While few of us try to diagnose our own illnesses beyond the common cold or flu, many attempt to diagnose their own building systems. Most attempts are met with limited success. Even though facility staff is very competent and qualified, too many systems need inspecting and evaluation.
It is easy to overlook problems that are seen every day. However, to a fresh set of eyes, such
as an experienced energy auditor, these problems are seen as opportunities for energy
A good energy auditor follows a three-step process:
- Observes the facility’s equipment and condition,
- Gathers the site’s unique information, and then
- Identifies the opportunities that will save the facility money.
A great energy auditor is a great listener; they appreciate that the staff is at the facility every day and knows what is going on. A good energy auditor takes advantage of the gut-instinct issues that the staff is aware of but doesn’t have time, or the specific equipment, to evaluate in detail. The best energy auditors use the specific knowledge possessed by site staff to get additional information ― information that goes beyond what they physically witness during the site visit.
The process that an energy auditor uses to diagnose savings opportunities in a building is similar to the process a doctor uses during a check-up to evaluate a patient. Just like a doctor, an experienced energy auditor combines years of formal education, time spent training on-the-job, and their knowledge from examining a large variety of patients (buildings). During an on-site visit, they make direct observations and take measurements―height, weight, temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. A skilled doctor asks questions of their patient to discern any underlying issues similar to an energy auditor asking questions of the facility staff. The auditor then makes his diagnosis based on the observations, data, and dialogue he gathered during the exam. In some cases, a single piece of data can be telling, or the overall condition, observations, and symptoms may lead to a diagnosis. In other cases where the data is inconclusive, additional testing may
An energy audit evaluates how a facility uses (or wastes) energy and then identifies opportunities for improvements. These opportunities, often referred to as measures or projects, can be implemented to reduce energy waste and save money. Without an assessment to identify where waste is occurring, the energy waste is very likely to continue and often increases over time as the equipment continues to deteriorate.
SELECTING AN ENERGY AUDITOR
A word of caution―it is important to use qualified and experienced energy auditors. While it is obvious that you would not go to a doctor without a medical degree; as an industry, there is no certification or licensing standards established for energy auditors. However, industry standards are improving. For example, the Certified Energy Manager (CEM) certification recognizes basic facility energy knowledge, but that alone doesn’t make a good auditor or auditing company. It is important to evaluate the experience and qualifications for both the firm and its staff. To ensure that the partnership is a good match, review examples of their work, client recommendations, and read a sample energy audit report to confirm it includes the information you will need to evaluate each recommendation.
Like a sick patient, ignoring a building that is wasting energy will not make the problem go away. The longer you wait to fix it, the MORE MONEY it will cost to fix, and that is more money wasted―money that could be used to pay for other repairs, buy new equipment, fund additional salaries, or improve company profits. If the problems are not addressed in the first place, the money can just as easily continue to be spent on wasted energy.
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