Commercial and residential buildings account for 40 percent of the United States' total energy consumption, but facility managers can decrease an individual building's usage by 30 percent through aggressive conservation efforts. While no single tip can decimate monthly energy expenditures, combining several tips will lead to a substantial reduction in energy use. Even small changes can easily lead to a 10-percent reduction in energy consumption according to conservative estimates.
1. Upgrade to Energy Efficient Bulbs and Daylight Controllers
Depending on the existing bulbs in use, energy-efficient bulbs can reduce energy consumption by 25 to 80 percent while lasting three to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs. Combine these bulbs with daylight controllers to keep light levels constant within the building and facility managers can eliminate waste without any noticeable impact to the building's occupants. Reevaluating night site lighting and making small reductions can also reduce electricity consumption.
2. Increase Roof Insulation to Decrease Heating and Cooling Costs
An office building loses 20 percent of its heat through the roof. Increasing the roof's R-value by adding additional insulation can slash these losses and can recoup the expense in as little as one to four years. Over time, the insulation can become less effective as it becomes more compact, so building managers shouldn't only rely on previous R-value numbers to decide if they should add more insulation. Adding fans to circulate warm air that reaches the top level of a building can also decrease heating costs.
3. Use Computer and Other Hardware's Power Management Settings
Each office desktop computer wastes an average of $40 worth of electricity each year. Power management settings can put displays to sleep when not in use and shut down computers after business hours. Energy efficiency should also be a significant consideration when purchasing all types of hardware. Server rooms may require a unique cooling solution to reduce electricity consumption.
4. Manage Water Use Through Smart Fixtures
WaterSense toilets and urinals can decrease water consumption with every flush. Installing water-efficient faucets fitted with automatic on/off sensors also limits water consumption. Installing tankless water heaters in areas that seldom need hot water can also reduce the energy expenditure required to keep water hot on demand.
5. Limit Water-Dependent Landscaping
Landscapers should select plants that thrive in the existing light, soil and water conditions, so it requires less water to sustain them. A master plan should group plants by water zones and utilize an irrigation system that provides the appropriate amount of water to each zone. Planting large deciduous trees can also help shade the building during the summer.
6. Educate Building Tenants
Initiatives that help educate employees and other building tenants about energy consumption can reduce energy consumption by 10 percent. For example, portable heaters can skew the thermostat readings on an entire floor, depending on their location. Facility managers should explain how to notify management of a problem with temperature, so a floor-wide solution can be enacted and all employees remain comfortable.
Employees may also like their company more if it shows it's interested in the environment: 80 percent of employees want to work for a company that has a positive environmental reputation.
7. Replace and Maintain Steam Traps
Buildings with large boiler systems may have hundreds of steam traps that, over time, can become stuck in an open position. This malfunction significantly increases energy use but can easily be rectified by cleaning or replacing traps with this glitch.
8. Audit Programmable Thermostats and Other Energy Management Controls
Programmable thermostats and other energy management controls often fool building managers into thinking that the temperature is responsibly managed. Thermostat, boiler and chiller controls should be regularly audited to make sure each reflects the best possible setting for its intended use. For example, in the winter, an unoccupied building's temperature should be set to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Eliminate or Reduce Small Energy Drains
Building managers should consider replacing bulbs within lit signs with LED bulbs, which use less energy and must be replaced less often. Turning off the lights in vending machines, while still allowing the machine to remain functional, can also reduce overall electricity usage.
10. Replace Old Windows
26 percent of heat loss occurs through windows, so replacing old windows is a fiscally responsible decision that also saves energy. Making sure that windows can be opened to take advantage of temperate weather can also substantially lower energy consumption and improve overall indoor air quality. The seals on all windows should be checked annually and replaced as necessary.
11. Optimize HVAC Systems to Reduce Consumption
HVAC systems consume 20 percent of the energy used in a traditional building. For this reason, every season requires an audit of boilers and chillers to ensure they are running at peak efficiency. Take a look at this ultimate guide to HVAC performance and sustainability trends happening now.
12. Use IoT Solutions to Aid In Retro-Commissioning
Building managers should make changes in operational timing to restore the building to its highest possible energy efficiency. By using sensors to track and identify possible inefficiencies, a facility manager can focus his attentions on the areas that represent the greatest possible energy savings.