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How the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Mantra Applies to Building Energy Efficiency

By February 17, 2022April 7th, 2022Energy Efficiency, Solar Window Film
Energy-Efficient Window Coverings on an Office Building

While investing in greener energy alternatives is great, we can take a few things from the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra to bring energy-efficient buildings to the next level. To start, let’s cover a basic example of how this well-known mantra is applied to other everyday scenarios.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

We’ve all been hearing this phrase since grade school, but as adults, are we correctly understanding how to implement it in our daily lives? Here’s a prime example that everyone can relate to. Let’s say you use Amazon Prime anytime you need a one-off item. Therefore, gas is wasted to deliver that small item to your home and packaging, etc.

Instead, you could wait until you needed a few things from Amazon that can all be packaged together, and then the order quantity would help justify the emissions to deliver them to your doorstep. This mindset is all about proactively thinking of ways to reduce our consumption and waste.

There Is No Such Thing as a Clean Energy Source

No, you read that right. While tons of energy sources are “cleaner” than traditional energy, no energy source is without its flaws. Today, everyone is on a mission to invest in building more clean energy sources like nuclear power, wind power, solar power, and hydropower plants.

While these sources are cleaner, no one source scores 100% between their sustainability and reliability. So when you’re looking to design more energy-efficient buildings, investing in cleaner energy alone is not the fix-all solution.

The Car Example

If you were given a choice between two cars that cost the same amount for fuel (one gets 10 mpg and gas is $1/gallong and the other gets 40 mpg and gas is $1/gallon) it would seem irrational to choose the car that burned more fuel even if monthly fuel costs were the same. However, this is often the perspective we have when implementing a cleaner energy source. We tend not to worry about our consumption of clean energy because we think “going green” has no negative impact on the environment. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

How Can a Commercial Building Adopt the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Mantra?

The first step of the mantra is to ‘reduce’ your consumption. As we stated above, a common mistake when applying this mantra to commercial buildings is people consider the only way to reduce energy consumption and consumption of other resources is by investing in greener energy and eco-friendly alternatives. While these are great things to do, we are missing a fundamental step. We need to think about ways to reduce our consumption before even utilizing our green resources. Why? Because as we stated above there is no completely clean energy source, even if one carbon emissions footprint is smaller than another. Why build renewable energy production to meet unnecessary consumption? Why recycle three boxes from Amazon if you didn’t really need it ‘same day’?

Energy-Efficient Buildings: Where Do You Start?

Again, we’re not discouraging the use of the clean energy sources of today. They’re the better option compared to burning coal or oil. We want to get across that before you invest in clean energy, focus on decreasing your building’s waste and consumption. Here are a few questions to consider when analyzing your building’s energy consumption.

  • Are you using an energy-efficient HVAC system in your building?
  • Does your facility have lighting that reduces energy use?
  • Have you installed solar window film on your building to help decrease heating and cooling loss?
  • Have you planted deciduous trees around your building to create shade and reduce your cooling load?
  • Does your building have motion-sensitive light switches to save energy when spaces aren’t occupied?
  • Do you take advantage of daylight controls systems that automatically reduce artificial lighting when there is sufficient natural daylight?
  • Are you using a programmable thermostat to control the temperature of your building outside of business hours?
  • Have you installed skylights to decrease your need for artificial lighting?
  • How much energy is wasted in your building from phantom electrical loads?

Reduce Energy Consumption with NGS

At NGS, we offer our clients energy modeling solutions to map out their problem areas. This process comes in four phases: the preliminary assessment, energy modeling to calibrate consumption, visual building modeling, and the data-based proof of performance. Contact us to speak with an expert on our team for more information.

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