From design and construction, to operation and maintenance, the buildings that we live and work in should function the way intended. End-users are savvy, and they want green buildings. Clients will do business with people who understand this.
The energy efficiency trend is here to stay. Green buildings are not only more marketable, but they’re also cheaper to operate and maintain. Because they consume fewer resources, their lower long-term operating costs are highly advantageous to builders and end-users alike.
By staying committed to energy efficiency, you’ll lower your cost of doing business and pass savings to your clients. Building green is a no-brainer. Energy efficiency makes sense, and it pays.
Building Green: Part 2
In our previous blog post, Building Green: The Economic Benefits of Energy Efficiency (Part 1), we touched on government certification, and tax rebates and incentives for green building and energy-saving initiatives. In this article, we’ll discuss ENERGY STAR certification and energy-efficient building systems.
ENERGY STAR Certification
Measuring Building Efficiency
When we hear “ENERGY STAR,” most of us think of refrigerators. But did you know that entire buildings can earn ENERGY STAR certification? While LEED certification is generally for new building construction, ENERGY STAR covers efficiency improvements to existing buildings, including retrofits.
What is ENERGY STAR certification?
Many buildings are designed to be green, but how is this measured? ENERGY STAR provides reliable and proven measures to assess a building’s energy efficiency, environmental impact, and performance. Companies put their money where their mouth is—ENERGY STAR proves how green (or not) a building really is.
To call a building green, it must pass a rigorous set of standards. Some of these criteria include reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, to name a few. Prior to certification, ENERGY STAR assigns an engineer or registered architect to verify the facts.
Why is ENERGY STAR certification important?
By understanding the benefits of ENERGY STAR certification, you’ll be better positioned to sell building materials and meet your clients’ needs.
ENERGY STAR certified buildings are shown to:
- Have lower operating costs
- Be more marketable
- Command higher rental rates
- Have increased asset value
Graybar’s Commitment to Energy Savings
Thousands of buildings across America are ENERGY STAR certified, including 27 of Graybar’s “owned” facilities. We’re hard at work reviewing our remaining facilities to identify the best PowerSmart measures to reduce our energy consumption further. At the risk of tooting our own horn, we practice what we preach at Graybar. Need help navigating ENERGY STAR or LEED certification? Get in touch with us.
Energy-Efficient Building Systems
Smart Lighting Solutions
To call a building green, it must consume less energy than an average building. To provide a specific example, I’ll dig into LED lighting. We’ve all heard of LED lighting, right? Most buildings in the U.S. were constructed prior to 1980. Many of these buildings have never been renovated. (Are you picturing rusty pipes like I am?) My point is: Many buildings still use outdated systems that hinder efficiency.
I see promising opportunities within the lighting industry to effect change and improve energy efficiency. The costs of LED lighting are continually coming down, and the lifespan of LED installs is expanding. After converting to LED, a facility may never need to update their lighting again.
There are many other smart lighting solutions designed with energy efficiency in mind. For example, occupancy sensors limit the use of lights in low-traffic areas (such as washrooms). Many green buildings utilize natural daylight and/or photo-sensitive light fixtures to limit artificial lighting in areas with an abundance of natural light.
Additional Savings: Heating, Water, Alternative Energy
Besides lighting, there are a number of other building systems and practices designed to reduce energy consumption including:
- Energy-efficient heating and cooling systems (such as natural ventilation, motorized building shades or roller blinds, and/or the strategic use of trees for natural shade)
- ENERGY STAR certified appliances and office equipment to reduce energy consumption
- Water solutions to lessen water wastage, such as low-flow fixtures, waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, and infra-red faucets
- Personal environment controls including heating, lighting, and ventilation levels
- Energy-efficient windows and doors that better regulate temperature, and reduce heating and cooling costs
- The use of alternative energy, such as solar energy, to decrease our reliance on traditional power systems
Energy efficiency pays, and there are building systems and government certification programs to ensure energy-efficient practices. Going green is now a requirement, and smart contractors will stay up to date on industry standards and best-practices to meet this need head-on with knowledge and expertise.
Stay Tuned for More Posts
We’re hard at work updating the Graybar ESP blog with more relevant posts around energy efficiency (and other topics we think you’ll enjoy). Stay tuned for more posts.
The Latest on Energy Efficiency
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EPA has a free online tool for measuring and tracking water use, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. For more information, visit www.epa.gov.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has as number of resources on their website (www.energy.gov) to guide the energy efficiency of a building.
DSIRE (dsireusa.org is a great online resource that includes a list of state incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.