Organizations can realize big financial and environmental returns by improving energy performance. Success is based on regularly monitoring energy performance and continually seeking opportunities to increase energy efficiency.
Develop an Energy Efficiency Strategy
Energy efficiency should be a continuous process that engages all departments and management levels within an organization. Executive leadership should be involved in oversight and monitoring of energy performance.
Establish an energy benchmark and set energy-efficiency goals
Determine your organization’s historical energy usage, how much is currently consumed, and target energy reductions below a set benchmark. Set reasonable but aggressive goals for reducing energy consumption and develop an action plan for getting there.
Request a professional energy audit
Some utility companies or energy contractors will perform an energy audit for free. A professional auditor can help your organization prioritize energy efficiency strategies and identify cost-effective energy-saving opportunities. For example, commissioning typically eliminates infiltration due to air leaks; which in a large office building typically saves up to 5% of heating and cooling energy.1
Designate a responsible party and give incentives so that employees have a stake in the outcome. Employee buy-in and involvement can make or break your organization’s energy-efficiency efforts.
Submeter Your Office
Submetering gives your organization control over your energy use and energy cost. A study by CB Richard Ellis found that U.S. office buildings with tenant submetering used 21% less energy than buildings with pro-rata allocation of energy cost.2
Install a submeter(s)
Consider installing a submeter(s) during design, construction, and renovation of your office space. While some buildings may not be able to accommodate submetering, many can. Inquire with your Property Manager whether submetering is possible in your building.
HVAC and Temperature Control
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are responsible for providing heat, cooling, and fresh air and account for 51% of commercial building energy usage. Efficiency measures can generate substantial results but tenants should know what they can do:
Verify HVAC operating hours and limit overtime HVAC use
Ask your property manager to verify that the HVAC system is operating only during your actual business hours. Generally, space conditioning isn’t necessary for just a few after-hours workers.
Set a flexible thermostat range
Adjusting the thermostat just one degree warmer in the summer can reduce cooling costs by 2-3%. In winter, ask your property manager to set office thermostats between 65 and 68 during business hours, and 60 to 65 degrees during unoccupied times. In summer, set thermostats between 78 and 80 degrees during business hours and above 80 degrees during unoccupied hours.
Keep windows and doors closed
Opening windows and doors will allow conditioned air to escape from the building causing the HVAC system to work harder than it needs to. Unless your building does not have centralized heating and cooling, windows and doors should never be left open.
Lighting represents about 25% of energy consumption in a typical office building. Turning lights off in unoccupied areas and replacing inefficient technologies can have a substantial impact on an organization’s energy consumption.
Turn Off Lights in Unoccupied Spaces and Install Occupancy Sensors
Copy rooms, restrooms, break rooms, and conference rooms are commonly lit all the time, even when empty. Occupancy sensor technology is inexpensive, and will reliably turn the lights off when no one is around, immediately saving between 45-80% in energy usage.3
Upgrade lamps or Use Natural Light and Task-Lighting
Work stations near windows may not need overhead lighting. Task-lighting directs light exactly where it is needed, reducing the illumination requirement for the rest of the office space. Where fixtures are still needed, paybacks as low as 6 months are possible by retrofitting incandescent or T12 flourescent tubes with LEDs.
Computers and Office Equipment
Office equipment typically doesn’t account for a large portion of overall energy consumption in commercial buildings. However, by not turning off items like computers, printers, monitors and vending machines after work hours, their overuse within office buildings is proportionally much higher – 16% on average.4
Purchase Energy Star Office Equipment
The EPA estimates that if all computers sold in the U.S. used 30-60% less energy and met Energy Star specifications, the resulting $1.8 billion savings would add up to 2 million cars off the road.5 However, power-saving settings must be enabled, so be sure to verify.
Unplug “Vampire Loads” and Devices Not in Use
Office equipment which is unplugged, or turned off at night, will consume about 60% less energy than equipment left on 24 hours per day. In addition, look out for “vampire loads”, which are small power drains from equipment that appears to be turned off and can add 10% to an energy bill.6
1US EPA, “Energy Star Building Upgrade Manual: Retrocommissioning: Supplemental Loads,” October 2007. www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=business.epa_bUm_CH5_retroComm#ss_5_4_2
2CBRE, “Do Green Buildings Make Dollars and Sense?” 2009. Pg. 5. http://buildingrating.org/file/1094/download Accessed June 15, 2016.
3FPL Business Energy Advisor, “Buying Equipment: Lighting: Occupancy Sensors.”
4Energy Information administration, “Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) Table E1A. Major Fuel Consumption (Btu) by End Use for All Buildings.”
5“Energy Star: Computers”. Accessed: June 15th, 2016.
6International Energy Agency. “Fact Sheet: Standby Power Use and the IEA “one watt plan.” April 2007. http://www.iea.org/papers/2007/standby_fact.pdf Accessed June 15th, 2016