​Your Guide to an
Energy Retrofit

What is an Energy Retrofit?

When a building goes through an energy retrofit, it is renovated or refurbished to upgrade its overall energy assets which can provide a significant impact on its energy costs and the environment throughout its ongoing life. Changes made to commercial buildings often involve improving energy efficiency and decreasing the building's overall energy demand. Retrofits are often performed to reduce the overall operational cost of the building, make them more environmentally-friendly, and improve their value on the market. 

What Kind of Changes Are Done During an Energy Retrofit?

Since the primary focus of an energy retrofit is to reduce the overall energy demand and consumption, 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 major concern in 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, increasing energy use and driving up the utility bills. 

To determine locations where energy loss is occurring, an energy audit will be 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, better humidity control, and fewer places for pests and allergens to gain entry into the building. 

Install Upgraded Appliances and Lighting

Another step in an energy retrofit is upgrading appliances to more energy efficient ones. This involves using ENERGY STAR-certified heating and cooling technologies which can save a significant amount of energy use, while still providing a comfortable environment. Depending on the temperature of the area, many buildings being retrofitted can benefit from installing heat pumps for heating and cooling, which uses 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 each building on their level of energy efficiency with levels including certified, silver, gold, and platinum. The 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 result in cutting the energy consumption in half and reducing the carbon emissions to a level that is equivalent to removing 37 cars off of the road. 

As more and more buildings like 82 Westmorland tackle energy retrofits, the community will benefit from reduced energy costs and consumption and better outdoor air quality.


References:

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/buildings/20707

https://naveco.ca/retrofit/

https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/57864.pdf

https://www.energy.gov/​eere/buildings/retrofit-existing-buildings

https://www.buildium.com/blog/retrofitting-buildings-to-improve-energy-efficiency/

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