How to Save Energy in Three Steps
Saving money on energy costs is simple, but changing behaviors can be a challenge. These three steps serve as a roadmap for how to save energy at your school district or university.
1. Make energy conservation an organizational priority.
To reduce the amount of energy your organization uses, you must reduce the amount of energy used by each individual in the organization. While the age and design of your building's infrastructure determines how efficiently the building uses energy, the people operating the systems and inhabiting the building determine how much energy is actually used. Ultimately, individuals that successfully and consistently reduce energy use will also reduce energy costs for the organization.
2. Set a SMART energy savings goal.
You can't make progress without a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal for energy savings. In order to do this, you must understand your current energy use. Begin by gathering your historical energy use data for each building, such as the monthly electric bill and monthly natural gas or heating bill. Determine the monthly cost of each for a 12-36 month period. With this data, you can establish your energy use profile benchmark.
You then compare your buildings' energy use to other buildings of similar size to estimate how much energy you can save. You may be surprised to learn that even buildings with average energy use have lots of potential to save. For example, a building that uses 80,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) of energy per square foot per year is considered an average energy user while a school that uses 42,000 BTU of energy per square foot per year is considered a highly-efficient energy user. That’s a lot of energy savings potential!
Using your energy use benchmark and an accurate estimate of your energy savings potential, build a SMART energy savings goal. You can use this goal to track progress and measure your success after the final step (an action plan) has been implemented.
3. Build an action plan.
The action plan should be based on the results of a facility and behavioral energy audit. This audit should determine how and where energy is used in each room. The action plan should include both capital improvements (making systems operate more efficiently) and behavioral changes (making people use energy more efficiently).
Share your action plan with stakeholders and building occupants. Communicate how the success of the program will be measured and determined. Once the action plan is implemented and you have confirmed it is being followed, it's critical that monthly energy performance is tracked and properly compared to the energy use benchmark. This is where a dedicated Energy Leader can make the difference between success and failure of your action plan. An Energy Leader will allow you to determine how effective your plan is and whether or not you need to modify the plan, refine the plan, or scrap the plan and build a new one.
Look for an Energy Leadership Program that requires no capital outlay and provides you with a dedicated Energy Manager. The Energy Manager ensures that the action plan is implemented and the results are measured accurately. Additionally, be sure that the energy savings reported are real: load creep should not be allowed to artificially increase reported savings.
Following these three initial steps can have a dramatic impact on the energy consumption of your facilities and save money without sacrificing occupant comfort.