If you own a commercial building, the primary purpose of that building is probably to assist you in creating revenue. For example, if you own a restaurant, you can’t very well serve your customers without a dining area or a kitchen. Of course, it costs money to maintain a building. You have to pay for heating, air conditioning, lighting, maintenance, electricity, supplies, etc. This is why it is important for your building to cost you as little as possible. The last thing that you want is for your building to chip away at your profits. There are many ways to decrease the costs associated with using and maintaining a commercial building, both before and after the construction process.
Considerations when creating the building
Use a cool roof system. A cool roof is made of a highly reflective material that reflects sunlight and absorbs less heat. This can help keep the building cooler during warm weather. According to Energy.gov, a normal roof can reach temperatures of 150 degrees during warm weather while a cool roof only reaches temperatures of 50 degrees. Cool roofs can help you save money by reducing air conditioning costs and increasing the life of the roof.
Install programmable thermostats. These thermostats can be set to automatically reduce or increase the temperature in a building based on the time of day. For example, in the winter, you can set it to reduce the temperature in the room by 10-15 degrees at night when no one is occupying the building and then set it to rise again when the building will be occupied. Heating and cooling costs are the largest portion of your energy bill and a programmable thermostat can reduce your bill by up to 10%.
Install lighting controls that sense vacancy and natural light. A room doesn’t need to be lit up when no one is in it or when there is enough natural light. You can install lighting controls that will turn off the lights when the room is not occupied. This works well in restrooms, conference rooms, maintenance rooms, and any room that is not continually used during the day. Photosensors work well in rooms such as lobbies which have enough natural light during the daytime that no artificial lights need to be turned on. These two solutions can save a lot of money on your electricity bill.
Take steps to minimize the heating and cooling load. You should install weather stripping on doors and windows to reduce air leakage. You should select only doors and windows that are rated for energy efficiency. When designing your building, pay close attention to window orientation. South facing windows can help reduce the need for excess heating in the winter because the sunlight pouring in will warm the space. To reduce heat in the summer and retain heat in the winter, be sure to install blinds or tinting on window glass.
Use the proper insulation for your building and climate. There are many different types of insulation and each works best based on your particular needs and budget. The first thing to consider when choosing insulation for your building is the R-Value recommended in your region. An R-Value indicates how resistant something is to heat transfer - the higher the R-Value, the more the insulation will prevent hot air escaping and cold air entering in the winter and cold air escaping and hot air entering in the summer. Each type of insulation will give you a different R-Value. To read more about the different types of insulation, click here.
Tips to follow after the building is complete
Saving money after the building is occupied is all about paying attention to your energy usage. According to energystar.gov, the average commercial building wastes 30 percent of the energy it uses but there are some easy steps to reduce the waste and save money.
Replace all incandescent bulbs with Energy Star compact fluorescent lights. According to energystar.gov, replacing one 60 watt incandescent bulb with a 13-watt CFL bulb can save $56 in energy over the lifetime of the CFL bulb. If you have hundreds of bulbs in your building, imagine the savings! Also, CFL bulbs last 10 times longer than regular bulbs.
Perform preventative maintenance on heating and cooling equipment. Replacing filters, cleaning the HVAC system, and inspecting its parts will ensure that it is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. This is vital in making sure that the system runs as it is supposed to without breaking down and it helps reduce the total energy usage (and cost).
Create a culture of saving by educating occupants. The employees in a building are also responsible for managing their energy usage so you should educate them on how to save energy. To incentivize energy saving, help them understand that when less money goes into energy bills, more money can go into their paychecks. Teach them how to be responsible for their own energy usage by turning off their computers at night, by turning off appliances that aren’t being used, and by looking out for energy waste. Your employees will be more likely to be on board if they feel like they are involved so be sure to be transparent with them about energy usage and keep them updated when progress is made and energy bills start shrinking.