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What Is On a Commercial Energy Audit Checklist?
Any company that is looking to reduce their energy output and costs should consider having an energy auditor perform an analysis of the facility. An energy audit will show a company exactly where it can reduce its energy costs by at least 10% and as much as 40%. The savings can be substantial for both small and large businesses. Before a company engages in a commercial energy audit, there is some basic information to know about the process.
Who is involved in an energy audit?
Although the energy auditor runs the audit, other people are involved as well. The facility manager and maintenance staff are also involved. In some cases, legal, financial, and branding staff can also play a role in the process.
What does a commercial energy audit identify?
An energy audit will identify low or no-cost maintenance adjustments a company can make that will save energy. It provides both short-term and low-cost energy-efficiency changes that can be retrofit to current operational practices. Plus, it provides an action plan for energy-efficient capital. Comfort and code issues are addressed. Additionally, a commercial energy audit suggests ways for the company to adhere to lighting and comfort standards.
Level I of energy audits
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning (ASHRAE) has defined three levels of energy audits. Each level builds on the next as the complexity of the procedures increases. The Level I energy audit is the most basic level for an energy audit. During this audit, the auditor performs a general inspection of the facility and provides a broad overview of the findings. The auditor will talk with the facility manager, review the building’s utility bills, and tour the site. This level of audit is intended to provide a quick assessment and provide suggestions for energy and cost savings opportunities that don’t cost the company a lot of money.
Level II of energy audits
The Level II energy audit gives a more detailed energy analysis of the facility. At this level, the auditor performs a fuel-use analysis. It also provides a complete breakdown of the energy use for the building and shows energy-saving opportunities in an easily understandable way. The auditor analyzes the utility bills to look for rate-saving opportunities. The auditor will also perform some diagnostic tests at this level. Some of the diagnostic tests that may be included are combustion analysis and steady state efficiency testing, lighting level assessment, blower door testing, duct leak testing and air flow and temperature measurement. Additional tests may include water flow and temperature measures, tracer gas analysis, infrared thermography, solar shading analysis, electrical testing and relative humidity testing. Most companies go through Level I and Level II energy audits.
Level III of energy audits
Once the Level II audit is complete, calculations are developed to create a more cost and energy-efficient and workplace. The auditor will suggest any changes to the operation and maintenance of the company that might result in a more energy-efficient facility. The Level III energy audit is the most complex and comprehensive. This audit requires a long-term time commitment from the facility. This audit is dependent on long-term trend data the auditor collects by using logging devices. After analyzing this data, the auditor will be able to specifically identify operational opportunities, set-point adjustments, sensor adjustments, and calibration opportunities that can accurately predict specific adjustments that will result in significant cost and energy savings.
Four phases of energy audit levels
The United States Department of Energy has identified the four-phase process each level of energy audit typically goes through. The first is the preliminary review phase requires the auditor to collect and analyze data, calculate EUI and compare it to similar buildings and assess the potential for energy-efficiency improvement. During the site assessment phase, site data is collected, immediate cost and energy-savings opportunities are identified through interviewing the staff, a visual inspection, and data collection.
Then the energy and cost analysis phase requires the auditor to evaluate utility and site data, analyze energy and cost savings, and develop a list of recommended actions. At this phase, everything is prioritized according to the project and financial goals of the company. A savings estimate will also be estimated. The final phase is the completion of the audit report. The auditor will conduct an exit meeting, during which there is a breakdown of the final report. The auditor and facility manager create an action plan. The auditor will summarize the findings and make any necessary recommendations based on the findings of the audit.
The site visit
The site visit is an important part of the energy audit, so facility managers should be aware of exactly what will be inspected so they can be adequately prepared. During the site visit, the auditor will be paying close attention to construction details of the building including the walls, roof, windows, doors, and insulation values. An inventory will be done of the heating and cooling systems (HVAC), including their capacity and efficiency. Additional factors that will be checked include HVAC control methods, interior and exterior lighting systems and their related controls and the hot water system.
A commercial energy audit is a wise idea for any company. A local energy auditor typically takes companies through Level I and Level II audits. Learning how energy is being consumed is the first step toward conserving it and lowering monthly utility bills.
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