Top Tips to Increase the Energy Efficiency of Your Office Building
We live in an era where sources of non-renewable energy are fast depleting. However, thanks to the evolving technology, renewable energy sources are being tapped as potent alternatives that will, hopefully, continue to support the demand for energy in the future.
Meanwhile, it is up to us to conserve power for our own benefit in the short as well as the long term. Various measures to increase energy efficiency in homes and offices are already being put into place.
A majority of the working population spend most of their time in their offices. Energy usage at the workplace can be extremely high and can result in exorbitant bills for the business owner. Using air conditioners, computers, lights, office equipment, and other miscellaneous applications for hours on end are the contributing factors towards the rising demand and costs of energy.
Increasing the energy efficiency of your office building can bring down your operating costs considerably. Doing so, however, is no mean task.
Here are a few tips which can help you save energy as well as bring your costs down as you do so.
Upgrade the Lighting
Commercial energy consumption for lighting can vary from building to building depending on the business’s total use. Several buildings, however, have outdated lighting technology. This is especially true of the old buildings.
Most buildings use fluorescent lighting in their commercial application because these lights are extremely bright which make it easy to look at things and even notice the details. Modern lighting options are not only energy efficient but also bright enough to be used in high-ceiling applications.
Several new technologies have opened up scope for specific business advantages. LED (light emitting diodes) lights are long-lasting plus they help conserve energy. They were once used only in outdoor signage, but have now found used indoors as well and have successfully replaced traditional bulbs and tube lights.
Similarly, ceramic metal halide lamps give out high-quality, natural colors, which make it the ideal choice for use in retail display spaces, art galleries and foyers.
Effective lighting is crucial. Automated lighting options can incorporate time-scheduling, and even adjust the light levels depending on the time of the day i.e. dimming down a tad during the daytime.
Rev Up the Heating, the Cooling and the Ventilation
All commercial buildings have air conditioners, and cooling and ventilating or HVAC systems. These systems are used almost all the time and are responsible for tremendous amounts of energy use.
The energy performance of these systems can vary to a great extent, thanks to the fact that industry associations and the Department of Energy (DOE) have debated over the final efficiency standards. However, improvements do take place on a regular basis with the top brands and models being more efficient than their older counterparts.
Typically, a central plant is put in place for integrating the heating and cooling systems of the entire building. While the entire plant can be used to bring about energy savings, it is the chillers – usually placed in the basement – which offer the maximum scope for savings.
If you have an outdated chiller, it may be a good idea to get it replaced with a new one. Even though the replacement cost may seem high now, you will soon make up for it, thanks to its lower maintenance and electricity costs.
Motor Maintenance and Replacement
If your building has even the most basic forms of HVAC systems, elevators and other machinery, you’re bound to have a motor that helps you run all of them. Many a time, the motor is installed and kept running, but it is barely maintained and/or replaced.
If your motor is more than a decade old, it could be burning a hole in your pocket. Chances are installing a new motor model with a better design and improved functionality will help you save energy as well as the related costs.
Monitor and Control Energy Usage
While this may seem difficult and nearly impossible, it isn’t. There are several tools and software available that can help you control your energy-consuming devices and track their energy consumption and costs.
Several buildings may already have such systems in place, which may be used for using and verifying certain functions and correcting breakdowns. Modern technologies enable you to monitor electric load leveling, bring about real-time optimization and aid extensive data reporting.
Consider Generating Electricity
Buildings which require higher amounts of electricity may consider generating and storing their electricity onsite. This practice is broadly known as distributed generation and is usually used to cater to the energy demand during peak times and serve as backup.
Distributed generation has two variants:
- Fuel-powered devices, for example, turbines, gas engines, and so on
These are powered by fossil fuels, but can also employ regenerative sources like biogas, landfill and sewage gases. However, due to the recent advances in the fuel cells technology, they are becoming the preferred sources, thanks to their high efficiency and minimal pollution-causing capabilities.
- Renewable sources, for example , wind, solar, and so on
Solar electric, or photovoltaic (PV) technology, is the most commonly used onsite renewable source. Grid-connected PV systems range from a few kilowatts up to several hundred kilowatts. They provide surplus power and counterbalance demand during peak times. The good news is that as the market has grown, the installation cost of PV has gradually decreased. Further, state and utility rebate programs and federal tax credits have considerably reduced other initial expenditures.
Every drop of water contributes towards making an ocean. Similarly, every bit of energy saved means we have more of it to use later. All building managers and business owners need to keep themselves abreast of the latest energy-upgrade options and figure out ways to incorporate them into their structures. As complex (or simple) they may be, employing energy efficient techniques for conserving it would go a long way in ensuring a bright future ahead.
About the author: Sandra Carter is currently associated with Proest.com, an innovative construction estimating solution. She often shares her extensive experience in the construction industry with her writing.