Facilities managers faced with shrinking operating budgets can look to innovative capital improvement options to minimize their heating, lighting, and water usage costs over time. While some more drastic projects such as solar power installations, state-of-the-art windows and insulation, and maximum efficiency HVAC systems are more suitable for new construction projects, there are also low-cost options that can significantly improve efficiency of existing structures. The improvements discussed below offer the potential for significant progress toward an organization’s sustainability initiatives while markedly reducing operating costs.
1. Monitor, Measure, and Analyze
One impactful improvement that does not require a single purchase is strategically monitoring energy and water usage within a building. For example, if a facility is not a 24 hour operation, put systems in place to minimize the energy wasted during low-occupancy hours. Power company charts provide fairly accurate data on hourly usage and may help uncover wasteful off-hours usage that has been going unnoticed.
2. Replace Thermostats
Replace old thermostats with new ones that allow for efficient programming and timers to establish more economical temperature levels during evenings and weekends. Also, check plug loads and unplug vending machines and other occasionally used equipment when no one is present.
3. LED Lighting
Replace old incandescent bulbs with more efficient CFL bulbs for 50% better efficiency. If the budget will allow, take the process to the next step with more efficient and longer lasting LED lighting. Although LED lighting requires a larger initial investment, the product’s performance and longevity allow for reduced product life cycle costs.
4. Filtration Systems
Changing HVAC filters regularly allows for more efficient use of the systems. Skipping preventative maintenance procedures like this will cost more, not less, in the long run, as it exposes the system to greater risk of major damage, subjecting the organization to extensive repair costs.
5. Insulating the Building
Everyone has heard the old adage, “we’re not heating the whole neighborhood!” This rings true for facilities, too. Check and replace seals around windows and doors. Losing heat during cooler months or cool air during the summer due to faulty seals is like throwing chunks of an operating budget out the window. Fortunately, these repairs can be made relatively inexpensively.
6. Motion Sensors
Occupancy and motion sensors are an effective, inexpensive idea to eliminate power waste. Lights turn off when the sensors do not detect anyone in the area and stay off until someone re-enters.
7. Water Conservation
Reduced flow toilets and urinals can save thousands of gallons of water. While the initial investment may be a bit steep, the payback is reasonably quick. installing drip irrigation for planting areas and using sensors to manage lawn watering systems are two more water conservation strategies that pay for themselves over time. Sensors detect rain and hold off watering until the turf really needs it.
Managers can reduce costs without abandoning their operating budgets. Large facilities don’t have to be rebuilt to take advantage of innovative resource management techniques. Existing structures can be modified to lower operating budgets and have a more positive impact on the environment!
How does your organization lower your operating costs, while maintaining your sustainability initiatives? Share your strategy in the comments below!