3 ways to Increase Energy Efficiency in your Buildings

3 ways to Increase Energy Efficiency in your Buildings

Erik Fossum Færevaag
02. Jul 2020 | 5 min read

3 ways to Increase Energy Efficiency in your Buildings

Keeping energy consumption down is one of the biggest challenges that facilities managers face. The need for reduced energy waste is not only driven by economic factors, but by an increased focus on sustainability. By optimizing the energy usage in your buildings, you can improve your bottom line and dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. Let’s take a closer look at how this can be achieved.

 

Reduce the Need for Heating and Ventilation

Based on research from the US Department of Energy, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) represent a total of 35% of total building energy. Luckily, there are several measures you can take to reduce energy consumption in these areas.

The first step is to get control of the temperature in your buildings. Unless you know when and where the air conditioning should be on, it will be impossible to optimize energy usage. Once you have control of the temperature in your facilities, you can start taking action. Key opportunities include:

 

  • Replacing old windows with energy-conserving windows. Energy conserving glass reduces heat loss through windows while allowing more heat from the sun to enter the building.

 

  • Using high-efficiency heat pumps that can eliminate the use of refrigerants. This is a long-term investment, but one that pays off. It’s also a far more sustainable option than a regular heat pump. Using high-efficiency heat pumps instead leads to a more favorable bottom line and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

 

  • Ensuring proper insulation in the building. A building should be insulated continuously around the thermal boundary. The insulating material should have a suitable thermal resistance for the climate zone where the facility is located. According to recent studies, the use of the most efficient wall, window, and HVAC equipment could reduce commercial cooling by 78%.

 

Other opportunities include installing thermostats and using heat recovery units. Thermostatic technology has made great strides in recent years and many products exist in the market. However, it's important that thermostats are held accountable by another data source to ensure that they are fully functional.

“By 2030, building energy use could be cut more than 20% using technologies known to be cost-effective today and by more than 35% if research goals are met. Much higher savings are technically possible.” - US Department of Energy

 

Optimize your Light Sources

Lighting is the second most energy-consuming source in facilities. While lighting represents approximately 11% of the energy usage in American buildings, this percentage will vary from country to country. Some countries, for example, Australia, are further ahead in adapting LED lighting as a standard. According to research from Statista, the global LED lighting market is on track to grow almost 30% between 2020 and 2023. And with good reason: replacing your lighting with LED lighting can reduce your energy use by up to 75% compared to incandescent lighting.

You may have also noticed that there has been an increase in buildings with glass facades. This is not solely for aesthetic purposes. Utilizing natural lighting from windows and skylights can reduce your lighting needs dramatically.

One of the first measures you should take is to understand when lighting is necessary. Is the exterior lighting active during the summer months? Is the interior lighting active in empty rooms? In 2020, we expect the light to switch on automatically as we enter a room, but often this results in rooms being fully lit even when they are empty. Or worse, the lights keep switching off even when people are working in the room. This is a frequent occurrence in offices where people work in front of the computer and are less mobile.

By using a sensor that can identify when rooms are being used, you ensure that the lights are on only when needed.

 

Use Smart Technology to Optimize Energy Usage

If you’ve stumbled across similar articles on this topic, you may have been advised to examine your utility bills and look for trends. While that is good advice, there are faster, easier and more reliable ways to identify usage trends.

Today, there are numerous technology solutions that can help you continuously measure and optimize your energy consumption. One of the key research opportunities that the US Department of Energy has identified is utilizing “low cost, easy to install, energy harvesting sensors and controls”.

Sensor technology’s ability to present useful and customized results is constantly progressing. Accordingly, improving your services based on sensor data becomes more manageable. Analytics tailored to your specific needs provides countless opportunities to reduce labor hours, resource requirements and overall expenditure. In other words, sensors can provide the information you require to make informed decisions on how to increase the energy efficiency in your buildings.

Every action can make a difference! By reducing the need for HVAC, optimizing your light sources and using smart technology, you will increase your energy efficiency in no time. If you’re interested in reading more about this topic, we recommend reading our e-book on how to optimize your facilities management services.

 

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Erik Fossum Færevaag

Erik Fossum Færevaag

Erik is the Founder and President of Disruptive Technologies. He holds a Master of Science in Microelectronics from The Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Erik has a strong background in the semiconductor industry, architecting the world's lowest power microcontroller at Silicon Labs and the world's fastest-growing industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) band radio integrated circuits (ICs). In 2013, he founded Disruptive Technologies and started the journey to recruit the best people in the industry. He’s always envisioning new disruptive projects, but there are only so many hours in a day.

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