Save Negawatts With NBI’s Retrofit Savings Estimator

June 12, 2015


Save Negawatts With NBI's Retrofit Savings Estimator

A megawatt is a unit of power equal to 1 million watts, and, as a facilities manager, you’re constantly working on reducing them.

However, you may not be aware of the negawatt, a term created by physicist Amory Lovins in 1989. As the story goes, Lovins saw megawatt misspelled with an ‘n’ in a document, and saw the potential of using this new word in a very different way, as a unit of power that was saved or not needed to be produced.

Nowadays, innovative financing options are allowing facilities managers to use negawatts to justify energy retrofits. But how do you determine the potential savings associated with an energy retrofit project?

The New Buildings Institute (NBI) recently unveiled a free tool, the Retrofit Savings Estimator, which makes it easier and faster for facilities managers and building owners to identify the best retrofit strategies by calculating the amount of potential energy savings in a wide variety of structures, from schools to offices.

To use the estimator, you’ll need some basic information about your structure to fill in the blanks:

  • Year of construction
  • Building type
  • Total building floor area
  • Heating/cooling equipment and fuel sources
  • Location
  • The number of windows vs. walls
  • The number of occupied floors above grade

If you don’t know a specific number, a default measurement is provided based on basic characteristics you’ve already provided. But the more detail you have, the better chance you’ll have of getting a clearer picture of the retrofits and energy savings you’ll achieve.

The first rounds of calculations and simulations create a baseline to determine which energy retrofits are best for your facility, according to NBI.

Then, to get the most out of the Retrofit Savings Estimator, you’ll need more specific information. If additional roof insulation is a suggested improvement, knowing the age of the roof and the amount of insulation is helpful.

Based on those extra details, the NBI tool develops hundreds of simulations to determine the net effect of energy savings retrofits singularly or in groups. You can also see how these changes (shown as a percentage of savings) compare to your facility’s current energy usage or to a structure built to similar codes in your town.

The best news about the Retrofit Savings Estimator: From filling in the blanks online to the final results only takes about 15 minutes and you can print copies of the suggested retrofits too.

Look for more suggestions on improving your facility’s energy usage via retrofits by subscribing to our Facebook and Twitter feeds that are frequently updated every week.

For guidance on preparing your facility for energy retrofits, contact Vanguard Resources.