The Earth Rangers Centre is an advanced green building designed to embody Earth Rangers’ values, to show that we practice what we preach, and to serve as inspiration to everyone who walks through our doors. We host thousands of visitors every year and we often hear the same questions:
- What was the payback of this system or that strategy?
- What is your total energy cost?
- Are you net-zero energy yet?
- What would you repeat in a “normal” building?
Many of the retrofits found in the ERC would make perfect sense in any existing building. Here are the top five strategies you should consider incorporating into your building:
Install at least one multi-circuit meter. Track your electric, gas and water meters, as well as your top 4 or 5 energy consuming loads. This data visibility will inform operations, maintenance, and help you verify your utility bill to keep it free from honest mistakes. In a building that has not had an energy audit or any attention paid to energy consumption, this investment can pay itself off almost immediately (or even during the first utility billing cycle).
Salaries of tenants and staff are more costly than energy use in a building. Anything you can do to increase productivity is a good investment. Green cleaning is a good example – purchasing all natural cleaning products reduces toxic substances in the work environment resulting in healthier, more productive people. Combine your green cleaning program with a focused air quality program, and you’ve got a winner.
Demand Control Ventilation (DCV)
According to a 2005 ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) study, 83% of buildings are over-ventilated. This results in wasted energy in the form of heating, cooling and humidity control.
Fortunately, you can change this. Measuring carbon dioxide levels inside your building allows your HVAC system to match ventilation rates with actual occupancy. This improves indoor air quality levels, resulting in higher productivity – and less drowsy board room meetings. Combine DCV with heat recovery and Earth Tubes to maximize ventilation effectiveness.
Water Efficient Fixtures
Your building can use dramatically less water with little to no impact on function. Dual-flush toilets use 25% less water, but still do their job. Pint-per-flush urinals use 90% less water than building code levels. Waterless urinals are also an option, although our trial of them in 2004 did not go very well.
Also, how much water do you really need to wash your hands? 0.5 GPM (1.9 L/min) aerators drive off soap while using far less water than a standard faucet. New 1.5 GPM (5.7 L/min) shower heads still provide an enjoyable shower, but use 25% less water than the 2012 building code.
Lighting typically accounts for 25% of a commercial building’s consumed energy. Fortunately, new technologies offer great value and savings to replace them. Look at your longest-running lamps as being the greatest opportunity. Pot lamps, spot lights and parking lots are good targets to retrofit with LED equivalents.
Also, keep an eye on linear fluorescent replacements, particularly if you have T8 or T12 lamps currently in use for 8+ hours per day.
This list is an example of some of the retrofits we’ve undertaken to dramatically cut our energy and water use. There are plenty more, depending on the building and age of existing equipment. Consider:
- Updated building automation to integrate lighting, HVAC, access control, security and energy metering for maximum effectiveness and flexibility for future technologies
- If you have a data centre, consider focused energy efficiency measures (particularly cooling) that target this large energy consumer
- Building enveloped effectiveness (windows, insulation, roof material)
The list could go on. If you don’t know where to start, try an energy audit first to see what opportunities exist for your facility.