The forecast for sustainable buildings.

Photo by colodio |

As an environmentally conscious steward of our Earth, at some point or another when tossing compostable material into a green bin, or turning off lights when you leave a room, you may have questioned what difference your small actions are really making in the grand green scheme of things. 

The accumulation of these deeds has a more profound effect as more people abide by them.  To maximize the benefits of environmental consciousness is another story.

Steve Heinz’ company EnergyCAP Inc. specializes in energy management for business, educational, and government buildings to determine whether the efforts of people trying to save on energy and cut their utility bill are really paying off or not.

Energy managers for universities, apartments or office buildings, or other city buildings often deal with hundreds of utility bills totaling $50-60 million dollars annually.  Despite efforts to analyze energy usage from previous years to determine where costs can be cut to establish a more sustainable building, energy efficiency in such large institutions is not a simple challenge to overcome.

The difficulties with this type of large-scale energy management are part of the cause for why 40% of the United States’ total energy consumption is expended by buildings.  EnergyCAP utilizes powerful energy management software to indicate the ways buildings can precisely save on utilities.  The defining factor setting their system apart is that it accounts for constantly changing weather patterns. 

Costs for heating, ventilation, electricity, and hot water make up 84% of the energy consumed by a building throughout its life cycle.  The remaining minor percentage is that used for initially constructing the building and maintaining it.  Proportionally, substantial savings can be made if complex energy needs are optimized by companies like EnergyCAP. 

As an example, Patrick Buchanan, energy manager of George Mason University in Washington, estimates $2.5 million savings on a bill for campus buildings tallying $13.5 million yearly simply by assessing energy usage more critically.

The knowledge and technology exists that is crucial for driving down the energy demand and CO2 emissions dominated by buildings.  For this reason, the World Business Council for Sustainable Buildings has set out criteria for the world buildings design dataset to be tailored to achieve energy neutrality.  This involves cutting buildings’ energy demands, improving insulation and adding energy efficient equipment, while generating surplus energy out of buildings so they can feed an intelligent grid infrastructure that constantly recycles power.

That being said, investors still thirst for profit maximization, and entirely sustainable buildings will not be achieved without a substantial deed done to outweigh the more costly sustainable building over the normal, environmentally-restraining building.

SustainabilityJeffrey Leon