Making energy-efficient changes in the home is important, but changes outside of the home can be just as vital. According to Transmission and Distribution World, both homes and commercial buildings use three-quarters of America’s electric power.
Energy Star statistics indicate that buildings used for shopping malls, teaching and playing cost $200 billion annually in electricity and natural gas costs. These areas also emit close to half of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
What changes can building owners make to increase energy efficiency and decrease costs and overall emissions?
1. Examine the building system or normal maintenance routines: When was the building constructed? If the building is on the older side, be sure more efficient practices can be put in place with ease. Some of these changes may include sealing leaks or cracks, changing windows out or adding to insulation.
2. Improve the lighting: Lighting consumes between 25-30 percent of energy in commercial buildings. By improving lighting, energy costs can be reduced and comfort increased. Often, Energy Star light bulbs can last longer than other types, giving off more light when necessary and reducing light as needed. Consider using automatic controls or dimming lights at certain times to decrease overall use.
3. Take a look at the HVAC system: Heating and cooling systems are known to be one of the biggest energy users in buildings. Changing out older models for more energy-efficient ones can make all the difference in terms of comfort and money savings.
These are only some of the main energy-efficient changes that can be made. More energy-efficient tips can be found here.
Business Energy Efficiency Tips to Keep in Mind
Energy efficiency is an important part of the home, but it is also a vital piece of a business as well. Running a business can become a costly endeavor, especially if steps are not taken to decrease accrued costs. Some of the many costs that can build up over time include benefits, production, salaries and location.
One of the other areas owners can look to is energy efficiency. Efficiency encompasses a range of factors including heating and cooling systems, window placement and upkeep, as well as general electricity usage. Energy efficiency may seem like a simple idea, but there are less obvious issues that can arise if not thought of beforehand. Some common questions to ask yourself before making a change include:
- How often are the lights on?
- Is the heating system working to your expectations? What about the cooling system?
- When was the last time the windows were replaced or resealed?
Consider making the following four changes in your business today:
- Control the temperature: Is the temperature controlling your workspace or is the workspace controlling the temperature? Take some time to determine what the best temperature is for all employees and set the thermostat as needed.
- Invest in Energy Star products: Energy Star products are made with efficiency in mind. By installing these products throughout the business, in both office and kitchen areas, a real difference can be made.
- Look at the lighting: Are you wasting energy in terms of how lit the business is? If lights are left on when no one is there, or too much lighting is being used, energy is being wasted.
- Unplug electronics that are not in use: Don’t leave anything plugged in that doesn’t need to be. These phantom users of energy will rack up the costs.
For more energy efficiency tips, visit our website.
What is the Real Effect of Buildings Across the US?
Although many homeowners across the U.S. are taking advantage of energy efficient changes, building owners and construction companies are now beginning to do the same.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 6 million U.S. commercial and industrial buildings account for about 45 percent of greenhouse emissions, and on average 30 percent of those emissions are actually wasted.
The EPA estimates that improving the energy efficiency of those buildings by just 10 percent could reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 30 million cars off the road.
A recent study conducted by Retroficiency’s Building Genome Project found that making seasonal changes in thermostat temperature, even by just 1 degree, could save $145 million or about 2 percent of energy within all the buildings that were studied.
What other steps can building owners and construction companies take to make energy efficient changes now?
- Change the light bulbs: Light bulbs are huge wasters of energy, especially those that are older or aren’t energy efficient. An Energy Star-rated light bulb uses 70 to 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, lasts 10 to 25 times longer and saves between $30 to $80 in electricity costs over its lifetime.
- Check the HVAC system: Ensure the HVAC system is in complete working order. Often, energy is lost through heating or ventilation systems that haven’t been cleaned. This can also improve occupant health and productivity over the years.
- Revamp the windows: When was the last time the windows in your building were changed? By replacing the windows for more energy efficient ones, as well as tinting them or adding treatments, warmth and light can be kept at optimal levels.
Energy efficiency is an important fixture in a building. Consider scheduling an energy efficiency audit to learn more.
New Building Codes Target Energy Efficiency
Home builders are already looking toward 2016 codes and regulations across the U.S., especially in terms of energy efficiency.
According to the Stamford Advocate, many builders expect the most significant changes will involve insulation and other aspects of energy efficiency. Many states are attempting to change energy efficiency rules, under the guidance of The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and other groups.
“Building technology advances, I think, in ways that consumers cannot fathom,” said Diane Harp Jones, AIA Connecticut’s CEO. “Literally every day there is better, improved science in the way we make buildings. Architects can design to anything — but it’s much more protective … if building and fire safety codes are not in conflict.”
Other places such as Washington D.C., California and Maryland have begun their own changes as well, installing mandated sprinklers in new homes with energy efficiency in mind, costing more money, but giving many buyers a new peace of mind in the safety of their home.
Many builders interested in this change are motivated by saving money over the life of the structure as well, limiting wasted energy or damage that may occur during extreme events.
A recent study conducted by the Florida Solar Energy Center found that the changes made throughout buildings in the state created 13 percent overall savings. Even if your building has already been constructed, there are changes that can be made to ensure it is more efficient.
Consider scheduling an energy efficiency inspection with Alban Inspections today. Visit our websiteto learn more.
Newer Buildings Struggle to Remain Energy Efficient
Energy efficiency is an important part of maintaining a sustainable amount of natural resources as well as reducing the overall carbon footprint given off by individuals.
Recent research conducted by Honeywell and KRC Research found that although energy is important to builders that are creating new establishments, several other needs are taking precedent too. The study looked at 500 buildings across the U.S. and found that they only scored 35 out of 100 in terms of energy efficiency.
The report found that the most important factor for builders remains safety, with 51 percent indicating it was “the primary gauge of a smart building,” but 27 percent also said that green assets can be an indicator of this type of safety. 82 percent agree that the benefits of energy efficiency are vital, but only 53 percent of buildings tested were seen as “technologically advanced” enough to make a real difference.
Some buildings are pledging to make a change though, with the support of The American Institute of Architects (AIA). This group challenges buildings to make a change, tracking the annual percentage of professionals who aim to reduce predicted energy usage (pEUI) by 60 percent. Although this number has increased somewhat, the last plans submitted to the AIA averaged only 34 percent.
By investing in an energy efficiency audit during building or right after, real changes can be made that will impact the efficiency for years to come. Making energy changes, as stated above, can also decrease annual and monthly bills, decreasing costs for companies with ease.
To learn more about energy efficiency or to schedule an audit, visit our website.
The Importance of Energy Efficiency in Small Businesses
As part of many emerging energy efficiency initiatives, larger buildings, both in size and population, are being targeted for change. One energy expert, Marge Anderson, executive vice president of Seventh wave, a leading energy nonprofit, believes small businesses should be considered for change too.
Smaller buildings, those less than 50,000 square feet, represent 95 percent of total commercial buildings in the U.S., but most energy efficiency programs, incentives and money go toward larger buildings.
A new study conducted by the Preservation Green Lab, a project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, found that initiatives such as these could save more than $30 billion in annual finances.
The report defined elements to enhance energy savings across 7 million business establishments controlling 4.4 million small buildings nationally.
The report also found that the potential savings that can be found in small businesses range from 27 to 59 percent, depending on the type of building. This equals about 17 percent of commercial energy use annually. These small businesses, such as grocers and retailers, can improve profits by 10 percent through smart investments in energy savings.
The report recommends three major areas of change including:
- Encouraging innovative new business models, collaborating between industry leaders and smaller initiatives.
- Identifying waste and measuring overall energy performance.
- Planning for improvements now using opportunities that emerge, as well as technology and energy improvements as a whole.
Energy efficiency begins with those that know and understand how much of a difference it can make. To learn more about energy efficiency, or to schedule an energy audit in your own home or small business, contact Alban Inspections today. Visit our website to learn more.