RTF Quarterly Newsletter: Quarter No. 51 January-March 2023

The RTF had a busy start to 2023 updating three UES measures and one standard protocol, deactivating one UES measure, and adding two new measures to the portfolio. In addition, the RTF reviewed the results of a number of studies and projects completed last year, including explorations on the impacts of low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants on energy efficiency, methodology to value building resilience, and a framework for assessing energy efficiency and demand response wholistically. The RTF also advanced the development and maintenance of its commercial and residential models and completed commercial model alignment for a number of building types. In addition, the RTF launched a new tool for Residential Energy Efficiency and Demand Response (REEDR) to support modeling of residential measures, which in addition to the framework will allow the RTF to expand its analysis of energy efficiency and demand response in updating and developing measures.

For questions on the work in the first quarter or more details on the current efforts, please continue to check out the RTF website or reach out to Laura to learn how to continue to stay connected.

New UES Measure Updates

Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps for Multifamily

In March, the RTF adopted a new UES measure for Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps for Multifamily. This planning measure is for the installation of an AHRI certified Packaged Terminal Heat Pump (PTHP) that replaces a Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner with integral electric resistance heat in a multi-family dwelling unit (low, mid, or high-rise).  To improve the reliability of savings in future updates, the RTF is seeking research to gain more understanding on the: 1) estimated unit level savings separately by heating zone and building size, and 2) estimate savings separately for varying identifiers, such as PTHP size, unit operations, etc. The estimated regional potential for this measure is 27 aMW. The RTF adopted the measure and set the sunset date to March 31, 2027 to allow time for research to occur.

Doorway Air Curtains

Also, during the March meeting, the RTF expanded the Air Curtains UES planning measure to include units installed in doorways for two new applications, cold storage and distribution center, not just walk-ins. An air curtain is installed on a doorway and blows a thin curtain of air just inside the opening, when the door is open, to save energy by reducing the infiltration of warm/moist air into the cooler or freezer space. With the expansion of this measure, the RTF added new identifiers and details presented specific to these two applications. The RTF is seeking research to improve the reliability of savings, with the objectives of: 1) determining the change in door time caused by the installation of an air curtain, and 2) collecting data about the adjoining spaces and air flow velocity. The RTF also maintained the sunset date as July 31, 2024, since the walk-in portion of the measure was not updated at this time.

Non-measure Work

Low GWP Refrigerant and Energy Efficiency

The RTF contracted DNV in 2022 to perform a study explaining the possible impacts on energy efficiency of the federal and state requirements on low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. At the January meeting, DNV presented their findings from this study which covered three parts: 1) summarizing federal and state requirements, particularly focusing on the Council states, 2) summarizing potential alternative low GWP options in the market by application, and 3) quantifying the impact of these alternatives on equipment energy performance. The study found that current federal regulation does not meet the needs of OEMs, end-users, or environmental groups, all of whom are looking for a uniform federal framework. Additionally, state uptake of the Significant New Alternatives Policies (SNAP) is varied across the region. While alternative low-GWP refrigerants offer energy efficiency improvements, they are usually coupled with lower capacities and challenges including, requiring new systems, concerns around flammability/toxicity, or high capital costs. The documents from this study are available on the Supporting Documents section of the RTF website.

Energy Efficiency Resilience Valuation Methodology Study

The Council in its 2021 Power Plan directed the RTF to investigate the potential methods for quantifying the value of energy efficiency measures for building resilience. In 2022, the RTF contracted Apex Analytics to study how weatherization measures can support buildings to better withstand long duration power outage events and they presented the results of this study at the February RTF meeting. As part of the study, Apex developed a tool to estimate the monetary value of resilience, based on the ability of a weatherized building to maintain temperature and avoid the need a back-up generator. This tool provides a first of its kind approach to determining a value for the resilience impacts of energy efficiency. The RTF and Council will continue to advance this work leading up to the next Power Plan. Additional details about this study and final documentation are available on the Supporting Documents section of the RTF website.

Framework for the Interaction between Energy Efficiency and Demand Response

The 2021 Power Plan also directed the RTF to identify how to improve the valuation of flexibility benefits from energy efficiency. The RTF contracted Cadeo Group in 2022 to perform a study that documented the current landscape of demand flexibility in power system planning and the interaction between energy efficiency and demand response, as well as analyze and classify the interactive effects of energy efficiency and demand response to inform future modeling of these resources. Cadeo presented the findings from this study at the February RTF meeting. The RTF will continue to advance this work by considering interaction between energy efficiency and demand response as existing measures are updated and new measures are developed. The details about this study are available on the Support Documents page of the RTF website.

UES Cost Review Findings

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council in its 2021 Power Plan identified that energy efficiency is more cost competitive with other resources. In recognizing the importance of additional focus on the costs of energy efficiency, the RTF in 2022 contracted ADM Associates to review the incremental cost estimates and methodologies for all current UES measures. Specifically, this effort reviewed the cost estimates and methodologies to ensure the rigor, accuracy, and consistency with the RTF Guidelines. The results of this study were presented at the January meeting, highlighting that the majority of the cost estimates and methods were compliant, discussing next steps for those identified needing updates, and process by RTF staff and contract analysts to ensure continued consistency. The documents from this review are available on the Supporting Documents section of the RTF website.

Residential Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Tool

At the February meeting, the RTF Contract Analysts announced the completion of the Residential EE and DR Tool (REEDR). This is an open-source tool that was funded by the RTF and developed by Christian and Logan Douglass to ease the process of building, running, and analyzing residential building energy models in EnergyPlus. REEDR will be used by the RTF going forward instead of SEEM for residential energy efficiency and demand response modeling of measures. While REEDR is currently available for use, the RTF will be working over the remainder of the year to calibrate the tool through a four task process and will be providing updates on the progress and results to the RTF as the tasks are completed.

Deep Energy Savings Interventions in Commercial Buildings

In October 2022, the RTF decided to pursue the development of a white paper focused on deep energy savings interventions for commercial buildings, spanning both new construction and existing buildings. The purpose of the white paper is to begin drawing out the RTF perspective through specific examples of potential energy savings interventions. At the March meeting, the RTF CAT provided an update on the progress of this work, specifically walking through two examples using real data. The RTF continued to support the direction of this work only asking clarifying questions during the session. The RTF CAT will be completing a draft of this paper in the second quarter for the RTF to review and approve at an upcoming meeting.

Commercial Model Alignment

The RTF has a suite of EnergyPlus based commercial building simulation models and over the past two years has been working to align these models to billing and characteristic data from the CBSA. Most recently, Cadeo Group was contracted to continue this process and align the models for warehouses, retail, medium office, large office, and residential care. At the March meeting, Cadeo updated the RTF about the results of this alignment process and the CAT provided details on the overall process and next steps for the remaining models. This will allow the RTF to expand its measure suite for commercial measures.

New Measures

The RTF accepts proposals for potential new measure on the website and periodically throughout the year, RTF staff and CATs bring these to the RTF for consideration on allocating resources to further explore the potential to develop a measure, standard protocol, or other resources. At the February meeting, the RTF reviewed five proposed measures: irrigation reduction for orchards and vineyards, high efficiency decoupled commercial HVAC retrofits, wall-mounted heat pumps, alternatives to cremation, toilet fan systems, and heat recovery ventilation and energy recovery ventilation (HRV/ERV). Based on the initial scoping and recommendations by the CAT, the RTF decided to allocate resources only to irrigation reduction and high efficiency decoupled commercial HVAC retrofits, and a more targeted measure for HRV/ERV. Additionally, wall-mounted heat pumps would be considered in the upcoming new measure development for packaged terminal heat pumps. These measures will be added to the queue and assigned as contract analyst time and resources are available based on the other work plan priorities.

Subcommittee Roundup

Non-Residential Lighting met in January to discuss the Non-Residential Lighting Retrofit Standard Protocol, specifically considering the alignment of the Protocol with federal standard for general service lamps and other RTF lighting measures as well as the current practice baseline for the balance of measure life savings.

Whole Buildings convened in March to review practical HVAC system options in a range of scenarios for deep energy interventions. Participants provided feedback about controls problems with some systems, HVAC load dependence on shell improvements, and cost-effectiveness of these types of programs.

Small and Rural Utilities, which maintains a dedicated function within the RTF to support the specific needs of small and rural utilities, convened for the first quarterly meeting of 2023 in March. At this meeting, staff shared what work has occurred at the RTF since the group last met and members shared what their utilities have been working on recently and have planned for 2023.

Commercial HVAC convened in March to discuss the development a new measure installing a Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps (PTHP) in multifamily buildings to upgrade PTACs or other electric resistance heating. The Subcommittee provided feedback on the scope of base case, cooling savings, and overall technology. 

RTF Operations met before each RTF meeting to review and discuss the proposed meeting agenda, decisions, and contracts.

Upcoming at the RTF

In the second quarter, the RTF will be advancing and considering the following:

  • Efficient Pumps UES
  • On Demand Overwrappers UES
  • Display Case Lighting UES
  • New Manufactured Homes and HVAC UES
  • Single Family Weatherization UES
  • Manufactured Homes Weatherization UES
  • Commercial Gas RTUs New UES
  • Residential building simulation modeling (REEDR) calibration update
  • Multifamily Weatherization UES
  • Commercial Deep Energy Interventions White Paper

Approved Measure Updates