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  • Writer's pictureCorey L. Wilson

Potential ENERGY Cost Savings For Facilities

Updated: Nov 28, 2023



EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager program calculates that a 10 percent decrease in energy use could lead to a 1.5 percent increase in Net Operating Income (NOI) with even more impressive figures as the energy savings grow. Using commercial real estate as an example, energy use is the single largest operating expense in commercial office buildings, representing approximately one-third of typical operating budgets and accounting for almost 20 percent of the nation’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. By becoming more energy efficient, all types of buildings from industrial, educational, hospitals, retail, warehouse and many others can reduce operating expenses, increase property asset value, and enhance the comfort of their tenants. They can also demonstrate their commitment to the environment by reducing pollution and the harmful Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to global warming. No Cost to Low Cost Opportunities Looking for a quick return on an energy investment? Here’s a laundry list of ideas to get started with saving energy that often have a rapid payback. Complete these items first before you consider other options. The best part? These energy management best practices continue to save you money long after the initial project cost is paid off. Cost Effective Measures

  • Measure and track energy performance.

  • Turn off lights when not in use or when natural daylight can be used.

  • Set back the thermostat in the evenings and other times when a building is unoccupied.

  • Educate tenants and employees about how their behaviors affect energy use.

  • Improve operations and maintenance practices by regularly checking and maintaining equipment to ensure it is functioning efficiently.

  • Optimize start-up time, power-down time, and equipment sequencing.

  • Revise janitorial practices to reduce the hours that lights are turned on each day.

Cost-Effective Investments

  • Use an energy management system (EMS).

  • Engage in energy audits and retrocommissioning to identify areas of inefficiency.

  • Install energy efficient lighting systems. ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent lights prevent carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

  • Purchase energy-efficient products like ENERGY STAR qualified office and commercial food service equipment.

  • Retrofit, upgrade, or install new heating and cooling equipment to meet reduced loads and take advantage of efficient technologies.

  • Use a performance contract to guarantee energy savings from upgrades made.

  • Work with an energy services provider to manage and improve performance.

  • Plug air leaks with weather stripping and caulking.

Low Cost to Medium Cost Items If you’re looking for a higher return on investment (ROI) in relation to more expenditures for energy savings products and practices, look into these solutions if your budget permits. If it doesn’t, the quick payback in energy and cost savings can justify the expense. Lighting

  • Replace old fluorescent and incandescent lighting with T-8 (or even T-5) fixtures, ENERGY STAR certified CFLs or LEDs, and other energy-efficient lighting systems that improve light quality and reduce heat gain. CFLs cost about 75 percent less to operate, and last about 10 times longer.

  • Install LED exit signs. These signs can dramatically reduce maintenance by eliminating the need to replace lamps.

  • Swap out incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified CFLs or LEDs in your desk, task, and floor lamps.

  • Install occupancy sensors to automatically turn off lights when no one is present and back on when people return. Storage rooms, back-of-house spaces, meeting rooms, and other low-traffic areas are often good places to start. Occupancy sensors can save between 15 and 30 percent on lighting costs. Before you begin, check with your local utility to see if they offer any incentives. Reference the DSIRE - Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency section in the Appendix for more information.

  • Examine the opportunity to switch from high-pressure sodium lamps to metal halide lamps in parking lots and consider upgrading to LED lighting for outdoor signage.

Food Service Equipment

  • For existing refrigerators, clean refrigerator coils twice a year and replace door gaskets and door seals as needed.

  • Have large and walk-in refrigeration systems serviced at least annually. This includes cleaning, refrigerant top off, lubrication of moving parts, and adjustment of belts. This will help ensure efficient operation and longer equipment life.

  • Consider retrofitting existing refrigerators and display cases with anti-sweat door heater controls, and variable speed evaporator fan motors and controls.

Heating and Cooling

  • Tune up your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system with an annual maintenance contract. Even a new HVACR system, like a new car, will decline in performance without regular maintenance. A contract automatically ensures that your HVACR contractor will provide “pre-season” tune-ups before each cooling and heating season. Your chances of an emergency HVACR breakdown also decrease with regular maintenance.

  • Install window films and add insulation or reflective roof coating to reduce energy consumption.

  • Upgrade and maintain heating and cooling equipment. Replace chlorofluorocarbon chillers, retrofit or install energy-efficient models to meet a building’s reduced cooling loads, and upgrade boilers and other central plant systems to energy-efficient standards.

  • Use a performance contract to guarantee energy savings from upgrades made.

  • Work with an energy service provider to help manage and improve energy performance.

  • Retro or recommission the building to make sure it’s running the way it was intended.

  • Consider energy audits to identify areas where building systems have become inefficient over time and bring them back to peak performance.

Longer Term Solutions & Larger Capital Expenditures These larger cost and long-term investments can also generate a high return on investment (ROI) over an extended period of time. However, they’re for consideration after the low no cost to mid cost energy saving ideas have been implemented. For more information for a plan to secure approval and funding for these measures, see Chapter 14 – Utilizing an ENERGY Savings Plan Budget For Facilities. Heating and Cooling

  • Install variable frequency drives (VFDs) and energy-efficient motors.

  • Upgrade and maintain heating and cooling equipment. Replace chlorofluorocarbon chillers, retrofit or install energy-efficient models to meet a building’s reduced cooling loads, and upgrade boilers and other central plant systems to energy-efficient standards.


  • Install economizers on rooftop package units.

Food Service Equipment

  • Purchase ENERGY STAR certified commercial food service equipment.

Office Equipment

  • Purchase energy-efficient products like ENERGY STAR certified office equipment, electronics, and commercial cooking equipment.

Today is the fourth of 15 installments of the 15 chapters of the second edition of ENERGY Cost Savings For Facilities, by Corey L. Wilson, that will will be presented each week in this newsletter. Each chapter is approximately 3 to 4 pages long covering essential info every FM should know about concerning energy cost savings for their facilities. If you can't wait until the last chapter, you can purchase the guidebook right now by following the instructions below.

ENERGY Cost Savings For Facilities Available in epub, pdf, and paperback versions for $7.99, $14.99 and $24.99. Excellent resource and textbook for facilities and operatons managers, energy industry professionals, sustainability workforce development, educators and students. CHAPTERS 1 – An ENERGY Savings Introduction For Facilities 2 – Your Facilities’ Electrical ENERGY Future is Now 3 – Electrical ENERGY Saving Systems For Facilities 4 – Potential ENERGY Cost Savings For Facilities 5 – Sustainable ENERGY Buildings Plans For Facilities 6 – ENERGY & Buildings Management Software For Facilities 7 – ENERGY Surveys, Inspections, Audits & Commissioning For Facilities 8 – Facilities ENERGY Benchmarking Using Portfolio Manager 9 – ENERGY Efficient Lighting For Facilities 10 – ENERGY Efficient HVACR Systems For Facilities 11 – California’s Time-of-Use ENERGY Rate Changes For Facilities 12 – ENERGY Code Compliance Measures For Facilities 13 – ENERGY Storage Batteries and Beyond For Facilities 14 – Utilizing an ENERGY Savings Plan Budget For Facilities 15 – Implementing an ENERGY Storage System For Facilities

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