Energy Efficiency in Small Buildings

Energy Efficiency, Small Buildings   January 2, 2008

Hello. This is Greg Zimmerman, executive editor of Building Operating Management magazine.

Today’s topic is how to focus on energy efficiency in small- or medium-sized buildings. Buildings smaller than 100,000 square feet make up about 98 percent of the building stock in the United States, but most probably don’t have the complicated energy management systems larger buildings do.

The key to energy efficiency in small buildings is taking a very hard look at exactly how the building is using energy. Then, once the baseline is established, begin instituting operational changes like more closely monitoring how energy is used on a monthly basis, even if just means reading the meter and entering the data into a spreadsheet. Make sure occupants are being energy-conscious as well. Ask occupants if they’re comfortable in the space. If they’re too hot or too cold, it’s probably a good indication of a problem that’s wasting energy. Then you get to kill two birds with one stone: Happier occupants and energy efficiency.

Once you’ve established your energy baseline and implemented some energy-focused operations, do some cost-efficient upgrades with a good ROI – like changing out T12s for T8s and installing occupancy sensors. Make sure that you’re not over-ventilating space and perform a retrocommission to tune up HVAC equipment so that it’s operating at peak efficiency.

Finally, plan for some long-term capital projects, like replacing old, inefficient equipment. New equipment often has sophisticated controls built in, allowing the equipment to act as its own energy management device.


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