Commercial building energy efficiency
According to energystar.gov, energy usage is the top operational cost in commercial buildings in the United States. This includes office spaces, multi-family residences, restaurants, retail, or industrial buildings designed to generate a profit. Lighting, systems that heat and cool a structure, ventilation, and refrigeration make up about 20 percent of the energy cost in these buildings.
Depending on the size of your building, energy consumption could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. By reducing energy costs, you can increase your bottom line. By updating your infrastructure, you can also improve the workplace for your employees and do your part for the environment.
How to make a commercial building more energy efficient
In newer construction, many energy efficiency strategies have already been implemented due to building codes and regulations. In commercial buildings that were built decades ago, more involved upgrades may need to be made. Although there are some quick, easy changes that can be made almost immediately.
It may not seem like much, but even turning the lights off in areas of your facility when not in use can make a difference in the total energy consumed. Use natural light whenever possible. If possible, change the thermostat in the evenings and at other times when the parts of the building are unoccupied.
If you employ a janitorial staff or service, consider changing their schedule so they can take advantage of as much natural light as possible. Changes to processes like these can take a little getting used to at the start but will soon become the “new” normal.
The above changes are good initial steps for building management to take to become more energy efficient. For bigger improvements, you’ll want to start by understanding exactly where your energy dollars are being spent. By performing an energy audit, you’ll establish baselines for your energy use.
Once you have this benchmark, you can compare it against other buildings in the same industry. The term “commercial” encompasses a wide variety of businesses. For example, a restaurant will use more than five times as much energy as a warehouse. So when comparing energy usage, aim for similar marketplaces.
Commercial building energy savings
Different industries notwithstanding, the Department of Energy has established how much energy a commercial structure generally uses. Refrigeration and associated equipment lead the way at 8 kilowatt-hours (kWh) usage per square foot followed by 7 kWh from lighting. HVAC systems (heating, cooling, ventilation) combine for 7 kWh as well.
Again, your usage may differ. But if your HVAC systems are using a lot more energy than they should be, it makes sense to find out why. When was the last time they were cleaned or serviced? If dirty ductwork or leaks is making the system work that much harder, an upgrade will pay immediate dividends.
The same can be said with your lighting. LED lights provide great energy-efficient light and bulbs have a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours, easily outpacing other options. But will your current lighting system allow for a complete switchover to these light sources? Check the age of your appliances and their Energy Star ratings as well.
If your structure is 25 to 50 years old, or even older, there are real savings to be had by switching to energy-efficient equipment or even a move to clean energy sources (such as solar power). Though you might think the costs are prohibitive upfront, the year-over-year savings are hard to deny.
Not to mention giving your employees, tenants, and customers a better environment to be in. Considering a move to more energy-efficient infrastructure, or at least inspecting your current power usage situation? Contact Storee Construction for a full facility audit or plant upgrade.