Winter poses many challenges for commercial buildings. Freezing and thawing cycles, temperature variations, deicing chemicals, and snow loads can cause extensive damage to the building infrastructure that allows not only heat to escape, but cold air to infiltrate access points– resulting in a loss of heat and energy efficiency. Inspecting and winterizing the building now before winter sets in by making any needed repairs (such as roof leaks, masonry cracks or drafty windows), can often mean significant savings on heating expenses. Early autumn is also a great time to consider and implement proactive measures to help prevent heat loss, increase energy efficiency, and freeze heating costs.
Green roofs and walls
Because heat rises, a building’s roof is the first place heat usually escapes. Installing a green roof is a great way to help prevent such heat loss. Green roofs create a natural insulation – and evergreen plants included in the mix provide year-round coverage. Plant-covered roofs also absorb melting snow, which increases the life of the underlying roofing material.
Solar air heating
The sun shines even in winter. So why not harvest that energy to provide heat? A unique retrofit solution is Solarwall® technology – “the most efficient active solar heating system ever designed,” according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Exterior metal panels harness the natural surface solar gain of a building’s exterior to pre-heat fresh air drawn in through tiny perforations before being distributed throughout the building. The wall panels also provide added insulation and actually recapture heat normally lost through the exterior walls – significantly increasing the energy efficiency of the overall heating system.
Often, window film is only used for controlling cooling costs in the summer. But some window films help with energy efficiency all year long. Optically clear thermal film insulation for windows does for windows what insulation does for buildings. Unlike traditional window film, thermal film insulation helps keep the heat out in the summer and in during the winter – putting less stress on heating systems. And though they provide similar energy savings, window films are usually much cheaper to install than replacement windows – typically about 5-10 percent of the cost.
Spray foam insulation
According to the Department of Energy, 40 percent of energy loss is due to air infiltration. Sprayed on as a liquid, spray foam insulation expands to seal gaps, cavities and cracks throughout the building envelope – even in hard to reach or odd-shaped places – eliminating air infiltration. In fact, spray foam is up to 30 percent more energy efficient than other types of insulation since it is seamless.
Don’t get caught unprepared by winter weather. A simple building inspection will reveal repairs needed for the cold weather. And installing a few of these retrofit solutions to help winterize the building could help make the interior – and the heating bills – more comfortable this winter.