Bay Efficiency’s General Manager, James D’Albora, describes what goes into a commercial building energy audit.
A Commercial Building Energy Audit is a process designed to help building owners make better investment decisions related to the lighting, HVAC and other critical systems in their building. A good Energy Audit will not only help steer owners towards more efficient equipment and processes, but it will also help them avoid costly maintenance and comfort mistakes.
Like any process, there are three key steps involved in making a Commercial Building Energy Audit successful. An Energy Audit can be thought of like a police investigation. But instead of catching criminals, we are catching wasted energy and potential maintenance disasters. The first step in the investigation is gathering evidence. In this case, the evidence involves all utility bills, the floor plans, a detailed inventory of all the lighting fixtures and a thorough examination of the HVAC equipment and the HVAC controls. All of this information gives the auditor a good idea of how the building is operating and how it is using energy.
The next step in the process is the analysis. This the point in the investigation where we start to connect the dots between how the lighting system, the HVAC system and the building occupants all interact in ways that affect the energy and maintenance costs associated with the building. This is where we start to discover ways to reduce the building energy use with simple and proven techniques. During the analysis, we also use more complex engineering calculations to determine the potential energy savings of replacing larger systems such as chillers, air handlers or boilers.
The final step in the Commercial Building Energy Audit process is the financial summary. After all, you could design the most comfortable and efficient building in the world, but if it would cost 50X what the owner is willing to spend, then it is pointless. Therefore, back to the investigation analogy, this is the point where we present our final case to the judge. The financial summary spells out in simple terms exactly how much each energy saving strategy will cost versus how much that strategy will save in ongoing utility and maintenance expenses. As long as the engineering is sound, the owner will now have enough information to decide whether or not to invest resources into an energy savings project, or into something else. Often times, though, energy efficiency investments prove to be a very low risk, high yield investment compared to investing in the stock market or other asset categories.
In conclusion, a Commercial Building Energy Audit is a process to help building owners decide where and when to make investments into the lighting and HVAC systems of their buildings. A good Energy Audit can not only increase a building owner's net operating income by discovering ways of lowering expenses, it can also greatly increase the resale value of the building itself. This potential value increase, along with the reduction in energy and maintenance expenses often exceeds the cost of the audit by upwards of 20X, making a Commercial Building Energy Audit a very attractive investment of time and resources.