An energy audit is performed on an existing building to help identify energy saving measures throughout the structure. During an audit, every aspect of energy consumption is examined, ranging from the lighting used, to heat generation, to possible leaks in the duct work. The goal of an energy-efficient building is to reduce operating costs while encouraging environmentally friendly actions from the building’s inhabitants and owners. Let's take a closer look at an energy audit for a typical commercial building.
Selecting the Right Level of Audit
Depending on the level of detail the building owner is trying to gain and the future commitment to improvement, there are three different levels of energy audits established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers, often abbreviated to ASHARE.
● Level I
Level I audits consist of a "walk through assessment." This means the auditor will examine monthly utility bills and do a brief survey onsite at the property. Typically, the auditor will identify moderate savings that incur little to no cost to the building owner. Additionally, the auditor may make suggestions for capital improvements in the future.
● Level II
A Level II audit is typically what most building owners and operators select. This audit is a more detailed look at the monthly utility bills and a full survey of the entire building. The auditor will work closely with the building owner to fully work within the constraints of the owner's economic goals.
● Level III
Lastly, a Level III audit is an extremely in-depth look at the building focused on large capital projects for improvement. Often, the audit team has a high level of engineering involved with a more detailed analysis of the building.
Common Energy Upgrades
When considering upgrades to create a more energy-efficient building, typically, implementation can be broken down into two categories. These categories are upgrades with a payback of five years or fewer, and those with a payback of longer than five years. Typical improvements to the building that show a return on investment in less than five years include day lighting controls, installing variable speeds to pumps and fans, or updating lighting controls with possible light replacement. Improvements to the building that see a payback that exceeds five years can be projects such as replacing HVAC units to high-efficiency models, rewiring entire lighting arrays to allow more control, or replacing constant air volume units with variable air volume units.
Aside from creating a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly building, energy audits have several business implications. A building that runs more efficiently ultimately means less money each year goes to energy bills. The cost of lighting, heating, cooling, and maintaining a building can be greatly reduced with implemented changes as a result of an energy audit. Reduced operating costs trickle down to the asset owner, thus, making the building more valuable. In the end, having an energy-efficient building helps to increase the value of the building.
We believe in creating the most sustainable buildings possible for both new construction and renovations of existing buildings. Our team of engineers, specializing in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering, can evaluate your building and find suitable areas to save both money and energy. At Gausman & Moore we are passionate about energy conservation and smart building practices. To learn more about our services, contact us today.