If you manage a commercial building, ensuring it meets the relevant energy efficiency standards is crucial. Energy standards such as IPMVP (International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol) and ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) can help in this regard.
Utilizing these standards will not only help you to avoid the hefty fines associated with noncompliance but also ensure the building is energy efficient. However, conserving energy is not always straightforward, and analytics may not be in place to highlight what’s draining energy in the commercial building in the first place!
There are, however, some short and long-term actions that can be taken right now to improve the energy efficiency of a commercial building.
In this blog, we’ll share five specific ways to conserve energy in a commercial building, helping building owners and managers to be compliant with the relevant energy efficiency standards.
- Identify which appliances/functions are draining energy
The first of our five ways to conserve energy is to start with any appliances that are draining energy within the building.
Maybe some appliances are damaged and/or working below the optimum energy efficiency standards and if so, energy management or reporting software should be able to pick this up if it is in place. Damaged, energy hungry appliances are likely to fail in the future and will cost far more than if they were replaced right away.
- Come up with a plan to replace energy inefficient appliances
Having identified what’s draining the most energy – the next step is drawing up a plan to change those appliances.
For example, if the building uses incandescent bulbs, upgrading them should be a key consideration. While more affordable than compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) at the point of purchase, they only last on average 1,000 hours, whilst CFLs and LEDs can last up to 8,000 and 25,000 hours on average respectively. CFLs and LEDs cost more at the point of purchase, but over their lifetime will cost significantly less than incandescent bulbs which will need to be replaced on a regular basis. Energy efficient solutions overall may cost more at the point of purchase but will be much more affordable over the long term.
Building managers should also invest in lighting sensors and controls. Lighting sensors use motion detectors to determine if an area is uninhabited and if it is, the lights will turn off after a short delay. Lighting control systems, on the other hand, are designed to provide the right amount of light when and where it is needed. For example, during the day the control system will automatically dim electric lights in response to the level of available daylight (this process is known as daylight harvesting).
Another source of energy worth considering is solar. Setting up solar panels on the building’s roof could provide an additional (and free) source of energy. This energy could then be used to light the building during the early hours or at night – far more affordable than using the building’s standard lighting!
- Regulate energy usage
Work out how to optimize the building’s energy usage so that energy is only being used when it is actively required. For example, turning off the lights when they are not required (lighting sensors will also help in this regard) and ensuring cleaners operate in the early morning to harvest daylight and reduce disruption. Also, encourage tenants to turn off office equipment as the energy used by devices, even on standby, can quickly accumulate and be costly. Also, if those devices are not ‘energy efficient’, a standby state can influence their longevity.
- Continue to monitor equipment and functions and maintain/repair them if necessary
Even with all the above in place, continue to monitor lights, ventilation, heating, water, etc. to see if everything is working to an optimal standard. For example, ventilation controls and monitoring can help to better circulate air – providing air to areas that need it – whilst ventilation monitoring tools will help to evaluate the performance of the ventilation system to ensure it’s operating optimally.
Preventative measures will ensure that hefty costs for maintenance and repair are avoided. Also, by monitoring the building’s functions on a day-to-day basis, the data collated can later be analysed to determine whether anything could be improved.
- Get buy in from senior members/directors/stakeholders and even tenants
If everyone is working towards the same goal of reducing energy consumption and appreciates the importance of improving energy efficiency, it will be much easier to implement new strategies, replace existing appliances, and enforce policies to switch off devices when not in use at the end of the day.
However, convincing senior members of your organization, as well as directors, stakeholders and even tenants, of the benefits of reducing energy consumption is dependent on whether you can provide them with the statistics or a cost benefit analysis. If reporting is in place to demonstrate, visually, how energy saving initiatives are benefitting the commercial building (and its tenants), senior members will be more likely to buy into the process and support it.
It’s essential that your commercial building meets the relevant energy efficiency standards. A good approach is to use the IPMVP standards and the ASHRAE standards. Both standards outline best practice guidelines for maximizing energy efficiency and using these standards in conjunction will allow you to revise the energy performance of the commercial building and help to ensure it's compliant with relevant energy standards.
Those are our five ways to conserve energy. If you want to find out more about saving on your energy usage, download our eBook on the top energy wasters and energy savers for your commercial building.