Within the world of commercial buildings, a common theme and term you’ll hear about often is building performance. This is a broad term that covers a number of areas, from heating, ventilation and air conditioning issues to lighting systems and the use of renewable energy, and building owners or managers will regularly be focused on it for several reasons, from costs on down.
At Alternative Utility Services, Inc., we’re here to offer services in one major part of the building performance realm: Energy efficiency and management services, which range from all your lighting needs through solar power, capacity management, water conservation and numerous others. We play a major role in helping businesses be as efficient as possible, often a huge part of what dictates your overall building performance. What are some basic recommendations we make to commercial clients on maintaining strong energy efficiency so your building performance stays high? Here are several themes.
Energy Audit, Surveys and Assessments
First and foremost, it’s much easier to get a full picture of your building’s major energy efficiency needs when you have a thorough energy audit done. This is where we visit your building and conduct an assessment of what’s happening with your lighting systems, refrigeration, HVAC, water use and other pieces that may be affecting overall efficiency. We look at past utility bills too to get the big picture on how your buildings are operating in terms of usage.
Especially if you’ve recently made some energy changes or upgrades, an audit will give you a great sense of where your building stands and how we can help it reach the next level. After an audit, we put together a comprehensive survey that details our findings and offers specific recommendations on what changes would be most beneficial for you.
Regular Building User Guide Updates
A vital part of basic building performance, and one that touches on energy efficiency in several ways, is a Building User Guide. This is a kind of “cheat sheet” write up for you to help your staff understand how things work in each space.
When doing this, take into account temperature settings, what the building should be using or not using at certain times (such as during peak hours) and many other steps that can keep energy usage in check. BUG’s often provide information on things like energy efficiency, water management, safety and security too.
This should be an ongoing document that’s regularly updated as changes come about in your building or as new staff arrives who need to be oriented on how things work.
Proper Manuals and Resources
For any energy-related systems and equipment, proper manuals and other resources are vital. The more people who understand how things work in your building, the greater your energy efficiency will be. We advise all of our clients to provide their staff with the proper educational materials and make sure they know where to find them if questions about specific systems arise.
Along with manuals for each piece of equipment, it’s helpful to have an overall energy policy in place for your building. This helps staff understand the “why” behind certain things, such as why they need to power down or unplug electronics when leaving the office for the day.
Temperature Control Monitoring
Especially for larger buildings that have many people operating in them on a daily basis, one of the largest influences on overall energy efficiency is how people control the temperature in their spaces. A/C units, compressors and much more are at work to keep things cooler or warmer depending on the season or need, so it’s up to office occupants to set these conditions properly for optimal performance.
As a building owner or manager, it’s vital to regularly monitor temperature controls and make sure they’re set in a way that benefits your employees, while also not running up an unnecessarily high utility bill.
Regular HVAC Reviews
Down similar lines, it’s important to regularly assess your HVAC systems and make sure they’re running properly and efficiently. A big part of this is regularly changing out air filters, which can get dirty quickly depending on the size of your building and how many people are working in it each day.
Another key element to regular HVAC maintenance is having a professional come in and check things over at least once a year, if not more often. They’ll be able to spot issues in the making and alert you before they become more difficult (and costly) problems down the road. Rest assured that these professionals are aware of how much energy is expended with HVAC systems, so they will also make recommendations on what can be done to help improve your building’s performance too.
Consider Alternative Energy
With each passing year, alternative energy is becoming more and more viable for most commercial buildings. And while it may not be a fit for every building right now, it’s certainly worth looking into as an option to help boost performance, save on costs and help your organization get closer to sustainability goals.
In many cases, alternative energy sources can be put in place using off-peak power from the local utility company, meaning your building isn’t drawing as much energy during high-demand times. This can help save you money and also help improve the power grid for everyone in the area.
It’s important to do your research when considering alternative energy sources and to partner with a reputable professional who can help you make the best decision for you. For instance, if you’re looking into solar, our team can help you weigh the pros and cons.
The bottom line is that taking proper care of your building to boost its performance can have a wide range of benefits, from cost savings on down. Akin to any other asset, it’s important for owners and managers to regularly assess how things are running and make improvements where needed.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our energy management or energy efficiency services, speak to the team at Alternative Utility Services, Inc. today.
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