How efficiently do you use energy? We all know the rules our dad hammered into us, “Close the door; I’m not paying to heat the whole neighborhood!” “Don’t mess with the thermostat; go put on a sweater if you’re cold!” “If you’re done in your room, turn off your light!”
While his goal was frugally focused (because money doesn’t grow on trees, you know), his rules still hold true if your concern is environmentally focused – the millennials aren’t going to allow anyone to be wasteful. In addition to these household rules, energy efficiency has improved in building sciences with new developments in building sustainability over the last several decades, such as programmable thermostats and foam and blown insulation rather than fiberglass batt. However, the average understanding of energy efficiency ends there. You stay comfortable and keep your bill “manageable” or “reasonable” and leave it at that. For an average home, that’s fine – it’s difficult to justify a major renovation to reduce a $100-$300 monthly energy bill.
However, with commercial buildings, you may have no idea how your efficiency compares to others. You manage your thermostat and may have sensors and timers on lights…but what does that amount to? If your energy bill is now in the four digits rather than the three digits, there may be more significant justification for improvement.
At Avion, we had more than enough justification for improvement. An active member of the Energy Huntsville Initiative, our Director of Research and Development, Randy Buckner, discovered that our Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning unit (HVAC) was running full blast all day, every day, all year, cooling even when temperatures were below freezing…then reheating the air it was working to cool. As any engineer would do, he began to ask questions and research why the system was operating this way. Through this research, he discovered Portfolio Manager, a no-cost tool available from the Department of Energy developed to help create awareness of a property’s efficiency. Portfolio Manager utilizes property and meter data to provide a user with their Energy Use Intensity (EUI), or energy per square foot per year, and compare the EUI to similar buildings in similar categories to create the building’s Energy Star™ rating. With this tool, Randy discovered that Avion’s EnergyStar™ score was an astounding 2. Out of 100. To say we had “room for improvement” would be a gross understatement. By discovering, researching, and amending our HVAC issues, we have improved to a respectable 56 (average), and Avion was awarded the Nexus Energy Center Small Business Champion of Energy Award this fall as a result of Randy’s efforts. Additionally, he was a moderator and panelist at the recent Geo-Energy Summit.
Along with partners Alabama Center for Sustainable Energy and the Energy Huntsville Initiative, our efforts are leading the Huntsville Better Building Challenge as a community partner. The Challenge is designed to help Huntsville’s business community become more aware of how much their energy consumption COULD or SHOULD be and how their current consumption compares. Are you interested in participating? We are eager to establish your building’s baseline. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as “no strings attached”, so we won’t lie to you. We would love to do a no-cost assessment of your commercial building, and what we ask in return is that you allow us access to your energy data and general building information to help us baseline your building into the EnergyStar™ Portfolio Manager and understand our community climate better.
Fill out the contact form below for more information.