City of Houston
At a Glance
Commercial Energy Efficiency, Clean and Renewable Energy, Data Analysis
Geeta Goled helped the City of Houston identify energy savings at city-owned properties.
The City of Houston enlisted the help of Geeta Goled to uncover energy-saving opportunities in the city’s Drinking Water Operations Branch, quantify the relationship between the city’s energy and water production – called the water-energy nexus – and identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption in city-owned properties – particularly during peak times.
Goled started her project by comparing the city’s Energy Policy, current energy projects and the implementation process to analyze the gaps between the policy and its implementation. To facilitate implementation, she suggested that the five largest energy-consuming departments in the city consider having an energy conservation action plan. These plans would follow the “plan-do-check-act” framework for project implementation based on ISO 50001. She also recommended that the city focus on peak load reduction strategies – or strategies to reduce energy use during times, such as hot summer afternoons, when more energy is in demand. She recommended that the city analyze the peak load data for high energy consuming facilities and build a more comprehensive strategy to use building automation systems for demand reduction. In coordination with this, Goled recommended that the city develop or hire in-house experts to use the demand reduction tools. Based on her observations, she also suggested that the city should work on implementing a bottom-up approach for energy reduction projects, especially in the operational areas. Goled also suggested measures to increase the participation of private sector buildings in energy-efficiency projects.
For her work for the Drinking Water Operations Branch, Goled visited the water purification plants to understand the water treatment operations and the current energy management practices. She found that there was no specific energy conservation action plan or energy management system at any of the water purification treatment units or groundwater operations. The current operational strategy is focused on the water quality and pressure management components of the safe drinking water regulatory requirements. Goled suggested that Public Works & Engineering Department adopt an energy management system on the lines of ISO50001 Energy Management System. She suggested that Drinking Water Operations have an energy conservation action plan for all surface water treatment units and groundwater operations. Goled also recommended evaluating the installation of variable frequency drives on groundwater distribution pumps. This evaluation would encompass the cost benefit analysis for each facility including labor and maintenance needed long term. She also recommended retrofitting the current lighting system with energy efficient LED lights.
Implementing Goled’s suggestions could streamline the city’s current energy project monitoring, tracking and reporting process. By following a combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches, the city could see better results in terms of project implementation and energy conservation. Energy demand reduction while maintaining required system pressures may reduce the city’s energy bills. However, the City of Houston serves as a regional water provider with increasing production demands being projected and will not result in a net decrease in the city’s energy bills but possibly minimize the increase in energy if these strategies are implemented. Focusing on developing in-house expertise and investing in an employee training and awareness program could help the city build a robust organization-wide culture geared towards energy conservation and efficiency that aligns with each group’s primary function.