Virtual Audits Uncover Surprising Trends in Building Efficiency

Within the past few years there have been a handful of companies developing virtual auditing services. Virtual audits, also known as no-touch audits or rapid energy modeling, are not yet an industry standard, however they continue to gain a lot of popularity due to our country’s determination to become more sustainable.

Through profiling a building’s energy consumption using meter data, mapping tools, and even pictures of the structure, virtual audits offer a faster, lower cost way of targeting efficiency opportunities. They may not be as detailed as putting an auditor on site or comply with local laws for energy auditing or retro-commissioning, but they can help energy and utility service professionals quickly find the best targets for efficiency opportunities. With so many buildings getting virtual audits done, companies are finding some interesting trends among the data. Here are a few of them:

  • Many of the efficiency opportunities were just simple behavior changes and tweaks in operations. If scaled up to the entire commercial building stock across the US, it is estimated that that there could be around $17 billion in savings with no equipment retrofits at all.
  • There is a pretty big difference between high potential buildings and low potential buildings than may appear. Studies show that the top 20 percent of buildings sampled had savings potential of more than 40 percent, while the bottom 20 percent of buildings only offered 3 percent savings. This proves the importance of prioritization for utilities and organizations with large portfolios of buildings.
  • The heating and cooling equipment typically represent the highest proportion of energy consumption in facilities, but not always does it offer the best savings. For example, although lighting may only make up 15 percent of energy use in a commercial building, it can offer more than 30 percent of the energy savings potential because of the quick payback.

While these trends identified through virtual audits are enlightening, a comprehensive on-site building evaluation may still be necessary — both in terms of measures and how combinations of measures fit within each decision-maker’s specific goals and thresholds. Any one building may have a huge incremental savings opportunity when all of the options are considered.  Bright Energy Services can help you determine if a virtual audit or a comprehensive audit is right for your facility. Give us a call today at (347) 470-7090 to learn more.

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