Schools and car dealerships could cut energy use by over 40%—others not far behind

July 28, 2017

Car dealerships can potentially increase energy efficiencyIf enough U.S. organizations properly used existing building management systems intended to improve energy efficiency, the reduced power consumption could equal the amount of electricity used by 12 to 15 million Americans—according to an article published by Clean Technica. A study cited in the piece says that while most large commercial facilities are already equipped with automation systems to control energy use, their implementation and maintenance can often be dramatically improved.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) examined 34 different ways organizations have implemented measures to boost energy efficiency and their impact on energy consumption in commercial buildings (such as stores, offices and schools). 

From the article

The researchers from PNNL found that such measures could cut annual commercial building energy use by an average of 29%, and would result in national energy savings of between 4 to 5 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs)—approximately 4% to 5% of the country’s annual energy consumption.

While all commercial buildings have the potential to reduce energy usage to some degree, the study identifies several types of facilities that stand out. Secondary schools show significant promise, with possible energy savings of around 49%. Auto dealerships and standalone retail stores aren't far behind, with estimated savings of 41%.

The article outlines how such dramatic potential energy savings are possible. According to the study, commercial buildings in the U.S. use a total of 18 quadrillion BTUs of electricity annually. Companies searching for answers on how to prevent excess energy consumption may find the answer in their existing control systems. Learning to use them correctly may help these companies discover how to reduce electric bills—and strengthen their commitment to green building practices.

Also from the article:

...[M]any buildings likely have the tools and controls to increase energy efficiency significantly, but aren’t making use of it, resulting in excess energy usage. The report specifically focused on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) faults and operation, and therefore major retrofits are not required for the energy savings to be achieved.

While it’s great news that no huge commercial building upgrades are needed for potential energy savings, the study does recommend some relatively simple improvements and maintenance. These include installing better communication systems between units and fixing broken sensors used to register temperatures and other measurements. Other energy conservation methods recommended include turning off printers, monitors and other devices in unoccupied rooms, as well as dimming lights in areas where natural lighting is available.

The number of BTUs saved is ultimately determined by how much focus is placed on existing building control systems and operations. And while education facilities and car dealerships are positioned to lead the way, all commercial enterprises can contribute to dramatically reducing energy consumption in the U.S.

Related links:

How to build a compelling case for energy efficiency programs in 8 steps 

A closer look at commercial electricity demand charges, and how to lower them 

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