Improving Energy Efficiency and Reducing Energy Use in Commercial Buildings
The ability to improve energy efficiency in buildings is increasingly important given the ongoing cost of maintaining structures that are not efficient. However, improving energy efficiency can often seem difficult given the fact that most buildings are currently designed with high levels of reliance on standard energy efficiency in mind. Consequently, it can be difficult to find techniques and technology that can reduce the current levels of dependence on standard energy efficiency in building structures.
However, there is a variety of techniques and technologies
that can be used to reduce the level of dependence on standard practices and in many cases, offer the opportunity to improve energy efficiency in building structures at a smaller scale. For instance, energy-efficient LED lighting can produce the same level of light as typical incandescent lighting by utilizing 75 to eighty percent less energy than other incandescent methods. In terms of reducing the overall level of energy use, improving the energy performance of certain technologies can potentially reduce energy consumption by up to twenty percent. As a result, local governments have been working with building contractors to implement measures that can help to increase the level of efficiency currently experienced by buildings.
One of the most efficient and effective techniques
to consider when improving energy efficiency levels is the so-called rebound effect. As energy savings take place, the building’s total energy consumption can then be reduced. In the case of incorporating solar panels into a building’s design, this requires the implementation of thermal mass which can control the flow of heat within the structure. In the process, rebounding occurs whereby heat that initially enters the building is, later on, pulled back out through the thermal mass. Over time, this process of rebounding develops a cumulative effect whereby a large portion of heat is moved out of the structure and into the cooling airflow.
The rebound effect also has a direct correlation
to the environmental impact associated with the construction of a building. Over time, the amount of fuel required to operate an HVAC system can increase due to the added energy needed to operate the HVAC system. Similarly, in terms of HVAC fuel economy, improvements achieved via the use of thermal mass have the potential to reduce the number of fossil fuels required to run commercial buildings. Although it is not possible to project future fuel demands for the HVAC industry, the improvements that occur through improving the effectiveness of HVAC systems can directly reduce the amount of fuel needed to operate a building. This has the added benefit of making buildings more environmentally sustainable.
Other energy efficiency improvements
include the implementation of new technology. For example, advancements in the use of electric motors have resulted in the development of more powerful electrical vehicles (EVs). These vehicles now offer a distinct reduction in fuel consumption relative to standard gasoline vehicles. Similarly, the conversion of gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles has led to a nearly constant reduction in fuel consumption over time. It has been projected that by the year 2021, the gap between electric-powered vehicles and standard gasoline-driven vehicles will close completely. Other improvements include the implementation of systems that make use of renewable energy, including solar panels and wind turbines.
The fact is that there are numerous improvements available today
that can help to reduce the energy use in our buildings. However, we must continue to implement these methods even as the costs of electricity continue to rise. Moreover, the need for energy-efficient buildings continues to grow in parallel with the increased demand for safe, healthy, and highly functional indoor environments. Ultimately, we cannot undo the damage that our habits have inflicted on the environment. However, we can ensure that we are taking every possible step to reduce energy use while simultaneously preserving and improving the air quality of our environment.