Most of the country had a pretty rough winter, and that led to a lot of people going over their energy budget. What can facility managers do now that the weather’s improving to help make up for some of that spending?
Spring is an excellent time to take stock of a building’s annual utility expenses and map out an energy-saving strategy, at an asset and portfolio level. A walk-through energy audit, retro-commissioning, and project identification are steps that will help a facility manager understand how building systems interact and where the ripe targets for energy savings are. Reviewing the building’s sequence of operations, and making adjustments to schedules, temperature and flow rate set-points in HVAC equipment are easy opportunities. A comprehensive energy-efficient lighting and plug load reduction projects are also cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste in buildings.
Mild spring temperatures and longer daylight hours also offer good opportunities to make HVAC and lighting adjustments. Outside air economization and free cooling, as well as for variable frequency drives on HVAC equipment serve to reduce cooling energy, and this is the best time to use operable windows. Don’t forget to make sure that the heating systems are shut off and the appropriate controls are functioning so that steam or electricity is not wasted unnecessarily. Capturing natural daylight by raising shades and adjusting lighting controls and timers to take advantage of longer daylight hours is an easy energy-saving strategy.
Answers provided by Wendy Fok, project director, High-Performance Demonstration Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation.