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In order to get the most out of an energy audit, managers must extend the process beyond simply gathering and analyzing data. The energy audit is not a one-time effort. Rather, it is an ongoing process that requires ongoing support.
Managers must ensure that the database of energy use information is maintained and updated regularly. The process also must include recording changes the organization makes to building occupancy and energy-using systems.
They also must monitor energy data to detect any unusual use rates and costs: Equipment can malfunction. Maintenance personnel or building occupants can leave equipment on-line when it is not needed. Leaks can occur. Monitoring energy use and costs data regularly is one way to identify discrepancies that result from these unplanned situations.
Managers also can use the data to train maintenance staff and building occupants in ways to improve the facility's overall energy efficiency. If occupants and department staff understand the energy and financial consequences of their actions, they are more likely to become willing participants in the facility's energy strategies.
Finally, managers can use the data to promote an energy-conservation program. Reducing energy use requires a commitment of both time and money. Personnel must be responsible for energy-conservation tasks. Projects to replace existing equipment with more efficient units require a capital investment.
Many groups within an organization compete for finite resources. By presenting the data collected and analyzed in the energy-audit program, managers can improve the odds of obtaining the necessary funding to operate and expand the program.
James Piper, P.E., is a national consultant based in Bowie, Md., with more than 25 years of experience with facilities maintenance and management issues.
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