There are many variables that go into energy efficiency in commercial buildings, and it’s difficult to tackle everything at once. So for those with a limited budget or limited time and resources — which is pretty much most small business owners — it’s best to be informed about how you can shape your priorities best to save energy as best as you can.
If you want to be efficient with your energy efficiency (no pun intended), you’re going to want to understand which upgrades and energy components are going to have the biggest impact on your building and, in turn, your wallet.
This article will go over four of the most important components of commercial energy efficiency to keep things simple and help you understand what steps you should consider taking first.
1. Regular Energy Audits
An energy audit is an overall energy analysis of your building. Energy audits are an overview and description of the overall energy use in your buildings.
These analyses are key tools that can help you keep your building efficient for a few reasons. First of all, they’re specific to your building, your industry, and your facility. This helps you tailor your upgrades, fixes, and actions to your building specifically.
Energy audits also outline the exact areas that you need to improve or work on — in priority order. For example, one building might see many more results and improvements from adjusting their lighting, while another might do better investing in improved insulation.
Having these audits done on a regular basis will allow you to track your progress and continually make adjustments based on the time of year, the upgrades you’ve made in the past, your industry needs, and more.
We understand that regular audits can be costly, but we also know how important they are for each and every business. Contact us to set up a free energy audit.
2. Energy Efficient Lighting
There’s a reason why Energy Star has listed switching light bulbs to either CFL or LED lights as one of the top energy efficient upgrades for businesses.
Lighting retrofits are a relatively simple way to have a huge impact on energy efficiency in commercial buildings. Take swapping light bulbs, for example. CFL/LED light bulbs use anywhere between 25 to 80 percent less energy than traditional lighting options. They can also last up to 25 times longer!
Imagine the impact of swapping all of the lights in your entire facility!
Lighting retrofits don’t stop with energy efficient light bulbs, either. Professional electricians and energy auditors can also recommend where unnecessary lighting can be eliminated, where you can install different equipment, where lighting sensors could be installed, and more to boost your energy efficiency and save money in the long run.
3. Improved Ventilation Systems
Demand control ventilation is next on our list because of its year-long impacts and its effect on a number of areas of your power/energy usage.
What is Demand control ventilation? This type of ventilation adjusts the amount of outside air that’s ventilated into your building based on the number of people that are inside the building. This contrasts traditional ventilation that usually operates by pumping a steady rate of outside air into the building no matter how many people are in the building.
This steady pumping of air isn’t necessary at all times and, in fact, wastes energy when there aren’t that many people (or any people at all). This uses up energy that doesn’t need to be used up. Pumping unnecessary outside air into the building also means that energy is used up heating/cooling that air to the set temperature, which also wastes more unnecessary power.
Instead of that steady state ventilation, demand control ventilation monitors the amount of CO2 in the air and ventilates the air based on those sensed levels. This keeps the air quality up to code based on how many people are in the building to only ventilate the exact right amount of air.
This is one of the top components of keeping commercial buildings energy efficient because, like lighting, it affects the entire facility. The initial cost can be larger than other options, but it can have one of the larger impacts in the long run.
4. Energy Management Systems
Following the pattern of facility-wide impacts leads us to our last “top component” of energy efficiency: energy management systems.
Energy management systems, as the name suggests, manages the energy use in your building. How? They can manage, control, monitor, and adjust various aspects of energy consumption in your facility.
Sara Lisauskas from Industrial Control Systems International defines an energy management system as:
“a system [used] to control and monitor energy consuming devices, which may include heating and cooling equipment, fans, pumps, dampers, and lighting. Energy management systems can also be used to control refrigeration equipment, industrial processes, or other systems.”
So, you can imagine the impact a great EMS can have on your business. It can control and monitor almost every part of your building to make sure you’re on track with energy use goals, identify areas that need improvement, and more.
This allows you to understand where you need to make changes and upgrades first, very similar to the benefit of energy audits. With an EMS, though, you can track and make changes in real time and all the time, not just when you have an audit done.
Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings Doesn’t Stop There
While these are the top four components of commercial energy efficiency, this list is far from comprehensive! There are many more variables that go into energy efficient buildings: refrigeration, motors, electrical panels, solar energy use, insulation, HVAC systems, and more!
Need some help understanding and applying all of this information? We’re happy to help. Contact us with any questions you have, or to set up your free energy audit.