Text Size AAA Bookmark and Share

Integrative design to make big savings cheaper than small savings

Besides these conventional measures, further savings are available from integrative design, whose whole-system thinking often yields multiple benefits from single expenditures. This can often make energy savings bigger but cheaper, and by focusing first on downstream requirements, can compound savings of energy and capital upstream.

Integrative design can be extremely effective in a giant industrial plant’s pipes and pumps, its ducts and fans, and its drivesystems, but can also be applied to basic process design, whether in a chemical plant or a data center.

Integrative Design: A Disruptive Source of Expanding Returns to Investments in Energy Efficiency

This paper summarizes the principle of integrative design. Integrative design rigorously applies orthodox engineering principles, but achieves radically more energy- and resource-efficient results by asking different questions that change the design logic. Examples described in this paper for buildings, industry, and vehicles show that optimizing whole systems for multiple benefits, not disjunct components for single benefits, often makes gains in end- use efficiency much bigger and cheaper than conventionally supposed. Indeed, integrative design can often yield expanding rather than the normal diminishing returns to investments in energy efficiency, making very large (even order-of-magnitude) energy savings cost less than small or no savings.

Integrative design case studies: pump systems

Based on discussions with engineer Eng Lock Lee, a well–engineered redesign of many pumping systems will yield 80–90% savings. In these examples, many of these savings came from piping enhancements, the use of variable speed drives, digital sensors, the removal of oversized equipment, and high-efficiency equipment.

Integrative design cases: performance and costs

The costs of saving energy via integrative design vary widely. This scatterplot compares the physical energy use intensity of integrative design cases to the cost of conserved energy for these projects. In some cases, integrative design yields greater savings than standard design with no (or sometimes negative) incremental cost. In other cases, the building may have a significant cost premium.
Factor Ten Engineering (10xE) aims to help engineers, architects and their clients attack resource-intensive design problems, such as manufacturing processes, buildings and vehicles, using RMI's whole-system principles in order to produce fundamentally better results. Read the case studies.


Show Subscribe