We all need to live greener. Here are some innovative, inexpensive approaches to greening your real estate:
1. Start with a clean slate. Instead of reducing consumption, start with nothing and justify how much energy you actually need. Do you need to install a high-efficiency air conditioner or are you able to retrofit the building so effectively that it doesn’t need air conditioning? Limbo, limbo, limbo how low can you go should your approach to building energy performance.
2. Mind the Gaps. Air infiltration grows with time. Check the weather-stripping at doors and windows and seal those cracks. Don’t know where to start? Get a building energy audit (through your utility) with infrared imaging to show exactly where the heat is escaping. You will be surprised at what you see.
3. Simple task, big saving. Install light switches with built-in occupancy and/or daylight sensors in every room. Buy task lamps so employees have spot lighting as needed. Create a lighting landscape; you’ll realize you probably need only half the level of ambient lighting you’re using. And if your HVAC system isn’t programmed, that is a 21st century must-have for homes and commercial buildings.
4. Retro Fits. Retro-commissioning applies a quality assurance process “retroactively” – to an existing building. It consists of investigating how and why a building’s systems are operated and maintained and identifying ways to improve overall
5. Community Green. Support energy efficiency financing programs in your community, and chamber of commerce. New programs may include third-party businesses paying for efficiency upgrades through your property taxes (PACE) and “on bill” through your utility. Properties greened through these programs produce predictable, replicable and relatively low-risk value in energy efficiency.
6. Golden State. California is the Golden State, clear up the window clutter and let the sun shine in. Perhaps a little selective demolition to open up the work areas, improves the space plan, and let the sun shine in. An easy fix > a fresh coat of light-colored paint and replace those depressing yellowed ceiling panels. Watch your employees get more enthusiastic about coming to work.
7. Film your windows. Window films have transformed in the past decade. Gone are the tinted sun shades. New retrofit films are practically clear and achieve nearly 50% heat rejection – both inside and outside, depending on the season. Combine this with sealing and retrofitting your windows for exceptional performance.
8. Ducts + seals. We’re not talking wildlife here. Recent studies indicate that leaking ductwork is one of the primary construction defects in both commercial and residential buildings, with common repercussions resulting in 10-25% leakage in commercial buildings and ridiculously more in homes. Do yourself a fever and check existing ductwork for leakage. A number of terrific elastomeric products are available for addressing this.
9. Made in the shade. Add awnings, trees, green roofs. In Southern California we need to do what we can to cool our buildings. Indirect lighting is much more effective than the sun streaming through your afternoon energy.
10. Congratulate yourself. Human behavior has a huge impact on energy efficiency. Studies suggest people influence building energy consumption between 12-17%. Create a green team, install a real-time energy and water consumption display, monitor every aspect of the building’s performance and reward facilities staff for great management.
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