Investing in an energy assessment? Are you missing something? Not sure? These three pieces are critical and should be part of every energy assessment - kind of like needing all the pieces in a puzzle. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) provides practical guidelines for what pieces should be part of a commercial energy audit. However, we see too many occurrences where profitability wins out over delivering value. Sometimes these pieces are glossed over and other times are completely absent in commercial energy audits.
1. Operational savings measures These are savings to your electric or gas bill which are the results of implementing operational best practices like using high efficiency filtration vs. standard filtration. These are sometimes called "low and no cost" savings because implementing these measures is a minimal cost with an expected positive benefit. Another way to think of these savings are behaviors or choices that would be repeatable at other properties if you have multiple sites, a building portfolio, or even in some cases actions you and your employees could take at home to offset rising costs.
2. Equipment right size measures An energy auditor may be working on behalf of an equipment manufacture so sizing bigger equipment or more units means more sales after the energy assessment. But, evaluating opportunities to "right-size" equipment takes a small amount of investment during the energy assessment and can yield significant cost benefits immediately. If you buy a 20-ton air conditioning you may pay $20-25k to get it installed. If the spaces it cools have been modified over the years (how many spaces go untouched, really?) and no longer serves the same purpose, then dropping in a new 20-ton unit may not be the best choice. What if a 15-ton unit will suffice? If so, you could save over $5,000 just by knowing the answer to that question. Immediately you have an avoided expense. We have done this with other systems like boilers, lighting, and pumps, just to name a few.
3. Interactive effect of measures When replacing your building lighting equipment it is easy to see the difference in how the space is illuminated. The usual results range from negligible difference to "Wow - what a difference!" However, there are interactions between the lighting system and heating and cooling systems. For example, the improvement in a lighting upgrade may result in lower cooling requirements but slightly more heating required. Being able to monetize that interactive effect can be an important decision point in a lighting upgrade. Especially if you can "right-size" the cooling system, the additional avoided expenses or actual capital cost savings can begin to greatly compete with the energy savings!
These are just 3 pieces to your energy efficiency puzzle which we hope will help you begin to see the whole picture. Since you are paying for an energy assessment, you might as well get all the pieces of the puzzle. Next week we will look more closely at operational savings opportunities.