The Surprising Connection Between Energy Loss and Odor Control (and the Big Pay-off)
The Roanoke Valley Resource Authority owns the Tinker Creek Transfer Station, the Smith Gap Landfill and the Waste Line Express train. This regional, public-private partnership was the first project in the United States to use rail as the sole transportation link between a solid waste transfer station and a landfill. A visual and diagnostic Facilities Energy Performance Assessment of the Administration Building and Tipping Floor at Tinker Creek Transfer Station resulted in recommendations to reduce energy usage and maintenance costs and to improve the working comfort of employees and visitors.
The 8,000 square foot Administration Building for Roanoke Valley Resource Authority (RVRA) located in Roanoke regularly experiences high energy bills and the scent of odorous air. The building is structurally connected to a 21,000 square foot tipping floor where local residents, contractors and regional locality refuse trucks discard solid waste. Better Building Works, LLC (BBWx) completed a visual and diagnostic Facilities Energy Performance Assessment of the administration building and tipping floor with our team of BPI certified professionals. Specifics of the assessment results included:
- Presence of the stack effect pulling odorous air from the tipping floor into the interior spaces of the administration building through vented floor soffits and roof venting.
- Acoustical ceiling tile performing as an inefficient air barrier allowing in-filtration of unconditioned air from the attics into the building.
- Mechanical equipment operating inefficiently due to age, leaky duct systems and thermal/air barrier bypasses in the building envelope. These conditions often equate to a 50%+ reduction in system efficiency.
- Though typical for the facility uses, the observed lighting is greatly inefficient. Metal halide lights and T12 fluorescent fixtures are among the least efficient lighting options available today and lose efficiency over time further reducing lighting effectiveness.
The assessment report generated by BBWx addressed health and safety issues, provided recommendations for the most cost effective facility energy upgrades and a comparison between a ‘business-as-usual’ energy scenario and an upgraded energy model. These recommendations will also reduce maintenance costs, lengthen the mechanical equipment life cycle, increase lighting performance and improve working comfort. Recommendations include:
- Spray foam the underside of the administration building roof structure, air sealing the structural connections between the administration building and tipping floor and removing or blocking vented eaves and roof venting, (effectively eliminating the transfer of odorous air from the tipping floor).
- Air seal the mechanical duct systems with mastic will ensure conditioned air is delivered to the desired interior spaces, improve indoor air quality and increase energy efficiency of the equipment.
- Replacement of T-12 fixtures with T-8 ballasts and bulbs and replacing metal halide light fixtures with fluorescent T5 High Output fixtures.
ROI (Return on Investment)
When compared to a ‘Business-As-Usual’ scenario, BBWx determined The Roanoke Valley Resource Authority could expect a minimum ROI equal to 14.6% and upwards of 45.0% with annual savings in excess of $10,000 if all recommendations are invested in. Beyond the energy and costs savings, the building occupants will remain more comfortable and breathe easier knowing the indoor air is cleaner and the facilities will become more valuable to the regional communities.