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FES View: Making Smart Energy Easy

Gabriela Anez-Lobon
By Gabriela Anez-Lobon on March 23, 2021

Here's How to Make a Commercial Building More Energy Efficient

Commercial buildings require a lot of energy to keep the lights on, among other things. In fact, about 20% of all the energy we use in the U.S. goes to power commercial buildings. Unfortunately, the average commercial building actually wastes 30% of its energy.

When businesses begin considering how they can go green and focus on energy efficiency, lighting is often one of the top utilities they address. But there are a lot of ways you can make a commercial building more energy efficient, and many of these tactics won’t cost you a dime.

How to Make a Commercial Building More Energy Efficient

You can begin making your commercial building more energy efficient with these simple steps. 

Step 1 - Start with an energy audit.

Wondering if making your building more energy efficient can really save your business money? The answer is yes. According to ENERGY STAR, businesses like yours spend $60 billion annually on energy. That’s a lot of potential savings!

An energy audit will help you assess your current energy practices and where you can improve and save. You can perform this audit on your own, or you can work with an expert to make sure you identify all your savings potential. 

Step 2 - Identify small swaps you can make today.

Small energy upgrades can make a big difference. Ensure any appliances on your campus are energy efficient models. Consider how many you actually need, too! Can you reduce the number of refrigerators in workspaces by creating a designated break room space? 

Smart technology upgrades can make your commercial building more energy efficient by helping you control overall usage. Install smart thermostats and set heating and cooling schedules that align with business occupancy hours.

Light sensors can also make your building more energy efficient. By automatically shutting off lighting fixtures when no one is present, you can avoid over-lighting areas that aren’t being used. Sensors can also measure the amount of ambient light already present in a space, such as a room with large windows. When the room is brightly lit with sunlight, interior lights will be dimmed or shut off to save energy.

Step 3 - Clean up your space.

Perform a little spring cleaning throughout your commercial building. HVAC filters should be changed monthly to ensure the units can operate as efficiently as possible. Filters on other appliances and machinery should also be cleaned regularly to ensure these machines operate at peak performance. And don’t forget the windows! More daylight means less electric lighting, and keeping your windows clean can help you illuminate workspaces with free sunshine. 

Step 4 - Lighten up your energy budget.

Because lighting is essential to your business, it’s easy to overlook all the cost savings the right lighting can bring to your business. As one of the biggest energy consumers in your operating expenses, lighting is an important part of making your commercial building more energy efficient. Simply turning off unused lights throughout the day can save small businesses up to 40%.

Upgrading to LED lights is a simple swap that can save your business thousands of dollars a year. When you choose LED lights, you’re also making the most energy efficient choice for commercial lighting. LED lights last longer, produce higher quality light, can be used in a variety of spaces and reduce total energy costs. 

Ready to make your commercial building more energy efficient? Read this Guide to Commercial Lighting.

Step 5 - Set an energy schedule.

Whether you use a smart technology or a manual process, setting an energy schedule and sticking to it will help you make your commercial building more energy efficient.

Not all areas need to be lit, heated and cooled at the same times. Some areas, like parking structures and exterior spaces, may need to be lit overnight while interior spaces do not. Don’t forget to power down on the weekends if your space is unoccupied.

Step 6 - Upgrade your windows.

In addition to keeping them clean, your windows are important to making your commercial building more energy efficient. First, make sure windows are unobstructed so you can leverage all the daylight that shines in. If possible, upgrade to dual-pane windows that reduce heat and cooling loss.

Consider where you could add more windows or skylights to let more light in. Are there interior walls that could be reconfigured to avoid obstructing natural light? You can also add reflective surfaces and louvers to move light more efficiently throughout your space.

Step 7 - Ditch the drafts.

Over time, insulation and seals in commercial buildings degrade. This can lead to drafts. And if there’s air flowing in, there’s air flowing out. This means your HVAC units are working overtime to heat and cool your space, and much of this air is leaking out. Addressing these drafts will increase the energy efficiency of your commercial building.

Step 8 - Assess your HVAC system.

Monthly maintenance is essential to keeping your HVAC system running efficiently. Because heating and cooling costs are one of the largest utility expenses for small businesses, these simple checks can ensure your system isn’t wasting energy and money:

  • Are filters replaced monthly?
  • Are registers obstructed?
  • Can you add timers to match business hours?
  • Are unoccupied areas being heated or cooled?

Step 9 - Educate employees on best practices.

Once you’ve added smart schedules to your business routine and made energy efficient upgrades throughout your commercial building, it’s time to educate your employees. Encourage your team to join with you in making your commercial building more energy efficient by adoption these best practices: 

  • Turn lights off when leaving rooms and workspaces.
  • Dim the lights during brighter times of day.
  • Turn computers off overnight and over the weekend.
  • Use break room fridges versus less efficient small desk refrigerators.
  • If you override a schedule on the HVAC system, be sure to set it back.

Making a commercial building more energy efficient is a sure way to boost profitability as you reduce operating expenses. This could be the perfect time to consider making some of these energy efficient upgrades, especially if some or all of your workforce is working remotely.

Upgrades like LED lighting can be done with little to no downtime for your employees and customers, especially if you work with a Lighting-as-a-Service provider who will manage the process with you.

guide to commercial led lighting


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Published by Gabriela Anez-Lobon March 23, 2021
Gabriela Anez-Lobon

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