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What Can Commercial Energy Audits Uncover?

April 18, 2012 | 0 comments

From detecting missing insulation to pinpointing high lighting levels, a commercial building energy audit can reduce energy costs by 10% to 40%, according to Abraxas Energy Consulting.

Energy auditors conduct onsite interviews and inspections to detect sources of energy loss in a commercial building. They also evaluate conservation measures that could reduce energy use and costs, along with possible payback and ROI.

Audits can also uncover a building’s carbon footprint, ENERGY STAR score, and energy utilization index (EUI), as well as determine how much energy goes to each building system (HVAC vs. lighting, for example).

Vista Commercial Window Film4 Buildings Show How Energy Audits Pay Off

Missywax, Inc., a 4,500-square-foot carwash, was consuming 84,000 kWh/year when its commercial energy audit was conducted. Several small changes were identified to cut savings immediately, including replacing incandescent exit signs with LED exit signs, installing controls on refrigerated vending machines, and replacing T12 lamps with T8s. After making these changes, Missywax saw a payback in 3.2 years. The carwash now saves 25% on electrical bills, cut $3,513 per year in energy costs, and received a Long Island Power Authority rebate of $10,270.

An energy audit for Tower One/Tower East, a 268,000-square-foot retirement facility, uncovered a lack of occupant control for hot water radiation heat, which meant the radiation was operating whenever the central boiler plant was enabled (no matter how hot or cold the occupants were). A site visit as part of the audit revealed that almost half of the operable windows were open in January to cool down spaces. Adding occupant controls, along with other changes, lead to $52,000 in savings per year.

Three Union County facilities underwent commercial energy audits that reduced energy usage by 22%. Because the Union County Government Center was the newest of the three buildings, staff members assumed it was the most efficient. The audit revealed, however, that this facility was actually using more energy than the other two buildings. The HVAC system lacked controls and wasn’t optimized, which made temperature control inefficient. Optimizing and enhancing mechanical systems, adding ceiling fans, delamping, adding weather stripping, and installing vending machine controls were just a few of the low-cost changes that lead to a $43,000 reduction in annual energy costs.

HealthQuest, a 104,000-square foot facility that’s open seven days a week, has loads that include fitness equipment, pool pumps and heaters, restaurant and office equipment, washers and dryers, etc. After a commercial energy audit analyzed items like utility bills, the building envelope, lighting systems, and occupant behavior, HealthQuest was able to save almost 18% in electricity and 28% in gas. With an ROI of 83%, the fitness center implemented solutions like solar heating for swimming pools, occupant engagement programs, occupancy sensors, lighting controls, delamping, and variable frequency drives for pump motors.

Has your commercial building undergone an energy audit? What results have you seen? If you haven’t completed an energy audit, tell us what’s holding you back.

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