Managers Need to Address Building-Wide Energy Use
Maintenance and engineering managers constantly are looking for ways to make their HVAC systems operate more efficiently and, by doing so, save on energy costs. They also would like to improve indoor air quality and thermal comfort, which would reduce occupant complaints. Maybe most of all, managers would like to extend the life of HVAC systems and components to minimize the frequency of equipment repair and replacement.
The challenge in accomplishing these tasks is deciding where to start. In doing so, it is important for managers to understand the organization’s goals, and more importantly, the goals of the specific facility. A facility’s goals can include saving money through reduced energy use or operating costs, as well as trying to earn a green building certification from rating systems such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
Whatever the goals, managers need to understand them first, then build a plan around implementing strategies to enable the organization to achieve those goals.
Potential for Savings
About 30 percent of the energy office buildings consume is wasted, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This finding demonstrates the great potential for energy reduction in existing facilities.
Maintenance departments can reduce energy consumption in many ways, including: commissioning or retrocommissioning buildings to ensure systems are operating according to facility requirements and design intent; conduct energy audits to identify and develop projects that reduce energy use and operating costs; implement a preventive maintenance program; and replace inefficient equipment.
Lighting systems generate about 17 percent of the energy in typical office buildings, while space conditioning and ventilation accounts for 53 percent, office equipment generates 20 percent, and miscellaneous uses make up the remaining 10 percent, according to the EPA.
A building’s mechanical and electrical systems typically account for 70 percent of the office building’s energy use. Managers can present these statistics to facility executives to help generate funding for energy-efficient projects and programs.