What do building energy audits involve?
For businesses looking to undergo energy efficiency retrofits, simply jumping into the upgrades is not prudent. It is better to understand existing energy use and energy waste.
The best way to do this is to undertake an energy audit, establish the baseline, and identify locations where the most energy is being used with the best opportunities for energy savings. This way, building energy performance can be compared to similar buildings and performance goals can be created.
Simply put, an energy audit is the assessment of a building’s energy performance in relation to its use, occupant comfort and utility cost. Energy audits identify where energy is wasted and where the energy efficiency opportunities lie.
The term energy audit encompasses a wide spectrum of energy assessments, ranging from a quick walk-through of a facility to identify capital improvements through energy-saving technologies, to comprehensive analysis of the implications of energy efficiency measures to satisfy the financial criteria.
A comprehensive energy audit will include:
- Benchmarking analysis of building and utility data in comparison to similar buildings.
- Surveying building operating conditions.
- Understanding the building interactions with weather, occupants and operating schedules.
- Identifying customer concerns and needs.
- Identifying and the evaluating energy conservation measures
- Estimating retrofit cost and the associated energy saving potential
Undertaking an energy audit and benchmarking building performance are the essential first steps before considering retrofit measures for any building. There are incentives for energy audits — when factoring in utility incentives, an energy audit is the best insurance before jumping into any capital-intensive retrofits.
Narayana Asogan, P.Eng., is operations manager at New Dawn Energy Solutions.