What Is An Energy Audit

By ROBERT A. LAKE | 03/08/2013

Creating an energy efficient and greener business can have a dramatic and profound positive impact on our shared environment.  HVAC contractors perform building energy audits with the intent of reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas generation related to HVAC and lighting systems.  Audits are performed as a “low cost” or “no cost” service depending on the client’s objective in requesting the audit.
HVAC contractors provide a broad range of energy services and management ranging from energy efficiency audit, consultation and design/build, to commissioning/re-commissioning and operation and maintenance.
Elements of an energy audit include:

Building Baseline Audit

  • Site walk identifying existing mechanical systems, equipment controls systems and lighting systems.
  • Review of mechanical and electrical plans and construction documents reflecting original systems design.
  • Indentify present space definition (usage).
  • Identify existing internal and external heat gain conditions.
  • Review present mechanical equipment and lighting operation schedules.
  • Confirm existing HVAC equipment types and zoning.
  • Evaluate existing air ventilation systems and operational status.
  • Document efficiencies of existing HVAC equipment.
  • Examine operating schedules of existing HVAC and lighting systems.
  • Interview of facility personnel responsible for maintenance and operation of mechanical and lighting systems.
  • Review of energy resources entering the facility including electric, gas and, if needed, water billings.
  • Identify existing operation strategies and overall condition of the mechanical systems, controls systems, and lighting systems.
  • Identify potential energy conservation measures (ECM) related to the operation, operational status (condition), operating strategy of existing mechanical systems, controls systems and lighting systems.
  • Data logging of existing mechanical systems to verify energy consumption, if needed.

Documentation of Findings (Facilities Assessment Summary)

  • Detail existing building information as usage type, square footage, structure type, hours of operation, existing energy consumption, and other data relevant to the facilities assessment.
  • Summarize existing mechanical, controls and lighting systems surveyed during the Baseline Audit by system type, capacity, number, age, operating condition, controls type, and controls strategies.
  • Summarize potential ECM’s related to HVAC systems, lighting systems, and other energy reduction ECM’s identified during the Baseline Audit. 
  • Provide general information concerning potential energy usage reduction and costs savings related to each ECM provided.  

Presentation of Findings

  • Review Facilities Assessment Summary with appropriate facilities personnel. 
  • Determine with the facilities personnel ECM’s that are of interest and could best meet the clients energy reduction and capital investment goals.   

Development of Selected ECM’s

  • Provide detailed scopes and implementation costs for selected ECM’s.
  • Develop controls, commissioning and sustainability methodologies to maximize energy reduction and insure on going energy reduction.
  • Provide energy usage reduction information for each ECM.
  • Provide energy usage cost savings for each ECM.
  • Interface with the facility energy provider to gather incentive and rebate information regarding implementation of each ECM.
  • Investigate avenues of potential state or federal incentive available related to the implementation of each ECM.
  • Provide information related to simple payback and net present value (NPV) of selected ECM’s.
  • Provide potential financing solutions available related to the implementation of the ECM’s.
  • Compile information produced into a binder for presentation to the client.
  • Develop action plan for implementation of selected ECM’s.

Presentation of Selected ECM Information

  • Review information compiled in the “Development of Selected ECM’s” with the client.
  • Provide assistance with implementation of selected ECM’s if desired by the client.

Implementation Services

  • Design and Build Specifications and engineering services
  • RFQ, RFP development
  • Project management of equipment installation and building upgrades
  • Execution of selected ECM’s
  • Commissioning of new systems
  • Re-commissioning of existing systems

Energy audits are the best opportunity to build a long-term mutually beneficial relationship between the HVAC contractor and the client.  All building managers and owners should consider requesting this important service that can lead to major long-term savings.
Robert A. Lake is Vice Chairman of EMCOR Services Mesa Energy Systems in Irvine, CA.