How to improve the energy efficiency of your commercial building

Many organisations in the commercial sector place a high priority on environmental stewardship and responsibility. These organisations understand the vital importance of energy regulations and proper energy utilisation, as well as the fact that tenants want to be in a sustainable, efficient, and operationally excellent building.

In addition to the above, they must also take into consideration energy-saving mandates, corporate saving objectives, and legislation.

With so many different aspects requiring visibility, it’s no surprise that energy efficiency and energy usage are at the top of the business agenda.

However, for many of these organisations, understanding just how much energy is being used across their building(s) is difficult. Often this issue comes down to data deluge; a large amount of data stored across disparate, disconnected systems and different formats.

Subsequently, compiling energy performance reports is both complex and time-consuming and while these reports give some idea of energy performance, they lack the detail organisations require to actually start improving the energy efficiency of their commercial buildings.

Of course, while there are both short and long-term actions that these organisations can take, the success of such initiatives is wholly dependent on the energy policies, objectives, and infrastructure they have established. With this considered, how can organisations improve the energy efficiency of their commercial building(s)?

1. Set policies and objectives

Before any kind of reporting or strategy is put in place with regards to energy efficiency, building managers need to lay the foundation for good energy practices – and this starts with energy efficiency policies and objectives.

Outlining policies and objectives with regards to energy usage and efficiency will establish the organisation’s overall approach, help to drive change and ultimately improve the energy efficiency of the commercial building.

For example, energy reduction targets; if energy consumption needs to be reduced by X% by a certain date, that needs to be outlined in the energy saving objectives. Building managers then need to establish policies to explain the plans for reducing energy consumption by X% and the resultant business benefits.

Once policies and objectives are outlined, building managers can then get to work on both the immediate and long-term aims, i.e. the things that they will do both now and in the long-term to reduce energy consumption.

2. Measure energy usage

Having outlined the policies and objectives, the next step is knowing just how much energy is being consumed and by what.

The reality is that for most commercial buildings, while there is a lot of energy data available, that data is often stored across disparate systems and in different formats, making energy performance reporting needlessly complex and time-consuming.

Similar to how organisations leverage a process called ‘master data management’ (a comprehensive method of linking all critical data to one file or location for end-to-end data management and analysis) building managers need a solution capable of bringing together all the different energy data points across their commercial building(s). Following this, a solution that provides enterprise-grade reporting, allowing building managers to clearly see energy usage at every individual point and identify areas for improvement, needs to be installed.

Typically, this kind of process is facilitated by some form of energy management software (EMS) which also provides data consolidation and analysis.

Measurement of energy performance across the building is the backbone of any meaningful energy efficiency or reduction strategy. If building managers know just how much energy is being used and where, they can begin to draw up a plan to reduce energy consumption and acquire more energy efficient solutions. Investing in some form of EMS will help building managers to more effectively manage energy usage in their commercial buildings.

3. Solidify the importance of an EMS

Over time, as the EMS continues to deliver data-driven insights around the improved energy efficiency and performance of the commercial building, building managers can begin to present reports to corporate leadership, stakeholders, management and other senior divisions to highlight just how beneficial it has been over a period of a week, a month or even a year.

Also, having understood energy usage and identified the main areas of energy consumption, building-wide policies can then be revised accordingly to drive down energy consumption and reduce costs. This will also underpin the creation of a more energy efficient and sustainable operation.

Finally, it’s important that building managers communicate the results and how ongoing savings are being achieved. A visual presentation of the progress being made will help to cement the importance of both an EMS and energy saving policies and objectives. In addition, it will also help to encourage employee buy-in across the organisation as everyone can clearly see the real benefits of good energy management.

Without an EMS, improving the energy efficiency of a commercial building will be significantly more difficult, time-consuming and complex. Having complete control over energy infrastructure is vital and conducive to reducing energy consumption, regulating usage and improving energy performance.

Energy and utilities is often one of the biggest business expenses – so without a doubt it should be something businesses measure.

If building managers have insight into the energy performance (or failures) of their commercial building, they can begin to improve it, reduce business costs and optimise operational performance.

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