8 Low- and No-Cost Ways to Save Energy in Buildings
In an article appearing in a recent issue of Engineering Green Buildings, a newsletter from HPAC Engineering, author Kenneth M. Elovitz identifies several “low-hanging fruit” ideas for budget-minded facility managers looking to cut costs associated with energy use in commercial buildings.
As the author points out, new building projects provide energy-saving opportunities related to design and construction. Existing buildings, however, have a variety of low- and no-cost energy saving retrofit options worthy of consideration as well. Below is a summary of several ideas shared in the piece as well as one added suggestion. Click here to read the original article for more details.
- Analyze Building Energy Use
- Reduce Water Pressure or Use Low-Flow Faucets and Showerheads
- Reduce Boiler Steam Pressure
- Repair Damaged or Missing Insulation
- Install Lighting Controls
- Consider “Smart” Power Strips
- Reset Hot/Chilled-Water Temperature
- Seal Leaky Ductwork
We couldn’t agree more with #8! Recent research by the U.S. Department of Energy, McKinsey & Company and others has shed a new spotlight on the major role that air distribution systems play in the energy efficiency of commercial buildings.
It’s not that duct leakage is anything new. It’s been around for about as long as commercial buildings themselves. But the problem has been all but ignored for one simple reason: there were no viable solutions. Few building owners were willing to undergo the demolition, disruption and expense associated with traditional duct sealing methods.
Faced with this reality, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, with funding by the U.S. DOE, the EPA, and others, focused efforts on finding an answer. They were determined to develop a viable, cost-effective way to seal energy-robbing leaks that currently exist in the miles of ductwork hidden behind the infrastructure of today’s buildings.
The result of their efforts was a new technology that offers a completely different approach to duct sealing – a technology that works from the inside out to seal leaks. Administered as an aerosol mist that is injected and blown into the inside of ductwork or ventilation shafts, the sealing technology can quickly and non-disruptively seal leaks throughout the entire duct system.
In 2008, Steven Winters Associates (SWA), armed with this and other innovative air flow management technologies, began work on a project that would have engineers rethinking ventilation retrofitting and energy saving strategies. Combining these new technologies, SWA engineers completely rehabilitated the duct system of a 55-year old multi-family apartment building in West Caldwell, New Jersey, saving the building owners an estimated $29,000/year in reduced energy costs.
Following the success of this and other similar projects, the use of aerosol-based duct sealing has surged in retrofit projects around the globe. Thousands of commercial buildings – from hospitals in Dubai to condos in Australia, to schools, office buildings and hotels across the United States – have used aeroseal technology to realize energy savings and improve the overall performance of their commercial buildings.
Now that a viable, cost-effective means of sealing duct leaks is readily available, we are also seeing a tightening of standards and a change in the rules related to energy conservation. Top government regulatory agencies and industry groups have begun to include duct sealing on the top of their list of low-cost opportunities for energy savings.
The choices for energy-saving measures (ECMs) in commercial real estate today are vast. Some cost hundreds of thousands of dollars – others little or nothing. Thanks to innovative advancements in duct sealing technology, sealing duct leaks has earned its place as a new low-hanging fruit in the arsenal of those looking to reduce the operational costs of their commercial buildings.
For more information about duct sealing as an ECM, please register for a free educational webinar on this topic coming up on September 7 at 1:30pm EDT. Panelists will give an overview of the problem and introduce a new duct leakage estimating tool that helps ensure a building is a good candidate for duct sealing.