Ways to Save: Low-Hanging Fruit

October 6, 2021 | By: Owen Kavanagh

Upgrades to your building’s efficiency are not always expensive, some solutions are cheap, easy, and can be done without buying anything or bringing in a consultant. These low-hanging fruits are great for helping your bottom line. While they may not be enormous savings, they certainly add up. Here are a few ways to save.   

Simple Solutions 

First, look at your lights. Are there too many lamps in your office, and do you need all of them to be on all the time? Can daylight be used instead? Turning off lights, either when they are not in use or to use natural light, is an easy way to save on your energy bill. Switching from incandescent lights to LEDs has become cheaper and cheaper since the United States Department of Energy’s L-Prize Competition concluded in 2011, which saw a marked reduction in price for LED bulbs.    

Does your office use occupancy sensors on overhead lights? These sensors automatically turn the lights off when no one is in the space and can help keep low-traffic areas from drawing too much energy unnecessarily. Conference rooms, storage spaces, and offices are great spots to install occupancy sensors, but make sure they are installed properly. The sensor must “see” the occupant to turn the light on, and if it is blocked by a bookshelf or plant, it is no better than a simple switch. 

What about your office electronics? Printers, fax machines, scanners, monitors, and computers all have sleep settings that can be enabled to save energy. This will make sure that these electronics do not draw too much power while not in use. Vendors or even the owner’s manual can help make sure you are getting all the savings you can from these settings.  

Do you know where all your air vents are? Are any of them blocked by furniture? A blocked vent can unnecessarily increase the energy draw required for heating and cooling. It sounds simple, but keeping exterior doors closed while running the HVAC will help keep the cool and hot air where you want it, inside! There are many more solutions to be found, developing a savings plan to identify and act on energy deficiencies will help clear a path towards a greener, cheaper, tomorrow.    

A Plan of Action 

When developing a savings plan, you must first identify how your building can save. Performing an energy audit, benchmarking your data through ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, and speaking with your utility provider can all help in identifying your building’s energy needs. Make sure the building engineers are aware and involved in the savings plan. Being transparent and listening to them will help in developing a realistic, actionable plan, as well as identifying other ways to save.   

Regular maintenance on heating and cooling equipment, plumbing, insulation, and electronics are all aspects necessary for a successful savings plan. Leaks, be they water, air, or anything else, can send money straight down the drain.  

Retrofitting inefficiencies out of your building systems may seem like a heavy cost, but these retrofits will pay dividends in the long run. LED lighting and Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) have shown this in spades. VFDs consume 35 to 50-percent less energy in HVAC systems over conventional constant speed drives, and ENERGY STAR® Certified LED lights consume 75-percent less energy than incandescent lighting.   

Commercial real estate does not exist in a vacuum. We interact with the world around us in visible and invisible ways, from the ways we draw power to the material making up our buildings. Finding savings will help both your bottom line and the environment, even if that means just turning a light off when you aren’t using it. Small savings add up.  

For a few more easy ways to save, ENERGY STAR® provides a printable checklist to work through. Saving energy takes time, and the best time to start is today. 

See the entire library of ENERGY STAR® videos and articles in our 2021 ENERGY STAR® Content Guide.


To stay up to date on news and resources such as this and other topics of importance to the real estate industry, subscribe to the free CRE Insight Journal Newsletter using this link.