Evaluating the changes in energy efficiency rankings of commercial buildings after an energy retrofit

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Muthiah, Pragadeesh
Taylor, John E.
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Buildings account for more than 60% energy consumption in developed nations. Reducing natural resources and increasing cost of energy utilities makes it critical to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by making them more efficient. Buildings are complex, and it is very difficult to identify energy efficiency opportunities in them. This process becomes further difficult when managing a large portfolio of buildings. Energy retrofit is an effective method to improve the energy efficiency of a building. However, choosing an energy retrofit project, and quantifying the effectiveness of an energy retrofit project is still a challenging task. Georgia Tech campus was used as a test bed for this thesis. This thesis evaluates the effectiveness of energy retrofit projects installed in buildings on Georgia Tech campus. The test sample was comprised of 36 buildings, with 5 buildings receiving an energy retrofit project between 2016 and 2018. The energy efficiency of 36 buildings was determined using a temporal segmented building energy benchmarking method developed by Francisco et al. [1], for two year-long periods, 2016 and 2018. The change in energy efficiency of this group of buildings between the two periods was determined as a part of this analysis and it was used to understand the effectiveness of an energy retrofit project. The thesis tested the claim that buildings which received an energy retrofit project shows increased relative energy efficiency in 2018 compared to 2016. The thesis also tests the claim that buildings which did not receive an energy retrofit between the two periods do not show an increase in energy efficiency. The current research did not find enough evidence to support either of these claims. However, it is possible that these retrofitted buildings did not show an increase in energy efficiency due to rebound of other effects. In order to better understand the effectiveness of a retrofit project, the thesis evaluated the change in efficiency in different temporal segments. Evaluating efficiency in different temporal segments further helps in understanding the building efficiency. Comparing trends in EUI and efficiency change was another methodology used in this thesis to better understand the energy performance of a building. The methodology used in this research follows a top-down approach to evaluate the effectiveness of an energy retrofit project, and provides techniques in identifying future prospects for retrofit projects. Such a top down approach makes it easier to evaluate buildings in a large portfolio of buildings with less information. This methodology helps facility managers test the effectiveness of retrofit projects implemented and compare the returns against initial estimates. It also helps facility managers narrow the scope in identifying inefficient buildings with future prospective for energy retrofits.
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