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One essential step in planning an energy audit involves collecting and compiling preliminary data. The data includes at least 12 months of utility-data and building-system descriptions. The utility bills are critical because they provide utility-rate information, as well as energy-consumption data for the building.
Managers need to be sure the collected utility data captures all of the energy the facility uses, including natural gas, electricity, and purchased renewable energy. The building-system description helps identify and establish a framework for the building walk-through or field assessment.
Given the different levels of energy audits, managers also must determine whether the technical skills required to perform these audits are available in-house or whether an outside contractor should perform the work. Some teams have in-house personnel versed in energy management and are capable of performing this work. In many cases, managers choose to hire an outside contractor to perform the work.
Equipped with the information provided in the audit report, managers can prioritize, budget, implement or simply eliminate prior recommendations. But simply performing an energy audit does not deliver energy savings. It is simply a means to an end. Without implementing the energy audit's recommendations, managers will not produce energy savings. Implementation is an absolutely critical step in the process.
No- and low-cost items. All audit levels should come with a list of low- and no-cost items recommended for implementation. The sorts of projects on this list depend on specific budget constraints, since each organization's concept of low cost varies.
Recommendations in this category typically include operational measures relating to HVAC operating parameters and lighting, such as: temperature and humidity set points; fluorescent light delamping; equipment run times; and equipment staging. Managers can implement these sorts of measures immediately because of their low cost, but they should be cautious regarding occupant comfort and specific lease requirements, which are limiting factors.
Capital expenditures. These items are more costly and, more than likely, require budgeting and detailed planning and investigation to implement. The detailed levels of energy audits should include a list of potential capital-improvement projects with anticipated economic factors, such as implementation cost, simple payback, and return on investment.
Project priorities depend on an individual company's goals and financial status, but managers can prioritize and organize these factors to provide the tools needed to effectively budget, plan, and implement the projects in a manner most beneficial to the organization. The table on page 6 provides an example of summarizing conservation measures.
Energy Audits: Setting The Stage