October is National Energy Awareness Month
Each year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) designates October as National Energy Awareness Month also known as Energy Action Month. This observance promotes smart energy choices and showcases how critical energy is to our national prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. The effort also helps increase recognition of the importance of sustainability in managing the nation’s energy resources.
Across the United States, federal agencies, educational institutions and businesses highlight success in energy reduction and strategize on future energy efficiency campaigns.
Energy Consumption in the Buildings Sector
The buildings sector constitutes about 76%* of electricity use and 40% of all U.S. primary energy use and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Additionally, according to the EPA buildings account for 30% of the total carbon dioxide, 49% of the sulfur dioxide, and 25% of the nitrogen oxides emitted in the U.S.
Conversely, the building sector has a high potential for energy efficiency. Taking steps to reduce energy consumption in buildings is not just good for the environment, but also helps reduce costs to building owners and tenants. Energy efficiency measures can be introduced in the design of new buildings or when retrofitting existing ones. Green, energy efficient buildings reduce maintenance and utility costs as well as financial risk from rising energy costs; all while improving the health and wellbeing of its occupants and limiting damage to the ecosystem.
Building Standards Promote Energy Efficiency
There are numerous building standards and codes that aim to use resources more efficiently while creating more sustainable buildings. Several different green building approaches are in use today in both the residential and non-residential/ commercial sectors.
Two of the most prominent standards in building construction are the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system program and the WELL Building Standard (WELL).
Developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998, LEED certification provides commercial buildings a scorecard for meeting standards in environmental sustainability. LEED is a voluntary credit rating system that helps designers, engineers and architects achieve maximum efficiency building goals over 13 different environmental impact categories, including climate change, indoor environmental quality, resource depletion and water intake. The more points a project receives, the higher its certification level. There are four levels: Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-79 points) and Platinum (80+ points). Lighting can play a significant role in meeting a certification level as there are over 20 points available for lighting.
WELL Building Standard
WELL takes building sustainability to the next level by focusing on improving the health and wellness of occupants as well as helping those companies which aim to increase employee productivity and engagement, lower absenteeism, and potentially reduce health care insurance costs. The WELL Building Standard (WELL) is aimed at advancing building concepts that help people work, live, perform and feel their best. It is an evidence-based, science-backed rating system that puts people at the center of design decisions by measuring, certifying and monitoring aspects of the built environment as they impact occupants. WELL is considered the future of modern design.
Improving Energy Efficiency Using Lighting Control Strategies
Advancements in lighting are enabling dramatic reductions in energy consumption in buildings. Building managers and owners can implement lighting control strategies, using a light management system and LED luminaires, to facilitate energy consumption reductions of 50-75% as compared to non-LED, no control system lighting solutions.
- Daylight Harvesting optimizes the level of natural light in a space so that artificial lights are dimmed or switched off when sufficient ambient light is present.
- Task Tuning allows for the dimming of lights to create a suitable level of light for a particular task or activity conducted in an area.
- Personal Control allows the occupant to dim or brighten the lights in a specific area to their preferred lighting level.
- Occupancy Control uses sensors to tell when a room is occupied or unoccupied; lighting is off when a room is unoccupied and turned on automatically when someone enters.
- Smart Time Scheduling saves energy by automatically setting lights in different zones to ON, OFF or DIMMED depending on day, night, holiday and other schedules.
- Variable Load Shedding automatically reduces a building’s electrical demand during peak periods by turning equipment off or reducing operating levels during that time.
To learn how to improve your energy efficiency using smart lighting control strategies, download our guide below.
Topics: Energy Efficiency