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August 17, 2018

Optimizing Your Energy Costs

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Planning to optimize energy use in the built environment often revolves around the sun. Terms like daylighting, solar shading and thermal glazing are common when considering the design of a new space.

But at Strang, we look well beyond the impact of the sun to create an optimal energy plan for any building. We identify, analyze and select the most sustainable building forms, site orientations, materials, construction practices and engineering systems for a facility. We’ll custom the plan based on the type of facility, size of the building and the site itself.

Developers and building operators understand the impact of the environment on their facilities. Owners must maintain a balance between staff productivity and comfort and on-going energy utilities and maintenance costs. The analysis methods available today help architects and engineers find the best solutions early in the process, long before a building is designed.
Stake-holders consider life-cycle cost models that plan for the life of the facility. They may ask questions like: what is the highest energy consumer in my laboratory? Or should I invest in higher quality windows to spend less on heating and cooling systems? Should I build now, or proceed with a phased-in approach?

The key is to answer these questions early so the design team can create a plan and analyze it. Our team brings a holistic range of options and focused results to make the best decisions about the project. The solutions vary widely based on the client’s needs.
One of the more common challenges is allowing sunlight into the interior, warming it in the winter, but not overheating in the summer. The solutions range from orientating the building footprint to optimize the positive effects of the sun; creating shade through an overhanging roof or window sunshades; and specifying various types of thermal glazing. All allow sunlight but help mitigate the negative effects of direct sunlight.
For a building owner looking to save money on energy costs through an up-front investment, there are several options. One recent solution developed by Strang is the design of an underfloor air distribution system (raised floor) for a 180,000-SF commercial office building. The raised floor system will improve the energy distribution costs by $1.20 per square foot, a significant savings based on the size of the building.

Another sustainable solution Strang designers offered a client is a ground-couple heat pump system – commonly known as geothermal. The system is designed to reduce water consumption for HVAC cooling by 99 percent on this multiple building campus. This will amount to saving 12 million gallons of water per year compared to the amount used in a conventional cooling system.

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