Buildings have been the primary consumers of energy, and the primary producers of atmospheric carbon dioxide for many a year. It’s got to the point now where energy efficiency measures are no longer a nice-to-have for buildings; but a need-of-the-hour.
Energy efficient solutions don’t just help fight against climate change. They also help cut back on energy and maintenance costs, and establish a competitive advantage. And no, they don’t always require a hefty initial investment.
In the following article, let’s begin by explaining what constitutes an energy efficiency measure. Then, we will look at 5 of the most profitable energy efficiency measures, and how to make buildings more energy-efficient.
What (really) are Energy Efficient Measures?
Any machine, software, system, practice, or retrofit that leads to a general reduction in energy usage, without significantly impacting level-of-service can be called an energy efficient measure. E.g., implementing a portfolio-wide policy of using energy-efficient appliances, or undergoing a smart retrofit for better energy reporting.
5 of the Most Profitable Energy Efficiency Measures
While there are other ways to make buildings energy efficient, these 5 are the most profitable, in our opinion:
1. Energy Consumption Benchmarking and Management
The first step towards improved energy efficiency is better energy management. The first step towards better energy management is energy benchmarking. Energy benchmarking helps you gauge where you stand, in terms of energy usage.
Is your building consuming too much energy? Is it consuming less than your counterparts? Does it only cross the limits during peak hours? Is it burning the same amount of energy throughout the day, despite it being empty on numerous occasions? Benchmarking helps find answers to questions like these, and more.
Once you know your actual energy performance, you can better estimate the level of effort required to get where you want to be. Benchmarking will also help you establish a baseline and different thresholds for energy consumption. Alarms/notifications generated after threshold breaches can be handy in identifying reasons for overconsumption.
2. HVAC Automation
Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) are usually the prime consumers of energy in buildings. As reported by the Australian Government’s Energy Department, HVACs represent approximately 40% of an office building’s energy consumption. This is mainly because in most buildings, HVACs keep running on the same settings throughout the day.
For example, let’s suppose it’s a fairly hot August morning. The staff set the HVAC to run on full throttle as a lot of occupancy is expected. However, it starts raining and both the indoor and outdoor climates improve. But, since the HVAC configurations are done every morning, it will keep running at full speed, needlessly wasting a lot of energy.
This is where energy management systems (like ClevAir) can save the day. They can reprogram the HVAC in real-time, based on the changing occupancy, indoor and outdoor climate, and weather forecast. Not only are these solutions relatively affordable, they also make an immediate impact, resulting in a fast ROI. In the situation above, as soon as it would have started raining, these smart applications would have sensed the change and adjusted the HVAC accordingly.
Also read: The Benefits of a Smart Ventilation System
3. Smart Lighting
From light bulbs to wireless smartphone controls; smart lighting can be implemented as energy efficiency measures in many ways. Smart LEDs not only have better durability and performance than their incandescent counterparts, they also consume way less energy.
Using a smart lighting system, you can set timers to turn off lights, turn them on or off from a smartphone app, and even customize light intensity settings for certain occasions. Some systems can also auto-detect occupancy and turn lights on or off accordingly. All this can lead to significant reductions in energy costs.
If your building’s ventilation can support insulation, it should be a no-brainer. A well-insulated building loses less warm air during winter, and less cool air during the summers. This leads to a substantial reduction in energy consumption overtime.
5. Renewable Energy
Renewable energy sources do a lot more for your building than decrease its environmental footprint. They elevate its market reputation, and most importantly, help cut back on energy costs.
- You will be able to reduce your electricity bills significantly.
- No or limited maintenance costs. Solar panels rarely require any repairs post-installation.
- No fluctuating costs. Utility companies rely on fossil fuels to produce energy. Prices of all these fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) fluctuate a lot throughout the year, which often leads to bigger and bigger numbers on your bills. Once you go solar, you don’t have to care about these fluctuations.
How Impactful Can Energy Efficiency Measures Be?
Implementing even the most basic energy efficient measures can yield long-term, tangible benefits. Cases in point:
Installing ClevAir Increased Energy Optimization by 35%
Installing ClevAir, an energy-efficient, plug-and-play software, helped GNP Areal increase energy optimization by 35%. This led to the building moving from the low quartile of the “Official Scandinavian buildings energy consumption” benchmark to the lowest one.
The installation required installing the ClevAir box and minimal hardware upgrades. Within a few hours, and without requiring any business disruption, ClevAir started aggregating data. Soon, it was able to reprogram the HVAC in real-time, based on the changing indoor and outdoor climates, occupancy, and weather forecast.
By continuously toggling the HVAC settings as required, the overall energy usage of the building decreased drastically. Read more about what went behind the scenes by downloading the case study.
Installing Solar Panels Saved over $440,000
A coatings manufacturer deployed 313 260-watt solar panels on one of their facilities. Since installation, they have been able to save a whopping $442,866 in energy costs. Read the case study here.
Intelligent Lighting Increased Energy Efficiency by 80%
A leading software company installed energy-efficient LED fixtures and wireless control across a 360,000 sq. ft. facility. The intelligent lighting system was also designed to maximize the use of daylight when possible. Overall, the company reported an increase of 80% in energy efficiency. Read more here.