Quantcast

7 Easy Ways to Make Buildings Energy Efficient

Business

If commercial and government buildings are empty for most of the year, why do they consume so much energy?

A report from Greensense, an Australian sustainability software developer, estimates that buildings in its country are vacant for about 72 percent of a year, between off hours and holidays. Still, those buildings consume about 55 percent of their annual electricity use during those periods. The report indicates that figures are about the same in the U.S.

Buildings account for 40 percent of total energy use in the U.S., which is more than the transportation and industrial sectors, according to the report.

"In many cases, this has meant more than $100,000 a year spent powering an empty building," said Will Turbet of Greensense.

Graphic credit: Greensense

The report suggests that analysis of data is the easiest way for building owners and tenants to make properties greener. The three main energy suckers during a building's off hours are heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, lighting and plugged-in appliances. Those three account for 75 percent of usage.

Since HVAC and lighting systems are often centralized, plugs should be the main focus and starting point for those seeking efficiency. It most likely will come down to a change in behavioral patterns.

Graphic credit: Greensense

"For the most part, as building users we give little thought to how our daily choices impact energy efficiency, yet we’ve seen time and time again that, by increasing occupants’ awareness and providing feedback in a relevant, actionable way, it’s possible to realize significant savings," the report reads.

Here are a few tips and questions building operators should ask themselves:

  • What’s our biggest out of hours opportunity? Is our main energy user plug loads, lighting, HVAC or maybe the server room? 
  • If plug loads (most likely), what are the biggest offenders? 
  • Are there any devices that are left on but not used at night? Can we upgrade, use a power saving mode or simply turn them off?
  • Armed with this information, which building occupants and champions should we engage to see the biggest results?
  • What data will people need to be aware of and how can we provide it in an engaging way?
  • What other relevant information can we provide to educate and motivate people? Remember to always frame any data you’re sharing in a way that your staff can easily understand and relate to. 
  • How else can we encourage behavior change? e.g. an energy saving competition or a tie-in with an event such as Earth Hour or the Global Corporate Challenge.

Graphic credit: Greensense

"There will likely be a number of (often competing) project options, whether it’s covering the building in solar panels or turning up the set point on the [air conditioning]," the report reads. "While many of these projects will have merit, a number will present significant obstacles such as upfront cost (solar panels) or push back from building occupants (air conditioning tweaks).

"By starting your energy saving quest by focusing on out of hours use[d], you remove most of these barriers."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

orientalizing / Flickr

The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.

Read More Show Less

The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is giving President Trump a run for his money in the alternative facts department.

Read More Show Less
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his 2019 State of the State address on Jan. 15. Governor Jay and First Lady Trudi Inslee / Flickr

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who made solving the climate crisis the center of his presidential campaign, is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic primary race.

Read More Show Less
Earthjustice

By Robert Valencia

In April 2018, Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, thanks to her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining. However, her international recognition comes at a very risky price.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Stuart Braun

A year after activist Greta Thunberg first stood in the rain outside the Swedish parliament with her now iconic "Skolstrejk för klimatet" — school strike for the climate — placard, the movement she spawned has set the tone for environmental protest action around the world.

Read More Show Less
Bruno Vincent / Staff / Getty Images

Toy maker Hasbro wants to play in the eco-packaging game. The board game giant will ditch its plastic packaging by 2022. The move means that games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Operation will no longer have shrink wrap, window sheets, plastic bags or elastic bands, as the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
Vaping impaired the circulatory systems of people in a new study. bulentumut / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Vaping one time — even without nicotine — can damage blood vessels, reduce blood flow and create dangerous toxins, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology.

Read More Show Less