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Charged with managing day-to-day building operations, tenant relationships, and budgets, property teams indisputably have their hands full. With all these responsibilities, there is little time left in the day to take a step back and consider the energy efficiency of the building. And by energy efficiency, we also mean operational efficiency – or how well the building is running relative to the cost of operating it.
Furthermore, there can also be significant communication barriers between stakeholders. All too often there is a disconnect between building engineers with strong technical backgrounds and asset managers who are focused on the bottom line. This can result in competing incentives and communication challenges that delay action.
We’re here to help you solve both problems of cost and communication by providing you with a simple checklist of low-to-no-cost actions that your property teams can take to increase the energy efficiency of your building.
These low to no-cost measures can be applied at each of your buildings and across your portfolios to significantly reduce your energy consumption and ultimately help you hit your ESG and energy reduction targets. Let’s dive in.
Evaluate Overall Building Energy Use:
Evaluating your overall energy performance at varying time intervals is the first step to managing your energy efficiency. The following measures can help evaluate energy use and find opportunities for improvement:
- Conduct energy audits to identify areas where building systems have become inefficient over time and bring them back to peak performance
- Retro or re-commission the building to make sure it is running the way it was intended
- Don’t have an energy management or ESG analytics tool? Considering implementing technology with real-time 15-minute data intervals (like Aquicore) to monitor data spikes and optimize startup time, equipment and sequencing
- Benchmark your buildings using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to see energy use trends over time and compare them to other buildings
Inspect the Building Envelope:
A “building envelope” is the physical barrier between the exterior and interior environments and refers to your building’s structure including roofs, walls, windows, and doors. While it might seem overly simple, all too often “air leaks” can contribute to unnecessary energy use. The Department of Energy estimates that following up on the findings of an energy audit of a building’s envelope saves most facilities at least 15 percent on energy bills. Sometimes all it takes is a quick scan of a building to determine where there may be cracks.
- Visually inspect insulation on all piping, ducting, and equipment for damage (tears, compression, stains, etc.).
- Complete a thermal imaging scan focused on the following: roofs, walls between conditioned and unconditioned spaces (including outside walls), construction joints and connections, door and window frames and seals
Focus on Lighting:
Some estimates state that lighting accounts for as much as 40% of electricity use in offices, stores, and other commercial buildings. Something as simple as turning off lights when they are not needed can reduce lighting expenses by 10 to 40 percent.
- Open or close blinds to make the best use of natural daylight and take advantage of skylights or other natural daylight sources to reduce lighting during daytime hours.
- Turn off lights when not in use or when natural daylight is sufficient.
- Use task lighting where feasible and remove unnecessary lamps in overlit areas
Tip: Check light levels against standards from the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) to see if you have areas that are over or under-lit.
- Install and replace efficient lights (LED & CFL bulbs) and dimmers for less efficient bulbs
- Implement a regular lighting maintenance program
Check and Maintain Plug Load Equipment:
Improve operations and maintenance practices by regularly checking and maintaining equipment to ensure that it is functioning efficiently.
- Enable the power management function on office computers, which automatically puts monitors to sleep when not in use. To learn how to enable this function, visit www.energystar.gov/powermanagement.
- Activate sleep settings on all printers, copiers, fax machines, scanners, and multifunction devices so that they automatically enter a low-powered sleep mode when inactive
- Consolidate stand-alone office equipment to achieve a ratio of one device (typically a networked multifunction device) per 10 or more users
- Plug electronics into a “smart” power strip that lets you designate which electronics should always be on, and which ones do not need power when they’re not in use.
- Purchase energy-efficient products like ENERGY STAR-certified office equipment and By electronics, and establish a procurement policy for energy-saving products.
- Revise janitorial practices to reduce the hours that lights are turned on each day.
- Consider switching to day-cleaning, which takes place while occupants are in the building and has been shown to also reduce complaints.
- Review and emphasize the financial and environmental results of a preventative maintenance program for major systems and components.
- Set goals and a methodology to track and reward improvements.