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The Impacts of Weather on Energy Efficiency

June 3, 2014 | 0 comments

The issues of climate change and global warming as they relate to energy efficiency have long been topics of debate. But according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather report, changes in weather and climate are already impacting the energy sector across the country. This interactive map, put together by the U.S. Department of Energy, shows the affects of increasing temperatures, decreasing water availability, and increasing intensity and frequency of storms and flooding in the last decade.

Environmental factors – whether they involve higher solar intensity, shifts in humidity, changes in the form and intensity of precipitation, changes in seasonal temperature ranges, or increased frequency and longevity of heat waves and cold snaps – all have a direct impact on energy efficiency and the building envelope, indoor air quality and sick building syndrome, HVAC usage, and equipment lifecycle. Check out these interesting facts:

  • A 25% increase in peak wind gusts can lead to a significant increase in building envelope damage caused by windborne debris and wind loading, according to Monster Commercial
  • Each 1.8 degree F. increase in ambient air temperature will increase demand for cooling by 9 to 15% in commercial buildings
  • In 50 U.S. cities, it is estimated that ozone risk days will increase by 68% per year, which will reduce availability of natural ventilation and increase HVAC energy usage, according to the U.S. Green Building Council

How can you minimize the impacts of weather and climate change on your commercial building’s performance? Here are a few tips:

  • Continue to focus on energy-efficiency initiatives to help counteract the increased demand on power plants due to higher outdoor temperatures
  • Participate in demand response programs offered by your local utility to help offset peak demand increase and avoid blackouts and brownouts
  • Invest in cool or green roofs, which will help reduce ambient temperatures, save energy, and reduce reliance on excessive cooling to keep tenants and occupants comfortable
  • Develop water-efficiency programs to minimize reliance on municipal water resources while also reducing energy use required for pumping and treating water
  • Consider green power when possible to reduce loads on power plants
  • Add additional insulation and consider window film to improve window insulating performance
  • Increase use of daylighting and natural ventilation to lessen the use of HVAC and artificial lighting systems

Are you keeping weather and climate change impacts in mind as you manage the water and energy use of your
commercial buildings?

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