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Top 10 Items to Consider with your Building Expenses

1. Height - 20 stories or higher? Tall buildings lose more heat, as stack effect is greater in taller buildings.

2. Exposure - How exposed is the building? High exposure to wind loading results in greater heat loss.

3. Ventilation - Are vents large or small? - The free vent area of existing vents is an indicator of heat loss.

4. Age - Was your building constructed before or after the year 2000? Roof-level infiltration tends to be greater in post millennium buildings where airtight, curtain wall-style building envelopes are common.

5. Climate Zone – What is the duration and intensity of the heating season? Buildings experiencing more Heating Degree Days (HDD) and enduring colder outdoor temperatures will experience greater heat loss as warm air naturally displaces cooler air.

6. Water Usage – Should you install low flow toilets and sinks? Installing Low flow toilets will result in a lower consumption of wastewater, and using a motion activated sensor instead of a faucet for public bathroom sinks eliminates the considerable waste of water caused by faucets dripping or left open.

7. Occupancy sensors – Does your pedestrian traffic vary greatly, or do certain areas of the building naturally experience more pedestrian traffic? These sensors adjust the light level according to the number of people in the room including turning the lights off when no one is present, and turning on when someone enters the room.

8. Supplemental Lighting – Would you like to add visual appeal to your building? While supplemental lighting has many useful applications such as lighting stairways in an emergency, it is worth noting that supplemental lighting depending on its design and function can be detrimental to the energy appetite of a building.

9. Lighting Design – Can a design be implemented that is naturally efficient and encourages conservation? Avoid having the lighting of a large area or room being controlled by one switch or circuit. This can avoid the situation of having an excessive amount of light consuming energy in a largely uninhabited space.

10. Lighting – How low can your lighting costs go? Properly selected energy efficient light bulbs such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFL’s), light emitting diode (LED’s) and halogen incandescent consume 25-80% less power than traditional incandescent bulbs. This results in lower electricity costs and a longer usage time which saves time and money related to replacement costs.

There are two retrofit options to reduce air loss through elevator shafts:

Option 1 entails covering two thirds of the total code-required vent area with annealed glass. This solution works with smaller, less sophisticated buildings that are heated by oil or natural gas. Cost range: $500-$2000 per building.

Option 2 entails installing a mechanical damper to fully close the vent opening. This solution is necessary for taller, more sophisticated and better sealed buildings, heated electrically or by district steam. Cost range: $5,000-$15,000 per building.

Apartment building owners spend an average $3,400 each year to heat air that escapes through the roof. For taller buildings this number can balloon to $20,000. If simple repairs were performed on 4,000 tall apartment buildings in NYC, it would cut greenhouse gases by 30,000 metric tons and save over $11 million every year.

These are only some of the items to consider, is your building an ideal candidate for retrofit? Contact Saroj Acharya.

Saroj Acharya, P. Eng, LEED AP, CEM MapleTherm Engineering Inc.

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