Every building is unique in its operation and challenges. A hospital has a different energy profile than an education facility; a commercial office building operates differently from a residential structure. And at the same time, every audit has different goals and criteria. Templates and checklists can be helpful—but energy auditing requires a personalized approach that incorporates best practices while allowing flexibility to accommodate your unique needs. This may include using customized modeling tools or creating a tailored report for your leadership.
What is an Energy Audit?
An energy audit is an assessment of how much energy a building uses. The audit looks at a building’s energy-consuming systems, like HVAC and lighting, to determine how and where energy is used. It provides useful insights about where improvements can be made to save energy. Most buildings will greatly benefit from an energy audit, including commercial, healthcare, higher education, industrial, and more.
An energy audit is the first step in reducing energy consumption. On average, energy costs account for between one-fifth to one-third of a building’s total operating costs. Implementing energy conservation measures (ECMs) from an audit can reduce the building’s overall operating costs. In many cases, the cost of an energy audit can be offset by the savings from energy reduction projects implemented.
The energy audit is a valuable tool to support the business case for energy conservation projects at your facility. It can be used as the foundation for a long-range plan, giving you the technical analysis needed to prioritize projects and request necessary funding.
Energy audits are often a necessary step for obtaining third-party financing or incentives for a project. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, utility incentives, and even investment-grade bond offerings all require an audit to determine the performance of a building. Audits and energy models are also used for specialized building certification programs, like USGBC LEED.
The scope and scale of an energy audit will vary depending on your needs and goals. An audit can be as simple as assessing the impact of key equipment in the building or as complex as a comprehensive survey and analysis of a campus.
Bernhard’s energy engineers and analysts have a wealth of experience providing energy audits for facilities of all types and sizes. In fact, the energy audit forms the foundation of our Energy-as-a-Service work.
Our dedicated team has experience leveraging the audit process to help clients gain funding and financing for their projects; we’ve performed energy audits for $177 million in PACE financing and worked with hundreds of utility providers across the nation to secure rebates and incentives for our clients. With this experience and expertise, we can deliver the audit you need.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your energy audit.
Making Your Energy Audit a Success
Make sure your auditor takes time to understand your specific concerns, obstacles, and goals for the audit. What issues does the auditor need to know about? What do you hope to gain as a result of the process? Work collaboratively to establish the scope and scale of the audit. From there, ensure your internal team is coordinated and provides the data and access the auditor needs to complete their work.
Operational problems are often a symptom of inefficiency and can cause a large amount of energy waste. Luckily, energy efficiency upgrades are also a great opportunity to address associated issues with operational efficiency and occupant comfort. Make your team available to give feedback to the auditor during the site survey and walkthrough, including pointing out issues and problems that could improve the quality of the energy audit.
ECMs usually focus on reducing the demand for energy within the building. One area that is often under-analyzed or completely ignored in an energy audit is the utility (or supply) side. An energy audit should include a detailed utility analysis that not only reviews how much you spend on energy, but also examines opportunities to save through different rate structures, riders, and rebates or incentives available through utility-based energy efficiency programs. Some of these programs will even subsidize the cost of the audit or future energy projects. Together, these low-cost measures can generate immediate savings to help offset the costs of implementing demand-side ECMs.
If you are seeking specialized financing or funding, make sure your auditor has relevant experience. A strong understanding of requirements and regulations of financiers and program administrators can save many headaches down the road. This expertise may also help the auditor to identify savings and incentives that are unique to the specific program or jurisdiction.
Bernhard TME is a full-service mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, structural and energy engineering firm headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. Its staff of more than 200 individuals in 8 offices across the country is comprised of expert professionals dedicated to providing clients with innovative engineering design and energy conservation.
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