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Code Barriers to Efficiency; Sticking Customers with the Bee Gees

By June 22, 2015November 7th, 2021Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant

Our industry really needs to call timeout; take a look around and ask, “what the hell are we doing?”  Build it [energy program] and they will come?  No.  Build it, and they will be alienated and give it the middle digit.

As noted most recently in a post on condensing boilers, I have written extensively about energy codes[1] outstripping the reality of human flaws; specifically, complex design and control sequences that require a 10-year industry expert and a licensed professional engineer to even understand the intent of a vast swath of the code.

Another perversion of the incomprehensible mumbo jumbo is the stranding of hundreds, if not thousands, of megawatts and billions and billions of kilowatt hours of impacts.  Call it the donut hole of obstinance.

Our industry obstinately clings to the irrational notion that the base case by which savings are estimated for retrofits and replacements is the mumbous jumbous energy code.  For example, the salon down the street must exceed the itty bitty lighting power density of the current code, along with dimming ballasts and auto-daylighting sensors – or it’s not good enough.

What is left to capture after that?  The customer starts with a power density of 0.8 watt per square foot that is powered up four hours per day – all off-peak in the wintertime.  To this, crumbs would be a feast!  The real savings are 75%.  The program savings: 0%.  In fact, they could save 40% for a quarter of the cost just to get to code compliance.

There they are – our small-business owner stranded with hideous looking fluorescent fixtures with 1970s technology burning 2.2 watts per square foot, 2,500 hours per year.  You don’t qualify because you don’t meet the requirements.

These customers are stuck in a time-warp donut hole, and we’re not going to help them.  Meanwhile, program administrators and implementers are having trouble meeting goals.

Speaking of donut hole… Guess what some direct installers are doing?  Where codes have advanced to the aforementioned skimpy power density with auto dimming control required on the perimeter, they are retrofitting core spaces and leaving the perimeter fixtures stuck in the Saturday Night Fever days.

Feel the AC shakin, my piggy bank breakin, I’m sayin goodbye, saying goodbye, ah, ah, ah, ah, sayin goodbye, sayin goodbye. ah, ah, ah, ah, sayin goodbye, sayin goodbye.

Thank me for having that song in your head for the rest of the day.  Is there a shorter lived genre in existence?

Doctors don’t tell patients on their way to type-two diabetes that they must achieve the physique of Lance Armstrong or Nicole Kidman.  We, on the other hand, do.

Will we fix this or continue the insanity?

[1] Commercial building codes

Jeff Ihnen

Author Jeff Ihnen

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