A well-conducted commercial energy audit will determine the most effective means of reducing energy use at your business. It is a comprehensive inspection of all building systems, how they perform independently and how they interact with each other. How, when, and where energy is used as well as a breakdown of current electric costs will be used to determine potential energy-saving modifications.
In order to receive the best service, it is important to choose an energy auditor who is qualified/certified to perform ASHRAE Level I, II, and III energy audits. While many companies offer energy audits as one of their services, there are just as many companies that will offer these services without possessing adequate expertise in energy efficiency.
We understand that it can be difficult to choose the best company that is suitable for your needs. While we hope you choose EMS Environmental to help you reduce energy expense, we also want to give you the knowledge to make an informed decision. Here are a few things you should avoid when choosing an energy auditor—as well as a few things to look for in an energy auditor, and a list of the best energy auditors in New York that provide energy auditing services.
Who you should avoid:
There are some companies that offer free walkthroughs of your facility. While an ASHRAE Level I audit is more or less a walkthrough, it is important to be aware of the suggestions the auditor makes. Is s/he speaking mainly of lighting upgrades? HVAC equipment upgrades? Often times companies offer inspections called ‘energy audits’ when attempting to sell new lighting or HVAC systems. These are not energy audits. They are partial inspections used to generate data with an intended result. That result will generally steer you to buy their product rather than trying to reduce your energy costs through upgrades. It should also be noted that ASHRAE Level I audits are not free.
Be sure to ask questions about the suggestions being made. If they claim upgrades are necessary simply because the equipment is old (or any other vague reason), dig a little deeper to find out why the old equipment is inefficient. There are often underlying issues that lead to wasted energy, and if the auditor cannot identify these problems, it’s likely they are not qualified to be performing energy audits.
Typically, home energy auditors do not have the skill set appropriate for commercial energy auditing. While some of the same principles are at work, commercial energy use is different, more varied and involves many more disciplines, from the systems in use to the cost structures and solutions.
Who you should look for:
An Engineering Professional is the ideal qualification. Just recently, universities began offering degrees in Energy Engineering with most of the course content derived from Mechanical Engineering. This provides significant training in building systems, power generation, and air and water distribution. An Energy Engineer or Mechanical Engineer has the most expertise to apply to the many systems and operations of your business. Other engineering disciplines, such as Civil, Environmental, Electrical, and Chemical can also provide a basis for an auditor’s skills, but they should be accompanied by certifications to ensure they have additional training in areas they typically have not encountered in their education.
There are also many certification programs available for a professional to earn in order to enhance expertise in varying realms of energy efficiency. A few of the most well-known certifications are:
American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
ASHRAE certification programs were founded to establish and reinforce a reputation for leadership and expertise in HVAC&R design. ASHRAE offers four certification courses that allow the professional—upon certification—to compete for contracts calling for these services:
- Building Commissioning Professional (BCxP)
- Building Energy Assessment Professional (BEAP)
- Building Energy Modeling Professional (BEMP)
- High-Performance Building Design Professional (HBDP)
The ASHRAE BCxP and BEAP programs meet the Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Energy. Choosing an energy auditor with one of these certifications will ensure s/he possesses specialized knowledge of local, state, and Federal requirements as they apply to energy-efficient upgrades.
Association of Energy Engineers (AEE)
Founded in 1977, the Association of Energy Engineers offers many information outreach programs, conferences, journals, books, and certification programs. A few of the energy-focused certification programs include:
- Certified Energy Manager (CEM)
- Certified Energy Auditor (CEA)
- Certified Building Commissioning Professional (CBCP)
- Certified Business Energy Professional (BEP)
- Certified Energy Procurement Professional (CEP)
…along with many others. By choosing a professional who holds one or more of these certifications from AEE, you are employing the services of someone who can optimize the energy performance of a building, facility, or industrial plant. They will analyze the optimal solutions to reduce energy consumption in a cost-effective approach by implementing their organizations’ energy management strategies combined with their clients’ goals.
Building Performance Institute (BPI)
A professional who has earned a BPI Building Analyst certification has demonstrated competency by passing a written exam and a field exam using energy audit processes and equipment. Once the exams are passed, the newly-certified BPI Building Analyst is able to conduct air infiltration and combustion testing, which is extremely useful where gas or oil heating is used. Air infiltration expertise can be obtained through other certifications and project experience, but BPI provides this training with required lab work, making it one of the best suited for this expertise. Air infiltration is one of the leading impediments to energy performance and can also contribute to health conditions in buildings and premature failure of building structures. While the BPI certification is primarily directed to residential structures, the expertise obtained through this certification is useful for the commercial auditor.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP)
While not directly applicable to commercial energy auditing, the LEED AP credential signifies up-to-date knowledge of current green building principles and how energy efficiency fits into green building design. A LEED AP professional can be particularly useful where LEED building certification is of interest or to address business concerns that extend to indoor air quality, healthy building materials, and employee health and well being. There are two additional LEED credentials that can also be useful in addition to the LEED AP certification:
- Building Design and Construction (LEED AP BD&C)
- Operations and Maintenance (LEED AP O&M)
While much less rigorously tested as LEED AP, LEED Associates also have training in green building practices that can serve as helpful background for an energy auditor.
It is also helpful to look for organizations with which the company is affiliated. There are several organizations that encourage energy efficiency, green building design and sustainable operations. Association with any of the following organizations suggests the auditor (and his/her company) is committed to energy-efficient practices and continuing knowledge.
ENERGY STAR Partner
Companies who are ENERGY STAR Partners are committed to measuring, tracking, and benchmarking energy performance. They are able to develop and implement plans to improve energy performance using the ENERGY STAR strategy. ENERGY STAR partners provide energy efficiency services that support customer efforts to reduce energy consumption and continuously improve business practices. An ENERGY STAR Partner is familiar with the requirements for obtaining ENERGY STAR Certification and can advise as to the probability of and efforts required for obtaining this certification.
Enterprise Green Communities (EGC)
EGC has been operating in New York for 30 years, but their commitment to creating opportunities for low- and moderate-income people in diverse, thriving communities remains the same. Over those 30 years, EGC has invested $3 billion in New York to strengthen neighborhoods, address the shortage of services for vulnerable populations, and support New York’s public housing agency to make sustainable, innovative structures that will continually benefit the area and its populations.
A company certified with EGC is ready to incorporate innovative design, energy efficiency, and water conservation efforts to improve operations, maintenance processes, and neighborhood integration.
While not directly applicable to commercial energy auditing, this organization is useful for multi-family projects.
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
The mission of NYSERDA is to advance innovative energy solutions with the goal of improving New York’s economy and environment. As stakeholders, residents, business owners, developers, local government officials, researchers, and utility representatives aim to advance energy innovation, technology, and investment while empowering people to choose clean and efficient energy as part of their everyday lives.
NYSERDA offers many different programs for businesses, ranging from research and funding to electrical and technology. Choosing a NYSERDA Partner will ensure the auditor is committed to finding solutions that will reduce energy usage and costs. Depending on the project, NYSERDA funding and standards can be of assistance in funding energy audits.
U.S. Green Building Council Member (USGBC)
The mission for USGBC members is aimed at promoting sustainability in the building and construction industry. Members of USGBC consistently look for ways to design, transform, and operate building with the goal of making a structure better for the environment and healthier for individuals to live, work, and play.
Green Building Alliance (GBA)
As a member of the Green Building Alliance—the first affiliate of the USGBC—the goal is to inspire healthy, high-performing workplaces and homes throughout Pennsylvania. Creating and transforming buildings into spaces that are “environmentally responsible, socially just, and economically viable” is the mission of GBA members.
Best Energy Auditors in New York
Now that we’ve explained the importance of choosing a company or auditor with certifications and affiliations, please take a look at some of the most qualified companies in New York:
Association for Energy Affordability, Inc. (AEA)
Founded: early 1990s
Affiliations: BPI, NYSERDA, USGBC
Focused on affordable housing, AEA also performs ASHRAE Levels I, II, and III energy audits for multi-family and commercial facilities. Depending upon their client’s needs, AEA will perform a walkthrough audit as an initial review of the building, diagnostic testing to gauge problem areas and overall performance, or a long-term study to collect trend data and information from the building’s energy management systems.
Location: Buffalo, Monticello, and Rochester
Affiliations: BPI, ENERGY STAR
The Buffalo Energy team performs home and multi-family energy audits targeted at the one or two energy-consuming systems in your building. They perform infrared surveys and visual inspections as well as large building blower-door testing.
The Daylight Savings Company
Affiliations: EGC, NYSERDA
Daylight Savings Company helps medium and large businesses evaluate system operations and will make observations to be used in the development of your energy assessment. Daylight will provide services to carry out whichever measures their clients decide to pursue.
Affiliations: AEE, ASHRAE, BPI, LEED Green Associate, NYSERDA, USGBC
Stonehenge Associates performs home and commercial energy audits. Stonehenge Associates ensures their clients are able to reduce and control overhead costs while improving the morale of each building’s occupants. Their audits will identify ways to improve indoor air quality, improve clients’ bottom lines, and lower operating costs.
True Energy Solutions
Location: East Rochester
Affiliations: BPCA, BPI, ENERGY STAR, NYSERDA
True Energy offers home energy audits. True Energy aims to lower heating and cooling bills for each of their clients after conducting a commercial energy audit. Their audits will lower energy costs, thus improving the bottom line of each business with which they work.
Having an energy audit performed by one of the businesses listed above will provide you with the analysis, financial impact, and other information useful to both short- and long-term planning to address any and all of the energy issues at your business.
While you may choose any of the other businesses listed in this article, EMS will consider more than just your buildings. We acknowledge the ways in which your business uses energy in its business processes as well as the ways in which your business adapts and grows. Your energy audit integrates your business and buildings into a common energy picture focused on solutions for your business, not just how to condition and light a better building shell.
EMS has conducted hundreds of energy audits of commercial and industrial businesses. Every audit determined annual savings that exceeded the cost of the energy audit, typically more than twice the one-time cost. A commercial energy audit performed by EMS Environmental, Inc. addresses those concerns with our guarantee that we will determine savings at least equal to the cost of the energy audit—or it’s free. Please contact us here to discuss energy audits with EMS, or check out our other articles for more information!