In our down turned economy, the pressure is on companies to cut costs without using layoffs that perpetuate the down turn. But, in order to cut costs without using layoffs, most companies would need to reduce their budget in area other than payroll without compromising their bottom line, which often seems impossible. However, that’s exactly what some companies are doing by implementing energy efficient design in place of interior lighting systems and HVAC systems whose high energy usage can result in between tens of thousands and millions of dollars in unnecessary annual utility cost.Today, most companies have technologies in place to reduce utility cost, such as fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. But only a small number of companies implement energy-efficient design in a consequential capacity, which involves retrofitting old operating systems with new, energy efficient components to reduce commercial building utility costs as much as possible.As mentioned above, two common targets of energy-efficient retrofitting to reduce commercial building utility costs are interior lighting systems and HVAC systems. The problems with traditional lighting systems are two: they typically rely on inefficient forms of lighting (e.g. fluorescent T12 lighting and metal halide lighting), and they typically lack a control system that conserves energy by switching off lights according to movement patterns or on a set schedule. The problem with traditional HVAC systems is that some their components (e.g. chillers and air distribution fans) are oversized, using more energy than necessary without producing a more desirable effect. Other common methods for improving a building’s energy-efficiency include installing a more efficient building envelope and replacing particular machines with more efficient versions.In some cases, companies believe that their machinery and operating systems are efficient because a manufacturer said so. However, to accurately determining a building’s energy efficiency requires an energy efficiency consultant to perform an energy audit whose findings can be used to compare a building’s energy use per square foot to the energy use per square foot of similar buildings on a regional or national basis. If the findings are unfavorable, the consultant works with the company to arrive at solutions that match the company’s energy efficiency goals, such as desired annual utility savings, brand preferences, aesthetic factors, desired reduction of carbon emissions, and expected ROI. Most efficiency projects that focus on improving a building’s biggest problem areas have a first-year ROI of 50 percent or more, making it easy to pay the balance of a financed project in full within the first three years. With the project paid for, the savings it generates becomes pure profit that enhances a company’s bottom line for years to come.
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