Residential storage hits new record, deploying 36MWh in Q1

Dive Brief:
Residential energy storage deployments hit a record in the first quarter, according to the latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor report from GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association.
There was as much grid-connected residential storage deployed in the first quarter, 36 MWh, as was deployed in the previous three quarters, according to the report.
Much of the increase in residential energy storage deployments can be attributed to changing policies in California and Hawaii, which together accounted for 74% of the residential deployments in the quarter, according to the report.



Dive Insight:
Both California and Hawaii have made changes to their solar programs over the past few years that resulted in reduced net metering compensation, which consequently increases incentives for energy storage.
Hawaii, for example, capped its consumer grid supply program and placed an export moratorium on its consumer self-supply program. Both programs were put in place as alternatives to the state’s net metering program, which was canceled in 2015.
California is transitioning to time of use (TOU) rates, causing greater customer demand for storage because it will give them greater control over their electricity bills, a senior analyst on energy storage at GTM, Brett Simon, told Utility Dive via email.
The combination of California’s TOU rates and the state’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) makes solar-plus-storage almost competitive with solar-only, based on 2018 assumptions, Simon said, adding that solar-plus-storage will be the superior choice for homeowners on TOU rates within a few years.
Solar-plus-storage is, in fact, emerging as a key driver in the growth of the energy storage market. “More than 95% of all residential storage is solar-paired,” Simon said. It is also an important factor in the commercial and industrial and the front-of-the-meter markets (FTM), he said.
Residential storage systems accounted for 28% of the megawatt hours deployed in the first quarter, but the residential segment was second behind the FTM segment, which accounted for 51% of deployments. The non-residential segment, meanwhile, accounted for only 21% of the deployed MWh.
Overall, 126 MWh of energy storage were deployed in the first quarter, a 26% increase from fourth quarter 2017, but a 46% decline year-over-year. But GTM analysts say fourth quarter 2017 was an anomaly because that is when many of the large energy storage projects needed to offset the gas leaks at Aliso Canyon in Southern California came online.
GTM Research sees the energy storage market approaching the 1 GW mark in 2019 and crossing it in 2020. By 2023, BTM energy storage deployments will account for 47% of the annual market, GTM estimates.

Will batteries do for wind what they’re doing for solar?

Experts say wind-plus-storage could become viable with longer-duration batteries.
Figure 1. Eolic Energy, Wind Turbines.
Energy storage is storming the U.S. power industry, driving changes from the bulk system level to the customer level.
At the system level, February’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 845 required bulk system operators to design new rules to integrate storage. April’s Order 841 rewrote the rules on interconnection, opening new opportunities for storage.
At the customer level, state lawmakers and regulators in 32 states considered 57 policy actions on deployment, targets, studies and rebates for energy storage in Q1 of this year.
 Until about 2015, utility executives and renewable energy skeptics regarded cost-competitive battery energy storage as unachievable. Today, it is a central focus of the power sector.
Figure 2. Eolic Energy, Wind Turbines.
 “We always called it the ‘holy grail’ because we knew too much wind and solar would break the grid without energy storage, but we thought it would always be too expensive,” former Southern California Edison VP Jim Kelly told in a 2015 conference.
As the stack of services storage can offer, including capacity and resilience, became understood, it went from a holy grail to the hottest topic in energy. Lithium-ion batteries have captured the most attention, but there are several other fast-advancing battery chemistries and storage technologies, according to the November 2017 Levelized Cost of Storage Analysis from Lazard.
Battery storage’s cost is highly variable because of the range of technologies and applications, but the much-discussed cost plummet is real. The overall estimated cost fell 32% in 2015 and 2016, according to the 2017 GTM Reseach utility-scale storage report. That will slow over the next five years, GTM reported. But battery storage is — in certain places and applications — on its way to cost-competitiveness.
Industry insiders expect a cumulative drop in the levelized cost, depending on location and application, as much as 36% between 2018 and 2022, according to Lazard.
Figure 3. Eolic Energy, Wind Turbines.
Those prices are leading many renewable energy developers to pair their solar projects with energy storage. In California, the nation’s dominant solar energy state, the Solar Energy Industries Association chapter formally revised its name to the California Solar and Storage Association this February.  
The early success of solar-plus-storage is leading some developers to consider combining batteries with large wind projects, but researchers and industry officials say storage technologies will need to develop further before the paired resource is competitive. 
The current capital cost for storage, which was $1,000/kWh in 2012, is estimated as low as $200/kWh, according to a study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) previewed May 10 at the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual national wind energy conference. The study foresees the capital cost for battery storage falling to $100/kWh — but does not conclude it will be cost competitive for wind.


Minimizing spikes in energy demand is one of the top priorities for many utilities around the globe. With market and regulatory pressure to deliver enough power for the smallest window of peak demand, utilities have prioritized customer demand reduction to mitigate costly investments in infrastructure expansion. To encourage reduced energy consumption from commercial & industrial customers during these peak times utilities offer special pricing packages, create tiered time-of-use pricing, implement demand response programs, and incentivize energy shifting and efficiency enabling technologies.
Alternative energy generation, particularly wind and solar, have been growing at an increasing rate and have helped alleviate some of the demand challenges. An obvious benefit of solar is that hours of solar collection often overlap with high demand periods. But, one limitation to these alternative energy sources is the intermittent nature of the power supply which then requires a back-up power source.  Secondly, when enough of these renewables are online alleviating the typical peak demand periods they inadvertently cause a new peak demand period on the grid when the wind stops blowing or the sun goes down (see California’s growing “Duck Curve”).

Figure 1, Wind Power Stations

The Achilles’ Heel of renewable energy sources and potentially the solution to the broader problem of demand spikes is energy storage. By reliably storing enough energy during low consumption periods and deploying that energy during high consumption periods, power generation levels could be flattened and predictable. Enter the massive influx of investment in storage technologies, particularly batteries.
Even as battery technology advances, there are a handful of energy-intensive industries that batteries are unable to economically power for extended periods of time. One of these is the cold storage industry comprised of frozen food warehouses that range from 10,000 to 200,000+ square feet and grocery and restaurant walk-in freezers from 100 to 1,000+ square feet. There are over 2,200 cold storage frozen warehouses plus almost 40,000 supermarkets and over 620,000 restaurants with walk-in freezers in the US alone.
Maintaining stable sub-freezing temperatures around the clock requires massive amounts of energy to run their refrigeration equipment. Because of this, cold storage operations have the highest energy demand per cubic foot of any industrial category and are the third highest commercial energy consuming category, consuming over $30 billion USD of power every year.
Despite the huge amount of potential demand reduction and load shift the industry represents, and the millions of square feet of rooftop space, the industry is relatively slow to adopt solar. Partially because these facilities must run refrigeration equipment 24/7 to protect their inventory of frozen food. Also, despite the massive amount of roof space, most of these energy-intensive facilities cannot be fully powered by solar without additional real estate and solar panels.

Figure 2, Solar Panel Stations

Now there is an alternative storage technology, Thermal Energy Storage (TES) from Viking Cold Solutions, that can hold enough energy to provide up to 12 hours of load shed for typical freezer scenarios, a four times longer discharge duration than lithium-ion storage. TES systems alone save cold storage operators 20 to 35% on energy costs. When paired with solar generation, TES can save even more and address alternative energy’s shifts in demand (Duck Curve) and intermittent nature (Case Study: Pairing PV & TES in a CA Cold Storage Facility – Saved 39% on annual energy costs).
This alternative storage technology makes investment in solar or other renewables much more attractive.
The behind-the-meter TES systems consist of phase change material (PCM), intelligent controls, and 24/7 remote monitoring & reporting software that easily install and run in tandem with the cold storage facilities’ existing refrigeration, control, and racking systems.

Figure 3, Thermal Storage Unit

During solar-generating hours the facility’s existing refrigeration equipment runs and freezes the non-toxic, environmentally-safe PCM. During non-solar hours operators can shut down refrigeration systems for extended periods of time. During these prolonged time periods, the PCM absorbs and stores 85% of all heat infiltration in the freezer, maintains temperature stability to ensure food quality and safety, and reduces energy consumption up to 90%.
Globally there is an opportunity to shift thousands of megawatts of cold storage demand with thermal energy storage, and many progressive utilities around the country have already tested, approved, and included thermal energy storage systems in their incentive programs. Paring the alternative storage technology TES (installed price under $1,000 per kilowatt) with alternative energy generation can eliminate millions more dollars of utility infrastructure costs across the globe.

Four Alternatives to Traditional HVAC

Explore chilled beam systems, geothermal, night-sky cooling, and thermal energy storage as some new HVAC possibilities.
HVAC is a necessity in every building. Whether you’re heating, cooling, or ventilating, you need to have systems in place that will do the job efficiently, effectively, and comfortably. But, there’s not one system that will do the job for every facility. As technology develops, green becomes status quo, and people demand healthier, more comfortable places to live, work, and play, you may want to investigate other HVAC options.
If your HVAC systems haven’t caused you big problems or complaints, why should you give them a second thought? The 2-20-200 rule is a good reason. Consider this: In a typical U.S. commercial building …
    Roughly $2 per square foot is spent each year on energy.
    The cost of construction, amortized over 25 years, equals about $20 per square foot per year.
    Overhead costs, salaries, etc. to keep occupants in the building total around $200 per square foot per year.
When you’re able to increase occupant productivity by just 1 percent (the equivalent of about 5 minutes per day per person) via better indoor air quality or better temperature control, that increase pays for your building’s energy use for an entire year. And, if you’re able to increase occupant productivity by 10 percent, you could pay for your building.
If your HVAC system isn’t cutting it anymore – or even if it is – check out some of these alternatives: chilled beam systems, geothermal, night-sky cooling, and thermal energy storage systems.
    Chilled Beam System
    Night-Sky Cooling
    Thermal Energy Storage

An example of night-sky cooling in use:

Located on Stanford University’s campus in Stanford, CA, The Carnegie Institute for Global Ecology, built in 2004, makes use of a night-sky cooling system. Chilled water is supplied at between 55 and 60 degrees F. using only 0.04 kW/ton, and using approximately half as much water as a traditional water-cooled chiller.



An example of thermal energy storage in use:

The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, VA, uses thermal energy storage; its system has been in operation since 1996. It utilizes a 2.2 million-gallon, above-ground chilled water storage tank that stores 40-degree F. chilled water to supply cooling to various airport locations. The stored water is also available for fire suppression.


An example of chilled beam systems in use:

In late 2009, the Constitution Center in Washington, D.C., was the first large-scale building in the United States to use chilled beam technology. Chilled beams were chosen to overcome duct-distribution issues and offer comfort for tenants. The chilled beams serve the primary office area (floors 2 through 10). Conventional systems serve the entrance, lobbies, conference areas, etc.



An example of geothermal in use:

For the Killbear Provincial Park Visitor Centre, which opened in June 2006 and is located in Nobel, ON, the nearby Georgian Bay waters provide a cost-effective, energy-saving source for heating and cooling. A closed loop of condenser water using food-grade glycol sits 15-feet below the water’s surface. The loop feeds 11 high-efficiency heat pumps inside the building and eliminates the need for a supplementary boiler or cooling tower.



Plug loads are an important contributor to a building’s peak air-conditioning load and energy consumption. Plug loads over time have evolved to become a larger percentage of a building’s overall heat gain. Two factors are responsible for this increased significance. First, over time, computer use has continued to increase resulting in a much larger number of personal computers in use in buildings. Second, advances in building techniques have improved envelopes and reduced that portion of the load/energy use.
As building envelope and system technology have improved, computer technology has advanced. Lower energy notebook computer and LCD monitor use are more widespread while at the same time, computing power, peripherals use, and enhanced or multiple monitors use have increased.
The industry is moving toward a much greater focus on low energy and even net zero energy buildings. Part of this industry movement results in a need to design based on the lowest possible plug load assumptions. Every project or application is different, and engineers are often asked to apply their judgment for plug load assumptions without the benefit of all the needed or available information. This article is intended to provide data and recommendations that will allow engineers to make these important decisions on just how low they can go in terms of plug load assumptions for a specific project or application.



Historical Perspective

Computer use in buildings started to become prevalent and began to be a consideration in building air-conditioning loads in the 1980s. At that time, loads were generally calculated based on the nameplate data on the computers and other electronic equipment. In the late 1980s, computer use began to become more widespread. In this era, the authors observed that it was not uncommon for air-conditioning systems to be sized for plug loads of 3 to 5 W/[ft.sup.2] (32 to 54 W/[m.sup.2]).
A 1991 ASHRAE Journal article (1) reported on research done in Finland where the actual load from computers and other equipment was measured and compared to nameplate data. This relatively modest effort revealed that the measured load of this equipment was typically only 20% to 30% of the nameplate data. This revelation provided the first hard evidence of this issue and changed the way that plug loads were considered in load and energy calculations.
Next, Wilkins and McGaffin in 1994 (2) reported measurements in five U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) office buildings in the Washington, D.C. area. Their work included informal measurement of a large sample of individual equipment items, as well as measurements at panels that served computer equipment within a given area of the building. The results provided further verification of the nameplate discrepancy of individual equipment, provided measured data for the determination of the load factor of an area and, for the first time, allowed the load diversity factor to be derived based on measured data.
ASHRAE followed up this informal research with the execution of two research projects: RP-822 (1996), “Test Method for Measuring the Heat Gain and Radiant/Convective Split from Equipment in Buildings” and RP-1055 (1999), “Measurement of Heat Gain and Radiant/Convective Split from Equipment in Buildings.” (3,4) The experimental results corroborated the earlier findings but did so in a more formal and traceable manner. All of this work led to a widely referenced ASHRAE Journal article in 2000. (5) This data was incorporated into the ASHRAE Handbook–Fundamentals starting in 1997 and then significantly expanded in the 2001 edition.


Current ASHRAE Handbook Data

Data presented in the 2009 ASHRAE Handbook–Fundamentals, Chapter 18, Nonresidential Cooling and Heating Load Calculations, relative to office equipment loads (or plug loads) is based largely on the research and publications cited previously. Data is presented in a number of formats and breakdowns but can be best summarized by considering Table 11 in Chapter 18, which states that a “medium density” office building will have a plug load of 1 W/[ft.sup.2] (10.8 W/[m.sup.2]). It is believed that this value of 1 W/[ft.sup.2] (10.8 W/[m.sup.2]) has been widely used in the industry since the mid 1990s. The authors believe this value is, and always has been, somewhat conservative when used in office environments. However, its use has proven to provide an appropriate balance to cover potential future loads while not introducing significant over-design in building systems.


Trends to Date

This approach and recommended load factor have remained roughly the same since the mid-1990s. Computer technology has certainly changed since that time but until recently, there was no need to change the use of 1 W/[ft.sup.2]. In fact, a comprehensive study was conducted by Koomey, et al, (6) and reported in December 1995 where it was predicted that plug loads in office buildings would decrease modestly through at least 2010 (Figure 1).
This decrease was expected to be due to technical advances that would result from ENERGY STAR and other related programs. Their predictions were based on energy use, not peak load values, but it is believed that these trends would be similar and, in fact, history has proven this to be the case. Office equipment has become more efficient, and overall plug load intensity has decreased.



Current State of Plug Loads

Predicting the future of the information technology (IT) world is not attempted here, but recent studies, as described later, have provided new data that gives a clearer picture of the current state of plug loads. It is important to understand the current state of the equipment that contributes to plug loads and how this equipment now in use differs from equipment in use at the time 1 W/[ft.sup.2] (10.8 W/[m.sup.2]) was found to be an appropriate load factor. Hosni and Beck have recently completed the latest ASHRAE-sponsored research project RP-1482, “Update to Measurements of Office Equipment Heat Gain Data,” (7) where measurements were obtained from an up-to-date sample of office equipment including notebook computers (laptops) and flat screen (LCD) monitors.
Table 1 shows how this most recent data compare to previously referenced work, as well as some other data from Kawamoto (8) and Moorefield (9) for some of the most common office equipment. Desktop computers show a trend toward increasing peak energy but the sleep mode has become much more effective over time. This increase in the desktop computer peak wattage has been offset by the lower power consumption of LCD monitors. Using a notebook computer, instead of a desktop computer and an LCD monitor, results in a fairly significant reduction in peak wattage. It is clear that notebook computer’s popularity, flexibility, cost, and computational power have expanded their use and is expected to result in a meaningful reduction in plug load power levels.
In the work by Moorefield, four modes of operation for computers and monitors were considered that included active, idle, sleep, and standby. These categories were determined by statistical grouping of the measured data and not based on internal operation of the equipment. Power consumption during what was referred to as sleep and standby was generally low and corresponded to the findings for what was called either idle or sleep mode by Hosni in RP-1482.
For the purposes of load calculation discussions, it seems that consideration of only two modes, active and sleep is appropriate. Moorefield also reported periods of notebook computer operation with power levels as high as 75 W, but no explanation for what contributed to this was provided.
Notebook computers may introduce a secondary peak condition that could occur when the internal battery is charging while at the same time the notebook is in full use. This condition may increase the power consumption by as much as 10 W during the charging period according to informal measurements by Hosni. The data shown in Table 1 represent the peak for fully charged battery condition.
Recognizing that computers and monitors represent the largest share of the plug loads in most conventional office buildings, the power reduction during idle operation will certainly have a significant impact on energy consumption and may be having an impact on the peak cooling load as well. The question to be answered in terms of peak air-conditioning load is how much of the equipment is in sleep mode at the time of peak air-conditioning load. To answer this, diversity factor must be considered.



Diversity Factors

Diversity factors were not presented in the work by Moorefield, but the data that were collected did allow for an approximation of diversity factor to be calculated. Energy use data were collected from groups of individual items of equipment and then these groups of data were averaged. Diversity is then the average measured energy divided by the peak measured energy. In this case, the peak measured represents the average of the peaks for all equipment of the given type that was in the study.
Figures 3 and 4 represent detailed curves for desktop computers diversity and Laptop docking station diversity. A single week of data was chosen and presented that represents the higher end of usage.. For the purposes of the table and the development of load factors discussed later, the diversity factor for Laptop docking station was assumed to be the same as for desktop computers.



Impact on Load Factors

The most useful form of this data for use by engineers performing load calculations is when it is presented as a load factor such as watts per square foot (W/ [ft.sup.2]). This new equipment and diversity factor data were coupled with some general assumptions and used to generate the updated load factor data presented in Table 3. It can be seen that if 100% notebook use is assumed and typical diversity factors are applied, plug loads could realistically be as low as 0.25 W/[ft.sup.2] (2.7 W/[m.sup.2]). Even light and medium use of desktop computers results in plug loads below the traditional 1 W/[ft.sup.2] (10.8 W/ [m.sup.2]). More extreme scenarios can be considered such as the case where all workstations use two full-sized monitors that can result in plug load of 1 W/[ft.sup.2] or more. The most extreme scenario considered assumes very dense equipment use with no diversity at all and results in a plug load factor of 2 W/[ft.sup.2] (21.5 W/[m.sup.2]).
The load factors presented are based on hypothetical conditions with the best available data applied to them. Each of these includes a factor to account for some level of peripheral equipment such as speakers. This analysis suggests that there will be many cases where the design plug load can be assumed to be below the traditional value of1 W/[ft.sup.2] (10.8 W/[m.sup.2]) without risk of under-designing the system. There are many factors that could impact the actual plug load for a specific space or building and careful consideration must be given to the assumptions used for any given condition.




Nearly all building projects today have a goal of using the minimum energy possible and having a small overall carbon footprint. Computer equipment used in offices has been a part of the overall trend toward energy use reduction. It is now possible to realistically conceive of an office space that could have a peak plug load as low as 0.25 W/[ft.sup.2] (2.7 W/[m.sup.2]). When this lower plug load level is coupled with the lower lighting power density targets, the result is the building internal loads are being reduced to very low levels.
Using a very low plug load assumption in an attempt to design ultra-low energy buildings comes with some risk. The occupant at the time of design may have fully embraced a low-energy office mentality, but in the future, there may be new occupants with less dedication or equipment with different energy consumption. However, the new data suggests that the time has come to reexamine the use of 1 W/[ft.sup.2] (10.8 W/[m.sup.2]) as the default industry norm.


As revealed by the Urban Green Council in its yearly energy and water use reports, NYC buildings use the largest share of their energy consumption for space heating and domestic hot water, where natural gas is the most common heat source. Building cooling also ranks among the largest loads, with lighting being the only electrical system with a higher consumption. Thus, HVAC engineering services can provide high value for property management companies, making heating and cooling systems more reliable and energy efficient. Consider that upgrading these systems does not only save energy, it also improves indoor conditions for occupants.
To get an idea of the benefits you can get from HVAC consulting services, consider all the positive attributes of a well-designed and well-maintained HVAC installation:
  • It keeps indoor temperature and humidity within a range that is healthy for humans, making building interiors suitable for long-term occupancy.
  • It provides indoor air quality (IAQ), ensuring a constant supply of fresh air and preventing the buildup of pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOC).
  • It achieves the two benefits described above at an optimal energy cost. Although HVAC expenses can be expected to be high in a large building, there is no need for them to be excessively high.
Keep in mind that NYC also has a very demanding Energy Conservation Code, and compliance is mandatory for projects above certain size thresholds outlined in the code. Working with qualified HVAC engineers is the best way to ensure your property is code-compliant.
If you are considering a major renovation, it represents a great chance to improve your HVAC installations. Under normal conditions, a deep HVAC retrofit can be highly disruptive for building operation. However, the building interior is taken apart anyway during a major renovation, so why not use the chance to improve key systems like HVAC?

HVAC Engineering Guarantees the Right Temperature and Humidity

We don’t think about temperature and humidity when they are adequate, but when they fall outside the range considered suitable for humans, we quickly feel discomfort. Poor temperature and humidity control can even lead to health issues, such as respiratory system diseases and skin irritation. Harmful organisms such as mold, dust mites and bacteria thrive in humid environments, adding to the health risk.
In many cases, especially older buildings, heating and cooling systems are sized based on “rules of thumb” instead of detailed HVAC engineering. There is a common misconception that oversizing equipment is good practice, but actually it leads to poor humidity control and fluctuating temperature. Oversized equipment also tends to run in shorter cycles, accelerating component wear and increasing maintenance expenses.
If HVAC equipment is properly installed, temperature and humidity stay within a range suitable for humans, and without drastic fluctuation. This improves health and comfort, and in business settings it also leads to increased productivity.

HVAC Engineering Improves Indoor Air Quality

Outdoor air is generally believed to be more polluted than indoor air, but research by the US Environmental Protection Agency indicates otherwise. On average, indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, and this applies for urban and rural settings alike.
HVAC engineering not only guarantees adequate temperature and humidity; it also ensures that the building is properly ventilated. Consider that the NYC Mechanical Code establishes minimum airflow requirements depending on the type of building and number of occupants, and the HVAC system must make sure that the specified airflow is delivered.


When dealing with HVAC, ventilation cannot be addressed separately from heating and cooling equipment, since system components are constantly interacting with each other. In HVAC engineering, a whole-system approach yields much better performance than addressing different building systems in isolation. It is also important to note that ventilation efficiency measures deliver significant heating and cooling savings: if there is less air to heat or cool, energy requirements are reduced.


HVAC Engineering Improves Energy Efficiency

NYC has some of the highest electricity rates in the USA, and many HVAC system components run with electricity, including fans and air-conditioning units. Therefore, it is in your best interest to ensure this equipment consumes as little energy as possible.
Space heating and domestic hot water systems normally rely on natural gas or heating oil, which are a less expensive heat source than electricity, but are also a source of emissions. Since NYC has an ambitious emissions reduction goal of 80% by 2050, buildings will eventually have to cut down their fossil fuel consumption.
HVAC consulting services can help you find trouble spots in your building systems, allowing you to detect and prioritize the most promising building upgrades. If you want to reduce the energy expenses of your building, a targeted approach normally yields a much higher return on each dollar spent, compared with prescriptive measures.

Final Recommendations

HVAC engineering services can help you detect opportunities to achieve significant savings, especially considering the high cost of energy in NYC. If your lighting installations have not been upgraded for a long time, also consider a lighting upgrade – you can achieve additional building cooling savings by reducing the heat output of lighting installations. In case you are considering a major renovation, it is also a good chance to improve the building envelope and achieve even higher HVAC savings.


It is important to identify when the The NYC Energy Conservation Code is mandatory. It was first created through Local Law 85 of 2009, taking the NY State Energy Conservation Construction Code as a starting point, and introducing amendments that made the code more demanding for NYC. The code is subject to constant revision, and updated editions have been published in 2011, 2014 and 2016.
If you own a building or are planning a real estate project in New York City, you cannot overlook the Energy Conservation Code. The first and most important step is to determine whether your project is covered by the code, and the best recommendation is to ask a qualified engineering consulting firm. However, keep in mind that energy efficiency measures are beneficial even when they are optional, so you should consider them even if the energy code does not impose building upgrades in your case.
New constructions are always covered by the NYC energy code and compliance is mandatory. However, existing buildings must only be upgraded to meet the energy code under certain conditions, which are described in this article.

NYC Energy Code in Existing Buildings: Local Law 88

Normally, existing buildings are only subject to the NYC Energy Conservation Code when they undergo changes such as additions or renovations. However, there is one case where the code imposes upgrades regardless of planned modifications: when existing buildings are covered by Local Law 88 of 2009.
Like the NYC energy code, Local Law 88 is part of the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, and it can be summarized as follows:
  • Individual buildings with at least 50,000 ft2 of floor space are covered.
  • Groups of 2 or more buildings with at least 100,000 ft2 are covered, if they are under the same tax lot or condominium ownership.
  • Lighting systems in covered buildings must be upgraded to meet the NYC Energy Conservation Code, and the deadline is January 1, 2025.
  • Building owners must also deploy sub-metering to track the electricity consumption of tenant spaces above certain size thresholds (explained in Local Law 88).
  • The following occupancy groups are exempt from the lighting upgrade even if they meet the conditions above: Residential Groups R-2 and R-3, and houses of worship under Assembly Group A-3.
This is the only case where the NYC energy code imposes an upgrade for an existing building where no changes are planned. Otherwise, only buildings that undergo changes are affected.
Keep in mind that the NYC energy code has different requirements for residential and commercial buildings. If you must upgrade the lighting system to meet Local Law 88, make sure you are following the guidelines that apply for your type of building.
The residential version is less demanding, since it only imposes a minimum percentage of 75% high efficacy lamps.
On the other hand, the commercial version imposes maximum lighting power densities (watts per square foot) depending on the activities carried out in each space, while introducing automatic control requirements.
If a single building is split into residential and commercial areas, they must be addressed separately following the corresponding energy code requirements.

NYC Energy Code Compliance for Building Modifications

If an existing building is not subject to a mandatory lighting upgrade by Local Law 88, there are four scenarios where the NYC Energy Conservation Code requires upgrades:
  • Additions: Projects that increase the conditioned floor space or height of a building.
  • Alterations: Defined by the energy code as constructions, retrofits or renovations that require a permit from the NYC Department of Buildings, excluding additions and repairs. The term also applies for mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) projects that expand or modify the existing arrangement and require a permit.
  • Repairs: Reconstructions or renewals that are part of maintenance processes or are carried out to fix damage.
  • Change of occupancy: Any change in building usage that leads to its reclassification under a different occupancy group.
This list of conditions applies for both residential and commercial building. The main difference is that repairs subject to the energy code differ slightly between both building types.
Repairs in Residential Buildings
1) Glass-only replacements in existing windows.
2) Roof repairs.
3) Lighting repairs when only the ballast or bulb is replaced in existing fixtures, without increasing lighting power.
Repairs in Commercial Buildings
Same as residential, plus two more conditions:
4) Air barriers are not considered roof repairs if the rest of the building envelope is unaltered.
5) Door replacements between conditioned spaces and the exterior count as repairs, but excluding vestibules and revolving doors.


If you ask engineering consultants, they will always recommend energy efficiency, especially considering the high electricity prices in NYC. However, there may be cases where the NYC Energy Conservation Code makes these upgrades mandatory. Like in any construction or renovation project, working with a qualified engineering firm from the start ensures code compliance and provides long-term benefits.
In the specific case of lighting upgrades to meet Local Law 88, consider that Local Law 26 demands sprinkler system installation for all office buildings at least 100 feet tall. If your property is subject to both laws, consider merging both projects to minimize disruption – both lighting upgrades and fire sprinkler installation involve removing portions of the ceiling.


Forecast Highlights


Global liquid fuels

North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $58 per barrel (b) in October, an increase of $1/b from the average in September. EIA forecasts Brent spot prices to average $53/b in 2017 and $56/b in 2018.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices are forecast to average almost $5/b lower than Brent prices in 2018. After averaging $2/b lower than Brent prices through the first eight months of 2017, WTI prices averaged $6/b lower than Brent prices in September and October. The spread between Brent and WTI prices is expected to remain at this level through the first quarter of 2018 before narrowing to $4/b during the second half of 2018.
NYMEX contract values for February 2018 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending November 2 suggest that a range of $45/b to $67/b encompasses the market expectation for February WTI prices at the 95% confidence level.
EIA estimates U.S. crude oil production averaged 9.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in October, down 90,000 b/d from the September level. Crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico averaged 1.4 million b/d in October, which was 260,000 b/d lower than the September level. The lower production reflected the effects of Hurricane Nate. At the time of publication, most oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico had returned to operation following the hurricane, and EIA forecasts overall U.S. crude oil production will continue to grow in the coming months. EIA forecasts total U.S. crude oil production to average 9.2 million b/d for all of 2017 and 9.9 million b/d in 2018, which would mark the highest annual average production, surpassing the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970.
U.S. regular gasoline retail prices averaged $2.51 per gallon (gal) in October, a decrease of 14 cents/gal from the average in September, which was the highest monthly average since July 2015. The September prices reflected the effects of market disruptions following hurricanes Harvey and Irma. EIA forecasts the average U.S. regular gasoline retail price will average $2.47/gal in November and $2.39/gal in December. EIA forecasts that U.S. regular gasoline retail prices will average $2.40/gal in 2017 and $2.45/gal in 2018.

Natural gas

U.S. dry natural gas production is forecast to average 73.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, a 0.6 Bcf/d increase from the 2016 level. Natural gas production in 2018 is forecast to be 5.5 Bcf/d higher than the 2017 level.
In October, the average Henry Hub natural gas spot price was $2.88 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), down 10 cents/MMBtu from the September level. Expected growth in natural gas exports and domestic natural gas consumption in 2018 contribute to the forecast Henry Hub natural gas spot price rising from an annual average of $3.01/MMBtu in 2017 to $3.10/MMBtu in 2018. NYMEX contract values for February 2018 delivery that traded during the five-day period ending November 2 suggest that a range of $2.08/MMBtu to $4.52/MMBtu encompasses the market expectation for February Henry Hub natural gas prices at the 95% confidence level.

Electricity, coal, renewables, and emissions

EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas will fall from an average of 34% in 2016 to about 31% in 2017 as a result of higher natural gas prices and increased generation from renewables and coal. Coal’s forecast generation share rises from 30% last year to 31% in 2017. The projected annual generation shares for natural gas and coal in 2018 are 32% and 31%, respectively. Generation from renewable energy sources other than hydropower grows from 8% in 2016 to a forecast share of about 9% in 2017 and 10% in 2018. Generation from nuclear energy accounts for almost 20% of total generation in each year from 2016 through 2018.
Coal production for the first 10 months of 2017 is estimated to have been 656 million short tons (MMst), 59 MMst (10%) higher than production for the same period in 2016. Annual production is expected to be about 790 MMst in both 2017 and 2018.
Wind electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 82 gigawatts (GW). EIA expects wind capacity additions in the forecast to bring total wind capacity to 88 GW by the end of 2017 and to 96 GW by the end of 2018.
Total utility-scale solar electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 22 GW. EIA expects solar capacity additions in the forecast will bring total utility-scale solar capacity to 27 GW by the end of 2017 and to 31 GW by the end of 2018.
After declining by 1.6% in 2016, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are projected to decrease by 0.8% in 2017 and then to increase by 2.1% in 2018. Energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices.


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Price Summary

West Texas Intermediate.

 Average regular pump price.

 On-highway retail.

 U.S. Residential average.
WTI Crude Oila

 (dollars per barrel)
Brent Crude Oil

 (dollars per barrel)

 (dollars per gallon)

 (dollars per gallon)
Heating Oild

 (dollars per gallon)
Natural Gasd

 (dollars per thousand cubic feet)

 (cents per kilowatthour)






EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas will fall from an average of 34% in 2016 to about 31% in 2017 as a result of higher natural gas prices and increased generation from renewables and coal. Coal’s forecast generation share rises from 30% last year to 31% in 2017. The projected annual generation shares for natural gas and coal in 2018 are 32% and 31%, respectively. Generation from renewable energy sources other than hydropower grows from 8% in 2016 to a forecast share of about 9% in 2017 and 10% in 2018. Generation from nuclear energy accounts for almost 20% of total generation in each year from 2016 through 2018.
Wind electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 82 gigawatts (GW). EIA expects wind capacity additions in the forecast to bring total wind capacity to 88 GW by the end of 2017 and to 96 GW by the end of 2018.
Total utility-scale solar electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 22 GW. EIA expects solar capacity additions in the forecast will bring total utility-scale solar capacity to 27 GW by the end of 2017 and to 31 GW by the end of 2018.




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U.S. Electricity Summary

Retail Prices
(cents per kilowatthour)
Residential Sector
Commercial Sector
Industrial Sector
Power Generation Fuel Costs
(dollars per million Btu)
Natural Gas
Residual Fuel Oil
Distillate Fuel Oil
(billion kWh per day)
Natural Gas
Conventional Hydroelectric
Renewable (non-hydroelectric)
Total Generation
Retail Sales
(billion kWh per day)
Residential Sector
Commercial Sector
Industrial Sector
Total Retail Sales
Primary Assumptions
(percent change from previous year)
Real DIsposable Personal Income
Manufacturing Production Index
Cooling Degree Days
Heating Degree Days
Number of Households


Proper selection of centrifugal pumps is more important than ever. Getting it wrong can have drastic consequences on maintenance, reliability and efficiency. However, the selection process remains difficult for many users.
Pumping System Optimization by the Hydraulic Institute is an evaluation of 1,690 pumps at 20 process plants. The study discovered some alarming results. It found average pumping efficiency to be below 40%. Additionally, over 10% of pumps were less than 10% efficient. A major reason behind such poor numbers was improper pump selection.
These findings should be appreciate in the context of pump economics. The general rule is that a pump and motor combo will cost about $1 per day per horsepower of the motor. While energy cost vary by location, this is a good starting point to begin understanding the potential costs. For larger horsepower pumps running inefficiently, the waster capital can be staggering.


But energy cost alone are seldom a reason for change, much less the transformation of an industry. Once pumps are installed and running, the energy costs can sometimes be out of sight and out of mind.
On the top of that, there are many other costs in industrial facilities. Discovering the true cost of the pump is difficult when it is buried in an industrial energy bill alongside the high cost of heating, cooling, and running of the equipment.
Even contracting out the selection process to a reputable engineering company bring no guarantee of success. It takes a clear understanding of centrifugal pump design, the common pitfall involved in the selection process and the consequences of improper selection.
Centrifugal pump technology has been around 100 years without any revolutionary changes. Certainly, there are new alloys and coatings for casting and impellers, and efficiencies have increased. If anything, older designs are more robust than many you see today.
A pump application plays a critical role. A high quality pump from a reputable manufacturer may perform poorly in certain systems. Even an expensive model made from titanium and designed to NASA specifications for a 30 year life cycle could be inadequate for certain applications. To fit pump to the right application, it is necessary to dig into the basic operating points of centrifugal pumps.
Figure 1: The Components of a Centrifugal Pump
As the pump shaft spins, it turns the impeller inside the casing which adds energy to the process fluid. This allows the impeller to act as a cantilever with a wear ring, seals, and bearings that keep everything in place and fluid from leaking out. The spinning impeller changes the incoming fluid’s direction, which can cause intense radial loads on the pump. The bearings not only reduce rolling friction, but support the pump shaft and absorb these radial loads.
All pumps have a design point where efficiency is maximized, known as the best efficiency point (BEP). This is where the pump runs the smoothest and radial forces are minimized. The farther away from the BEP, the higher the radial loads on the pump (Figure 2).


The pump generally will have a critical speed around 25% the BEP where its natural frequency os reached and excessive vibration may occur, The pump could shake itself apart, first going through the wear ring, then the seals and finally the bearings. This is easy to spot; the pump will vibrate and may begin leaking fluid well before the next scheduled maintenance period.
The BEP should be a factor in the selection of centrifugal pumps. Pums curves demonstrate the strong relationship between pump life, pump reliability and where the pump operates on its curve.
The performance of individual pumps is a combination of design and operating conditions.
The pump’s performance data is provided in the form of pump curves, whose primary function is to communicate or define the relationship between the flow rate and total head for a pump.
Pump curves are provided by the manufacturer and show the operating characteristics of a specific pump type, size, and speed based on the results from standardized tests and test conditions. A healthty pump always maintains the defined relationship between the head and flow.
The pump curve is required for proper pump selection, monitoring pump health and troubleshooting the entire piping system. It will ensure the pump is matched to the system requirements, indicate if the pump is not operating on the published curve, and pinpoint any problems and how to resolve them.
A pump curve is critical for every point. The BEP on the pump curve indicates the peak or maximum efficiency. To operate on the BEP, the system must either control the pressure at the outlet of the pump or the flow through the system to keep the pump operating point (indicated by the red arrow in figure 2).
For example, if the system causes the discharge pressure to rise, the operating point will move to the left up the curve and flow will reduce. If the system causes pressure to drop at the pump’s discharge, the operating point will move down and to the right. Moving to the left or right of the BEP increase forces on the impeller. These forces causes stresses which have a negative effect on the life and reliability of the pump.
If we overlay the expected life of the pump as a function where the pump is operating, we get a “Barringer Curve” which shows the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) as a function of BEP flow rate. This curve was created by Barringer & Associates in a study of seal failures in centrifugal pumps.
Using the curve on page 2, the closer the pump is operated to its BEP. The greater the MTBF. As the operating flow rate of the pump moves further to the left or right of the BEP, failures occur more frequently.