03/28/2014

Simplified calculations streamline feasibility analysis

Simplified calculations streamline feasibility analysis.

Building owners have inquiring minds – they want to know the exact return on any potential energy investment. And consulting engineers are perfectly happy to be paid for exhaustive calculations. But are these necessary in the feasibility stage?

A simple “no” is the answer of engineer Richard Vaillencourt, author of Simple Solutions to Energy Calculations (233 pages, Fairmont Press). The book provides simplified calculations to streamline feasibility analysis so that readers can answer another question: Should I drop this project or dig deeper?

Key topics include the walk-through audit, lighting, pumps, fans, motors, insulation, fuel switching, heat recovery, HVAC, and sample energy calculations. The fifth edition includes new material on how to evaluate energy service companies (ESCOs) and their performance and savings guarantees.

As the book points out, some energy calculations are quite easy, while others are extremely difficult. The trick is knowing which you need based on the stage of decision making. The author readily advises readers not to “bet your job on the exact value of the savings calculated from these equations.” But if you want to simplify without oversimplifying – and avoid paying a consultant $200 per hour for feasibility work – this book may provide the tools for you.