Cutting energy costs sometimes involves striking a delicate balance between savings and occupant satisfaction. Done incorrectly, changes in temperature or light level can disrupt activity, saving energy at the expense of productivity.
However, smart building management has come a long way "from the original tight buildings of the 1970s," notes Chris Pesek, director of integrated facilities management at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a professional services and investment management firm.
The company recently tapped its integrated facilities management data to discover five top energy efficiency tips.
1) Pick the low-hanging fruit first. This maxim is used frequently, but for good reason – sometimes big savings can come from low- to no-cost projects. One client, a manufacturer, found 253 energy-saving projects across its real estate portfolio, including recalibrating each building's HVAC equipment and other commissioning steps. Another manufacturer found simple changes to reduce energy use in 16 distribution centers, such as reprogramming the exhaust fans to run only at a certain temperature and humidity level rather than 24/7.
2) Seek out software solutions. Smart building systems and managed services typically promise a payback of one to two years, says Dan Probst, chairman of energy and sustainability services at JLL. "Many companies are adopting smart building systems or upgrading older building automation systems to today's more sophisticated versions."
3) Think about third parties. Consider bringing in an energy procurement partner to review your organization's portfolio for procurement options, negotiate contracts with suppliers, manage price risks, and recommend alternatives. One major HR consultancy reduced energy costs in 17 Midwest facilities by nearly 18% over four years through strategic energy sourcing.
4) Keep an eye on O&M. Lighting is a great place to start because it can represent up to 40% of the electricity used in office buildings. In addition to potential retrofit projects, emphasize smart management techniques like using motion detectors in stairwells, storage rooms, and other rarely-used spaces to keep lights low or off during long stretches when no one is present.
5) Enlist energy experts. The EPA's ENERGY STAR building certification program provides benchmarking tools and information to help you set energy goals and assess your property for savings opportunities. Check it out at energystar.gov.