If I Were the Energy King: Buildings
- Jul 28, 2021 12:28 pm GMT
This article is the first of four, covering what I would do (these are my personal opinions, not anyone else’s) if I had control of the energy industry. These are designed to provoke discussion and thinking, not to dig in on a position. My position can be changed on any of these topics with enough data.
This article covers buildings, one of the largest users of energy. The format is the actual “rule” I would put in place, followed by my reasoning for making the rule. Please enjoy, think and thoughtfully respond to these articles.
1. I would require two kilowatts of solar on every residential unit no matter how old. If a building had 10 apartments, it would have 20KW, but no more. Why 2 kW per residence? Because almost all the power that amount of solar PV can produce would be consumed on site. It is the lowest cost configuration for universal deployment that creates meaningful amounts of power but should not cause massive power quality issues. That amount of PV would not need storage and would not produce massive exports to the local grid. I would fold the cost of the PV into each unit’s utility bills over a 20-year period and assign monitoring and operation of the PV system to the local utility.
2. Require an energy efficiency standard building code that would at least double the requirements for a high-performance building today and require retrofit of all buildings to that code before they could be sold. The code would cover residential, commercial, and industrial buildings with any form of heating or cooling, including protected historic buildings. Commercial buildings would be required to display their energy efficiency rating at every entrance in 40-centimeter-high numbers. The rating would be based only on the building’s heating, cooling, and lighting systems and the building’s physical and energy envelope. Buildings would be audited and re-rated every 5 years or whenever heating, cooling, or lighting systems were replaced. This revised rating system makes it clear how good or bad a building is at using energy efficiently, reduces “tricks” to increase a building’s rating, and allows owners adequate time to make required upgrades. Some buildings would not make the cut; the land they stand on could be sold and the building torn down and replaced. It gives a pass to buildings like carports or storage sheds that are used to shelter things, not provide a working or living environment for people.
3. I would require that manufacturers remove their appliance models in the lowest decile of energy efficiency from the market every 2 years. This raises the average energy efficiency of each type of appliance on a regular schedule, and forces manufacturers to constantly innovate. It does not mandate any specific improvement, but it does take the worse performing models off the market. In some cases major gains are still to be made on appliances, and some are not going to get much better without a major breakthrough.
4. I would create an appliance-replacement program to encourage consumers and businesses to periodically swap their low-efficiency appliances for high-efficiency appliances. This program would give the purchaser the difference between the midpoint price of appliances at their current level of energy efficiency (or the lowest efficiency models now sold- see item 3) and the least-expensive high-efficiency model if they trade up to a higher energy efficiency model. The grant amount should be based on the mid-point of the price in each energy-efficiency category. Purchasers could take advantage of this program every 6 or more years – depending on the typical life of the appliance - per type of appliance (refrigerator, freezer, ovens/ranges, microwave, AC, furnace, heat pump, etc.). The old appliance would have to be turned in. Second items of the same type are not eligible for the subsidy.
5. I would require all architects, general contractors, and others involved in designing buildings to take at least 40 hours on energy efficiency theory and practice, including materials, and design considerations before they could renew their licenses. I would require each major jurisdiction to develop their own outline for what is being taught. Energy efficiency is a topic that is not well taught in some schools. The regional differences in construction types, insulation needs, etc. would be done at the major jurisdiction level (e.g., states in the US). This allows the course to be relevant to the local environment.
6. I would require electrical loads to get “smart” and provide secure communications to a building (home) management system. The buildings would be required to enroll in a demand side management (DSM) program. I would allow building occupants to set their own parameters for what actions are allowed from a list, occupants would be required to choose a certain minimum percentage of energy use to enroll. I would allow manufacturers and others to agree to a single communication method and data communication (e.g., WiFi and IEEE 2030.5), but would allow them to work to find a good standard for everyone to use, royalty free. This would allow flexible load, that the building occupant has a strong input into, if they don’t want to give up air conditioning in the summer than they need to choose other loads to reduce (e.g., vehicle charging or hot water).
Get Published - Build a Following
The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.
If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.