Many FirstService Residential managed buildings have successfully implemented these strategies to save energy, reduce costs, and improve efficiency.
Lighting Controls and Sensors
Installing lighting controls in common areas is a low-cost efficiency solution. Examples include: sensors that automatically control lights; timers that shut off lights at certain times; and photocells that dim lights based on a room’s natural lighting.
Replacing incandescent bulbs with efficient CFLs, LEDs, or fluorescent lighting in common areas and units is a simple way to save energy. Upfront costs are often recouped in less than two years.
Submetering electricity in individual units can reduce a building’s consumption by up to 20%. Charging residents only for the energy they actually use provides them with a financial incentive not to waste energy.
Building Management Systems
Building management systems allow operators to monitor – and adjust – temperatures, lighting, system performance, and electricity demand in a single interface.
Air Sealing and Insulation
A combination of caulking, spray foam, and weather stripping to seal leaks can prevent air leakage, which can account for 25% of a building’s heat loss. Insulation can then be installed to ensure peak performance.
Replacing windows can realize efficiency gains and quality of life including noise and safety, although these upgrades may have longer payback periods than other measures. Air sealing around windows provides lower efficiency gains, but pays for itself more quickly.
Cool Roofs and Green Roofs
Painting a reflective, white coating on your rooftop can reduce internal temperatures which increases comfort, saves energy, and extends the life of your rooftop and cooling equipment. Installing a green roof reduces rooftop temperatures during the summer, provides quality of life, insulation during the winter, and also reduces storm water runoff, filters pollutants from rainfall, and provides aesthetic value.
HVAC System Upgrades
Central Heating Systems
Opportunities for increasing efficiency of your boiler system include retrofitting the existing unit or upgrading to a more efficient model. Other low cost, high-impact measures include: installing burner and draft controls; replacing steam traps; adding or replacing radiator shut-off valves; installing pipe and boiler insulation; and installing an energy management system.
Central Cooling Systems
Increasing the efficiency of your building’s cooling system may include upgrades to the chiller as well as to the pumps and fans that distribute the chilled air. Other low cost, high-impact measures include: retrofitting the existing chiller; installing variable fan drives; and retro-commissioning the existing system.
Heating Oil Conversions
Converting to Natural Gas
Converting from heating oil to natural gas – the cleanest-burning fossil fuel – can reduce a building’s GHG emissions by as much as 15 to 20% while reducing boiler maintenance, labor and operating costs.
Domestic Hot Water
Water Heaters and Boilers
Steps to improve water heating efficiency without installing a new boiler include: insulating the water storage tank, boiler, and piping; upgrading to a tankless water heater; and decoupling your hot water from your boiler and installing a separate hot water system.
Low Flow Showerheads and Toilets
Simple measures to save water and energy include: installing low-flow showerheads, which can reduce water use by 2 to 5 gallons per minute while maintaining high water pressure; using faucet aerators, which reduce water use by up to one gallon per minute while maintaining water pressure; and installing high efficiency toilets, which can use as little as 1.28 gallons of water per flush, compared with 3.5 to 7 gallons for standard models.
On-site Generation and Renewables
Combined Heat and Power
Combined heat and power (CHP), or cogeneration, takes fuel – most commonly natural gas – to generate electricity. The system then captures the typically-wasted excess heat to provide space or hot water heating. CHP systems operate with up to 80% fuel efficiency, compared to just 15 to 45% for standalone electricity generators, and have the added benefit of producing electricity during an emergency or a blackout.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
Heat pump systems tap into the constant temperature of the earth beneath a building to provide efficient, low-carbon heating and cooling, which can reduce reliance on boilers, cooling towers, and other conventional HVAC equipment, resulting in low operating and maintenance costs and long life expectancy.