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Commercial Buildings

Your commercial building may be a simple, small office building or a multi-story, mixed use structure with a myriad of building additions, upgrades and renovations over multiple decades. As you look at our site for assistance in managing your energy usage we suggest that smaller building operators look to our government and schools page for advice rather than here. There we have outlined a short step-by-step process for those who are newer to energy management. This page is designed to guide larger facility energy management decisions and processes.

Where to begin? First, we highly recommend the Building Operator Certification training on energy efficient building and operational maintenance practices. Additionally, for those facilities who have already instituted energy efficiency measures, Building Re-Tuning training is a systematic process to identify and correct building operation problems that lead to energy waste. Both of these programs outline the steps needed to better manage your building. Check our Building Operator Training page for more information.

Where can I start now? Most energy managers have at least some idea where their biggest opportunities lie, but we strongly recommend a full review of all energy systems, starting with your building envelope and HVAC. Water leaks indicate an energy leak, interviews with staff or building occupants can uncover unexpected areas of failed insulation or controls, and a simple walk-through with a light meter and infrared thermometer can uncover over-lit spaces and failed equipment. An infrared camera can be worth the investment to clearly see the heat signatures of HVAC equipment and where you may have heat loss from windows and doors.

Looking for free tools? Two free, online tools can help you understand your overall energy portfolio and help you examine which of your systems are already efficient and which need attention. If you don’t already have a Building Automation System (BAS) that allows you to see all of your energy usage in one snapshot, we suggest benchmarking your building in Energy Star Portfolio Manager (PM). This allows you to see where you compare to other buildings of the same type and your energy use intensity in BTU/sq. ft. Once you have that view, we suggest you rate your energy systems – referred to as energy assets – in the Energy Asset Score tool. This tool examines your building systems and helps identify which ones need an upgrade soonest. Overall, if you have a good PM score but poor asset score, you likely have good operations of your poor assets and if you have a low PM score but high asset score, you likely need to focus on your operations. For a facility with middle level scores, this allows you to focus on what’s most cost effective to tackle first.

Do you have a parking lot? If you have a parking lot like many commercial buildings, consider looking at our transportation page to see if you can assist your employees and tenants in reducing your environmental footprint.