Commercial energy audits are an essential part of keeping buildings operating at peak performance. They are an evaluation of a structure’s efficiency, and a lot goes into performing one.
It's the very first step any property owner should take to make their building more efficient. Without an energy audit, it's challenging to take any further steps to achieve the desired efficiency level.
Energy audits often provide power-saving opportunities, which can cut costs and make a building more sustainable overall. Building owners can gauge the energy-efficiency of installing new roofing, choosing reflective coatings or changing lighting systems within the building.
How an Energy Audit Is Conducted
Either a professional can conduct an energy audit, or a commercial building owner can perform one using a guide. The energy audit will examine all the factors in the building that affect power consumption and efficiency. Here are some of the things that should be considered when performing an energy audit:
- Utility bill analysis: This considers the electric and gas meters, energy consumers, spreadsheets of utility data and a summary of the bills a building owner receives. People who conduct an energy audit without a professional can use the Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track and calculate power usage.
- Property survey: A professional or building owner should check all property systems and equipment. This would include lighting, heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) systems, water heating, industrial loads and the structure’s envelope. Additionally, they can review construction drawings and hold interviews with facility staff to determine operation hours, schedules and any areas of energy efficiency concern.
- Diagnostic testing of basic commercial systems: Diagnostic testing tests things like duct leakage, refrigerators, HVAC systems, fan flow, energy pull and cooling coils.
Energy audits are quite extensive, but they allow commercial building owners to cut back on costs and improve their sustainability.
Levels of Energy Audits
Although energy audits encompass the above procedures, they’re not all created equal. There are three primary levels of energy audits depending on what’s needed and how much the commercial building owner can pay.
Level one energy audits are the most basic assessments. The auditor will analyze the power bills for the commercial property and conduct a walk-through survey of the building. Once the audit is complete, they will outline any opportunities for no- to low-cost improvements.
The next level of analysis offers more detailed information and takes operations and maintenance into account. Additionally, economic factors are analyzed, and the final report typically includes capital-intensive efficiency opportunities.
Level three provides the most detail. It would usually involve all of the above analyses and higher data collection, monitoring, project costs and savings. Plus, the auditor might include a thorough timeline of how the commercial building owner can implement energy-saving measures.
Benefits of Energy Audits for Commercial Building Performance
Energy audits help improve overall commercial building efficiency. Here's how energy audits can boost performance.
The goal of energy audits is to make improvements in energy efficiency. When a building owner takes the auditor's advice and implements improvements, such as installing LED lighting, the whole building's value increases. It also makes the building greener and more attractive to users.
Energy audits allow a building owner to have all their equipment checked for malfunctions. Repairing and properly maintaining machines will extend their lifespans, making them less costly to repair or replace.
Another benefit of energy audits is that they help identify which areas of the commercial building are using the most power and money to operate. The owner can replace those energy suckers with more efficient ones, saving overall costs.
Commercial energy audits significantly reduce the environmental impacts of the building. Many people appreciate green properties because they're better for long-term sustainability. Plus, investors are more likely to stay with places that reduce their carbon footprint.
An energy audit improves health and safety. It identifies dangerous problems and fixes them for occupants. Older commercial buildings could have issues, but more people are likely to enter them once rectified.
Energy Audits’ Role in Commercial Building Performance
The best thing a commercial building owner can do for performance is getting an energy audit. It improves efficiency and ensures the building is up to code regulations for health, safety and overall performance.