20 February 2013 — Operational improvements can double energy efficiency savings in commercial buildings, at little or no cost to building owners and operators.
That’s the finding from a survey of 60 million square feet of commercial buildings in the United States by FirstFuel Software, a building energy analytics company.
The survey found that half of all energy efficiency savings in utility and government-owned commercial buildings were achievable through operational improvements.
The findings back the results of the Low Energy High Project.
Chief executive officer Swapnil Shah said utilities in regulated and de-regulated markets, as well as government agencies, were recognising how operational improvements in commercial buildings could help them meet targets in a highly cost-effective and impactful manner.
“While building retrofits remain the primary focus within commercial energy efficiency, our deep analysis of interval data reveals that a vast savings opportunity still remains largely untouched,” he said.
“These findings show that the commercial building sector has a chance to essentially double the potential for energy savings, while simultaneously slashing efficiency implementation costs by a significant margin.”
The FirstFuel analysis revealed that 51 per cent of all energy efficiency opportunities from the sample – representing over $12 million in savings – could be achieved through low and no-cost operational improvements. This was a $17 billion opportunity when extrapolated to the entire US commercial building market.
FirstFuel’s analysis found building inefficiencies included:
- HVAC scheduling – Nearly 60 per cent of sampled buildings were ready for occupancy more than an hour before people arrived and commonly ran for two-to-four hours after people left the building. Coordination of building automation with occupancy represented nearly 20 per cent of the total operational savings opportunity identified in the analysis.
- Equipment sequencing – In buildings with multiple forms of heating or multiple stages of cooling, the equipment was often improperly sequenced, running the less efficient equipment when not required. More than 60 perc ent of sampled buildings demonstrated equipment sequencing inefficiencies.
- Simultaneous heating and cooling – In numerous instances, buildings were still using heating systems during outside temperatures of 70+ degrees, with building cooling systems working in “overdrive” to compensate for the over-heated air.
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