are:

•       Develop and implement protocols for good facility/system documentation.
•       Investigate, identify and implement appropriate levels of building intelligence.
•       Identify and implement appropriate performance metrics.
•       Benchmark against other similar facilities.
•       Establish performance baselines and targets. Institute a system for regular reporting and evaluation.

Bobker said the guideline will provide the next steps beyond compliance with ANSI/ASHRAE/ACCA Standard 180, Standard Practice for Inspection and Maintenance of Commercial Building HVAC Systems, and provide concepts, methods and details that meet the intent of the “minimum standards of care” under ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High Performance Green Buildings.