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Green Building Blog

Wasted Energy is Wasted Money

Wed, Nov 14, 2012 @ 10:52 / by Jim Newman

I read with interest Josh Linkner’s Monday morning blog about “Waste on the Shop Room Floor.” He noted that people waste a lot of time, our most precious resource, in a business day. He likened this waste to that of a high-end restaurant kitchen, and he wondered what would happen if the staff “just randomly dropped 25% of their high-quality ingredients on the floor?”

Clearly the owner would have a problem with this. This lead me to think, “Why do so many business owners, and specifically building owners, waste so much money – up to 25% – on energy when there are so many  no-cost and low-cost fixes?”

You may have wondered the same thing. In this economy, who can afford to LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE? But that is what commercial building owners and operators do if they are not doing these things:

  • Commissioning
  • Re-Commissioning
  • Retro-Commissioning
  • Energy Audits (Level I, II or III)

An energy audit is often the first step, and when done by experienced, qualified professionals, will lay out step-by-step, with payback analysis, what actions to take to reduce energy and natural resource use and save money.  Often this also improves the indoor environmental quality of buildings.

A building owner doesn’t have to know how to apply for LEED® Certification to get the benefits of the LEED guidelines, or ASHRAE Energy Standard 90.1, or Energy Star ratings for buildings, or the ASHRAE Building Energy Quotient (bEQ) label. All of these guidelines, standards and labels are designed to help steer you in the right direction.  Employing even just a few of the energy conservation and waste reduction steps outlined in any of these will make a difference – both in a building owner’s utility bill and the bottom line. And some of the steps are low-cost or even no-cost!

Linkner notes that if an “eight-person staff meeting starts 17 minutes late, you've just blown 136 collective minutes of productivity.”  Likewise, if the HVAC system in your building is bringing in too much outside air in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter, you could easily be using as much as 10-15 % more cooling or heating than necessary. What does this mean to your utility bills? A lot of wasted money.

So stop “stinking up your bottom line like rotting Chilean sea bass.” And start to “think about the boost your company would enjoy by increasing your workforce by 25%” or rather, by reducing your resource consumption by any amount.  You’re paying your utility bills every month anyway. Why not use some of that money to make some changes that conserve energy and save money??!? Remember, unlike many other money-saving ideas, savings on utility bills keep on going - like the Eveready bunny - even after the payback period is over.

A dollar saved is a dollar earned, but 10 kilowatt-hours saved is more than a dollar earned. You can’t argue with that. 

Topics: HVAC, Codes & Standards, Green, ASHRAE, LEED, LEED Cerified Buildings, Sustainability, Energy Savings, Energy Audit

Jim Newman

Written by Jim Newman

Jim Newman's passion is helping us move toward a healthier and more secure future – for people and the planet.

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