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IDL - Bozeman eNEWS - April 2013 - Vol. 6 No. 4

Entries in BetterBricks (5)


Reminder to complete Night Walks

Buildings are unoccupied during the majority of the year, likely between 5000-6200 out of 8760 hours.  That equates to more than half of the year.  How do buildings perform during this time?  “Night walks” are the key to finding out.  Night walks are walks that are done with a team of building engineers, checking for building systems that aren’t operating properly.  These are very important for the building; frequently the found problems are easily addressed.  This gives the opportunity for immediate energy efficiency and building performance improvements. 

Night walks are done primarily by the on-site building engineer or another member of the engineering or property management team.  The walks should not be solely by one person, as there are safety concerns associated with the walks. 

The walk should begin when the building is in ‘unoccupied mode’.  Many engineers recommend walks on a monthly basis.  At the minimum, walks should be conducted at least each quarter, with at least an hour dedicated to each walk.  The time is highly dependent upon the size of the building; in large buildings, it is about 15 minutes per floor.

Important spaces to walk through and check are mechanical rooms, areas near the top of the building, top of the roof and stairwells, main lobby and elevator lobbies, and a typical tenant space in each HVAC zone.

Feel for air movement, hot/cold temperatures, humidity, static shock, acoustic/physical vibrations, and hot electrical systems. 

Look for brightly lit areas, extremely dark areas, visible condensation, accumulations of dust on surfaces, blocked air diffusers, and water spots or standing water.

Listen for airflow, rattling, humming, high-pitched radio static, running or dripping water.

Smell for food, trash, or chemical odors, moldy odors, and overheated mechanical/electrical systems.

For additional information and specifics on what to look for, information can be found at the Better Bricks website.  The website also has four short videos, a brief, and a system diagnostic tool kit to provide the probable cause for the problems found.


2011 Montana Energy Conference For Businesses

REGISTER TODAY for the Montana Energy Conference for Businesses, June 7-9, 2011 in Bozeman, MT.

The 2011 Montana Energy Conference: Developing Sustainable Energy Savings through Energy Efficiency- for the people who operate and occupy commercial buildings and the energy community that supports them.

The conference features experts from Montana and the Northwest with great resources and tips to help businesses make a difference to their bottom line through energy savings.

Concurrent Tracks will be offered:

1) Lighting: A universal way to save energy

 2) Operations & Maintenance: From low-cost activities to the deep retrofit - energy management strategies that can make a difference

3) Equipment and Codes - Changes and opportunities.sessions run for opportunities in Lighting, Building Operations and Maintenance, and Codes/Equipment. For a complete line-up of speakers and course offering - visit the conference web - link below.

Attend for only $75 per person! Price includes all sessions, meals, an evening social, the 2011 Montana BetterBricks Awards Banquet, and exhibits! Or join us for the BetterBricks Awards Banquet for only $15.

Check out the conference agenda and register at



The conference has been brought to Montana through a partnership of NorthWestern Energy, NEEA’s BetterBricks initiative, and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.





Integrating Performance Modeling Into the Design Process

Authors Jeff Cole and Micheal Hatten present how to integrate performance modeling throughout the design process.  Starting with the basic four design strategies (Climate, Use, Building Design, and Systems) they outline how to optimize each of those four strategies throughout all the parts of the design process.  Below is a simplified outline of the presentation. 

4 integrated design strategies to consider throughout all phases of design

    -Climate:  see it as a resource, not a limitation

    -Use:  Small adjustments can create a significant difference

    -Building Design:  Orientation, form, and selection of materials are interrelated with opportunities of natural design strategies.

    -Systems:  Integrating climate into load scheduling will make a large difference in energy consumption.

Pre Design

    -Research climate, wind roses, and sun paths early in the process can inform many design choices that will enhance the sustainable aspect of the building.

    -Identify the components of projected use and programming that will impact the sizing of mechanical equipment and consider how these can be modified.

Conceptual Design

    -Think about the seasonal impact of the climate and way that they can be used as resources instead of limitations.

    -With a greater occupancy analysis and more detailed programming, consider the indoor quality.  For example if a lot of lighting is needed to do a specific task, develop a way to use natural daylighting to minimize the need for electric lighting.

    -Form an overall HVAC strategy; include passive systems that will impact the loads for sizing the mechanical units.

Schematic Design

    -Use research and strategies from conceptual design phase to inform the building design.

    -Create the form to take maximum advantage of daylight, natural ventilation, and view from within the building.

    -Develop different exterior shading options to help optimize building performance.

Design Development

    -Use performance modeling to inform decisions about what type of mechanical equipment and use the information to appropriately size the units.

    -Consider integrating daylighting and electric lighting with the use of sensors.

To read the full presentation, click here.

This article can also be found under the Resources--> Additional Resources section of the IDL_Bozeman website.


Get to know IDL Bozeman's sponsors: NEEA and BetterBricks!

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and BetterBricks are sponsors of the Integrated Design Lab Network.  These organizations do a lot to bring energy efficiency to our region.  Read more to find out how NEEA and BetterBricks can help you.


The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 with the mission to make affordable, energy efficient products and services available in the marketplace.  NEEA is funded by Northwest utilities (such as NorthWestern Energy), the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Energy Trust of Oregon.  They work in collaboration with stakeholders and strategic market partners to accelerate the market adoption of energy efficient products, technologies, and practices within homes, businesses and industry.

Since 1997, the region has saved more than 264 average megawatts (aMW), which is the equivalent to powering more than 182,500 homes, or the city of Spokane for one year.  This is incredibly important, as the energy demands of the region continue to rise.  NEEA understands that meeting the region's growing energy needs requires a diverse portfolio of resources with energy efficiency as its cornerstone. 

NEEA funds the Integrated Design Lab Network, as part of the effort to encourage energy savings through integrated design.  IDL-Bozeman is especially grateful for support from NEEA which allows for us to work with designers, architects, and engineers to bring the highest energy performance considerations directly to the design table. 


BetterBricks is the commercial green building initiative of leading Northwest utilities who have come together under the banner of NEEA.  BetterBricks is devoted to helping businesses in the Northwest realize the financial benefits from energy management. 

BetterBricks can connect you to a world of additional information, tools, and resources it takes to achieve energy savings through efficient building: 

  • check out the BetterBricks website for case studies and articles about energy saving efficiencies in the Northwest 
  • check out the "Rethink Energy and Design" blog to learn from other professionals about energy and our built environment 
  • click for the BetterBricks events calendar, to find details about the latest workshops, training programs, and other educational opportunities

Tips for Using BetterBricks.com

Have you ever gotten hopelessly lost trying to navigate the BetterBricks website? Well here are a few hints for how to make it a quick, easy, and worthwhile experience:

  • MAIN NAVIGATION: Just about every page on the website can be accessed by using one of the 7 headers at the top of the site. Click on one of these headers first, or roll over them with your mouse to see their drop-down menus.
  • SUB NAVIGATION: Once in a section, the roll-over menu list will appear on the left side of the screen. Use this list to move throughout a main section. Note that clicking Utility Locator, Events Calendar, or E-Newsletter Sign-Up in any section will redirect you to the About Us section. To get back to where you were, use the links at the top of the page.
  • WHERE AM I? Use the text in the green bar at the bottom of the page’s header to see where you are at any moment.

So what are some cool things to check out at BetterBricks.com? Try these suggestions from our Lab: