Energy Resiliency to Protect Your Investment
We live in a world that thrives only to the degree which we can plug into an energy source. Energy allows businesses to operate, homes to function, governments to serve, and people to feel safe, secure and comfortable. As designers of buildings, which are the largest consumers of energy across the globe, we have a duty to help building owners understand and prepare for the future with a focus on energy resiliency. At DLR Group, we define energy resiliency as the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions within our environment with minimal or no disruption to access to energy. Energy resiliency applies to new building projects but should also be considered for all existing buildings especially during a major renovation.
As building owners are growing more and more energy-savvy, they are focusing on energy efficiency not simply because it’s the best way to reduce greenhouse gases, but because it’s the right way to protect their businesses from cost escalation, as well as from significant events that may disrupt their energy source. Whether building new facilities, renovating or restoring an existing one, or learning about ways to improve current best practices, consider the following.
Obviously, the goal in energy resiliency is to operate a building as efficiently as possible, because the less energy consumed, less energy and cost will be required to replicate or replace that energy in case of an emergency or catastrophic event. Fine-tuning building efficiency after a building is up and running requires active attention and maintenance. The proliferation of the internet of things and big data movement has provided a variety of software applications and building management systems to continuously monitor a building, without burdening facilities staff with manual assessments to measure and track system performance and energy usage. An active management role allows owners to resolve problems with defective equipment faster, to fine tune needs, drive out wasted consumption, and save energy dollars.
For existing facilities, owners who have not fully engaged their building maintenance processes, starting with a basic assessment of the building can help things move in the right direction. Assessment may include retro commissioning, energy benchmarking, energy audits, and measurement and verification reporting. These may lead to energy master planning for a more holistic approach to establishing a clear roadmap for energy reduction strategies and capital planning. This process also ensures that an owner clearly defines, forecasts, and considers energy goals, capital budgets, and occupant needs in one unified strategy.
Take an active role in producing your own energy. On-site renewable energy will grow in importance, as building owners will provide some, if not all, energy needs through on-site renewables including solar, wind, combined heat and power systems, or other strategies. Although renewable energy installation sounds like an easy fix, there are many challenges, particularly pertaining to existing structures. For instance, many rooftops are too small to provide solar plant needs for energy production.
Many urban buildings also sit on extremely small parcels of land with no site space available to add renewable systems large enough to meet an entire building’s energy needs. Building owners are beginning to work with local solar utilities using brownfield or landfill zones for renewable energy developments. This allows building owners to lease solar panels off site, similar to leasing an office space, so that the renewable system directly provides resilient energy for your building.
With a multitude of options in protecting and preserving a building, a business, and its resources, owners must take a proactive approach to managing energy consumption that affords resilience for a changing future.