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Why Should We Retrofit Buildings for Energy Efficiency?

What is an Energy Efficiency Retrofit?

When you retrofit buildings for energy efficiency, you upgrade their overall energy assets. This can provide a big impact on energy costs and the environment throughout a building's life. Changes made to commercial buildings often involve improving energy efficiency and significantly decreasing energy demand. Performing retrofits reduces the overall operational cost of the building, making them more environmentally-friendly, and improving their value on the market. 

What Changes are Done to a Building During an Energy Effiency Retrofit?

The primary focus of an energy efficiency retrofit is to reduce the energy demand and consumption for buildings. Therefore, the changes focus on improvements that are more energy efficient. The primary goals of an energy retrofit are to:

  • Prevent Air From Escaping

Wasted energy is a big concern for buildings, especially those that are older or have had little updating. Buildings can have numerous small cracks, leaks and openings, where heated and cooled air can escape. This increases energy use and drives up the utility bills. 

To determine locations where energy loss happens, an energy audit is performed. This can include simple visual inspections, or more in-depth testing, such as blower door tests. After determining the location of leaks, the next step is to seal and properly insulate the leaks using energy efficient insulation options. Simply stopping energy from leaking out can result in significant energy savings. It also provides better humidity control, and fewer places for pests and allergens to enter the building. 

  • Install Upgraded Appliances and Lighting

Another step when you retrofit buildings for energy efficiency is to upgrade appliances to more energy efficient ones. This involves using ENERGY STAR-certified heating and cooling technologies. These save a significant amount of energy, while still providing a comfortable environment. Depending on the temperature of the area, many buildings being retrofitted can benefit from installing heat pumps. These are used for heating and cooling, but use only a fraction of the electricity of traditional systems. Retrofits will also have their lighting upgraded to LED bulbs which can save up to 90% of the energy use of building lights while still providing proper lighting.

  • Redesign With Energy Efficiency in Mind

When making a large scale investment in retrofit upgrades, it is important to redesign spaces from the mindset of energy consumption. This can mean replacing older windows, adding exterior insulation, and adding green roofs. All of these upgrades will allow for lower energy use when maintaining the temperature inside.

LEED Certification

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification is a rating system that is imposed by the U.S. Green Building Council. It verifies buildings as energy efficient and classifies their level of energy efficiency, including certified, silver, gold, and platinum. These rating levels are given for nine different categories including:

  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Location and Transportation
  • Integrative Process
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Innovation
  • Regional Priority
  • Indoor Environmental Quality

Energy Efficiency Retrofits in Action

An energy efficient retrofit currently underway is the retrofitting of a 65,000 square foot office building located at 82 Westmorland in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Once completed, the project will be the first of its kind in New Brunswick to achieve certification as a LEED Gold Existing Building. The project is estimated to cut energy consumption in half and reduce  carbon emissions to a level that is equivalent to removing 37 cars off of the road. 

As more buildings tackle energy retrofits, the community will benefit from reduced energy costs and consumption, along with better outdoor air quality. 


Reference List

nature landscape with mountains Fredericton NB

Retrofitting l Natural Resources Canada

NRCAN

When you do an energy-efficiency retrofit on your building, you upgrade its energy-consuming systems. Retrofitting may involve improving or replacing lighting fixtures, ventilation systems or windows and doors, or adding insulation where it makes economic sense

Naveco logo fredericton project

Naveco: Energy Retrofits

Natalia Rodriguez

When a building goes through an energy retrofit, it is renovated or refurbished to upgrade its overall energy assets. This allows it to conserve energy, which can provide a significant impact on its energy costs and the environment throughout its ongoing life.

business table

Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

A great resource for a guide on energy retrofit. Created by reliable, professional companies in renewable energy based in Canada.

dark sky building outside

Buildium: 4 ways to improve a building's energy efficiency through retrofitting

Megan Wild

When you use energy more efficiently, you reduce utility costs. If your property owners pay the energy bill, this will reduce their monthly costs substantially.

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