66.5 Best Energy Efficiency Tips for Your Office or Facility

Having a good Energy Philosophy will reduce energy consumption in your office or facility. Here’s some of the best recommendations from professionals who discussed the topic in a LinkedIn discussion group.

1. In the 1980’s it was called Management by Walking Around. Get out and peek into those nooks and crannies of your buildings. The messier the mechanical spaces the more likely inefficiencies hide there.
2. Look for puddles, piles of fallen insulation, and clouds of vapors.
3. Listen for cycling boilers, screeching belts, and thumping bearings.
4. In the morning, drive around your complex looking for plumes of steam, melted snow, water, ice, any anomalies.
5. Identify champions for specific topics (e.g. monitoring energy efficiency of small office equipment such as printers, kitchen equipment, PCs etc); switching lights off overnight (obvious but how many buildings are still illuminated at 10pm!).
6. Identify an ‘out-of-hours’ working area Create an energy efficiency profile.
7. Review your utility billing history and watch for unexpected use patterns. Once that is completed, have a supplier provide a thorough retro-commissioning study and be sure that your existing equipment is performing to design specification. Don’t even think of considering new equipment or systems until this is done!
8. Negotiate a better deal with your utility provider – this will not reduce consumption but will reduce cost.
9. Determine whether your supply of lighting and HVAC match the needs of the users.
10. Become familiar with EPS’s Energy Star. This is a free web site that provides a great benchmark for you to evaluate where your building stands as compared to others. The web tool takes into account your weather pattern, building type, age, etc. so it is normalized in the comparison.
11. Find an Energy Broker that can put your Electric use out to be bid on by several energy suppliers so that you can procure the best rate.

12. We all like to think our mechanics catch things. Do not assume. Take time to read work orders even if you have assigned their approval to a supervisor. Many times end users resign themselves to inefficient conditions after repeated calls.
13. Always watch for the “schmoozer” mechanic who visits, talks, blames management or poor engineering, and never does anything.
14. Schedule equipment operation for business and non-business hours.
15. Deploy Variable Speed Drives VSD’s (aka VFD – variable frequency drives) for Motors in HVAC system 3hp and above. At a minimum they can be used for setback, saving energy at times of low load. At a maximum they can be controlled in various variable flow situations to use the absolute minimum energy required to meet your requirements.
16. TXV (Thermostatic Expansion Valves) systems should have their TX valves checked and adjusted periodically. Correct TXV adjustments are critical to system efficiency.
17. Optimize utilization of BMS (Building Management Systems) for HVAC operation.
18. Conduct performance audit of all the equipments and, if required, replace the old equipments with energy-efficient one’s wherever required.
19. Increase your cooling water set point a few degrees. Control the room temperature ranges tighter and be sure that every BMS point is performing as designed.
20. Hire a trusted contractor to perform a level 2 or 3 Energy Audit.
21. Deliver the right amount of energy to HVAC systems – static pressure in the ducts, % of outside air, filtration, air changes per hour, ect.
22. Shut down the AC for the weekend(s) unless specifically requested.
23. Adjust IT room temps to 69 or 70 where possible.
24. Proper building pressurization will affect how your process burners operate, as well as have an impact on your chiller and other compressor systems in the building.
25. Every 5 years check the ductwork and air handling units to see if they need cleaning.  Clean them if they need it.  Clean the coils and cooling towers every year or more if they need it.
26. Make sure that any heating you are using is as energy-efficient as possible – modern boilers use much less energy than old ones, and are far better for the environment. Make sure that the heat and energy they produce is not lost though bad insulation, too! Make the heat you pay for count.
27. Where feasible, HVAC air balance and HVAC secondary pumping system saves money.
28. Deliver the energy just in time.  If no one is there don’t run your air handlers/lights. If no one is in the lab, cut back the Air Change rate from 6 to 3.
29. Install ambient control on chiller starts and staging of chillers.
30. If you have economizer controls on your air handlers, are they working correctly?
31. If you have a large campus, consider connecting the buildings heating and cooling so that you can operate as a central plant with redundant equipment, instead of separate stand alone building systems.  Even if you have only 3 buildings and each has its own chillers and boilers, there will be many times when you can support all three by only firing the equipment in one building up and few times when you can’t support the load by running two instead of three. When they’re not connected you practically always have to have each buildings equipment like chillers, running, all the time even if the load is extremely light.  That not only uses a lot of expensive electricity, it also makes it hard to service any one building during business hours.  When they’re connected you can do practically anything you want including replacing equipment, during normal business hours, and all of your buildings can still be up and running.
32. Don’t have big chillers running at min capacity 24/7 to support very light loads, like computer rooms in huge office buildings.  It there are a few small 24/7 loads in a much larger environment that only needs to be on 12 hours a day 5 days a week, install separate smaller equipment to support that load. When chillers are running, they consume a tremendous amount of power, even if they’re just supporting a bare minimum load.  It’s much better to have one fully loaded chiller, than 2 supporting light loads and even better to shut the big stuff off and run a small A/C unit to keep your computer room cool when the building is empty.

33. Upgrade your inefficient lighting to energy-efficient fixtures. If you upgrade your lighting you can reduce the number of fixtures and remove real demand from your load.
34. If you retrofit to a Digital Lumens LED Intelligent Lighting System, you can save up to 90% on your lighting bills.
35. Install lighting timers.
36. Replacing T12 fluorescent bulbs with T5’s or LEDs.  Installing LED lighting can give you an ROI of 1-3 yrs saving 75% on the lighting portion of the electric bill.
37. All parking lot lights do not need to burn all night in some areas.  Only a few security interior and exterior lights should burn after closing depending on location and security needs.
38. Retrofit all Neon signs to LED’s.
39. Install Motion Sensors for rooms that don’t need the lights on all day – including closets.
40. Turn lights out when not in use, like the board room. If there is no one in a section, floor, area then turn off the lights.
41. Go past your building after dark and see if its lit up like a Christmas tree.
42. Use daylight instead of turning on office lights, where you can.

43. For retail operations, have the janitor(s) come into the store in the a.m. with the early stocking crew. Clean the sales floor first.  If the sales area is tile, have the closing crew sweep the floor the night before so that the janitor moves out onto the floor with the scrubber prior to customers coming into the store. Both the stocking crew and the janitor can work with half lights.  The rest of the cleaning chores can easily be done with customers in the store.  If your a.m. customer foot traffic is high reverse the order of chores and have the scrubbing and buffing done at or just before closing.  It usually takes the closing crew 20 or more minutes after closing to get out of the store, this is an ideal time to run the buffer.  The janitor goes out the door with the closing crew.  (The janitor does not take the trash out, have one of your employees do it.)

44. If you are in need of roof repairs, or replacement, look into cool-roofing / cool-wall solutions which helps reduce energy usage from air conditioning. Cool roofing allows you to reduce your cooling costs by 20-30%
The Department of Energy has also put out a cool-roof calculator to show the energy savings that you can realize from these systems. Most states and even the federal government offer rebates if you install a cool roof. http://www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/facts/CoolCalcEnergy.htm

45. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it! Identify your areas of intensive energy use and get them metered. Feed the data into a central monitoring and targeting software system to track any deviations from optimal performance.
46. Benchmark performance against other similar buildings within your portfolio, audit the best performing sites to identify best practice and then audit the worst performing sites to apply the lessons learned and adopt further no cost, low-cost or capital cost improvement projects that may extend to involve some of the solutions outlined above.
47. Use infrared video to document areas of heat loss or excess heat.
48. Add CO monitoring in underground parking so ventilation only runs when air quality is threatened.
49. Good on-line monitoring and energy analysis software that allows you to: (1) Benchmark all your facilities, helping to decide where to focus your budget. (2) Use whatever hardware (meters) you have already installed in your facilities. (3) Integrate with your BMS variables, controlling them when it’s necessary. (4) Alert you in non-energy-efficient uses (5) analyzes your load curve and gives you automatic recommendations.

50. Conduct water audits, installing smart meters, reducing bills, finding the best tariffs and best times to buy etc.
51. Install water aerators in taps.
52. Most people think only of water savings when replacing old shower heads with more efficient low flow.  But, the energy to heat the water must be also be considered when calculating overall savings.  Low flow heads generate savings from the reduced cost of heating the water.
53. Water used for Urinals is one area where many facility managers give a pass. 40% of water bill is contributed by usage in Urinals. There are Eco-Cubes which can be used in Urinals which minimises the usage of water in Urinals.


54. Demand Response programs pay larger users of electricity significant dollars for their commitment to reduce electric usage during periods of instability on the electric grids.

55. Planned preventive maintenance is regular, repetitive work done to keep equipment in good working order and to optimize its efficiency and accuracy. This activity involves regular, routine cleaning, lubricating, testing, calibrating and adjusting, checking for wear and tear and eventually replacing components to avoid breakdown.


56. Replace old hand dryers with energy-efficient units as they can use 80% less energy.

57. Look into high-efficiency transformers for loads that cycle significantly. “Right” sizing, a transformer minimum load, whenever it is powered, is about 1.5% of its rated capacity. This is independent of the plug load. Utility rebates, where available make this a very cost-effective approach.
58. Consider double ended load centers; if the load is no longer critical or the utility has combined the A&B feeds both transformers would consume 1.5% .
59. Closing the tie bar and shutting off one feed on a typical industrial load center can save about $3,000 per year.
60. Install a power factor correction unit at main incoming electrical supply feed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_factor. Payback is usually 2 years
61. If Line Loss is a concern for your business due to the amount of motors generating your equipment, look into a new Inductive Capacitor. Upgrading from an old capacitor greatly reduces the amount of electricity lost by recycling the escaping electricity. Businesses usually see a 20%-40% reduction in electricity.

Note: The introduction of Power Factor Correction capacitors is a widely recognized method of reducing an electrical load, thus minimizing wasted energy and hence improving the efficiency of a site and reducing the electricity bill. Beginning January 2011, New York State’s large electric customers, for example, have begun paying for reactive power via a penalty payment. Improve your facility’s power factor and you can reduce or even eliminate the reactive-power costs. The payback is impressive and will provide many indirect benefits as well including LEED points, increased system capacity and improved power quality. Power Factor Correction Devices stores excess power until needed, that if unchecked, would have been wasted as heat, by air conditioning compressors, fans, pumps, appliances, machinery and other inductive motors. Power factor correction can be an important part of utility cost control but know that power factor correction has real value only when the utility has power factor penalties that are applicable to your facility, (not everyone will benefit).   A discussion with your local utility provider is always advisable to determine if correction is warranted (and to what level) to maximize the ROI on your investment.

62. Depending on the facilities, Solar is good way to off set peak energy usage.  Depending on the requirements and the building, you can effectively supplement your energy usage with solar cells.  They are able to get cost down to 7 years on ROI and effectively hedge a specific portion of your energy costs over the long-term.

63. Conventional vending machines can use an average of 3000-4000 kilowatt-hours (Kwh) per year per machine.  They may also use older style refrigeration units that produce heat, which contributes to higher air temperatures in offices etc, increasing the running costs of AC.
64. Savings of up to 50% can be achieved on energy usage when changing to new machines running on ‘flash boilers’, efficient refrigeration and LED lighting.
65. There are proximity switches which put the machines in ‘stand by’ when not in use and can switch them off altogether overnight in an office where they will not be used.
66. Water filter units for hot drinks machines, will reduce lime-scale in hard water areas, allowing the boilers to operate to maximum energy efficiency.
66.5 Remote intelligent media modules can allow a machine that has a fault to report its own problems, which calls an engineer out or allows online maintenance to be completed.

Why does this list end at 66.5?  Because this is simply a primer for opportunities to make your office or facility more efficient. There are dozens more but this should get you started.

1 Comment on 66.5 Best Energy Efficiency Tips for Your Office or Facility

  1. Bob Pollock // June 28, 2012 at 8:52 am // Reply

    One of the biggest causes for heat loss is uncontrolled exhaust of heat air at upper levels creating the income of cold air at lower levels. I.E.: heated air naturally raises creating pressure and heat loss through small and large cracks at the top and sucking in colder air in similar areas at the bottom. The only physical way measuring this is using a blower door. But a knowlege of air movement, both by updraft of heated air and by outside wind currents creating positive/negative pressures, can reduce huge amounts of wasteful heat loss.
    Training should be done in a classroom setting and in place (physical inspection) with or without the bloor door, to gain the experience to recognize this maor cause of undetected heat loss.
    Bob Pollock

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  1. 66.5 energy efficiency tips for your facility – FM Magazine

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