A most efficient building

by Tiffany Paczek
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Is your facility as energy efficient as it can be? EMMA ORTON divulges five actionable ways FMs can improve their building’s energy efficiency.

As most facility managers know, ‘energy efficiency’ has become a powerful catchphrase as companies strive to be more environmentally conscious.

However, what many managers may not know is that creating a greener, more sustainable workspace has benefits that extend beyond simply limiting their negative impact on the environment.

Positive effects created by simple updates to more energy efficient products can reach as far as improving the work atmosphere for employees, lowering the overhead cost for running the facility and, of course, serving as a marketable yet genuine step by the facility to help ease the negative effects of energy consumption on our planet.

Here are five simple, affordable and actionable steps that can be taken by facility managers to improve their building’s energy efficiency:

1. CHECK YOUR BUILDING’S METERS

Although checking meters and other measurable sources of energy usage doesn’t actually lessen the energy being used, it does help make facility managers more conscious of the energy they’re using. By checking the meters on a daily, or even twice-daily basis, it can often provide that extra incentive or reminder to switch off a light switch after leaving a room.

Studies have shown that by simply checking energy expenditures regularly, it can lead to very significant reductions in energy usage levels – sometimes even by up to 15 percent. It’s also important to have different meters for different areas of the facility, as opposed to one for the whole complex, and to monitor each of them. This helps building managers see where exactly the energy is being used and if it can be reduced or made more efficient.

2. UPDATE OLD LIGHTS TO ENERGY AND COST-SAVING LED BULBS

Often, the continued use of old, outdated lighting systems can add a staggeringly large amount to a building’s power bill. LEDs offer an easy way to cut thousands from a facility’s bottom line. LED lighting also offers a brighter and fuller glow – allowing workers a more illuminated space to work in.

LED lighting saves money and the environment by providing a brighter light while also using less energy – a win-win for building managers. LEDs also require less maintenance over time, which means fewer light bulbs being replaced in the future.

3. OPTIMISE ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF EQUIPMENT WITH REGULAR MAINTENANCE

Cooling and heating systems, as well the various components that make up these intricate systems, can often get clogged or need small parts to be replaced. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that all of the building’s equipment is running in tip-top shape.

For example, an air-conditioner could draw a lot of unnecessary energy if its vents are clogged. Employees could keep turning up the system because they weren’t feeling the air, but in reality, the failure to emit air would be a result of the clogged vents – so the system would be consuming energy at an astronomically high rate but to no avail.

By simply implementing regular inspections of vents, fans, boilers, air-conditioners and other similar systems, a facility manager can ensure that all aspects of the building are operating at peak energy efficiency levels. Always be on the lookout for dirt, clogging, blockages, leaks or any extreme or sporadic temperature changes – these are all signs that the system is not operating properly.

4. EDUCATE EMPLOYEES ABOUT ENERGY-SAVING TACTICS

A building manager could make great strides to improve the energy efficiency of their facility, but if the employees aren’t properly educated about the new equipment or policies, many of the updates will have little to no positive impact.

It’s a building manager’s duty to educate workers on new practices and to make sure that everyone’s on the same page when it comes to operating a more energy efficient facility.

Education can be as simple as a seminar introducing the new equipment, or a walk- through of new cost-saving procedures. Signs are also a helpful and an easily accessible way to remind employees of changes that reduce energy consumption – and its benefits.

5. ASK A PROFESSIONAL CONSULTANT THAT SPECIALISES IN MAXIMISING ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Although some of these listed options require little to no new equipment, larger changes – like replacing an entire lighting system – may seem like a daunting task. Luckily, there are many companies, such as Conservergy, that offer free consultations and work with the facility manager to help pinpoint where the most money can be saved.

Conservergy also offers options for professional instalment – think of it as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for an energy efficient and cost-saving LED lighting system.

Through the implementation of these five simple and actionable steps, facility managers can help greatly improve their building’s energy efficiency. As stated earlier, creating a greener and more sustainable workspace has benefits and ramifications that extend beyond the building, the employees and the wider environment.

These five suggestions offer some easy solutions to lower facility costs, improve employee workspaces and help create a more energy efficient building. ●

Emma Orton works for Conservergy‘s marketing department and is passionate about energy efficiency and conservation.

This article also appears in the October/November issue of Facility Management magazine.

Image: 123RFs Andriy Popov © 123RF.com

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