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Building Upgrades to Lower HVAC Energy Consumption

November 5th, 2010

In our last blog, we talked about how to upgrade the HVAC system itself to save on energy. We also want to discuss how buildings have an effect on these systems. By conducting building upgrades, you put fewer demands on your HVAC system, which increases its life and saves thousands of dollars every year. Here are some suggestions:

Before beginning your upgrades, have an energy audit or billing analysis conducted

  • According to a LinkedIn BOMA group member, 80% of building are being overcharged by as much as 40% for their utilities
  • This will help identify major areas of energy usage and allow you to spend money on the solution with the most payback
  • If you don’t want to conduct an audit or analysis, ask the company who is performing your service upgrade to rank the corrective measures and results in order of time to ROI. Begin with the shortest time to ROI and use the money saved to invest in the next corrective measure.

Fix envelope problems

  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimates gas savings are greater than 40% and electrical savings are greater than 25% when the air barrier of your building envelope is improved.
  • If your envelope is losing heat or cool air, your HVAC system works hard to replace it, making envelope improvements one of the best measures to get fast ROI.
  • Some measures you can take are caulking and weather stripping cracks, leaks and holes in the envelope.
  • When building new, use a drainage plane like building paper or house wrap. Use a high-mass construction such as precast concrete to regulate internal temperatures or implement a radiant heating and cooling system within the walls or floor.

Energy Management Systems

  • This system combines a building management system and advanced software solutions that work together to control your HVAC system. It will lower your utility costs by adjusting heating and cooling to environmental conditions.

Each of our latest blogs has dealt with improving different areas of your facility to save energy. The key take-away: your energy use is building-wide, so every upgrade affects the other. Keep tabs on each system and the energy and money saved. Your next upgrade needs to reflect this change. For example, if you add reflective roofing, the AC output is much lower; therefore, your next AC unit should be much smaller.

To get more money-saving tips for your facility, subscribe to this blog.


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HVAC Cost Control

November 3rd, 2010

If you want to save energy in your facility, look at your HVAC system. You try to keep every piece of your equipment running until it breaks, so why not do the same with your HVAC system? Don’t think you’re cutting costs by ignoring it; it will actually cost you more in the end.


Maintain the HVAC system itself

  • Change your filter
  • Place the thermostats in the correct places
  • Get your belts tightened
  • Install the correct-sized filters
  • Unclog coils
  • Clean fan blades to increase air flow up to 50%

Prevent scale build-up

  • This hidden factor can cause massive energy inefficiencies, because it is an insulator which significantly reduces heat-transfer. If scale build-up becomes as little as 0.6 mm, additional energy cost can be more than $30,000 per year.*
  • Treat scale build-up with a chemical or non-chemical program. Just make sure that the treatment program can take care of scale, corrosion and microbiological control.

Retrofit your HVAC system

  • If your central plant utilizes boiler and chillers for heating and cooling, consider retrofitting the HVAC mechanical system with pressure independent valves. Savings on utility costs have been shown to be within 35-45% within two years. If you’re building new, have these valves installed right away and enjoy low utility costs from the get-go.
  • Correctional Complex in Norfolk, Virginia, upgraded their system by installing a complex-wide energy management and control system. They also installed steam trap upgrades and replaced two 1,500-horsepower steam plants with the expectation of a positive ROI.

California has also done some major overhauling to their corrections facilities because of the governor’s bill that was passed. To see a list of facilities and their energy construction costs and annual savings, go to http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/News/Energy_Savings/docs/EnergyProjectPhase1.pdf.

In our next blog, we will talk about things you can do within your building to prevent your HVAC system from consuming massive amounts of energy.

*Some of these tips were taken from our LinkedIn group, BOMA.

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