Steps to increase efficiency in buildings have succeeded over the last decade as the recently released Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) reveals energy used per square foot of floor space has declined 12% from 2003 to 2012.
Space heating and lighting accounted for the biggest areas of improvement over the course of the study. Energy saving procedures have contributed to both of these declines, as well as the increase in floor space in commercial buildings located in the South requiring less space heating on average.
However, not all areas of energy consumption changed proportionally. Other than in space heating and lighting, energy usage increased in every other category listed in the survey. Computer use, office equipment, refrigeration, and cooling account for some important sources of energy waste.
Buying more foods that require refrigeration is a major contributing factor in the sharp increase in energy use. Additionally, advances in cooling technologies were not enough to curb the trend of more energy for cooling.
Space heating and lighting have undergone the biggest improvement because buildings nationwide have more fully embraced efficiency efforts that directly address these areas. These promising results could happen more consistently if similar steps are taken to address the more problematic areas revealed in the CBECS.
New energy-efficient appliances and equipment are a simple way to reduce energy usage in the office. Making sure your existing equipment is working optimally and fixing or replacing systems that are not operating efficiently can help you find solutions to cut back on energy waste.
Have your energy bills crept up too? Investigate some of the areas named in the CBECS data, available at www.eia.gov. You may find opportunities for more savings.