No matter how you slice it, the main purpose of a commercial building is to make money. That means anything you can do to lower the costs of owning and operating your commercial building will help you stay profitable. For buildings here in the Richmond, VA, area, one of the biggest ongoing operating costs associated with commercial buildings is their energy costs. Therefore, it follows that finding ways to reduce energy costs is one of the keys to any profitable commercial buildings. The good news is that there are a variety of great ways to cut a commercial building’s energy costs. Here are seven of the best ways to do that.
Upgrade Your Building’s HVAC System
Without a doubt, any effort to lower energy usage in a commercial building must begin with its HVAC system. Why? It’s because HVAC systems make up approximately 51% of the average commercial building’s energy usage. That means every bit of energy savings you can squeeze out of your building’s HVAC system, the bigger the impact on the building’s overall energy use.
Unless your commercial building’s HVAC system is new or relatively new, upgrading to a new, more efficient system is the best way to lower your commercial building’s energy usage. The savings can be more significant than most people believe. Consider, for example, a commercial building with an existing 5-ton HVAC system with a SEER rating of 12. Replacing that system with a new one that has a SEER rating of 20 would generate savings of close to $10,000 over the lifetime of the new system. That’s a significant sum that no commercial building owner can afford to pass up.
Commit to Regular HVAC Maintenance
A new HVAC system would generate significant savings, but simply committing to regular maintenance on your existing HVAC helps, too. Keeping a commercial HVAC in good operating order will help it to run at maximum efficiency. That will guarantee that you get the most savings out of your HVAC investment no matter how old your building’s HVAC system is. Plus, regular maintenance helps avoid unexpected repair costs, which makes maintenance a practice that serves two critical purposes.
Upgrade Building Insulation
The next major thing you can do to lower your commercial building’s energy bills is to upgrade your building’s insulation. The logic behind this is simple. The more you can isolate your building’s indoor environment from the elements outside, the less energy you’ll spend on heating and cooling. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a properly insulated and sealed building can save up to 10% on its annual energy costs. Plus, the added insulation will help keep the occupants in your commercial building comfortable year-round.
Install Rooftop Solar
Of all of the energy savings strategies you can employ for your commercial building, there’s only one that attacks the problem from both sides of the ledger. It’s to install a rooftop solar array on top of your commercial building. This accomplishes two things. First, it serves as a sunshade for your building, helping to prevent heat from entering your building at the hottest parts of the day.
Second, and more importantly, your solar array will generate electricity, which directly offsets your building’s energy costs. Depending on the size of your commercial building, it may even be possible to install a solar array large enough to eliminate the costs associated with the building’s HVAC systems. If nothing else, it might generate massive savings through time-of-use rates, depending on how you’re using your commercial building.
Install Smart Building Sensors and Technology
In most commercial buildings, energy waste is a major problem that contributes to high operating costs. Whether it’s from overheating or cooling areas that either don’t need it or could stand an HVAC cutback to people leaving lights and equipment turned on when nobody’s using them, the sources of waste are endless. The good news is that smart building technology now exists that can help you cut down on your building’s energy waste.
One prime example is smart thermostats that can more precisely manage the operation of your building’s HVAC system. Some commercial smart thermostats have advanced sensor systems that can detect room occupancy, humidity levels, and usage patterns to inform more efficient operational schedules. They can also lower or turn off HVAC systems when nobody is using your building without any human intervention.
Some other smart building sensors can control the lighting in and around your building to adapt it to environmental conditions or building occupancy. They can, for example, dim indoor lights when there’s ample sunlight during the day, which makes full artificial lighting redundant. And they can turn off lights when people leave rooms in your building, so you won’t have to pay to light unused rooms.
Install Efficient Windows or Heat Film
One of the reasons most commercial buildings struggle with high energy costs is that they tend to feature large, expansive windows. Those windows might serve a marketing purpose, allowing passersby to see the wares of your tenants. Or, they could be a design choice meant to provide plenty of natural light to office dwellers inside. Windows, however, pose significant challenges to a building’s overall energy efficiency.
That makes installing new energy-efficient windows a worthwhile upgrade for any commercial building. And where that’s not possible or practical, installing heat-rejecting window film makes an excellent fallback option. Such films accomplish two things. First, they reject the majority of UV radiation that would otherwise pass into your building and warm it up. And second, they improve the R-value of your windows, keeping conditioned air inside and outside air from penetrating your building’s air envelope.
Plant Perimeter Shade Trees
The last thing you can do to lower your commercial building’s energy usage is to plant deciduous shade trees around your building’s perimeter. This can lower your building’s HVAC needs significantly in addition to improving the appeal of your building’s exterior. In the summertime, deciduous trees should block a fair amount of sunlight, and therefore heat, from entering your building. In the winter, the trees will permit the entrance of sunlight, which should lower your heating costs, too. It’s a perfect natural solution that should make a noticeable dent in your commercial building’s energy costs.
Your Commercial Building Energy Savings Partner
Now that you know some of the best ways to reduce your commercial building’s energy use, you can start making a plan to use them. When you’re ready, Davis & Green can help. We offer complete commercial HVAC services and can help you to install a new HVAC system or maintain the one you already have. We also offer commercial electrical services, so we can help you with your building’s lighting needs as well as by implementing your smart building technology. We’ve been the go-to services partner for commercial building owners here in Richmond since 1984, so you won’t find a better ally in your drive to rein in energy costs.
So, for HVAC and electrical services for your Richmond commercial building, contact Davis & Green today!