Building energy management: A core pillar of sustainability in commercial real estate

September 6, 2023

In the challenging landscape of commercial real estate, asset managers, property managers, and facilities managers constantly grapple with multiple responsibilities. Amid these numerous duties, one crucial aspect that warrants special focus is building energy management.

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The importance of building energy management

Challenges faced by commercial buildings

Improving energy management in commercial buildings

The role of technology and building analytics

Building an energy efficient future

The Importance of Building Energy Management

The importance of energy management in commercial real estate can't be overstated. Commercial buildings, by their very nature, consume large amounts of energy, contributing significantly to a city's overall energy use and CO2 emissions. As our society becomes increasingly cognizant of the urgent need for sustainability, the commercial property sector is not immune to this trend.

Optimizing energy use not only leads to a reduction in environmental impact but also contributes to financial savings. Energy costs often represent a significant portion of a building's operating expenses. Thus, effective energy management strategies can have a direct, positive effect on a building's bottom line.

Moreover, tenants and investors are increasingly favoring commercial spaces that prioritize sustainability, marking energy-efficient buildings as more attractive and valuable assets. This  means that strong energy management practices can enhance the marketability and competitiveness of your properties

Challenges Faced by Commercial Buildings

Despite the clear benefits, commercial buildings often face several challenges in their energy management.

Firstly, commercial buildings are complex entities with diverse energy needs. From heating and cooling systems to lighting, elevators, and IT infrastructure, managing energy consumption across these multifaceted systems can be a daunting task.

Secondly, the lack of real-time, granular data on energy usage often hampers effective decision-making. Without detailed information on where and when energy is used, it can be difficult to identify areas of wastage or inefficiency.

Lastly, implementing energy efficiency measures can require significant upfront investment. While these initiatives often pay for themselves over time through reduced energy costs, they can be challenging to justify without a clear understanding of their potential return on investment.

Improving Energy Management in Commercial Buildings

Navigating the challenges of energy management in commercial spaces might seem daunting, but a plethora of strategic measures await exploration.

  1. Conduct a thorough energy audit: Start with a meticulous energy assessment. By deeply evaluating a building's energy use trends, you'll pinpoint inefficiencies and areas primed for enhancement.
  2. Leverage cutting-edge technology: Consider integrating building energy management systems into your infrastructure. These advanced systems not only help in monitoring energy consumption but also automate and optimize processes to save energy. The initial investment in such technology often yields significant long-term dividends in terms of energy conservation and cost savings.
  3. Opt for energy-efficient upgrades: While integrating energy-efficient equipment and appliances might come with an initial capital expense, the returns over time are noteworthy. These devices are specifically designed to minimize energy wastage, leading to substantial reductions in overall energy costs and increased sustainability ratings.
  4. Promote an energy-savvy culture: It's essential to inculcate a sense of energy responsibility among both staff and tenants. Small gestures, like ensuring gadgets are turned off when not required, can aggregate to impressive energy savings over time.
  5. Embrace continuous optimization: Beyond initial measures, the journey of energy efficiency is an ongoing one. Adopt a culture of continuous optimization. Regularly revisit your energy strategies, keep abreast of the latest energy-saving technologies, and make adjustments as needed to ensure your commercial building is always operating at peak energy efficiency.

The Role of Technology and Building Analytics

Technology can be a game-changer in overcoming the challenges faced by commercial buildings in energy management, with building analytics taking center stage.

Building analytics involve the use of advanced software to collect, analyze, and visualize data from various building systems. These technologies can provide real-time, granular insights into energy usage, enabling managers to identify inefficiencies and make data-driven decisions.

Furthermore, with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart sensors can be installed throughout a building to monitor various aspects of energy use. When integrated with building analytics, these sensors can provide real-time data that helps to optimize energy consumption, predict equipment failures, and automate energy-saving measures.

Building analytics can also help in justifying the upfront costs of energy efficiency measures. By providing a clear picture of a building's energy usage and potential savings, analytics can help demonstrate the return on investment of these initiatives.

Moreover, predictive analytics, a subset of building analytics, can further enhance energy efficiency. By analyzing historical and real-time data, predictive analytics can forecast future energy use and identify optimal energy-saving opportunities. This could include predicting peak load periods and adjusting systems in advance, leading to significant energy and cost savings.

Building an Energy-Efficient Future

Energy management is a crucial aspect of managing commercial real estate that can lead to significant environmental, financial, and competitive benefits. Despite the challenges faced, there are numerous ways to improve energy management within commercial buildings, with technology and building analytics playing a pivotal role in this transformation.

However, let's not forget that the key to effective energy management isn't just about technology; it's also about people. It's essential to engage everyone involved, from building managers to tenants, in energy conservation efforts. 

Regular communication on energy usage, targets, and the benefits of energy efficiency can ensure everyone plays their part. Similarly, ongoing training for maintenance and operational staff can ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest energy management strategies and technologies. This can empower them to spot inefficiencies and implement energy-saving measures proactively.

If you have not already done so, consider integrating energy management goals into corporate policies and lease agreements. This can help to institutionalize energy efficiency and ensure that it remains a priority over the long term.

Last but not least, remember that energy management isn't a one-time initiative, but a continuous process. Regular reviews and adjustments will help ensure that your strategies remain effective as your buildings and their usage evolve over time.

Are you ready to harness the power of building analytics for energy management? 

Don't hesitate to take the next step and request a callback from our team of experts. Let us help you enhance your property's sustainability and profitability.

Kateryna Dmytriyeva
September 6, 2023