Development of a method for recording energy costs and uses during the construction process



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Rising energy costs should be a concern to contractors, designers, and owners. It is difficult to make a quantity takeoff for energy usage because these costs are imbedded in the materials, equipment, or overhead costs. This research examines energy consumption during the construction process, sets forth methods for recording this energy consumption and establishes a program for the recording and analysis of this data. An energy study of electricity, gasoline, and diesel consumption was made for the construction of three buildings to determine what data was available. After available data was evaluated, and the Energy Data Analysis program developed, three other construction sites were visited to determine how readily energy data can be recorded using the program. Four construction energy phases were identified from this research. The four phases are: 1) site clearing and preparation, 2) building structure, 3) interior finishes, and 4) commissioning. The main type of energy consumption during Phase 1 is diesel fuel for earth moving equipment. The energy uses for Phases 2 and 3 varied considerably among the projects studied and were difficult to quantify. However, the energy use during these phases was low compared to other phases and for many projects may not be economical to evaluate. During Phase 4, electrical energy demand was high due to Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) commissioning requirements and power up of all electrical power uses including lighting. These few construction projects are not enough to make definitive conclusions about what percentage of the total project cost is spent on energy. This research found that construction energy costs vary during different phases of the building process and can be a significant part of that phase (as high as 5.7% of the cost). The Visual Basic program developed during this research will facilitate future energy studies on construction sites. When the program is applied to a project, it identifies and quantifies the energy use, and makes predictions as to which project tasks warrant further energy studies.