15 Oct Energy Efficiency Upgrade Tips for Large Commercial Building
Buildings ought to be structurally sound, but they must also be energy efficient. A building’s need for energy efficiency is not met with the required sense of priority; it is thought of as something to ‘get fixed or incorporated later’ and that tends to burn pockets immensely. However, “energy modeling” allows the evaluation of a building’s efficiency (or lack thereof) via a virtual or computerized simulation of a building complex, focusing mainly on energy consumption, utility bills and life cycle costs of related items like the HVAC systems. It even evaluates the returns of installed green solutions (solar panel, wind turbines, etc.). It further assists in helping building owners make informed choices vis-à-vis design and material taking into account weather, lighting, electrical devices, even humans and their tendency to give off heat!
With energy modeling, changing variables and their consequences could also easily get adjusted and the results simply observed on the screen. For example, if an owner wanted to upgrade their lighting, and it turns out they made it less efficient for it now generates more heat, implying more ventilation. The energy model will let the owner know of this required adjustments & its consequences.
A building’s energy efficiency affects its utility bills along with seriously impacting the property value and tenants’ performance. While most businesses do not have the luxury to build a brand new building to make it energy efficient or allow for retrofitting from ground up. The first step thus, will be measuring the building’s consumption and ‘benchmarking’ is the best way to know where the improvements are called for.
Here are some tips that should help improve a commercial building’s energy efficiency:
The exterior cover of a building should be designed to lower heating and cooling as needed. The goal should be to make the building as airtight as possible. This can be achieved by replacing doors and windows to avoid air leaks in the existing buildings. However high-performance insulation along with non-traditional wall systems which offer additional insulation can be alternative solution.
2. Certified equipment
Always choose high-performance, energy-efficient systems & equipment. ENERGY STAR certified products for example tend to consume 15-30% less energy on an average. These products also tend to evolve quickly so it’s crucial to keep an eye out for the latest developments.
3. Right ventilation system
‘Building envelope’, comprising roof, foundation, doors, exterior walls and windows, prevent the indoor air from mixing with the outdoor air. If a building is not airtight, air leakages and drafts can occur which negatively impact the building’s energy performance. It’s thus imperative that the ventilation systems ensure good air quality and prevent any moisture build-up. Heat recovery ventilators for example, use the outgoing air to heat the incoming air, essentially re-using the air emitted by the building as required. Heat recovery ventilators also help maximize savings by easing the strain on air-conditioners and/or heaters reducing monthly bills by as much as 40% as per the U.S. Department of Energy. This can be achieved by adding more insulation to simply putting down weather stripping for the cracks under doors and windows. An energy recovery ventilator can also be installed in the attic.
4. LED Lights
LED Lights facilitate energy reduction by at least 70-75% as opposed to incandescent lighting. Further, sensors could be used in places used infrequently such as conference rooms and restrooms to cut down the energy usage.
5. Calculate the ROI
Even though the initial costs might seemingly be substantial, it’s important to realize it as an investment rather than expenditure. For example, retrofitting a building helps saving up to 5-15%, typically paying for itself within three years.