Business owners that are looking for ways to save money can often learn from other companies that have seen success injecting more green practices into their day-to-day operations, but did you know that your business could also learn something from schools? When it comes to saving money, schools are in a unique position to really make a difference due to the often large sizes of their facilities.
One such example comes from a study Oak Ridge National Laboratories conducted that analyzed energy consumption within two highly similar school buildings in Paulding County School District in Georgia. The buildings were the same size, used the same HVAC system, and were set with the same orientation to the sun. Both roofs had evergreen-colored metal roofs, but one was coated with paint that contained infrared (IR) reflective pigments while the other used a conventional coating.
The roof with the reflective pigments saved the school district approximately $8,000 on electric bills for one year. Researchers estimated that if 10% of the school buildings within the district switched to cool metal roofs, the savings would add up to $2.3 billion over 35 years.
If your business happens to own or be situated within a steel building, there are many ways to cut energy costs, and installing a roof with reflective pigments is only one of them! Imagine how much you could save if you implement that change, plus the rest of the energy-saving tips below:
Conduct an Energy Assessment
Before beginning your energy savings plan, ask an energy auditor to inspect your building. The auditor will check the insulation, HVAC system, and the ductwork for leaks and other performance issues. Your list of issues is your starting point towards energy savings and serves as a benchmark to show how far you have come after the updates are complete.
The reflective pigment used in the school building example is only half of a complete cool roof. The other half is the selection of white or very lightly colored panels. White reflects more solar radiation than darker colors, leaving just a fraction of the heat to absorb into the panels. The special pigment increases re-emittance. It takes the absorbed heat that is not reflected and re-emits it to the atmosphere, further decreasing the amount of heat transferred into the roof of your building. It’s good to keep in mind that a cool roof has the greatest impact on the energy efficiency of any structure.
Metal transfers energy easily, including heat. Insulation prevents the heat transfer, reducing the load on the heating and air conditioning system by keeping the heat outside in the summer and inside in winter. Also, insulation prevents the build-up of moisture that could damage metal surfaces. Insulation is sold by R-rating. The higher the number, the more it insulates. Insulation can be placed below the roof, within the walls and underneath the floor system, and it’s good to include it in as many places as possible.
Proper ventilation is another way to decrease moisture and condensation, while keeping the indoor environment comfortable. Ventilation keeps the air moving within the building so that pockets of hot or cold air do not form. Many steel buildings have high ceilings, and heat loss is greatest through the roof. Between insulation and ventilation, you can reduce your heat loss to a mere fraction of what it is today.
Natural lighting reduces the need for electrical lighting inside your steel building. Careful window placement allows light in without overheating the interior of the building. Natural light is recommended for the health of the occupants, as well. Any additional lighting should be from LED or CFL bulbs, which use less energy, transform more energy into light instead of heat, and last far longer than incandescent bulbs.
A big chunk of businesses’ operating costs go toward paying for electricity and natural gas. Buildings account for nearly three-quarters of the electricity consumed in the U.S., and thirty to fifty percent of that is wasted. Saving energy also saves money, and implementing initiatives that includes a cool roof, insulation, ventilation, and natural lighting can cut your energy costs, while providing a comfortable, healthy environment inside and out.
Steve Wright works for Whirlwind Steel, a manufacturer of pre-engineered steel buildings and components. Whirlwind Steel metal buildings are manufactured and designed to meet the highest quality standards.