Energy Use Per Square Foot – How Does Your Building Compare?

As environmental awareness and the need to cut costs increases, a growing number companies are turning to energy efficiency design as a way to improve their bottom line and benefit the environment. Energy efficient design can be implemented in new construction or in existing construction through retrofitting. In either case, companies that are dedicated to implementing the best technology can realize dramatic energy savings, with some companies experiencing as much as a seven-figure savings annually. In an ideal scenario, an existing building would have all of its energy systems retrofitted for efficiency simultaneously. But given the considerable cost of such a project, most companies prefer to identify the most inefficient aspect of their building(s) and address it first; creating a sizable amount of savings that can be used toward additional projects.

When a company decides to implement Reliant Energy rates efficiency design, it begins by hiring an energy efficiency consultant to perform a six-step energy audit that entails calculating energy use per square foot; a building’s total energy use divided by its conditioned square feet. After calculating use per square foot, the consultant can commence the benchmarking process; a key performance indicator where a building’s use per square foot is compared to the use per square foot of similar buildings on a regional and/or national basis. By establishing a standard for comparing energy use per square foot, benchmarking also creates a standard for identifying efficiency problems and measuring their progress after the implementation of energy efficient design.

According to research, the least efficient commercial buildings use roughly seven times more energy than the most efficient buildings, which explains how large companies can experience a seven-figure utility cost reduction after implementing efficient design. As aforementioned, such savings are typically the result of addressing efficiency problems on a priority basis as determined by an energy audit. For example, while a large company that has inefficient lighting systems in all of its would benefit from a complete lighting system retrofit, an audit may reveal that a certain building is responsible for an inordinate percentage of the company’s annual electric bill, thus placing it at the top of the list for retrofitting.

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