Energy and Smart Building Industry Blog

4 Common Myths of Energy Conservation in Building Management

solar_panel_workerThis post is part of The Guide to Building Management Technologies.  

Under constant pressure to increase comfort and efficiency, reduce energy waste and corporate carbon footprints, Facility Managers today can easily find themselves bogged down in the swamp of myths surrounding the concept of energy conservation in building management. Today we will debunk four of the most common misconceptions of energy management that are costing businesses money.

Myth One: Unoccupied Space Should Be Powered Down

It is commonly believed that powering down cooling systems overnight and on weekends when the building, or sections of the building, are unused will decrease energy use and save money.

TRUTH: You will use more energy- and, conversely, spend more money- to repeatedly cool a space up and down than you will if you maintain a  reasonable “set-back” temperature during unoccupied periods (typically no more than 4 degrees).

A building's HVAC system is broken into zones that are designed to cool a specific area within a certain time frame; typically, at a rate of no more than 2º per hour, per zone. That means that by increasing the unoccupied cooling setpoint temperature by 10ºF (72ºF to 82ºF) during unoccupied periods, it can take up to five hours of constant energy use to restore the building to the preferred daytime temperature.

When a building's cooling system is set at 72ºF, the HVAC system will automatically engage each time the temperature begins to fluctuate higher than that setpoint (plus a small “dead band”...more about this later), disengaging when it is back at the desired setting. This minimizes the amount of energy needed to maintain the desired temperature.

Consider a building's energy use the same way that you would your car's mileage on a road trip. You wouldn't expect the car to get the 55 MPG highway mileage in stop-and-go traffic? In the same way, a building's cooling system can't operate optimally when it is constantly trying to offset unnecessary heat influxes. 

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Myth Two: Focusing on energy savings will save money.

Stop trying to save energy and save energy!

TRUTH: You will save more money by maximizing the energy used rather than trying to  use absolutely as little energy as possible. In fact, this is the definition of efficiency; getting the maximum amount of work done using the optimal amount of energy. 

By integrating an Adaptive Energy Management (AEM) system into your building, you can automate building functions, manage machine settings, and reduce costs by making the best possible use of the energy that you are already paying for.


Myth Three: You Must Sacrifice Comfort to Save Energy.

It is not an either-or situation.

TRUTH: Current adaptive technology can maximize your building's energy usage without sacrificing your customers' or employees' comfort.

Harking back to Myth Number One, it has been proven that maintaining a comfortable HVAC setpoint is your best bet for energy conservation, but did you know that it also increase sales and employee satisfaction?

According to a study cited by the Association for Consumer Research, " environment can have substantial lagged effects on shopping behaviors, particularly consumers' patronage behaviors", and, according to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, "…performance decrements are more clearly established for temperatures outside of the comfort zone".

In other words, not only do you not have to sacrifice comfort for conservation, proper environmental control will actually increase sales and improve employee productivity.

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Myth Four: Building Controls and Monitors are Accurate.

This one surprises a lot of people. Many facility managers mistakenly believe they don’t need  to optimize their control systems because their building controls are already accurate. Remember the aforementioned “dead band”.

TRUTH: Most traditional building controls have a significant error range.

This error range is called in the industry a “dead band”. “Dead” because the control system shuts off prematurely in anticipation of reaching the set-point (as a matter of fact this is what the temperature “anticipator” circuit does in your home thermostat!).

Most commercial building systems are installed long before the interior finish work is completed, leaving temperature sensors unable to:

  • Get an accurate reading
  • Adjust for solar heat gain in a southern facing office
  • Minimize airflow
  • Dehumidify equipment

The above and a host of other external variables all come into play when set-points are configured in each particular space. Without the integration of a smart system, such as an Adaptive Energy Management system, it is nearly impossible to ensure that the building controls are performing as expected. In fact, comfort (hot and cold calls) is the number one complaint from occupants in a building, by far.

Whether your business is centered in grocery, retail, education, entertainment, or healthcare, Phoenix Energy Technologies has powerful tools to maximize comfort and efficiency, reduce energy  waste and your carbon footprint. 

To learn more about the different ways that you can lower your building's energy consumption and maximize your current energy use, contact us today.


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