With summer right around the corner, energy efficiency is at the top of every facility manager’s mind. No one wants to be forced into the position of having to choose between increased costs – either due to energy inefficiency or unplanned maintenance – or a building full of hot, sweating and uncomfortable people. In most cases in life, it’s better to be proactive than reactive, and now is the time to consider what improvement projects are necessary and will pay off during the hottest days next summer — and all year long.
There is a wide range of improvements that can enhance building system performance, many of which can be easily identified using the right insight from the building’s own data. We’ve shared five tips below as you evaluate the enhancements that can be made in your building to help optimize energy efficiency, occupant comfort and equipment performance:
1. Look At Problem Areas In Your Building – It might seem a bit obvious, but a little bit of analysis can go a long way. If you’re getting frequent complaints from one area in particular, there’s likely a problem there, but by taking a deeper look at those complaints, you can get a better understanding of what the problem might be. A room that gets more complaints of heat during the summer afternoons despite being part of the central air system may have windows that aren’t effectively sealed. A room that complains of being too hot in the winter might be near a pipe that letting off a dangerous amount of heat and must be replaced. By analyzing the problem areas and digging a little deeper into the complaints, you can get a much better idea of what you’re dealing with and prepare accordingly.
2. Start Small – When initiating the process of making improvements, fight the urge to begin with everything. While you may have a list of areas and equipment you’d like to improve, start small, identify the priorities and work through your list over time. If there’s not a list, start by analyzing your building and equipment data to see how the building is operating. Using this information, you can uncover easy, no and low-cost improvements that don’t require much investment of time or money from you but that can pay off significantly in improved energy efficiency and occupant comfort.
3. Utilize Schedules That Match Building Use – Effective scheduling can be a powerful tool to help maximize your energy efficiency. Knowing which systems are going to be used the most at a certain time can allow you to plan and adjust your equipment accordingly and use the required energy in the best way possible. For example, a school would use a cooling system far less over the months of summer vacation where there is a significantly lower number of people in the building, than during the late spring. Similarly, an office building likely won’t require as much heating on New Year’s Day as other days in the winter. By having a good idea of the schedule on which your building’s occupants run, you can better align your systems to provide them energy when they need it, and cut back when they don’t.
4. Continually Commission Systems to Maintain Their Expected Performance – No matter how automated or connected an energy system is, there are always hiccups that will inevitably arise, causing equipment to not perform as expected. Regularly commission extensive systems, such as heating and cooling, to ensure they are operating at a productive level. Utilizing the system’s analytics enables you to easily identify areas that can easily be improved for better efficiency, as well any issues as they arise. This will not only keep these systems performing as intended, but will make it much easier to adjust them so that they perform at levels that exceed expectations, making your job easier and leading to greater satisfaction for the people in the building.
5. Shift Energy Demand to Off Peak Hours – Supply and demand is a basic economic principle, and it applies to energy as much as anything else. The more energy that you use during peak hours – the hours when the most people are also using energy – the greater the cost. By shifting energy demand to off peak hours, which incidentally makes up the vast majority of hours in a given year, you can save an incredible amount. This can be done with storage solutions that shift energy consumption from daytime to off peak times, as well as smart meters that enable time-of-use pricing.
Source: Trane Commercial