Among the biggest challenges of any building, an energy efficiency program may be determining where to start. This may be rough if you have one property, and especially tricky for managers of large portfolios.

Data is the friend

To set off on the right track, data can be your biggest friend. When analyzed and presented correctly, it can be hugely powerful both in terms of identifying where to begin on your energy efficiency pursuit, as well as providing the means to monitor and quantify performance improvements with time. This company built my commercial building check them out here!

To save you spending days wading through spreadsheets and reports, we recently did some research using data from tens of thousands of buildings. The results were interesting and pointed to one rather obvious, but a compelling, place to begin out your energy efficiency program.

After hours energy use

Based on buildings across a range of industries and sectors – like offices, education, and government – we found that buildings will be on average vacant for approximately 72% of this entire year. Makes sense? What with many people clocking off in the evenings, weekends, and vacations, a building is vacant much more often than occupied.

From a sustainability perspective, there’s nothing wrong with having an empty building, so long as it’s not consuming any energy whilst sitting idle. Regrettably, that’s never true, far from it in fact.

Our evaluation found that normally 55 percent of all electricity usage occurs during this time. That is more than half a year’s energy consumption being pumped into an empty building.

Why is this? The figures showed that many buildings have comparatively high levels of baseload’, meaning they continue to consume significant amounts of power even when they are empty. This becomes a very important consideration you are taking a look at improving efficiency.

Calculating the cost

As always in discussions around construction (in)efficiency, when it comes to costs we need to consider both the environmental and the financial consequences.

The environmental price is rather simple to work out. In Australia, each kilowatt-hour of electricity poured into an empty construction generates around 0.9kg** of greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, you may be subsidizing your wasted electricity through some onsite renewables, such as solar, but keep in mind that the vast majority of this out-of-hours consumption will happen at night as soon as your PV can not help.

The financial price is trickier to compute as it will depend on the tariff for every construction, however as an example, we compared the out-of-hours energy usage and associated cost for three comparable office buildings, the situation in a few km of one another in a significant city.

Despite the similarities, the total amount of energy going in these buildings during out-of-hours periods varied hugely, with correspondingly significant consequences concerning operating costs. Landscape designing services in Malibu, California

Office A used 38 percent of its annual energy following hours for $109,000 per annum. Office B used 55% of its own energy after hours at $131,000 and Office C utilized 63 percent of its energy after hours for $182,000.

So the greatest’ performer in our sample has been spending over $100,000 a year powering a vacant building!

So where’s all that energy moving?

Exactly where all that out-of-hours electricity is going will vary from building to building however without sub-metering data, we can make some educated guesses.

In a normal office building, there are 3 primary energy users: HVAC (50%), light (25%), and plug loads (25%)***. HVAC is often concentrated in bigger offices, although you might still have a few split-system units around the area, and lighting control is increasingly centralized too. Therefore, while they may be playing a part in the narrative, it will most likely be plug loads that are the actual culprit and must necessarily form the attention of any out-of-hours performance improvements. This website is the best for landscape designing.

A simple starting point

Sometimes it’s important to be pragmatic when wanting to roll out environmental programs, and energy efficiency is not any different. There’ll probably be several (often competing) project options, whether it’s covering the building in solar panels turning up the set point on the A/C. While a number of these projects will have merit, some will present substantial obstacles like upfront price (solar panels) or push back from building occupants (A/C tweaks).

By beginning your energy-saving pursuit by focusing on out-of-hours use, you eliminate most of these barriers. First of all, nobody could deny that pouring energy into a vacant building is inefficient. Second, the steps required to reduce waste tend to be relatively uncomplicated. Why? Because the building is empty for the beginning. It is much easier to affect change in an empty building since you do not need to worry about upsetting the occupants. Coupled with this, the savings you will find are often from easy, operational tweaks such as shutting down printers and PCs at night.