About Energy Audits

What is an Energy Audit and Why Would You Want to be Audited?

Energy and other utility costs are often the most expensive part of running a business - second only to human resources (wages and benefits). When smart building owners and facility managers want to know how best to save energy or save money they call for an energy audit, also called an energy analysis. “Analysis” is actually a more accurate description of what you get. A commercial energy analysis can be performed on an office building, industrial facility, school, university, hospital or other institution or business.  

While an owner or manager may be able to spot some obvious energy wasters, e.g., lights and computers left on all night, personal heaters or fans, leaky ducts or windows, dripping faucets - to name only a few, an experienced energy audit team provides the best value. They will not only find the most opportunities for savings but also will offer recommendations and make savings predictions (i.e. Return on Investment or ROI).  

ASHRAE defines three levels of energy analysis or energy audit with increasing levels of effort, as well as increasing details in reporting.  As would be expected, each increasing level has higher costs, but also increased potential for cost savings. (source: “Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits, 2nd edition”):

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Preliminary Energy-Use Analysis (PEA): For the PEA, the energy analyst collects historic utility use, peak demand data and cost index information. ECI (Energy Cost Index) and EUI (Energy Utilization Index) are determined through simple calculations. The PEA, required prior to completing other energy analysis levels, can be used to compare one building’s performance to similar buildings anywhere in the U.S., and also to justify the cost of a more thorough energy audit.  See article: "Energy Performance Disclosure/Energy Use Index - What Does It Mean?"

Level 1 – Walk through Survey: With a Level 1 energy efficiency audit the analyst studies energy bills and conducts a brief on-site survey to determine the commercial or industrial building’s total energy cost and efficiency. The analyst then creates a report of potential low-cost/no-cost energy efficiency measures (EEM) and an estimate of both expense and energy savings with simple paybacks.

Level 2 – Energy Survey and Analysis: At this level the analyst conducts a more thorough building survey including energy consumption and peak demand. The analyst develops a detailed energy analysis incorporating a breakdown of the end-use of energy within the building.

A Level 2 energy analysis will recommend low-cost as well as capital-intensive EEMs, some of which my require additional data and engineering analysis. For those recommendations, the analysis will include a more detailed estimate of potential costs and savings. It may even include proposed changes to a building’s operations and maintenance procedures if they will be cost effective and will save energy.

This level of analysis is the most popular and is very cost effective for the majority of buildings.

Level 3 – Detailed Analysis of Capital-Intensive Modifications: This level of engineering analysis focuses on potential capital-intensive EEM projects identified during the Level 2 analysis. It involves gathering more detailed field data as well as a more rigorous engineering analysis.

The analysis will provide energy models of the annual energy performance of the buildings after the EEMs. In addition, the analyst will create a report with detailed project costs, expected savings and a comprehensive life cycle cost analysis (LCCA).

The Level 3 analysis is the most expensive up front.  It typically is used only for more costly retrofits that provide large savings but have longer potential payback, or projects where it is necessary to get funding from outside the company.

Click to see how Newman Consulting Group conducts part of an Energy Audit on the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) steam tunnel. The video includes infrared photograpy to see where heat is leaking out of the system. 

Contact us if you want to know how much a commercial energy audit or building energy analysis will cost for your commercial building, industrial facility, school, university or hospital: , audit@newmanconsultinggroup.us, 248-626-4910, or use the contact us form.

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