One of the greatest challenges of any building energy efficiency program may be deciding where to begin. This can be rough if you’ve got one property, and especially tricky for managers of large portfolios.
Data is the friend
To set off on the ideal path, data could be your biggest friend. If analyzed and presented properly, it may be hugely powerful both in terms of identifying where to begin on your energy efficiency quest, as well as providing the means to track and quantify performance improvements with time.
To help save spending days sifting through spreadsheets and reports, we did some analysis utilizing data from thousands of buildings. The results were fascinating and pointed into one rather obvious, but compelling, place to start your energy efficiency program.
After hours energy use
According to buildings across a range of industries and sectors – like offices, education, and government – we found that buildings are on average empty for approximately 72% of this entire year. Makes sense? What with many folks churns off at the evenings, weekends, and vacations, a construction is vacant much more frequently than inhabited.
From a sustainability standpoint, there’s nothing wrong with an empty building, so long as it is not consuming any energy while sitting idle. Regrettably, that is never true, far from it in fact. The best company for architectural and construction services.
Our evaluation found that typically 55% of all electricity usage occurs during that time. That’s more than half a year’s energy intake being pumped into a vacant building.
What’s this? The figures showed that many buildings have comparatively high levels of baseload’, meaning they continue to absorb significant amounts of power even if they are empty. This becomes a very important consideration you are taking a look at improving efficacy. To help remedy this, let’s look at the prices, offenders, and a few solutions.
Calculating the cost
As always in discussions around construction (in)efficacy, when it comes to costs we will need to consider both the environmental and the financial implications.
The environmental cost is pretty easy to work out. In Australia, every kilowatt-hour of power poured into a vacant building generates approximately 0.9kg** of greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, you might be subsidizing your wasted energy through some onsite renewables, like solar, but keep in mind that the majority of this out-of-hours intake is going to happen at night when your PV can’t help.
The financial cost is trickier to compute as it will depend on the cost for each construction, however, for instance, we compared the out-of-hours energy usage and associated cost for three comparable office buildings, the scenario within a few kilometers of one another in a significant city. Get a free quote right here.
Despite the similarities, the amount of energy going into these buildings during out-of-hours periods varied hugely, with correspondingly significant implications concerning operating costs.
Office A utilized 38 percent of its annual energy following hours for $109,000 per annum. Office B used 55% of its energy after hours at $131,000 and Office C utilized 63% of its own energy after hours for $182,000.
So the best’ performer in our sample was spending more than $100,000 a year powering a vacant building!
So where is that energy moving?
Just where all that out-of-hours power is going will change from building to building however without sub-metering data, we can make some informed guesses.
In a normal office building, there are 3 main energy consumers: HVAC (50 percent ), lighting (25 percent ), and plug loads (25 percent )***. HVAC is often centralized in bigger offices, though you might still have a couple of split-system units around the place, and lighting control is centralized too. Therefore, while they may be playing a role in the narrative, it will almost certainly be plug loads that are the real culprit and must inevitably form the attention of any out-of-hours performance enhancements.
A simple starting point
Sometimes it’s important to be pragmatic when looking to roll out environmental applications, and energy efficiency is not any different. There will probably be several (often competing) project options, whether it’s covering the building in solar panels turning up the set point on the A/C. While many of these jobs will have merit, some will present substantial obstacles like upfront cost (solar panels) or push back from building occupants (A/C tweaks). Use this company to create a design and landscape!
By beginning your energy-saving quest by focusing on out-of-hours use, you eliminate most of these barriers. First and foremost, nobody could deny that massaging energy into an empty building is wasteful. Secondly, the steps required to reduce waste are often relatively uncomplicated. Why? Because the building is empty for a start. It’s a lot simpler to affect change within an empty building since you do not need to worry about bothering the occupants. Coupled with that, the savings you will find are often from simple, operational tweaks like shutting down printers and PCs at night.