According to the data released by the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 39% of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. This is not all. It is further predicted that by 2030, CO2 emissions from buildings will grow faster than any other sector, and commercial buildings will be the major contributor. With this staggering data, it is no surprise that home and business owners across the country are trying to make their homes more energy efficient. Often, building brand new energy-efficient buildings is not an option, so instead, they go for retrofitting their current facilities. Even the buildings that were built just a few years ago can achieve a significant reduction in energy usage with energy audits and retrofitting.
Steps to make a building energy efficient and save costs
Energy auditing and retrofitting a building has the potential to significantly reduce utility bills. Everything, from a building’s air-conditioning equipment to the exterior is analyzed to give offer the best solution for. It is done in two steps:
Step 1: Energy Audit
Energy Audits help building owners determine which upgrades they can opt to get the fastest ROI and how much could they be, ultimately, savings. Energy savings can be done in the following areas of a building:
- Lighting systems
- Heating systems
- HVAC Systems and Controls
- Electric Motors and Drives
- Building Envelope Improvements
- Renewable Energy Applications
Step 2: Start the upgrades
After doing a thorough analysis and determining what upgrades a facility requires, a contractor is assigned the task of updating the building.
Once the upgradation and installation task is over, building owners can begin monitoring the changes in their energy usage and start reaping the benefits of their newly upgraded energy-efficient building.
How does it help save money?
A comprehensive energy audit can greatly reduce utility bills by suggesting the latest energy-saving technologies and solutions. Energy auditors will analyze and inspect your building from the inside out and will determine how different systems in your home interact with one another. They will also locate air leakages, unwanted heat transmission, inefficiencies and more to determine the cause of energy wastage. After a thorough inspection, you will be suggested the best solutions to maximize functionality while minimizing immediate expenses. Some immediate benefits include:
- Increased profits
- Lowered energy bills
- High ROI
- Minimizing operating budgets
- Hedging against rising energy costs
- Increased building value
- Reduced operations and maintenance costs.
Energy audits and jobs
With so many specialized trades involved in the creation of energy efficient, low cost, healthier, and more comfortable spaces, energy auditing and retrofitting has lead to the creation of many jobs. The demand has mainly increased in occupations, such as HVAC technicians, general contractors, engineers, builders, energy auditors, architects, designers, etc. Not just this, the energy auditing sector has also led to the creation of ‘green opportunities’ for many looking to start their own business.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor O*Net Occupation database, the number of energy auditors has grown over the years, with an estimated average growth of 10-19% from 2010-2020. This is faster than the overall projected average job growth.
Through their Better Building Initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy has established national guidelines for professional certifications programs to improve the quality of workforce credentials for energy auditors and other efficiency-related occupations.
What is driving the growth and demand for jobs in this sector?
The growth of opportunities in this sector has sparked an array of requirements for many professionals. Two main factors driving this growth are:
Growing Environmental Concerns. As mentioned earlier, buildings have a significant impact on energy consumption and carbon emissions. The increasing building emissions combined with a scarcity of natural resources and clean energy goals set by companies, cities, and states have given impetus to broader changes. We discussed in a post earlier the companies that took the R100 pledge and are setting standards for others.
Rising energy costs: With rising energy costs, home and business owners alike are searching for ways to make their buildings more energy efficient. According to a study conducted by NAHB, the majority of homeowners prefer a high energy efficient home with lower utility bills. This preference towards low utility costs indicates building owners’ willingness to pay more for home evaluation and up-gradation.
An energy audit is a simple yet effective way to evaluate a building’s performance, and improve its health in terms of energy consumption. But, it is only the first step on the path to improving your building’s performance. Following recommended actions and improvements after the audit is a must to create an energy efficient facility that saves energy and helps the planet become a better place.