There are many simple, economical opportunities to implement new green strategies within a new or existing facility. A 2005 study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concluded that commissioning was one of the most cost-effective means of improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings.
Retrocommissioning can often resolve problems that occurred during design or construction, or address problems that have developed throughout the building’s life. The process identifies low-cost operational and maintenance improvements in existing buildings and brings the buildings up to the design intentions of its current usage.
Making the most of natural daylight is one of the simplest and most underutilized strategies for reducing energy use. At a recent ASHRAE Net Zero Energy Buildings Conference, Paul Torcellini of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) surmised that 80 percent of existing commercial floor area in the U.S. could function with daylighting during the day. That’s because the workspaces are within 15 feet of windows and skylights.
Similarly, in buildings with operable windows located in certain dry climates, a combination of natural and mechanical ventilation (mixed-mode) is highly preferred by occupants. According to studies by Prof. Gail Brager at the Center for the Built Environment at UC Berkeley, buildings with operational ceiling fans can set target temperatures 4 degrees warmer in the summer and still maintain thermal comfort for occupants.
Here are some other low-cost green strategies to consider:
Mary Ann Lazarus, AIA, LEED AP, is firmwide sustainable design director of HOK, a global architectural design and services firm.
Anica Landreneau, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, is sustainable design practice leader of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.
The Business Case For Green Buildings
LEED, ENERGY STAR, And Existing Buildings
Greening on a Shoestring Budget