The end of the year is the perfect time to organize expectations into actionable resolutions. 2015 has been a rockstar year in the energy world, so let's make saving energy a priority for 2016! Here are 10 "New Year’s Resolution" building management tips to help you get started!
1) Make your building weather smart. Winter continues: We previously shared our insights and free checklist on how to winter-prep your buildings. Conventional wisdom suggests you adjust your building seasonally, but be aware of the weather! Just because the calendar says January doesn’t mean you are experiencing extreme cold. If you have a building management system installed, be sure it is properly programmed to take advantage of weather-based free cooling and heat recovery, rather than calendar-based scheduling.
2) Don’t skimp on maintaining your HVAC system. Deferred maintenance might seem like a good way to save money in the short term, but the longer term impacts are significant. Besides the fact that consistent and proper HVAC maintenance reduces energy use as much as 20%, scheduled/seasonal maintenance also helps HVAC systems last longer. At the beginning and end of each season be sure to thoroughly inspect chillers, boilers, air handlers and other key pieces of equipment to ensure peak performance. Tackling small issues now can prevent catastrophic failures!
3) Earn that Energy Star recognition. According to EPA’s official account on Energy Star, buildings that have earned the Energy Star (scoring 75 points or above) use, on average, 35 percent less energy than typical buildings. In addition to lowered energy consumption and thus expenditures, studies show that Energy Star certified buildings also save on other operation costs and have better lease and occupancy rates.
4) Consider energy audits. Energy audits can reveal existing equipment, operation and consumption inefficiencies, potential energy efficiency improvements, and recommendations for operational adjustment. This can be a first step to consistent reduction in energy cost and increase in your building’s NOI. Many companies offer free or low-cost energy audits – take advantage of that opportunity to get smarter about your building!
5) Continuous commissioning can help your BMS work better for you. Building management systems offer many opportunities to control your building’s operations to maximize cost efficiency. However, you can’t take a “set it and forget it” approach to your BMS. Regularly review your settings and practices to ensure that the controls you’ve established in your BMS properly reflect your current needs. In particular, changes in tenant types or occupancy rates should prompt an evaluation. Using an Energy Management Software together with your BMS can help you spot potential operational improvements, as well as benchmark your building’s performance against your peers to ensure you are employing best practices.
6) Prioritize energy saving projects that are the most cost-effective. We understand managing properties is complex and involves a growing body of stakeholders. Consequently, decisions about how to save energy become complicated. But don’t get overwhelmed, because there are ways to prioritize the types of energy efficiency and usage reduction you want to implement this year! Do you need to focus on lowering the bills, or better tenant retention, or something else? Get data-driven, and evaluate with the help of reliable projections and ROI analyses available in Energy Management Software. The right answers are revealed through analytics.
7) Engage everyone in the building and join the benchmarking momentum. Tenants account for much of the energy use in a commercial building, so get them motivated and excited about changing behavior to create energy savings. Share your building’s energy performance on your tenant portal. Create building-wide initiatives like “green teams” for energy efficiency support and execution. Educate them on the benefits of Energy Star certified small appliances and office equipment. Amidst all the software and hardware efficiency upgrades, we humans are at the center of making savings happen.
8) Watch your plug loads. This is another opportunity to engage tenants in your energy savings initiatives. Plug loads are one of the fastest growing sources of energy consumption, accounting for 15 – 20% of electricity use in offices. Yet many folks are unaware of the “phantom” energy usage that occurs as those plugged-in electronics and appliances consume a small but steady amount of energy even while turned off. One effective and inexpensive way to tackle “phantom usage” is to control multiple plugs at once with power strips. Give tenants visibility into the cumulative impacts of these small changes through a submetering project.
9) Check your bills. Utility bills can be complicated to read and difficult to validate – especially if you’re not an energy guru. Most people receive the bills each month, pay the amount due, and then move on to the next item on their ever-expanding to-do list. But billing errors do occur, sometimes to the tune of thousands of dollars per month. Use an Energy Management Software to check both costs and usage to ensure they add up and you aren’t being overcharged!
10) Bring your “A” game to energy usage measurement and analytics. You’ve heard it a million times: you can’t manage what you don’t measure, let alone save money on what you don’t measure. One cost-effective way to bring real-time monitoring, measurement, and analytics together for not only electricity, but also other utility sources such as gas, water, and steam is to introduce energy management software (EMS) such as MACH Insights. Our EMS can virtually make all the previous tips come to fruition faster, and the progress will be traceable.
Enjoy the holiday season and happy New Year’s to all of you! We hope our tips can help you make your energy saving resolutions a reality for 2016, because we are here to make your job easier as always.
Do you have any energy saving tips that you’d like to share? Leave us a comment!