Step 5 Data Validation

All data collected during the site visit should then be reviewed to identify any missing or inconsistent information that will need to be collected and validated during later follow-up visits. The subsequent data validation process will determine if the collected data is consistent with the findings of the study team and if the various data components are consistent with each other. Primary data should be entered into electronic format to allow for efficient review and preliminary analysis. Graphical plots of data, such as load vs. outside air temperatures, should be checked for correlation. Thermal (heat) balance and other operating standards should be reviewed for consistency with the site visit observations and with energy and other resource usage records.

The facility record drawings and system schedules should also be carefully reviewed at this time. Any discrepancies that cannot be resolved should be marked for further scrutiny and reviewed with operating personnel at the facility. At this point, an internal report should be generated to summarize the status of the preliminary study and identify the tasks to be completed during follow-up site visits.

As part of the continuing load analysis and aggregation effort, the magnitude of all loads will be developed in discrete time periods so that they can be related to occupancy schedules, utility rate periods, and weather patterns. Peak load requirements and coincidence of peak demand will also be studied. All of the log and record data will be processed into load profiles in electronic format for further graphical and statistical analysis. These profiles make a valuable planning tool for facility managers and the study team should make the data files available upon request.

Additionally, decisions about energy sources must be tied to the understanding of the facility's overall heat balance. This is particularly important when considering the application of cogeneration cycles or other heat recovery technologies. A decision as to whether or not to expand or reduce low-pressure steam usage or a decision to convert an electric heating application to a thermal application (or vice versa) will greatly impact the heat sink available for effective use of recovered heat. Hence, topping cycles and other processes that use energy at its highest level of availability (lowest entropy) must be considered interactively with bottoming cycles and processes that use energy at lower levels of availability (higher entropy).

A different type of example is a situation in which one is considering some type of end-use heating application (e.g., process use, water heating, etc.). If this location is being served by a central steam distribution system, converting from a steam-technology device to a direct fuel or electricity-driven device would lower the demand on the central steam system. In the case where consideration is being given to decentralize and eliminate the entire system or portions of the system, this may be an excellent opportunity. Conversely, if the system is to remain in place and is already underutilized, this conversion may adversely impact overall system efficiency by, for example, further reducing loading on boilers that are already experiencing efficiency degradation due to low-load operation.

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