The Energy Myth:
We often hear building owners and managers say things like “energy efficiency is only relevant for newer buildings”, and “my facility is so inefficient it would cost too much to optimize its energy efficiency, I don’t have the budget.”
The older the better for energy retrofits
For owners and managers of buildings more than twenty to thirty years old, the word retrofit can sound intimidating and expensive. In reality, retrofits don’t have to translate to large capital projects. Karim Abraham, Kambo CEO, notes that older buildings attain some of the best paybacks for energy efficiency projects. You can achieve huge reductions in energy costs going from really old to really new technology, it’s more impactful. Energy efficiency projects achieve long term savings for businesses, so unless the building is so old that it needs to be torn down in the near future, it’s likely there will be a strong business case for moving forward with energy efficiency projects.
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) New Horizons for Energy Efficiency report, typical comprehensive retrofits of commercial buildings can yield savings of 20-50% or more compared with pre-retrofit energy use. Existing commercial buildings represent one of the largest single sources of future energy savings through comprehensive retrofits.
Simple measures such as installing occupancy sensors or switching to programmable thermostats can make a significant difference in energy consumption for older buildings. The case for energy retrofits becomes even stronger when you consider both energy and maintenance savings.
Look beyond the low hanging fruit
With older buildings it’s important to look beyond the low hanging fruit retrofits such as lighting upgrades. While the low hanging fruit are important, often the largest savings can come from larger retrofits such as boiler upgrades. At Kambo we take a holistic approach to energy management, we review all energy systems in a facility then prioritize energy retrofit recommendations with regard to payback, regardless of building age.
Buildings can be old and smart
Conserving energy isn’t the only reason for retrofitting older buildings. Building owners and managers are increasingly looking to improve overall building performance using the IoT and the range of smart, integrated energy solutions available. Building automation technologies are continually improving in terms of features, functionality and affordability making them easier to implement than ever before. Older buildings make up a large portion of commercial properties and there are countless examples of energy efficiency upgrades with a strong return on investment for this sector of the market.
According to the McGraw Hill Construction SmartMarket report, intelligent buildings use 20% to 40% less energy and result in 8% to 9% lower operating expenses with valuations 7.5% higher than those with legacy systems.
Building data tells a story about your business
The evolution of energy monitoring technology is one example of building systems becoming more accessible for smaller organizations as they improve. In the past, real-time, circuit based energy monitoring was cost prohibitive for a lot of organizations, particularly those with older building systems. The legacy energy monitoring systems were typically utilized by large multi-facility corporations such as retail chains, global manufacturers, and governments.
Today energy monitoring is shifting towards wireless technology and cloud based software which makes real-time, circuit-based energy monitoring an affordable, scalable, and easy to implement option for small to medium sized organizations with older facilities. Building owners and operators can unlock their building data to uncover a spectrum of insights ranging from energy retrofit project verification to identifying no-cost and low-cost operational inefficiencies.
At Kambo we have helped a number of small to medium commercial manufacturing facilities to gain large operational efficiencies, our project with D-Wave Systems is a great example of this. Building managers can customize their energy management package to suit their facility and only pay for the energy sensors and software modules that they require. You no longer need to be an engineer or an energy manager to establish an energy baseline for your facility and identify reasonable goals for future energy reduction, forecasting and budgeting.
Time energy retrofits with other facility upgrades
For any facility it’s important to balance energy retrofits with other facility upgrades, however that doesn’t mean it needs to be a one versus the other situation. Often the best time for an energy retrofit is when it can be timed with other facility upgrades. A common example of this is with food processing facilities where shatter-proof lighting lenses are required for food safety certification. It makes sense to do an energy efficient lighting retrofit at the same time as installing lighting lenses so you can save on project labour and equipment rentals.
In terms of payback, now is always the best time to do an energy retrofit. Energy prices are steadily increasing in BC and a number of financial incentives are available to businesses so there has never been a better business case to complete energy retrofits on any buildings. Consider how much you will miss in savings if you wait six months or a year to commence retrofits.