Commercial energy audits are essential to keeping your building operating at peak performance. Not only are they a powerful approach to finding ways to save energy, reduce costs, uncover inefficiencies in equipment and lead to higher performance, they are also one of the ways commercial building owners are taking steps to combat climate change by cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.
Commercial buildings can only receive the benefits of an energy audit with a plan of action. From the office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, a high-level of energy efficiency studies showed that commercial buildings see monetary and energy savings when implementing energy efficiency programs.
To learn about the energy audit process and how to implement the changes found in the audit, read on.
The Energy Audit Process
A building energy audit inspects and analyzes the overall building energy consumption to find areas for improvement by using less utility consumption. There are three levels of energy audits, each of which are based on ASHRAE Standard 211:
- Audit Level 1 is a walk-through survey identifying low-hanging fruit. The audit includes interviewing key operations personnel, reviewing facility utility bills and walking through the site.
- Audit Level 2 begins with everything from Level 1 but takes data collection a step further by conducting an energy survey and analysis of energy consumption to better understand the details and trends on automation systems.
- Audit Level 3 is a longer process that includes procedures from Levels 1 and 2 and includes data loggers to capture actual data on equipment run time for a bigger analysis. A computer-simulated modeling of the energy system provides a more intense analysis for areas of improvement.
With all three audit levels, a report on the findings is produced for the building’s engineering team:
- Audit Level 1 provides simple incentives on the utilities involved. This might be something like an easy recommendation concerning energy intensive light bulbs.
- Audit Levels 2 and 3 provide more detailed analysis, including costs and return on investment for upgrades.
- Audit Level 3 is a higher-level capital expense report that provides budgeting for big equipment replacement and a return on investment.
In certain cities, such as San Francisco, buildings of over 10,000 sq ft are required to undergo audits—and results of these audits have been impressive:
- Energy use decreased by nearly 8 percent among participating properties
- Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 17 percent among participating properties
- $60.6 million in opportunities were identified for cost-effective energy efficiency investments
So how can your building receive similar benefits?
Taking Action on Energy Audit Findings
As we said, results from the report do not mean anything if action is not taken. Although results may differ by building and audit level, here are some of the common ways building engineers take action with energy audit results:
Upgrading Lighting from Energy-Intensive to LED
With an Audit Level 1, many commercial buildings are retrofitted to address glaring areas of energy inefficiency at low-cost.
Reassessing Schedules for Equipment Run Time
An audit can reveal equipment running at inappropriate times. For example, with an Audit Level 2, an engineer might identify a pump running at random intervals overnight by analyzing the trend analysis.
Optimizing the HVAC System
One of the most significant contributors to energy consumption, optimizing flow rates in the HVAC condenser water system provides operating cost savings in cooling tower systems.
An Audit Level 3 can determine the overall quality of a major piece of equipment. In the case that the equipment is at the end of its life or is energy intensive, this audit can find an upgrade that will include a five year payback.
Little adjustments add up to compound savings, from calibrating all the thermostats and dampers to filtering enough outside air to condition the space. Maintenance is a no-cost example that does not require extensive labor.
To determine as many actionable items as possible from the audit, you need to partner with a team of sharp engineers who can assess the audit and execute a plan of action.
You’ve Found the Team—Let’s Find the Savings
When you partner with a team of engineers at Able Services, you are working with an organization that has the resources and experience to implement the discoveries made from your energy audit. These discoveries provide cost savings from energy efficiencies, and this allows you to do your part in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions for a cleaner future.
Ready to get started? Request a quote today!