Forward ENGINEERS | Helping Small Businesses Reduce Energy Costs
Wednesday, July 19, 2017on
By Guest Columnist Kevin Jensen, P.E., Founding Partner Forward Engineers, as well as many other companies, offers comprehensive Energy Audits to building owners and managers. These energy audits typically follow guidelines set out by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). While these reports are very valuable and informative, for many small business clients the cost for a full audit is outside of their budget. Additionally, they simply may not need the same level of detail that an ASHRAE audit includes. Forward Engineers offers a customizable small business audit that can be adapted to a client’s needs and budget. What is an Energy Audit? An energy audit is a survey of a building that looks at the envelope (walls, roof, windows), the mechanical systems (heating, air conditioning, ventilation), lighting and building controls (thermostats, lighting controls) to find areas in which the building owner can reduce expenses by using less energy. An audit starts with a walkthrough of the facility by a licensed engineer to identify cost savings opportunities. The engineer takes the time to look at each building system with the client and discusses options that can save money. When the audit is complete, a report is sent to the client listing changes that can be made along with further analysis, cost calculations, case studies or potential utility and government incentive programs. Common Findings Some common findings that don’t require major costs include simple changes like turning off lights when a room is not in use, turning off computers and appliances or programming a thermostat to adjust the temperature when the building is not occupied. Maintenance issues like changing filters in air-conditioning units or air vents stuck open are also sometimes found. Projects like replacing lighting with LED fixtures, installing higher efficiency air conditioners and adding or replacing insulation would require up front expenses but can pay for themselves over time. The cost for some recommendations can be offset or eliminated by taking advantage of utility incentive programs. An audit can also assist the building owner in solving problems that they already know about. Building issues like cold or hot areas, drafts, humidity, loud equipment or duct work and not enough or too much light can all be investigated and solutions recommended. About Kevin Jensen, P.E. Kevin Jensen is a Rogers native, a graduate of Harding University and a licensed Professional Engineer. He co-owns Forward Engineers with Bill Reynolds. They provide commercial building mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) design services and energy efficiency consulting to local and national clients. Their energy services include energy audits, utility rebate applications, certification for the 179d tax deduction and more. Energy saving tips and fun facts about engineering can be found on their website: www.fwdengineers.com/category/news.