Is a net-zero strategy in your long-term plan? What about reducing your carbon footprint, or adopting green initiatives to achieve sustainability goals? No matter what strategy is in your future, carbon reduction requires data, because you cannot control or leverage investments that are not being monitored.
As we know, reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the only way to slow climate change. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential and commercial buildings account for nearly 40 percent of energy consumption and emit roughly 39 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide globally, 28 percent of which are directly correlated to building operations.
While energy intensity of the building sector has seen improvements by roughly 1.5% year over year1 through carbon reduction strategies and actions, the growth of new buildings and expansions annually is rising at 2.3 percent2. So, the progress made in existing infrastructure does not go far enough to offset new buildings coming online each year.
So, what should building owners do to achieve their sustainability goals?
First and foremost, organizations must understand their carbon footprint across their enterprise of buildings to evaluate operational efficiency. To do this, a deeper dive into their utility data is necessary to understand and benchmark their base-level energy efficiency against national standards for buildings of similar size and use.
Submetering on equipment is beneficial during this stage for meaningful data collection and analytics that can help identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement. The data from this energy audit can also benchmark and rank each building using common efficiency and performance standards.
The convergence of disparate systems into a building management system allows monitoring through a single pane of glass. By adding a software platform to normalize the data, the standardization of metrics and key performance indicators can be enabled across the entire portfolio.
Once there’s common data, an Energy Master Plan (EMP) can be developed. The EMP is a roadmap of recommended actions for each facility across the portfolio. This is an important aspect to proactive facilities management as it provides a practical approach to achieving sustainability goals with an implementation plan that builds on existing investments made.
Recommendations may range from full capital improvement projects to energy conservation measures (ECMs) that include equipment upgrades – either replacement or retrofit – with eco-friendly materials; LED installation, and/or replacing fossil fuel-powered boilers with electric and swapping older HVAC systems with high efficiency units.
For enterprise-wide corporations with a national footprint, the energy master plan must consider the different state regulations and power zones. For example, 1 kWh savings in a region powered by coal is worth more than 1 kWh of savings in a region powered by renewable energy. The building powered by coal may need a full remodel while the location powered with renewable energy could be eligible for a green-energy contract that can be partially paid for with government funding and rebates.
No matter the size of the portfolio, building owners may choose to implement a multi-year staged project-plan using capital funding, while others, like school districts and universities, may utilize an energy service company (ESCO) to implement energy conservation measures with off-balance sheet funding.
Monitoring is critical to the success of any capital improvement projects, whether it’s self-funded, off-balance sheet, or partially funded with rebates and government incentives. After all, without data, how can you prove return on investment and success of the net-zero strategy?
Stark Tech Group customizes turnkey solutions that meet energy performance goals. Stark takes a unified building approach through master systems integration, offering a scalable and customizable data-intelligence platform that drives total facilities optimization.
Stark is a single source agent for master systems integration, intelligence, and mechanical and electrical equipment. Stark has an in-house ESCO team for performance contracting. Other financing options are also available for a range of project sizes.
For more information, visit StarkTechGroup.com
1.“How do buildings contribute to climate change?” Vox Media, Curbed Magazine, September 2019
2. New Research Shows Zero Carbon Buildings are Possible Where you Might Least Expect Them, World Resources Institute. September 2019