Facility managers are in a unique position to help maximise the energy efficiency of our buildings and provide energy solutions for the future. On average, 30% of a building’s energy could be wasted as lights remain on when no one’s around and air conditioning is wasted in improperly insulated areas.
How can buildings improve energy efficiency? Facility managers can improve energy efficiency by managing power consumption, improving air and ventilation systems, and making sure the building is properly insulated and sealed.
In addition to retrofitting, there are several solutions to actively manage energy consumption using smart lighting and HVAC controls while staying on top of equipment maintenance.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the top strategies that facility managers can implement to increase the energy efficiency of their buildings.
Facilities Management and Energy Efficiency
Facility managers are on the frontlines to implement energy efficiency initiatives due to their invaluable input and hands-on experience with such challenges.
The U.S. Department of Energy believes that the energy consumption of buildings could be reduced by 20% by 2030 if current energy-efficient technologies were used. The resulting reduction in building energy costs will help lower the costs for owners as well as tenants.
Building Energy Metrics and Certification
Energy Use Intensity (EUI) is an important metric that allows you to compare your building’s energy efficiency to others. It is measured in terms of the energy used for every square foot of the building (kBtu/ft2) per year.
One of the leading green building certification systems is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). LEED buildings don’t necessarily have the lowest EUI, which doesn’t measure how efficiently the space in a building is used. LEED points are awarded for other things not directly related to energy efficiency, while still considered green, such as the installation of bike racks.
It’s important to note that the initial building cost of a LEED building is 2% higher than that of a normal building, and the payoff is expected to come with the energy savings over the course of several years.
For those companies that can afford it, retrofitting can be a highly beneficial option, and a building can be retrofitted to LEED standards. Again, since the upfront costs tend to be high, the payoff tends to come over the course of a few years.
A quality retrofit can reduce energy costs by 5 to 15%, but you will need to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis before deciding if this is the right path for you.
Retrofitting is a solution that targets the waste of electricity and fuel by improving insulation, windows, lighting, and HVAC systems.
One way to reduce the cost of lighting is to install occupancy sensors that cut lights off when they’re not in use. They also cut back on when they detect motion. Some of these can sense the level of ambient light in a room and adjust the level of artificial light accordingly.
A simpler method would be to use timers either in the form of timeclocks or computer controls.
Replacing your lighting can save you a great deal in the long run as well. LED lighting can reduce energy consumption compared to incandescent bulbs by 75%.
HVAC System Solutions
Make sure you have a quality HVAC system that avoids the buildup of moisture. It must have proper dehumidification, be free of leaks, and have a way to effectively drain any condensation.
Heat-recovery ventilators (HRVs) can help you save on heating costs by using the heat from outgoing stale air to heat up the incoming fresh air.
Like lighting systems, you can install controls, occupancy sensors, or timers to prevent the system from kicking in when no one is around. You can also use programmable thermostats to set the temperature range for optimal energy efficiency.
You will want to make sure your building is properly insulated. It’s worth it to invest in high-quality insulation and nontraditional wall systems, and you should replace any doors or windows that have a tendency to leak.
Power Consumption Management
Even if you can’t afford a major retrofit, you can still improve your energy efficiency by managing the energy consumption of electrical equipment. Regular equipment checks are important so you can stay on top of any repairs or quickly replace equipment when necessary.
This process can be aided and automated, especially when dealing with multiple facilities, by a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS). These can help you to track contracts and maintenance schedules on your equipment to keep them at peak efficiency, and reduce human errors.
Energy Management System (EMS)
An Energy Management System (EMS) solution will help you to regulate the power loads of your building, and they can be applied to both lighting and HVAC systems. A good EMS kit will allow you to collect data through metering and monitoring.
Using that data, you can implement strategies to reduce overall consumption during periods of peak demand. This includes load shifting and demand limiting systems.
Whether through retrofitting or the proactive management of power consumption, there are countless ways to improve the energy efficiency of your building. Moving forward, facility managers will continue to play a vital role in increasing energy efficiency.