What Is An Energy Audit?
A professional energy audit tells you how much energy you use, its cost, in what functions in your building, and provides multiple recommendations that will result in significant energy usage and cost savings, if implemented.
Some Of The Many Direct Financial Benefits
Real life examples show that properly-performed energy audits can provide a building owner direct financial benefits, such as:
• Significant energy cost savings beginning quickly, that grow in value as rates rise, and continue for a long time; (one upgrade saves costs for many years)
• Tenant attraction/retention, and, therefore, higher rents than less efficient space
• Greater worker productivity/buyer comfort (retail), all adding to tenant satisfaction
• Rise in of asset valuation (which would a buyer prefer, a building demonstrated to be energy efficient or a dark, leaky high oil/gas usage one?)
• Achievement of building certification standards, which will further raise the value
• Potentially obtain utility rebates, state grants and federal tax incentives. More and more entities want buildings to be efficient and will pay for verified achievements.
A simple example of energy efficiency is lights. LEDs can produce the same – even more – light for less than half the wattage of an incandescent or fluorescent. For example, if you replace one 40-watt fluorescent light with a similarly-sized 18-watt LED, then the bulb will use 22 fewer watts to create the same light. If it is used 10 hours/day, 5 days/week, 50 weeks/year, then electricity savings is 55 kWh per year. At $0.20/kWh, the savings is $11 per year. From just one light! If your building uses hundreds of lights, then the savings is so much more. There is no risk of failure; 18 watts means 18 watts.
How To Get Good Ideas For Savings? Have A Professional Energy Audit Done.
The professional group ASHRAE has defined 3 levels of professional energy audits.
• Brief analysis of the building’s historic energy bills
• Brief on-site building survey to gather basic information about energy use and systems (i.e., very rough count of lights, basic nameplate information about units)
• Listing of potential energy use- and cost-saving strategies, known as Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs). Rough savings and cost analysis for each one.
• Detailed analysis of the building’s energy bills, preferably previous 24 months.
• Detailed on-site building survey to identify more thoroughly the building’s energy systems and equipment (i.e., more thorough, accurate lighting count, more details about boilers, rooftop units, etc.)
• Identify, describe ECMs and provide a more detailed savings and cost analysis, including estimating payback (time it will take for energy cost savings to equal outlay plus operating costs of ECM) and return-on-investment.
• Discussion of any changes to building operations and maintenance procedures by each listed ECM, including secondary benefits (i.e., reduced maintenance).
Includes the components of a Level II Energy Audit, plus:
• More extensive data collection, particularly of the physical building, such as leak points, doors, and windows.
• Use of approved, site-specific energy computer models to estimate heat losses and infiltrations throughout year
• More refined energy and financial analysis from multiple vendors, including upfront costs, incentives, savings, and ROI.
• Evaluation of long-term energy savings and operational cost trends.
Smartest Way To Get Started
So now you will look for great long-term energy savings opportunities for your company. Count how have many buildings you wish to audit and their complexity. If your company manages many buildings, it may be useful to perform a Level I energy audit on all of them. While the ECMs may contain rough estimations, at least you can compare energy efficiencies leaving yourself with a group with greater opportunity to focus on. If you have a smaller number of buildings and/or they are complex (involve many functions or have many specific energy systems), then you may want to have Level II audits done to get good estimates at a reasonable cost. Level III audits are very expensive and generally do not justify the extra expense and effort unless such accuracy is necessary.
Hire An Experienced Pro
“You get what you pay for.” Why skimp and save a few thousand dollars on an energy audit if that means hiring someone without a professional engineer’s license or equivalent certification (i.e., CEM). They can provide numbers that are plain wrong or lead to missed opportunities or pursuing projects that are not worthwhile; lost money! This can cost your company much, much more than the savings of a “cheapo” firm. Hire a qualified energy auditor; there is a lot riding on it. Make sure the professional is experienced in buildings similar to yours.
As you can see, there is no magic wand that can be waved to bring instantaneous, substantial energy cost savings. One must invest time and money and bring in smart, experienced professionals to do it right. But once done right, the savings and the direct financial benefits are tremendous. Most good energy projects have ROIs better than what is achieved on Wall St. Good luck!
CCES has the technical expertise to perform all types of energy auditing for diverse building types to maximize your financial benefits. We can get you the applicable incentives you deserve and can project manage ECMs you choose as most relevant to your building. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.