Investigate Ways to Increase Energy Efficiency

02/11/2002 |

Going Green - Five Steps to Get You There - Part 3 of 5


Wasted energy is not just wasted money – it’s a waste of resources. Cutting your energy supply dramatically can benefit both the environment and your budget. Think it’s easier said than done? A number of organizations can help you trim back the excess, manage your loads, and track facility energy performance. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a number of programs worth investigating, such as Energy Star® and Climate Wise. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy can provide insight through its Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN) at (

Keep the following tips in mind when working to reduce your energy consumption:

• Find out how much, when, and where energy is being used. Energy management and tracking systems can provide a better understanding of area and system deficiencies. These types of products can also reveal adequate measurement of cost savings once upgrades have been implemented.

• Be critical of a facility’s “invisible” energy hogs. Check the U-value of windows and the R-value of insulation. Critique products, systems, and materials working from the building envelope inwards. Ask questions like “Would a light-colored roof and low-e coating on windows reduce cooling costs during warm summer months?” Remedy any discrepancies through modernization or retrofit where/when possible.

• Lighting retrofits can equal big paybacks – reducing energy consumption, providing tenant comfort, and lowering maintenance costs. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, Snowmass, CO, U.S. businesses have the potential to save an estimated 70 to 90 percent of the energy used in lighting systems by implementing newer technologies and strategies.

• Perform an energy audit or hire a professional to evaluate a facility’s energy use.

• Consistently verify that building systems are designed, installed, and calibrated to operate properly.

• Purchase products that are efficient. Programs like the Federal Energy Management Program ( provide efficiency requirements for certain products, while products with the Energy Star label indicate energy-efficient characteristics.

• Investigate purchasing energy from renewable sources (wind, hydropower, solar, etc.). For more on these read “Energy Strategies” on pages 30-38 of this issue.

• Make sustainable design decisions to minimize energy use (i.e. daylighting and thermal storage).

Continue Article >> Step 4) Conserve Water

SOURCES: U.S. Green Building Council, LEED Rating System 2.0; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (; U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (

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