Energy Efficiency Tips

By implementing energy-saving strategies, you can reduce operating costs, enhance occupant comfort, and increase your building’s value. This guide provides a wide range of practical tips and best practices to help you optimize your commercial building’s energy performance.

1. Conduct an Energy Audit

The first step in improving your building’s energy efficiency is to understand how energy is being used and where it’s being wasted. An energy audit, conducted by a qualified professional, will:

  • Analyze your building’s energy consumption patterns
  • Identify inefficiencies in systems and equipment
  • Pinpoint opportunities for energy savings
  • Provide recommendations for improvements and upgrades

Use the energy audit findings to prioritize your energy-saving initiatives and create a strategic plan for implementation.

2. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Lighting

Lighting accounts for a significant portion of a commercial building’s energy consumption. Consider the following lighting upgrades to reduce energy use and costs:

  • Replace remaining incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with LED lamps, which use 75-80% less energy and last 25 times longer.
  • Install occupancy sensors to automatically turn lights off when rooms are unoccupied.
    A common solution is "dual-tech" sensors which use both PIR and ultrasonic sensors to lessen the normal annoyances of these sensors. Proper mounting and configuration (sometimes DIP switches) is important.
  • Use daylight harvesting techniques, such as dimming or turning off lights when natural light is sufficient.
  • Implement a regular lighting maintenance program to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

3. Optimize HVAC Systems

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are another major energy consumer in commercial buildings. To maximize HVAC efficiency:

  • Schedule regular maintenance to ensure proper operation and catch issues early.
  • Upgrade to high-efficiency HVAC equipment, such as variable speed drives and heat recovery systems.
  • Install programmable thermostats to automatically adjust temperatures based on occupancy and time of day.
  • Seal and insulate ducts to prevent air leaks and energy losses.
  • Use demand-controlled ventilation to adjust fresh air intake based on occupancy levels.

4. Improve Building Envelope

Your building’s envelope – its walls, windows, roof, and foundation – plays a critical role in energy efficiency. To optimize the building envelope:

  • Add or upgrade insulation to reduce heat transfer and maintain consistent indoor temperatures.
  • Install high-performance windows with low-E coatings and insulated frames to minimize heat gain and loss.
  • Seal air leaks around doors, windows, and other openings to prevent drafts and energy waste.
  • Consider installing a cool roof or green roof to reduce heat absorption and improve insulation.

5. Manage Plug Loads

Plug loads, or the energy consumed by devices plugged into outlets, can account for up to 30% of a commercial building’s energy use. To manage plug loads:

  • Use ENERGY STAR certified office equipment, appliances, and electronics.
  • Enable power management settings on computers and monitors to automatically enter sleep mode when inactive.
  • Implement a “switch off” policy to encourage employees to turn off devices when not in use.
  • Install advanced power strips that can automatically cut power to idle devices.

6. Engage and Educate Occupants

Engaging and educating building occupants about energy efficiency is key to achieving and maintaining energy savings. To promote energy-conscious behavior:

  • Provide training and resources on energy-saving practices and policies.
  • Use signage and visual cues to remind occupants to turn off lights, unplug devices, and conserve energy.
  • Establish an energy conservation committee to involve occupants in energy-saving initiatives and gather feedback.
  • Recognize and reward individuals or departments that demonstrate exceptional energy-saving efforts.

7. Monitor and Measure Performance

Regularly monitoring and measuring your building’s energy performance is essential to tracking progress, identifying areas for improvement, and verifying the effectiveness of your energy-saving initiatives. To monitor and measure performance:

  • Install submeters to track energy consumption by system, floor, or tenant.
  • Use energy management software to collect, analyze, and visualize energy data in real-time.
  • Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and benchmarks to evaluate progress over time.
  • Conduct regular energy audits to reassess your building’s performance and identify new opportunities for savings.

8. Explore Renewable Energy Options

Incorporating renewable energy sources into your commercial building can significantly reduce your reliance on grid electricity. Consider the following options:

  • Install solar panels on your rooftop or parking lot to generate on-site electricity.
  • Investigate the feasibility of wind turbines, geothermal systems, or other renewable energy technologies.
  • Purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) or participate in green power programs offered by your utility company.

9. Pursue Green Building Certifications

Green building certifications, such as LEED, ENERGY STAR, or BREEAM, provide a framework for designing, constructing, and operating energy-efficient and sustainable buildings. Pursuing these certifications can:

  • Guide your energy-saving efforts and provide a roadmap for continuous improvement.
  • Demonstrate your commitment to sustainability and attract environmentally conscious tenants or investors.
  • Qualify your building for various incentives, such as tax credits, grants, or reduced permitting fees.

10. Stay Informed

Staying up-to-date with the latest energy-saving technologies, best practices, and regulations is crucial to maintaining your building’s energy efficiency over time. To stay informed:

  • Attend industry conferences, workshops, and webinars on energy efficiency and sustainability.
  • Join professional organizations, such as the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) or the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA).
  • Consult with energy efficiency experts, such as energy auditors, HVAC professionals, or lighting designers, to explore new opportunities and strategies.

By implementing these energy efficiency tips and best practices, you can reduce your commercial building’s energy consumption, lower operating costs, and create a more sustainable and attractive property for tenants and investors alike. Remember, energy efficiency is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring, evaluation, and improvement to maximize results and stay ahead.