Energy tips for commercial buildings | Macro

Energy tips for commercial buildings


By Nigel Davies, Operations Director at Macro International

When there is a drive to cut energy bills, the first thing people do is change the temperature on air-conditioning systems by a degree.

While this will save energy consumption and is a common sense measure, there are numerous additional methods that can be added, all of which will cut both your energy consumption and cost.

Whatever measures you plan to action, make sure you communicate and inform all team members through clear notices (intranet messages, emails, etc.) It might even be beneficial to run a reward programme for energy conservation.

Carry out “in-house” regular energy audits and appoint two or three members of the team as the energy champions. Provide them with relevant data and teach them how to calculate the costs in kilowatts per square metre (kW/m2). This will then become a fantastic tool to review ongoing cost differences, either on a monthly or quarterly basis.

To negate air conditioning and lighting when the building could be empty, try to change service schedules. For example, if cleaning could be carried out during the daytime while staff are working, neither needs to be on for so long.

The value of a regular maintenance programme also cannot be ignored.

Monitoring water and air systems enables you to measure the efficiency of any heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. If dampers and actuators are working correctly, then opportunities within the controllable system can provide you with “free” cooling. As an example, regular maintenance of these components can result in the operational reduction of the compressor, which in turn will reduce the kilowatt per hour (KWh) consumption. Dirty condenser and evaporator coils will reduce the cooling capacity of your system and make your compressor work for longer periods.

Consider the following: is there an opportunity to introduce evaporative cooling? Can you consider installing solar collectors on rooftops?

Moreover, the retro-fitting of occupancy sensors and efficient LED lighting, with increased use of daylight options, will not only reduce the electricity but will – with new technologies – increase the life expectancy of lights. Shades, blinds and solar tinted glass (or adhesive film) will further cut solar gain and reduce cooling requirements.

It is also worth looking at the design and layout of landscaping, since these components can assist with the reduction of energy consumption. A general increase in the number of trees will not only offer additional shade but can reduce the temperature of air blowing against the building. As most people know, trees also help reduce carbon dioxide and other air pollutants, while increasing oxygen levels.

If the building doesn’t have a building management control system, then it is worth considering the cost of a retrofit versus the energy savings. There are now many companies who specialise in providing an energy audit, linked to proposed system changes with additional monitoring devices. Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology, they will calculate the additional system costs and guarantee specific savings over a period of 5-10 years. In many cases they will complete all the required work at no cost against an agreed share of the future energy savings.

A simple baseline is agreed through previous energy usage and bills. The company would then calculate the energy usage going forward and agree a share in the financial savings over a period of time. With zero cash outlay, not only is this a good solution for the building owner or occupier, but a good future revenue source for the design and installation company, who will clearly need to be very sure of their calculations.

This article has also appeared in Construction Week.