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:
32% Energy Reduction by Installing ClevAir Energy Optimization
Selvaag has for many years created new solutions for town- and real estate development. They chose a building in Maridalsveien 323 Oslo, Norway for energy optimization with ClevAir. Technical Manager and his team had already reduced the energy consumption through traditional actions, but they still observed high indoor tempeture on several floors due to heat from local sources, sun and people in the building.
ClevAir now controls the ventilation by
- Daily weather forecasts, if a hot day is expected, let the building release as much heat as possible. Conversely, try to accumulate as much heat as possible, if a cold day is forecasted.
- Air supply control; ventilation will decrease when fewer people are in the building.
- Control of temperature in the building, and adjustment of air supply, based on heating, cooling, heat exchanger efficiency, and weather forecast.
“We are pleased with the results. ClevAir has created an ecosystem where new and old technology can interact, giving new life to older technology. For us, it means increased service life of our technical installations, reduced energy consumption and in many cases, a better user experience.
This is sustainability in practise”