In this series, we explain the basics of transitioning to renewable energy, from the emerging opportunities, options and impacts, to the process of implementing onsite or offsite solutions.
First, let’s look at the three approaches many corporations and institutions utilize when trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These options are the same regardless if the company is targeting its owned and operated facilities or its manufacturing base.
The three methods for reducing emissions include:
Energy efficiency in building construction is generally understood to include all measures taken to reduce energy usage in a facility. On a basic level, this can include the installation of efficient lighting fixtures, insulation improvement, and the purchasing of more efficient equipment. When considered holistically with new building design, it can also include measures such as mindful usage of natural lighting and incorporation of climate-appropriate building materials to better maximize the location’s natural heating and cooling systems.
Traditionally, corporations, businesses, and institutions have deployed energy efficiency measures on a case-by-case basis for their facilities, meaning that they apply a range of efficiency measures one at a time and independently of each other. This incremental approach allows the deploying company to spread costs out over a wider period of time, but is ultimately less cost-effective than an integrated design approach.
A more cost-effective approach is to roll out efficiency technologies all at once across individual facilities; multiple facilities if possible. Simultaneous rollout allows the company to realize energy cost savings much sooner, but there are other benefits to the all-at-once approach.
By thoughtfully stripping down and replacing an entire system at once, it allows for greater overall efficiency to be reached than if technologies were implemented piecemeal. For example, just replacing an HVAC system may create incremental improvements on energy usage. But by replacing an HVAC and it’s connected ventilation system a smaller HVAC may be able to generate larger results.
The final upside to full-system implementation is that purchasing connected technologies simultaneously usually allows for some price bundling, which decreases the overall cost of the project.
When preparing to enact efficiency measures, you’ll benefit from remembering a few simple points. First, that energy efficiency is easiest and most effective when applied to the construction of new buildings. Designing a building for efficiency is much simpler than retrofitting an existing one. When retrofitting is needed, it’s most economical to implement system-wide measures.