As a commercial building owner or facility manager, you need to be concerned about rising energy costs. Ideally, you would love to implement everything you can to improve your building’s energy efficiency and lower your operating costs immediately, but you’re also extremely busy and taking on that kind of project can be overwhelming.
That’s why we’re making it easier for you to prioritize what you can do to have the biggest impact on improving your commercial building’s energy efficiency in the Charlotte area. The following three upgrades are almost always at the top of every facility’s list of potential cost-saving actions. For a list that’s more specifically tailored to exactly what your facility needs, an operational assessment will provide fully customized recommendations.
Artificial lighting is the single greatest energy consumer in most commercial facilities. There are many ways to optimize your facility’s lighting for maximum efficiency. How you do so will depend a lot on what lighting equipment you currently have, how the building is used, and what your budget can handle.
Here are some specific tasks that will have a marked impact on your energy usage:
- Behavioral modification - This is as simple as training people to turn off lights as they leave an otherwise unoccupied room. In practice, it can be challenging, especially to enforce consistently. But successfully accomplishing this simple task will cut down your building’s energy usage dramatically. And, it’s free!
- Install motion sensors - As an automated method of accomplishing the same purpose, installing motion sensors in every room where artificial light is available can guarantee that unoccupied rooms are no longer unnecessarily lit. There is a relatively low initial investment, with notable savings in short time.
- Make optimal use of natural light - If your building’s windows and/or skylights provide sufficient natural light, eliminate artificial light during those hours – even a few hours a day. This is another free and simple option.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with energy efficient LEDs or CFLs - With immediate savings ranging from 25% to 80% in energy cost, this may be the single most valuable step you can take. Realistically, the initial investment could be substantial for a large facility, but again, the savings in energy costs will more than make up for it in short order.
- Replace aging, inefficient lighting systems - Potentially the costliest option for improving the energy efficiency of your facility’s lighting system is full or partial replacement of the lighting equipment with newer, higher-efficiency equipment. Generally, this drastic of an upgrade will only be cost-effective in older buildings that have not been retrofitted in decades. However, in certain circumstances it can be the most effective choice.
After lighting, your HVAC system is likely using most of the energy in your commercial building.
As noted above for lighting, the appropriate upgrades or adjustments suggested below will depend on how your building is arranged, what sort of equipment you’re currently running, and a number of other factors. Still, the following basic actions can make nearly any HVAC system more energy efficient:
- Thermostat adjustment - In many cases, commercial facilities are cooled or heated to temperatures that are higher or lower than necessary for simple comfort. Even a very small adjustment of the thermostat can save a great deal of energy. For instance, if you’re cooling an office to 72 degrees Fahrenheit in the hottest part of the summer and raise the thermostat to 74 degrees instead, the occupant may not even notice the change. But the energy usage for that one office will drop up to 10%! (The same applies to heating in the winter.)
- Maintain all HVAC equipment appropriately - The HVAC system includes a large number of interconnected parts, which means there are plenty of opportunities for something to go wrong. The system should be visually inspected routinely by professionals who know what to look for, and there are a number of routine maintenance activities — such as changing out filters and cleaning motor housings — that should not be neglected. A professional planned maintenance program is usually the best option to keep the system running as efficiently as possible.
- Upgrade old equipment with more efficient models - Again, this is the most expensive option, but the projected ROI is still convincing for facilities that are running very old, outdated equipment that was installed before energy efficiency was a concern. In some cases, replacing the HVAC system — or at least some of its major components — can result in an immediate reduction of 50% or more in monthly energy costs.
Building controls and analytics
Although related to some of the tips above, building controls and analytics provide incredible potential for ROI across numerous building systems.
Building automation systems incorporate hardware and software to provide sensors, switches, and programmable interfaces, among other components for monitoring activity.
Many building automation systems come equipped with a robust analytics engine that can provide valuable data for technicians or engineers who work on the system, as well as providing you an ongoing record of historical usage.
So there you have the top three energy-saving areas you can explore to start lowering your energy bill today. If you need any help with specifics for your Charlotte area building, we welcome you to contact AirTight FaciliTech today.