directly translates into greenhouse gas emissions,” notes
The best way to lower your carbon footprint is to reduce
your energy profile. Before looking at retrofits, confirm
your consumption is at expected or designed levels, says
Taylor. It’s common for efficiency to drift as the building ages
or energy demands change. Use retrocommissioning to investigate your current energy use, which typically involves an
ASHRAE Level I energy audit, Abramson recommends.
“We often see that FMs have overridden automatic
controls and gone to manual mode so they can respond to
complaints or a specific issue. The problem is that no one
goes back and resets the building the way it was supposed
to run,” Taylor notes.
For example, Abramson recently investigated a roof on
a LEED-EB Gold building. The region had experienced
ongoing fires the previous summer and the outdoor air
dampers were closed to avoid smoke infiltration. But nine continued
months later, they found the dampers had never been
reopened. This meant the facility was suffering from IAQ
issues because fresh air wasn’t being pulled. Energy per-
formance was also compromised as a significant period of
free cooling was missed.
Retrocomissioning is also a budget-friendly option as
it focuses on improving existing systems with low- or
no-cost changes rather than replacements. These typically
include repairs and maintenance, adjusting set points and
control sequences, and minor retrofits like lighting sensors
or additional monitoring capabilities. You can also review
the impact of plug loads.
“There comes a point where you can’t squeeze any more
efficiency out of your building without major upgrades.
You have to look at the ways occupants affect your energy
load,” Taylor says. “Who’s got fans, space heaters, and
QUICK HITS FOR SUSTAINABILITY
Need ideas to green your maintenance practices? Try one of these basic strategies – they’re easy on
the budget, need only a simple retrofit or operational change, and will generate quick returns.
s Conduct a waste audit. It will determine your current diversion rates, set benchmarking goals, and help
you track your progress.
s Add electronics recycling, which includes computers and accessories, phones, fax machines, and printers.
Also look for battery and lamp disposal.
s Combat food waste by composting leftovers or adding a pulper.
s Eliminate harsh products with bleach, dyes, fragrances, and harmful ingredients that can detract from
indoor air quality.
s Use microfiber mops and rags – they trap dirt more effectively and are reusable with a quick wash.
s Perform as many quiet tasks during normal hours to avoid wasting electricity at night, such as emptying
trash, surface cleaning, and refreshing restrooms.
s Beyond toilets and sinks, look for low-flow opportunities with pre-rinse spray valves, showerheads, laundry units, dishwashers, and ice machines.
s Use drip irrigation, zoning, or rain and soil moisture sensors to reduce water consumed by landscaping.
s Install flow meters in your cooling towers. These will detect leaks and monitor dissolved solids so you can
replace water only as needed.
s For paper products, select options that are recycled, contain renewable content, and are free of bleach.
s Look for third-party labels that certify a product’s environmental claims. These include Green Seal, FSC or
SFI (wood), ECOLOGO, GREENGUARD (low VOC), and BIFMA level (furniture).
s Where possible, source supplies from local vendors. This will lower carbon emissions derived from transportation.