“Go Green” At Commercial Properties With These 8 Projects
Across the United States, the cost of electricity is predicted to increase over the next 2 years. According to a recent forecast from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, these increases will occur across every type of property. While this impacts every commercial property differently, it makes sustainability efforts and capital improvements to reduce energy costs more important than ever. As a result, property managers and owners looking to “Go Green” at commercial properties should consider these 8 projects.
1. EV Charging Stations
The mass conversion from fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles has already started in the United States. To prepare, commercial properties can install EV charging stations. These not only make a property more appealing, but are a great way to demonstrate a property’s commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. Plus, EV charging stations are tax credit eligible in most places, making them one of the more affordable ways to “Go Green” at commercial properties.
EV charging stations offer many benefits beyond demonstrating a property’s commitment to sustainability. With sophisticated mobile apps tracking charger locations, they are a great way to draw traffic to retail properties. Office properties can benefit by earning credits towards LEED Certification. Multifamily properties can attract higher income residents, as 95% of EV owners come from households worth over $160,000. Click here to read even more benefits of installing EV charging stations at a commercial property.
2. Modern Building Controls
Modernizing a commercial property’s building controls increases energy efficiency and reduces utility costs. Building controls and automation systems have made significant advances in recent years, giving property managers total control of many systems such as heating, cooling, lighting, security alarms, plumbing, and even window treatments. Specialists will optimize the controls to operate all of these systems at peak efficiency. This means lighting, heating, and cooling areas of the building during specific hours or just when they are in use. Modern building controls typically reduce a properties overall energy costs by 15% to 30%.
Two additional major benefits of modern building controls are reduced HVAC maintenance costs and longer equipment life. Both result from heating and cooling equipment operating at maximum efficiency, and only when necessary. This means fewer service calls, small repairs, and costly replacements. These savings, combined with reduced energy costs, are one of the reasons payback periods on building control systems are generally only a few years.
3. Commercial Solar Panels
Depending on property type and size, commercial solar panels are an excellent way to “Go Green” in 2021. Retail, health care, warehousing, storage, and office properties typically realize at least a 40% offset in energy costs after installing solar panels. Warehouse properties, with large flat, roofs, will often see a 100% offset in energy costs. The average payback period for on commercial solar projects is around 8 years. Since panels typically last for 25 years, commercial solar installations offer significant ROI.
In 2021, properties can claim a refundable tax credit for 26% of the cost to install solar panels. This is a major incentive on top of reduced energy costs, but properties must act quickly. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, federal tax credit will be reduced to 22% in 2023 then further reduced to 10% in 2024.
4. LED Lighting Retrofits
Even though LED lighting retrofits have been around for decades, they are still a great way to “Go Green” at commercial properties in 2021. This is because they are one of the most effective ways to cut energy consumption, lower utility bills, and reduce landfill waste. While retrofitting a property’s old lighting system to LED can be expensive, costs have come down significantly in recent years. As a result, most commercial LED lighting retrofits have a payback period between 3 to 5 years. While LED lights have a useful life, they typically last at least 15 years, continuing to drive significant ROI after the payback period.
LED lighting retrofits also lower HVAC workload and cooling costs because LED bulbs do not create anywhere near the amount of heat produced by older incandescent and halogen bulbs. According to a study by PK Lighting, an LED retrofit can generate an HVAC related savings of as much as $3.45 per bulb, annually. This small savings can really add up, especially in huge facilities that have thousands of lights.
5. Waste Management Audits
In many cases, property managers just receive and pay invoices for waste management services, without truly understanding the scope of their trash collection and recycling services. Often times, there are great opportunities to make a property more environmentally simply by improving its trash and recycling programs. The only way to identify these opportunities is through a waste management audit.
During a waste management audit, professionally trained auditors will review a property’s waste streams. Yes, they will collect your trash and recycling, and dig through it. Following the audit, they will recommend ways to increase recycling. In turn, this reduces landfill waste. Not only does this help the environment, it usually lowers overall waste management costs, because recycling collection is free in many parts of the country.
6. Green Roof Systems
While a green roof might sound like a beautiful rooftop garden, it is actually a layer of vegetation planted on a flat or low slope roof. Also called eco-roofs, these are a great way to make any property more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
Green roofs help extend roof life and reduce the workload on a property’s HVAC system. These benefits lower utility consumption and costs. Another sustainability benefit of green roofs is reducing storm water runoff. On average, green roofs retain 80% of rainfall while traditional commercial roofs retain just 24%. By retaining storm water, green roofs reduce pollution runoff into sewage systems and waterways. Creating a green roof property managers can make any commercial building more environmentally friendly. They can also help a property earn LEED certifications and are tax credit eligible in many parts of the country.
7. Energy Efficient Window Films
Installing window films is another great way to “Go Green” at commercial properties in 2021. These thin layers of material work year round to reduce a property’s energy use. In winter months they help trap heated air inside the building. During summer months they reflect sunlight away from the building and help trap cooler air inside the building. Both of these reduce the workload on a property’s HVAC system, which lowers energy use and costs.
According to the Department of Energy, installing commercial window films is one of the top tier technologies for reducing energy use and has one of the fastest payback periods. 3M’s commercial window films can reduce energy costs by $1 to $2 per square foot installed, reduce heat gain by up 79% in summer months, and reduce energy consumption in every climate zone.
8. Commercial Roof Coatings
Due to their reflective nature, commercial roofing coatings deflect sunlight away from properties. This keeps the roof cooler, lowers indoor air temperatures, and cuts down the workload on the property’s HVAC system. As a result, property’s use less energy and pay lower utility costs after installing a commercial roof coating.
Another green benefit of roof coatings is extending the useful life of the current roof. This reduces landfill waste because fewer roofing systems are torn off and thrown away. Commercial roof coatings, depending on their impact on a property’s overall energy consumption, can also reduce federal taxes because of special Section 179D tax deductions. Looking for more information on commercial roof coatings? This post explains all their benefits.
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