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According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average commercial building wastes around 30 percent of the energy it consumes. That means that as a property manager, if you haven’t taken any steps to improve your building’s efficiency in the last few years, it may be wasting even more. If that’s the case, you’ll find many opportunities to improve, some that you can implement immediately and will have lasting impact well into the future.
Tip #1 Start With An Energy Audit and Inspection
Its hard to know where you can make improvements and save energy if you have no idea what shape your current equipment is in. So the best place to start is by calling and having a HVAC contractor come out and perform an inspection on your existing equipment. Before the inspection, perform your own audit by collecting the utility bills from the past year. Also pull any records for service, repair or maintenance. These can show trends that have been happening throughout your building, and help the contractor understand where potential problems may lie. Equipment that is breaking down regularly is probably in poor condition, meaning its also wasting energy. You may be surprised to learn how much you can save by upgrading to a new, more efficient unit.
Tip #2 Educate Building Occupants About Energy Savings
One of the best ways to increase your buildings efficiency is to bring all building occupants on board. Training sessions can help employees or tenants learn more about how to best use the equipment in the building, how much savings little things can make (such as powering down computers at night), and can provide tips for reporting problems in a quicker manner. Is it easy for employees/tenants to report a leaky faucet or a running toilet? Many people understand the importance of energy efficiency, and have taken steps to make their homes more efficient; they will care about where they work too if you give them the opportunity.
Tip #3 Timers and Program Controls
Why heat or cool your building when its not in use? One of the easiest ways to save energy is to control the temperature when the building is empty. Depending on the size of your building, you can use a programmable thermostat for a smaller operation, or a timing automation system for larger buildings, and have the air conditioning, heat and lights turned down during off hours.
Tip #4 Upgrade Your Insulation
Depending on the age of your building, the insulation may not be up to par. This goes beyond upgrading your windows. Adding insulation around pipes, HVAC duct work, and around electrical outlets reduces the amount of energy lost during normal every day function. If your building is older, it may be time to clean and inspect the ducts. Over time, ducts can wear down, with leaks or holes forming in the system. As these form, cool air from air conditioning and warm air from heating seep out into the walls and utility space of the building. This can further break down insulation in these areas. By fixing the duct work and upgrading insulation, the energy efficiency of your building can be increased dramatically.
Tip #5 Set Up A Maintenance Schedule For Your HVAC Equipment
Chillers, boilers, heating and cooling equipment all lose efficiency over time when they aren’t cleaned regularly and operate at a less than optimal level. For example, if dust and debris accumulates on the coils of your air conditioning system, the heat transfer is compromised and the unit will not cool effectively. As it works harder, it loses its efficiency levels. Regular maintenance means changing air filters to keep dust and contaminants out of the system. It means checking and cleaning all parts to make sure they are in good working condition. Changing little things along the way not only helps your system work better, it helps you avoid large emergency costs too that can come with larger, more unexpected breakdowns.