What is a commercial energy audit?
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What is a Commercial Energy Audit?

A commercial energy audit is a detailed assessment of the energy efficiency of a commercial building or facility. The audit analyzes various aspects of energy consumption, identifies areas of inefficiency, and recommends measures to improve energy performance and reduce costs.

The primary goal of a commercial energy audit is to identify opportunities for energy savings and cost reduction while maintaining or improving the comfort, safety, and functionality of the building. Energy audits are essential for businesses and organizations seeking to manage their energy expenses more effectively, reduce their environmental footprint, and comply with regulatory requirements related to energy efficiency.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 increased tax deductions for commercial buildings under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 179D.

According to the Inflation Reduction Act, realized energy savings must be measured against ASHRAE standards and applied to the building systems: interior lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water systems, or the building envelope. To qualify for the deduction, the project must be part of a plan to reduce the total annual energy and power costs for the applicable systems by 25% or more. Learn more here.

The energy audit process

The process of conducting a commercial energy audit typically involves several key steps:

Pre-Audit Planning: Relevant information about the building, including its size, age, usage patterns, and energy consumption history, is collected. A review of utility bills will also provide details concerning energy usage patterns and concerns.

On-Site Inspection: A thorough inspection of the building’s physical infrastructure, including its HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, lighting, insulation, windows, doors, and appliances. Equipment such as infrared cameras to detect energy losses, air leaks, or insulation deficiencies is utilized during the audit.

Data Collection and Analysis: Data on energy consumption, operating schedules, and equipment specifications is analyzed to identify trends, patterns, and opportunities for improvement. Advanced software tools may be used to model energy usage scenarios and calculate potential energy savings from various efficiency measures.

Energy Performance Assessment: Based on the inspection and data analysis findings, the building’s overall energy performance is assessed, and areas of inefficiency or waste are identified. This assessment may include evaluating the condition and efficiency of HVAC equipment, lighting systems, building envelope, and other energy-consuming components.

Recommendations and Report: A detailed report outlining the findings and recommendations for improving energy efficiency and reducing energy costs is delivered. These recommendations may range from simple, low-cost measures such as sealing air leaks and upgrading to LED lighting to more complex projects such as installing energy-efficient HVAC systems or renewable energy technologies. The report typically includes estimated costs, potential savings, and payback periods for each recommended measure.

Implementation Support: The auditing team may provide support to the building owner or manager in implementing the recommended energy efficiency measures. This may involve assisting with project planning, securing financing or incentives, and overseeing the installation and commissioning energy-saving upgrades.

Post-Audit Monitoring: After implementing energy efficiency measures, the team may conduct follow-up visits or monitoring to verify the effectiveness of the improvements and identify any additional opportunities for optimization.

Overall, a commercial energy audit is essential for businesses and organizations seeking to optimize their energy use, reduce operating costs, and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. By identifying and addressing inefficiencies in energy consumption, businesses can save money and contribute to environmental protection and energy security.