ACBI Helps Small Commercial Buildings Save Money
Photo Above: A Friend’s House is currently saving 23% in energy consumption relative to their pre-retrofit energy performance.
By Shane Totten, Director, Commercial Sustainability Services
Up until recently, few building owners, developers and facility managers have been engaged in the effort to increase resource efficiency and conservation in the small commercial building market. Small commercial building owners and operators are often unaware of potential cost savings from energy and water efficiency upgrades because they lack the technical expertise to evaluate options and execute efficiency upgrades. Southface’s staff of engineering and building science experts have the in-depth knowledge to educate the market through consulting and advising on building design and construction. Drawing on years of experience providing green building consulting services to a range of clients, Southface’s staff have developed the Advanced Commercial Building Initiative (ACBI) to focus that expertise on delivering resource efficiency to this underserved market.
Buildings of 50,000 sq. ft. or less make up over 90 percent of commercial building stock and just over 50 percent of all commercial floor space across the nation. For owners and operators of these small building, ACBI has published free webinars, case studies and online tools to remove the guesswork from achieving better building performance. ACBI’s research allows small commercial buildings to improve financial situations by reducing operating costs through strategic energy and water efficient practices.
The resources are offered in easy to use and accessible formats. On the website you’ll find several toolkits for assessing and implementing projects, calculators to help identify the most impactful projects and webinars that focus on specific topics like efficiency on campuses, fire stations and recreation centers. ACBI made these resources free to provide the small commercial building market with solutions to combat the pressures of utility prices, concerns about climate change and the need to optimize financial profitability.
With the help of ACBI, small commercial buildings typically save 20 to 40 percent on utility costs. For example, A Friends House, a 25,285 sq. ft. lodging facility in McDonough, GA underwent a series of energy conservation measures, including installing new energy efficient lighting and appliances. Before retrofits, HVAC-related uses accounted for the largest energy use at 48 percent followed by appliances and plug loads at 23 percent, water heating and dryers at 14 percent and interior and exterior lighting at 15 percent. A Friend’s House is currently saving 23 percent in energy consumption relative to their pre-retrofit energy performance. Interior and exterior LED lighting and ENERGY STAR appliances are driving energy savings in the facility.
ACBI also proved that human behavior has an important impact on resource efficiency and performance. Through coordinated behavior change and occupant education, it is possible to reduce energy consumption by as much as 30 percent. It is important for organizations and businesses build a culture of conservation and sustainability. In order to optimize energy savings, organizations should create stable and systematic strategy to improve and maintain occupant behavior.
ACBI has successfully taken on the challenge of researching and finding solutions to lowering small commercial buildings’ operating costs, which has in turn had a useful impact on resource efficiency. Based on ACBI’s results, the EarthCraft Light Commercial Certification Program developed the Deep Energy Package, which helps projects achieve performance that is 30 percent better than code compliance. The prescriptive design and operations recommendations simplify the process of improving building operations and performance. Building owners and operators can take free workshops to learn how to use ACBI’s online resources. Through ACBI and Southface, owners and operators can also receive guidance on ways to improve their buildings.
Small commercial building operators often lack the resources and knowledge to properly analyze and improve the performance of their buildings’ systems, such as lighting, HVAC, envelope and plumbing. Southface is proud to have partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop powerful tools to build capacity for high performance operations and management in the small commercial market. ACBI online resources include both simple recommendations and more complex prescriptive processes on how to lower small commercial buildings’ operating costs.
For more information on ACBI, please visit: http://www.southface.org/programs/advanced-commercial-initiative