Find Out What Energy Audits Entail and Why They’re Vital to Carbon Reduction Efforts
The biggest challenge for companies looking to improve their energy efficiency is knowing where to start. How can you best adjust your business practices or upgrade your facilities to meet your goals? What should your goals even be?
Commercial building energy audits are a great tool in the process, offering a detailed view of your consumption, so you can make educated decisions when coming up with energy efficiency measures. Noting the importance of these audits, New York City’s Local Law 87 in 2009 began requiring energy audits for buildings over 50,000 sq feet. Since then, Los Angeles and Atlanta have added legislation requiring energy audits.
What Are Commercial Building Energy Audits?
Utility bills are not enough to gauge your energy efficiency, as they do not provide insight into how individual subsystems consume energy throughout the day. Instead, energy audits look at emissions produced by each source, like lighting or HVAC.
Energy audits come in three distinct levels established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE):
- Level 1: For a high-level overview of energy use and operational efficiency, Level 1 audits include interviews with personnel, reviews of utility bills, and a site walk-through. A level 1 audit is suitable for identifying glaring inefficiencies and quick, low-cost upgrades. They offer comparisons to similar buildings, provide areas for improvement, and are a great tool to show stakeholders why greater involvement may be beneficial.
- Level 2: Expanding on the Level 1 data collection, Level 2 reports break down consumption by the source to identify potential improvements. Rates for utilities are analyzed to seek opportunities for lower costs. Since more building personnel are interviewed, it’s easier to find problems and establish clear financial and non-financial goals. Usually, companies conducting these audits will immediately identify projects based on the most significant ROI.
- Level 3: Along with all Level 1 and 2 data collection, these include more in-depth engineering analysis qualifying the benefits and costs of any energy efficiency measures. Critical systems like HVAC include additional sub-metering of energy consumption to monitor their use and efficiency better. Energy audits at this level are for those that have already identified potential projects and want additional data to gauge the investment better and sell it to other stakeholders.
What Are the Benefits of an Energy Audit?
The primary benefit of energy audits is to get a baseline of your energy consumption and better analyze the effectiveness of conservation efforts once initiated. Energy consultants like Environ can craft measures that reduce your utility bills and carbon emissions based on your audit information. An audit also lets you better visualize the benefits of alternative energy sources, whether in the form of building electrification or renewable energy production and storage.
Comprehensive energy audits also facilitate ROI regarding building projects and renovations. They identify which upgrades will result in the greatest savings, the estimated costs, and how to allocate your project’s overall budget. As engineers review your property, they’ll also point out malfunctioning equipment you should address.
Not only do audits optimize your energy measures, but they are required in some municipalities and when applying for specific grants, third-party financing, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, and LEED certification.
How Can Environ Help With Your Audit?
Although some energy audit templates and checklists exist, it’s best to work with a professional that brings years of experience and advanced modeling tools to create a personalized report based on your needs. When we first meet with clients, we get to know their specific challenges and applications and glean what they want to accomplish through their energy audits.
We know the regulations and incentives that would apply to your industry based on your location and ensure that your audits address those requirements. For example, New York Local Law 87 requires a Level 2 audit. We also have tools on hand to gather, analyze and present all your energy data quickly and efficiently, especially with the acquisitions of Scope 5 and ISOS Group.
Need better visibility on your energy consumption to further your sustainability goals? Have our team of energy experts complete a commercial building energy audit that matches your needs. Schedule a meeting by calling, filling out our contact form, or chatting with us below.