Barriers to Energy Efficiency
There are a large number of barriers to energy efficient improvements
in laboratories. The main barriers, identified at a US Labs21
workshop, are as as applicable to the UK as the US. They include:
-Standard design practices are based on old technologies or
inaccurate assumptions. These include: sizing air-side pressure
drops for a fixed static pressure; sizing water systems for
a fixed amount of head; using high coil and filter face velocities.
-Considerable emphasis is placed on system first cost although
lower first cost may result in higher life-cycle costs. Design
teams need to consider life-cycle costs, which often justify
higher-first-cost, energy-efficient equipment.
-Time and priority need to be given to working out new, nontraditional
designs. Energy-efficient designs may require additional staff
time or consultants.
-The conservative facility building culture often resists new
ideas. Innovators carry a heavy burden to prove the efficacy
of new design concepts; in addition, designers may risk legal
consequences if the laboratory's operation does not meet design
specifications/design basis documents.
-Benchmarking of energy costs is lacking. If an existing facility
does not already track what it costs to operate each component,
management has little information on which to base decisions
about possible improvements in energy use.
-Size limitations for code requirements may adversely affect
environmental conditioning system designs. For example, limiting
the height of the penthouse where the air handlers are located
may prevent optimal configurations of systems.
-Inadequate space may be available for energy-efficient equipment.
Currently, the architect often designs the facility and then
tells the engineers how much space they have. Early cooperation
among design team members is necessary to devise optimum configurations.
-Performance envelope specifications may limit possibilities
for energy efficiency. When the performance envelope or operating
range of the facility can be expanded—for example, increasing
the allowable relative humidity—lower first costs and
operational energy costs may result. Owners and occupants need
to clearly understand the impacts that design tolerances have
on facility energy performance.
-Designers who are familiar with energy-efficiency concerns
in laboratory-type environments are in short supply.