Downtown Pittsburgh Office Occupancy Is Way Down, but Energy Use? Not so Much.

This story comes from our husband or wife, 90.5 WESA.

Downtown office occupancy is however down 83{77cee397d25497406907bc5f78f1cff64d8c0594b11a1d7f77fe1a342e6e8ad4}, as personnel continue on to work from home all through the COVID-19 outbreak. But in spite of small occupancy, electrical power use in office environment structures in Oakland, the Strip District and Downtown fell only 4{77cee397d25497406907bc5f78f1cff64d8c0594b11a1d7f77fe1a342e6e8ad4} from pre-pandemic concentrations in 2020, in accordance to a Eco-friendly Creating Alliance report.

The report observed that even when a building’s occupancy is minimal, not much changes in conditions of how a lot vitality it needs to function.

“It doesn’t make a difference if there are people in the constructing or not, truly,” said Chris Cieslak, the senior director of the Pittsburgh 2030 District, an energy-reduction and reporting initiative in which practically 500 Pittsburgh buildings participate. “The constructing gets a living, respiratory human body that you have to take care of, irrespective of whether it’s for the duration of a pandemic or not.”

About 50 percent of business creating power use is from heating, cooling and air flow. But until a constructing is fully unoccupied and “mothballed,” or taken out of use, the total of heating and cooling it needs does not alter.

“If you have obtained 10{77cee397d25497406907bc5f78f1cff64d8c0594b11a1d7f77fe1a342e6e8ad4} of the folks in the setting up, you nonetheless have to warmth and awesome it and ventilate it,” Cieslak mentioned. “You have to acquire care of the individuals — the skeleton crew — that is coming into that creating. They nevertheless want to have very good indoor air top quality. They continue to want to have a reasonable temperature to function in.”

Even though lower-occupancy place of work structures have possible used a lot less electric power to ability lights and personal computers, some may perhaps be using more to make improvements to indoor air and lessen the chance of COVID-19 transmission. Some of these procedures include things like opening air dampers to allow a lot more exterior air into a creating and working with dense MERV-13 air filters, equally of which raise the amount of electrical power desired to condition a developing.

It is not very clear when Pittsburgh place of work properties will be thoroughly occupied. During the summer season, occupancy fees amplified slowly, at the level of about 1 {77cee397d25497406907bc5f78f1cff64d8c0594b11a1d7f77fe1a342e6e8ad4} of pre-pandemic preceding levels per thirty day period.

Cieslak says it could make sense in the potential to use building automation to shut down elements of lower-occupancy office buildings beneath pandemic situations, this kind of as “mothballing” an unused conference room.

“In the back again of our minds — I do not know if this is practical or not — if you’re going to have a pandemic when each and every 10 yrs, and it is heading to wipe out your occupancy for two yrs at a time, then yes, possibly it does make perception to have your buildings be in a position to be expanded and contracted every single time that happens,” Cieslak mentioned. “It will acquire a lot of funds to do that.”

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