Cork Education and Training Board - Energy Audit and BER Assessments

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IES Consulting provided Cork Education and Training Board (Cork ETB) with the foundations to create a future-proofed roadmap for decarbonising their buildings.

Key Facts

  • 27,732 m2 floor area across all buildings
  • Buildings constructed between 1930s and 2008
  • Total projected annual energy savings of up to 2,417,788 kWh (72%) based on all-electric heating options
  • Total projected annual carbon savings of up to 535 tonnes (62%) based on all-electric heating options.
  • A3 BER achieved across all Cork ETB owned buildings if all-electric heating options were implemented (B1 for biomass heating solutions).

Cork ETB provides, supports, and co-ordinates education, training, and youth services in County Cork. As a public sector organisation, Cork ETB needs to play its part in achieving the targets set out in the Government of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan. The public sector goals for 2030 include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 51% and improving energy efficiency by 50%.

With a large portfolio of buildings of varying age and condition, Cork ETB needed expert advice on developing a cost-effective roadmap to meet the targets. The board commissioned IES Consulting to perform an energy audit and Building Energy Rating (BER) assessment study for six of its buildings and campuses.

The aims of the study were to:

·       Create a baseline of energy use and calculate the existing BER of each building or campus

·       Identify energy conservation measures (ECMs) and analyse how much they could reduce energy consumption, energy costs and carbon emissions

·       Provide indicative budget costs and payback periods for implementing the ECMs

·       Determine the potential improvement in the BER if the identified ECMs were implemented


Analysing performance with the IES Virtual Environment

IES Consultants used the IES Virtual Environment (IESVE) to investigate the current energy performance of the buildings and analyse the impact of implementing a range of ECMs.

The first step was to create 3D digital models of the buildings, capturing the geometry and orientation of each building and information regarding the building envelope, ventilation, heating and air-conditioning, domestic hot water, and lighting systems.

The consultants performed detailed site surveys and used information from Cork ETB and their experience with similar buildings to develop the models. With the models in place, the consultants used IESVE to analyse over 20 different ECMs that could be applied to the buildings. Some key ECMs are described below:

Low/no cost practical measures
With high and volatile energy prices, savings can be made from reviewing energy plans and using regular meter readings to analyse trends and prevent overbilling. Other straightforward measures include insulating pipework, installing flow-reducing aerators in taps and checking temperature setpoints for optimal use. Regular awareness campaigns can encourage people to save energy.

Medium cost measures
Medium cost measures include upgrading florescent fixtures to LED and installing solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays where possible. Significant savings can be achieved by replacing old equipment with energy efficient equivalents and using automatic controls for energy management.

High cost, high saving measures
The most significant carbon savings come from replacing gas boilers with electric air source heat pumps (ASHPs) or biomass boilers. ASHPs are more environmentally friendly than traditional heating systems and cost savings over the long term can make up for high installation costs. Biomass boilers can offer carbon-neutral, environmentally friendly heating systems. However, requirements for storing and managing biomass fuel mean this option isn’t suitable for every site. Fabric upgrades such as installing double-glazed windows and high-quality wall and roof insulation also lead to higher energy savings, however, they generally come with a higher capital cost to implement.

A roadmap for climate action

The consultants’ analysis provided a breakdown for each building that outlined the energy, cost and carbon savings of each viable ECM with indicative capital costs and payback periods. It also provided the combinations that could offer maximum impact.

The consultants also calculated the improvement in the BER when implementing both individual ECMs and different combinations of ECMs. With maximum improvement, most buildings could move from C2 or C3 to A3 based on the all-electric heating options, with B1 BERs achieved based on a biomass heating solution. Even with low/no and medium cost ECMs, all buildings could achieve a respectable B2 or B3 rating.

Cork ETB can now make informed decisions about the measures that will best meet their climate targets while keeping within their operational constraints.

Since the completion of the above study, IES Consulting has been appointed to carry out similar assessments on the next tranche of buildings within the Cork ETB portfolio.

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