To Save Energy, Improve Operations

  October 26, 2011

Today's tip is about reducing energy use through changes in operations. A Texas A&M University study showed that energy could be reduced by 10 to 40 percent by simply making operational changes. This bucks the common misperception that vast amounts of money need to be invested in expensive equipment upgrades to see any energy savings at all.

Indeed, an efficiently designed building only represents the potential to be efficient. It's efficient operations that truly brings that potential to fruition. But operational changes don't just happen magically. One of the biggest steps facility managers can take is to make sure they’re properly educated about the equipment installed. This starts with having a seat at the table during integrated design meetings, so designers and facility managers can work together to specify equipment that is rightsized and can operate efficiently. Therefore, continuing education and additional certification are essential parts of operational changes with energy efficiency goals.

Another step is to retrocommission on a regular frequency, even as much as once or twice per year. Take stock of which systems are operating well, where occupants are happiest and most comfortable and what changes can be made. Does the AC really need to be running throughout the whole building until 8 pm if only one person is working that late?

Often, a key to operational changes is getting occupants to recognize energy efficiency goals and secure their interest. Communication is the key. Let occupants know about corporate energy savings goals and get them involved. Many veteran facility managers know that half the battle is getting occupants to want to change behavior, not feel like they're being forced to!


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