Give your Building a Tune–Up
Regularly examine building equipment, systems, and maintenance procedures to make sure your building is operating as efficiently as possible. Some helpful steps you can take are:
Improve Lighting Systems
Take a Look Inside and Out
Reducing the amount of energy used by inefficient office equipment and other products can save energy and money. Purchase ENERGY STAR qualified office equipment whenever possible. Don’t waste conditioned air — install window films and add insulation or a reflective roof coating to save energy.
Upgrade Fan Systems
Air-handling systems move air throughout a building and therefore directly affect the comfort of building occupants. Fan systems can be upgraded and adjusted to optimize the delivery of air in the most energy-efficient way. Properly sized fan systems add variable speed drives and convert to a variable-air-volume system.
Raise the Bar for Heating and Cooling Systems
Heating and cooling systems are large consumers of energy in buildings and offer great opportunities for saving energy and increasing the comfort of building occupants. Once you have followed the steps above and reduced the building’s cooling loads, retrofit or install energy-efficient models and upgrade boilers and other central plant systems to energy-efficient standards.
Create a Strategic Energy Management Plan
Owners who develop and follow a solid plan will have a distinct advantage over their competitors. First, establish goals you can track against. Plans include starting (baseline) long- and short-term strategies, metrics, and key performance indicators (KPI) that compare the progress of energy procurement, real-time data, controls and equipment performance over time.
Include a review of peak-demand and renewable energy in your plan. Comprehensive plans address peak-demand strategies (energy companies’ highest, overall usage times—which also incur the highest usage rates) and commitment to environmental sustainability, either through energy storage, purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) and clean, on-site renewable energy production.
Review Your Utility Bill
Once a strategic energy management plan is developed, adherence is required for success. A basic methodology is to audit your utility billing invoices to make sure your goals are being achieved. It’s easy to simply pay your energy bill, and some growers don’t have the time or the wherewithal to analyze it. If necessary, having a staff member handle this, or getting outside help, can pay off in the long run.
Understand Your Rate and Rate Options
Utilities are not required to ensure that the member/customer is on the correct rate tariff. Electric, natural gas and water rate tariffs can be complex, but they are worth understanding in order for site-optimization strategies to take shape.
Understand Your Utility Bill
OEC electricity charges fall into four categories:
Understand Peak Demand Charges
Peak demand charges and rates occur when a large portion of customers need energy at the same time, resulting in the utility company charging more for the increased production, the strain on the grid’s infrastructure and maintenance—all of which are passed on to the consumer as higher demand (kW) fees.
Since the consumer is charged for the highest 15-minute demand period during the billing cycle (whether or not the level is maintained throughout the billing period), growers can incur significantly higher fees.
Educate Employees on Energy Consumption
Limit exposure to monthly peak demand charges by increasing employee awareness of energy use, conservation and efficiency. The lessons learned can positively impact final product cost and revenue potential. For example, since kW fees are based on 15-minute intervals, teach employees not to turn on all equipment at the same time when they walk in the door. Stagger them in 15-minute intervals.
Know How Your Lighting Choice Directly Affects Your Energy Bill and Performance Analysis
Of the equipment indoor cultivators use, lighting has the greatest impact on energy consumption, and a delicate dance between cost and yield exists for each lighting option. A technology race is happening among manufacturers to deliver color spectrum range that supports each growth-cycle stage and consumes less energy. Since electricity consumption varies greatly by technology and impacts costs, an analysis is required to understand the cost of energy per gram of bud and per milliliter of processed oil.
Many cultivators utilize fluorescent and high-wattage lights including 600W high-pressure sodium (HPS), and 1000W high-intensity discharge (HID) lamp fixtures, all requiring a ballast to run. Others use LED, plasma and induction lighting.