Energy Conservation?

Energy Conservation? –  By Arnie Wohlgemut

There have been countless number of articles and LinkedIn posts written on this subject. One author wrote about getting a formal energy audit and creating a baseline as a solution to conserve energy in our buildings. Another wrote that you must “learn your building” and another wrote about the importance of proper design.

Something caught my eye as I read several articles last week. There is one thing in common – People!

In the end it is the mind-set of people that determines what they are willing to do or not do.

There are many products that actually do save energy but putting them into the hands of people who may not understand or care, won’t help.

Energy efficient lights are great but still are a waste if people do not turn them off.

Energy efficient HVAC units are very effective unless you set the controls to “refrigerator” mode.

Even when the most energy efficient design best suited for the application is created, people are unpredictable and find ways to go over, around, through or under any restrictions or requests.

So how do we change the mindset?

Teaching, mentoring and training are all part of engaging your team. It’s important to begin engaging them right at the onset of the plan. From the birth of an idea to occupancy of our offices, schools and homes, an energy conservation mind-set must be present.

It’s critical for the building owners to set a base-line performance goal. With the goal in place, architects and engineers must model and test their designs to align. Facility managers and building operators must understand and support the conservation goals and the building occupants need to participate.

Understanding and buy-in start with knowledge.

In my experience, education is often a missed step.

I have seen the impact of training and mentoring first hand.

I witnessed a shift in understanding when a building operator realized that the temperature set-point in a building automation system did not act like an accelerator, the higher the temperature the faster the space warmed up.

Oversizing of systems is much more common than under-sizing. I have seen a building design that had 3 times more the boiler capacity than needed on a design winter day.

Start your team with the information they need. Give your people a chance to succeed!