How can the energy efficiency of buildings be improved?
Energy efficiency is a key competitive and image factor
Many buildings have worked systematically and extensively to monitor and improve energy efficiency, while some are only taking their first steps in terms of energy efficiency. Improved energy efficiency and sustainability are not only ways to produce cost savings and to help to mitigate climate change, but also significant questions concerning the brand image. Currently, environmental issues are emphasised in public debate, in the media and in investors’ demands.
In Finland, the energy efficiency of buildings is advanced both by means of voluntary energy efficiency agreements and statutory requirements. Being a pioneer in terms of energy and the environment offers a competitive edge for property owners. Who would not want their building to be 10% more energy-efficient than the neighbouring building.
Many companies are offering different solutions for improving the efficiency of energy and water consumption. How can the property owner know what solutions are the best and the most efficient? Is there any sense in installing new systems if more efficient solutions are introduced in just a couple of years? However, keep in mind that the longer you wait, the more savings you lose.
Property owners may well have different strategies that need to be taken into consideration when planning investments. Some may find it important that investments repay themselves in only a couple of years.
Furthermore, living conditions cannot suffer from improved energy efficiency. At best, savings are visible to residents through, for example, more stable living conditions. Moreover, improved energy efficiency calls for cooperation between owners and residents.
Help from energy management
Consumption measurements are essential parts of energy monitoring. However, measurements only produce benefits when the resulting information can be analysed and used correctly. The total consumption of a building does not say much in itself, if it is not known at what level consumption should be. By identifying the current status of energy consumption, it is possible to see whether consumption is optimal, what consumes energy and where savings can be achieved.
Property owners do not need to possess any comprehensive energy expertise. Here, energy management offered by energy specialists comes in handy. This consists of, for example, consumption monitoring, reactions to any changes in consumption and the comprehensive development of energy efficiency.
Improved energy efficiency through customised actions
Actions profitable both in terms of finances and energy can be identified, for example, by means of an energy survey. During the inspection of the property, focus is shifted not only on investment proposals, but also on technological solutions, such as the settings of control curves and defrosting systems, as well as ventilation cycles. Most properties can already produce savings in these areas without making any compromises over living conditions, and these changes cost nothing. Once the current energy consumption has been optimised, it is worth considering how energy efficiency could be improved further by making investments.
In office buildings, savings potential often comes from ventilation, heat recovery, controls and lighting, whereas residential buildings offer savings potential through water and heat consumption. Decreasing heating peaks by means of smart temperature controls has produced good results. Savings can be achieved from water consumption by installing water-saving taps and shower heads. Steps that reduce water flows repay themselves in just a couple of years.
If you need help in any energy questions, we are happy to help you! Our goal is to find energy solutions that extend far into the future.
This text is written by Mari Rajaniemi, an energy management professional. Before joining Realia Management, Mari has conducted research, for example, on how to improve energy efficiency. Contact Mari!