Commercial buildings—our offices, schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels and stores—consume nearly 20% of all energy used in the United States, and we spend more than $200 billion each year to power the country’s buildings.

Unfortunately, much of this energy and money is wasted. A typical commercial building could save 20% on its energy bills simply by commissioning existing systems so they operate as intended. If a facility manager knows where to look and what changes to make, unnecessary costs can be eliminated.

Here are five building areas that should be checked and strategies to minimize energy waste.

WastedEnergy-ElevatorAging Elevator Components

When was the last time your elevator’s efficiency was evaluated? Can you remember? You’re not alone if it’s been awhile, but new technologies can make a big dent in your elevator’s energy draw. If you have a hydraulic version for a low-rise building, improvements such as properly adjusting valves, implementing sequential standby modes, and improvements to the cab such as door-operating motors can save up to half of elevator energy use. Additionally, be sure to take a look at advanced software packages that can streamline elevator operations while improving efficiency.

WastedEnergy-BolersBoilers Left Unattended

It’s not the most glamorous of tasks, but keeping your building’s boiler properly maintained can not only ensure continued performance but can also maximize its efficiency. Make sure the tubes and traps are clean and clear – if they’re obstructed, they can block heat flow and compromise the boiler’s efficiency. Keep in mind that if your boiler uses #2 fuel oil rather than natural gas, you may have to check more often as the fuel oil does not burn as cleanly as gas, leaving soot that reduces efficiency.

WastedEnergy-MotorsMotors On Overdrive

Optimizing motor speeds with variable frequency drives can not only cut energy use, as a 20% reduction in speed creates up to 50% energy savings, but it can also extend the life of your equipment. VFDs can be useful for equipment such as chillers, cooling power pumps, air handling units, and others. Don’t forget to check to see if your state’s energy office or local utility offers demand-side management rebates for VFD implementation, which can help offset the initial cost and produce even bigger savings.

WastedEnergy-HVAC CoilsDirty HVAC Coils

How are your condenser coils performing these days? If their performance isn’t what it used to be, some cleaning may be in order as the DOE reports that a dirty condenser coil can increase energy consumption up to 30%! Not only that, but failing or degrading coil performance can cause IAQ to suffer and reduce your motor’s functional life. To avoid these issues, schedule annual HVAC coil cleanings to ensure nothing’s building up.

WastedEnergy-OverboardLightingGoing Overboard With Lighting

While your office space should be adequately lit, improperly placed or overpowered light fixtures can create strain for busy occupants and can also jack up your electricity bill. Polling your occupants to learn how they feel about the illumination in their space is a good start, but a light meter that measures footcandle readings can also be a valuable tool for interpreting light levels and assessing whether or not they should be changed.


Source: Buildings

U.S. mayors are expecting to significantly increase investment in energy technologies over the next five years, according to a new survey of nearly 300 cities.

The survey, Energy Efficiency and Technologies in America’s Cities, indicates that mayors plan to make energy-efficient lighting technology, LEDs as the primary example, a top priority over the next two years.  LED and energy-efficient lighting was also overwhelmingly rated as the “most promising” technology for reducing city energy use and carbon emissions, according to 82% respondents.

In addition to lighting, retrofitting public buildings also ranked as a top priority in improving the energy efficiency of city infrastructure. Significantly, mayors expect to use their own local resources, followed by partnerships with the private sector, as the sources of financing these technologies. And in terms of the actual deployment of new technologies, survey findings reveal that more than seven in ten mayors believe their local utilities are now their city’s most important partner in doing so.

The full list of technologies that are receiving top priority are:

  1. LED/energy-efficient lighting: 29%
  2. Solar PV systems: 19%
  3. Building retrofits: 18%
  4. Renewable energy: 8%
  5. CNG fueling: 7%
  6. EV charging stations/hybrid vehicles: 5%
  7. Low-energy buildings: 4%
  8. Smart grid: 3%

Of note, survey results also indicate that because of recent weather events and associated power outages, three in four cities have developed plans to keep vital city services operating during sustained outages, and within three years, nearly 90% of all cities surveyed expect to have such plans in place.

The survey was conducted by the United States Conference of Mayors in conjunction with Philips. The full report can be found at


Source:  Buildings

Everyone wants to save energy; everyone feels the pressure to reduce costs and improve the bottom line of their business in a lousy economic climate.

Energy Savings Companies (ESCOs) come in two varieties, guaranteed savings or non-guaranteed savings. So where does the facilities manager start? The answer: get an energy study done.

Common Sense
First and foremost, be honest about the goal of your energy savings program. Whomever you hire needs the facts so they can get down to serious work and be successful. You owe them your honesty to give the energy savings program a chance of working out to your company’s benefit.

Before the Study
Utility Bills: 
This is like the EKG for your building. Compile the bills and understand them. Know the patterns so you understand how much energy your building is using during the day, the night and season to season. Make a spreadsheet, trend the data and study it.

Metering: This is the calorie counter of your building. The biggest loads should be metered. You cannot save where you do not measure. ESCO’s of all stripes will implement metering strategies early on, so get this done to be in charge of baseline data and save money.

Equipment: Make a detailed list of every piece of energy consuming equipment in the building with all of its pertinent data. This quest to save energy can quickly move from merely saving money to asking yourself why you are behind on maintenance, since well-maintained equipment uses less energy. Get ROI quotes now.

Lighting: Knowing how everyone circulates through the building at every hour will help you to understand lighting needs within your facility. Carefully scheduling lighting patterns can far out-pace the payback period of a re-lamping project. Get quotes with pay-back periods for controls and re-lamping to compare.

Building Envelope: Invest in an infrared camera or have an IR scan done by a professional to know where the heat is going in your building. An IR scan may show an area that has been vexing you for years. Execute a plan to plug the holes, and do it now.

Controls Strategies: Make sure your building works well. This is the place where the ROI is typically the most attractive for energy projects.

Now you’ve got a list of things you can control, all you need is time and money. So, let’s look at what is really working against you (apart from time and budget crunches) in all of this.

Human Behavior
The occupants in your building are people. People have habits, both good and bad. It is nearly impossible to change these habits, especially when it comes to their work environment. All day employees give their sweat and effort, so they demand comfort. To better provide this comfort, ESCO’s need your common sense and understanding of the building and its occupants to truly weigh the validity of the Energy Savings Measures (ESM’s) they propose.

Handling energy in buildings is one of the biggest issues facing facilities managers, and most aim to become better stewards of the planet’s resources. No matter how old or what type of building you manage, there is something more you can do to make the energy spending go down. However, obtaining the money to implement it and the sheer will (and consensus) to make the changes are the biggest impediments to any challenge, that and the human behavior thing.


Source:  Facilities Magazine