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A Guide to Energy Efficiency for Commercial Property Managers

Stores, apartment buildings, offices, and other types of commercial properties use a lot of energy. In fact, 1/3 of operating costs for an office building can be attributed to energy usage, which makes it your single biggest expense.

But, there is a way out, i.e. you can minimize your property’s level of energy usage. Consider the numbers – reducing energy use by a mere 10% in a 200,000 square foot office building that pays $2.00 per square foot for energy can save $20,000 in net operating income.

As you can see, reducing the energy consumption of your commercial property is just good business sense. But, if you are new to this ideology,  the industry-specific keywords, legislation, etc. can be a little overwhelming. To gain a basic understanding of what it means to be energy efficient and to learn a few tips that you can start following today to lower your commercial property’s energy usage, consider the following guide:

Guide to energy efficiency

What is Energy Efficiency?

On its most fundamental level, energy efficiency is defined as the process of using less energy to get the same amount of performance. For instance, if you use a 10W LED light bulb to replace a 100W incandescent light bulb, you will get the same lighting results. This simple change will ensure that you are using 90% less energy to light the space and will save you money on your utility bill as well.

ENERGY STAR Ratings and LEED Credits: A Simple Overview

In your endeavor to make your commercial property more energy efficient, no doubt you will run across some mention of ENERGY STAR ratings and LEED credits, but what are they? To put it simply, they are the measurements that we used to determine the energy efficiency of a building or a product. But, although similar, these two ratings do have their differences. For instance:

ENERGY STAR Rating

This rating was established by the EPA in 1992. Its original purpose was to minimize air pollution. But, since 2005 (when Congress passed the Energy Policy Act) it was extended to apply to energy security and efficiency as well. Product manufacturers receive an ENERGY STAR rating when they comply with requirements set by program administrators.

LEED Credits

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (or LEED) is a certification program for green buildings. It was created in 2000 by the US Green Building Council. Unlike ENERGY STAR ratings (which are only used for buildings and products) LEED ratings apply to the maintenance, operation, construction, and design of the building.

There are 4 levels of LEED Certification and a building or project’s level is determined by the number of points it earns. For instance:

  • Certified: 40-49 points
  • Silver: 50-59 Points
  • Gold: 60-79 Gold
  • Platinum: 80 and beyond

Construction projects and buildings can earn LEED points in a variety of ways:

  • Materials used in construction
  • Electricity usage
  • The way they handle climate controls

energy efficiency

Benefits of Making Your Property Energy Efficient

Per information from the US Green Building Council, energy efficient buildings (on average) enjoy a 4% increase in property value. But, that’s not the only benefit of implementing an energy efficient program for your commercial property. Some others include:

  • Attract more tenants: In a survey based on multiple studies, analysts found that that energy efficient buildings had an up to 23% higher occupancy rate than buildings without green certification
  • Improve tenant comfort: Today’s energy efficient technologies save energy but they can also improve humidity and temperature control, lighting, and air quality
  • Government incentives: In an effort to encourage smart energy use, the State of Nevada has a number of tax incentives, exemptions, and rebates available for commercial property owners
  • Reduce your carbon footprint: Low energy use translates to a reduction in the carbon emissions released by your specific property
  • Ensures you’re compliant with the Clean Power Plan: This new set of environmentally friendly statutes from the EPA was enacted in August 2015. One of its tenets requires that states decrease their carbon dioxide emissions to certain levels

Energy Saving Tips

Did you know that the building sector uses more energy than the transportation and manufacturing industries?  In fact, this industry uses a whopping 40% of the energy used in the US. In terms of dollars and cents, this translates to approximately $400 billion spent on energy usage every year. Your commercial property doesn’t have to add to this pot. The following energy saving tips can help you significantly reduce your energy use and save your money:

  • Make sure that your property is properly insulated. Insulation acts as a barrier between heat gain and heat loss, which helps keep your building warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. It is one of the most cost-effective and practical ways to make your building more energy efficient.
  • Use energy efficient glass, otherwise known as performance glazing, to control the amount of heat that enters or leaves your building. This can decrease your use of artificial cooling or heating systems and dramatically lower your energy usage.
  • Upgrade and retrofit computers and other types of electronic equipment so that they use less energy
  • Install solar-powered panels on the roof of your property to help you save money on utility bills
  • Program your electronics so that they enter into a low-power sleep mode after  they’ve been inactive for a certain amount of time
  • Install programmable thermostats on your property and set temperature controls so that they are higher in the cool seasons and lower in the hot seasons. In addition, you may also want to consider setting up parameters for when the building is closed.
  • Install motion sensors and program them so that they turn off office equipment when employees aren’t utilizing the space.
  • Use LED lights in parking lots, they use fewer watts than incandescent bulbs and you won’t have to sacrifice lighting.
  • Consider smart power strips with built-in occupancy sensors. They shut off the devices that are plugged into them (like computer monitors, printers, etc.) when users are not present
  • Lower hallway lights by 30% during the daytime to minimize energy consumption

The Bottom Line

The many advantages of an energy efficient building outweigh any initial investment. And, if you are ready to start this journey, the above tips will help you get started. Good luck!

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