Turning Buildings Green with Data Loggers: a Conversation with Alexander E. Othmer

Florida State Energy Conservation Assistance Program
Alexander E. Othmer, director of the Florida State Energy Conservation Assistance Program, speaks to Onset about how data loggers are helping him to make building greens.

As the director of the Florida State Energy Conservation Assistance Program, Alexander E. Othmer knows what it takes to make buildings green. He is a certified energy auditor, environmental auditor, OSHA inspector, and failure analyst, and has had more than four decades of experience conducting energy conservation projects for a broad range of clients, from school districts to the military.

Q #1: Why did you choose HOBO data loggers as a solution?

One of our duties for the U.S. Department of Energy is to locate applications where sustainable and renewable energy would be applicable for the end user. The goal is to turn buildings into green buildings, and we perform analyses for state and local school districts, the military, and private industry, as well as residential customers.

Q #2: Have HOBO loggers provided you with a new way to analyze data?

We have developed an energy conservation test methodology based on the use of battery-powered HOBO data loggers, which we use in a variety of applications. For example, we’ll use data loggers with internal light intensity sensors for lighting load analysis. We may mount one logger externally and then another on working surfaces and have them record light data for 48 hours. Then we can offload the collected data onto a computer and see how much percentage difference there is between outside sunlight and daylighting entering a building. We can then use that information to design daylighting systems for the facility. Data loggers are also used for window load analysis and energy load analysis on air conditioning systems.

Q #3: How have data loggers improved the way you gather information?

Prior to this data logger testing method, we had to use a truck-full of chart recorders and thermocouples to monitor various components of a building. It was a real hassle to have to wire a facility, and could take up to 80 man-hours in certain cases. With data loggers, it may only take two hours.

Our office considers data loggers critical because green buildings computer simulation software, although effective as a preliminary tool, does not actually show you how a building is really reacting. Every one of our reports includes a graph from the actual site, so there’s no question of what the loads were during the time period. Architects look at these charts in amazement because the buildings often react differently from what was expected.