The Importance of Being Energy Efficient

Mark Jewell is an expert and renowned instructor on energy efficiency, and I have had the privilege of attending one of jewell classhis “Boot Camp” classes this week.  Believe me, Boot Camp is an appropriate term for this 6 day, 48 hour class that is jam-packed with incredible information.

There are a variety of ways to make a building more energy efficient.  You can upgrade light bulbs, add lighting controls, implement a building automation system, add CO2 sensors, add variable frequency drives, install water reducing fixtures and so on.  The bottom line is there are many ways you can become more energy efficient and thus control and reduce costs in your building.

Most people automatically think of the money savings that come directly off your utility bills, but did you realize that energy savings is only a very small percentage of the savings your reap from making your building more efficient?  According to Mark and based on hundreds of case studies done over several years, the greatest savings and value is in increased productivity and improved health conditions in building occupants. Whether you are in charge of a commercial building, a hospital, or a school, this fact is hugely important.  When occupants are happy, healthy and comfortable in their work environment, productivity increases and as a result so do financial benefits. Here is a staggering statistic that Mark gave us today:  each minute of lost productivity in a data center costs $5600.  Yes, $5600 per minute lost when a worker cannot perform his or her job. Of course not all situations are equivalent to a data center, but you get the idea.

So when debating whether or not you want to invest in making your building more energy efficient, be sure you consider ALL of the benefits and not just the utility savings.


4 Responses

  1. Just a note of warning that the suggestion mentioned above of “adding CO2 sensors is a serious understatement if one wants to save energy by using Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV) to automatically have the HVAC system balance the amount of ventilation air delivered in buildings where the occupancy varies randomly over time. Implementing DCV requires many aspects to work together: accurate CO2 sensors, a maintenance plan to continuously review the data from these sensors as to their accuracy, an HVAC system that has the intelligence and flexibility to be able to vary the amount of ventilation in response to variations in the CO2 level, and correctly written and operating software to interface between the CO2 sensors and the HVAC system. Any questions?

  2. Some more great CO2 references:

    General Electric: CO2-based Ventilation Control In Education Facilities (www.

    Federal Energy Management Program: Demand-Controlled Ventilation
    Using CO2 Sensors (

    ASHRAE Journal: Demand Control Ventilation Using CO2 (
    support/reference/article2.pdf) and Assessing CO2 Control In Retrofits

    Oregon Department of Energy: Demand-Controlled Ventilation: A Design
    Guide (

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