Carol Brzozowski 2017-03-01 14:51:52
Several years ago, the city of Orlando, FL, received a small funding opportunity from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), enabling the city to invest in the first centralized building automation system for city facilities and institute HVAC replacements. The result surpassed expectations, with the city realizing savings averaging 25% and in some buildings, more than 32%. The city is building upon the success under the leadership of Ian L. LaHiff, P.E. LEED-AP BD+C, who serves as Orlando’s energy project manager and facilitates energy efficiency upgrades throughout the city’s wide portfolio of buildings. LaHiff now leads a team of construction professionals focused on identifying and implementing energy efficiency measures throughout the city’s 6.3 million square feet of managed facilities with the effort funded through municipal bonds totaling more than 10 times the initial ARRA funding. The city is tracking $2.5 million in reduced utility expenditures with a targeted payback of seven years or less. What He Does Day to Day “Every day is different, but most involve working with my team to determine the most cost-effective approach to an energy conservation measure,” notes LaHiff. “We strive to not only improve the energy efficiency of facilities, but also the operational effectiveness for the customer. For example, if we can reduce the cost of running a fire station while improving the firefighters’ comfort level and visibility, they can redeploy resources to better respond to emergencies. Our fire stations, police stations, community centers, and sports venues see the benefit of our conservation efforts beyond just the energy savings. We strive to learn their needs and come up with energy management solutions that also add value to their work while saving on the utility cost.” What Led Him Into This Line of Work Growing up in coastal Florida ingrained a deep sense of conservation for the area’s natural resources, says LaHiff. “Knowing I always wanted to be an engineer, I pursued a degree in mechanical engineering with a focus on energy systems,” he says. “I feel most fulfilled when I know I am making a quantifiable impact.” LaHiff earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Central Florida and is a licensed Professional Engineer. He has more than eight years of design and construction experience with a focus on sustainability and most recently held a fellowship working at the US Department of Energy before joining the Orlando Green Works team in 2013. An active member of the local ASHRAE chapter, LaHiff has been a board member of the Central Florida Region of the US Green Building Council since 2014. After working as design engineer for several years, LaHiff found the burgeoning energy program at the city of Orlando to be a perfect fit. “I am constantly challenged to make smart investment decisions that affect city operations and reduce waste,” he says. “I have the privilege of working with a bright team focused on developing strategies across seven focus areas of sustainability.” Those areas include energy and green buildings, local food systems, a green economy, livability, solid waste, transportation, and water. What He Likes Best About His Work “In addition to leading the city’s energy efficiency renovation effort, I also have the opportunity to consult on newly-constructed municipal facilities, with each one achieving LEED certification,” says LaHiff. “I also get to work hand-in-hand with local industry to continue the market transformation towards a more sustainable economy and increased resilient infrastructure.” His Greatest Challenge Obtaining timely, accurate information to make data-driven decisions for managing city resources presents LaHiff with his greatest challenge. “Depending on the resolution and type of data, there can be a significant cost to install monitoring systems and analyze the information,” he says. “When all of the effort to obtain information and make smart investments comes out of the same budget, you really have to be selective. We’ve had the opportunity to partner with an enterprise-level data analysis company that helps us bring together the total cost of ownership of each of our facilities. This platform aids in the decision-making process and also works to capture ancillary costs that help us justify a project’s ROI.” DE Carol Brzozowski specializes in topics related to energy and technology.
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