Making your next fit-out energy efficient

When you are planning and budgeting for a tenant fit-out, there are many decisions to be made about where to prioritize your resources. In previous articles we’ve talked about maximizing your budget by being prudent with your choice for nice-to-have features like custom fixtures over must-have features like systems that are up to code.

One element to factor into your budget is energy efficiency. Unlike fixtures and other areas where the cost difference is immediately apparent, when it comes to energy efficiency there may be a slightly higher initial investment, but savings over time with lower energy bills and possibly incentives for going green.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently did a study on “Energy Efficiency in Separate Tenant Spaces,” listing the many ways to incorporate energy efficiency into fit-out projects. Here are just a few of them:

  1. High Efficiency Lighting: According to the study, 30-40% of a commercial building’s energy use—and therefore bills—comes form lighting. Tenants looking to save money over time can do so with significant results if they opt for high efficiency lighting in their fit-outs. These include LED lamps, estimated to last 25 times longer and consume 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. If they are utilized in recessed lighting troffers, which make up about 50% of the lighting fixtures in commercial spaces, it’s estimated that LED lighting can provide tenants with up to 60% energy savings.
  1. Lighting Control Technologies: Using technology to control the timing and use of lights can also lead to huge savings. Technologies that sense vacancy ensure that lights are not left on when no one is in the space, and daylight sensors leave the lights off when natural light is sufficient. Tenants can also install bi-level switching, which groups lights into segments so you can turn the lights on in one area of a space where it’s needed, and leave them off in areas where it’s not.
  1. Daylighting: If you are looking for a low-tech way to reduce energy consumption and cost, leveraging natural daylight is a great option. There are even design methods to maximize the usage of daylight as a lighting source, like using blinds or lighting shelves that will better direct the sunlight into the space, incorporating wall and ceiling finishes that are lighter in color and reflect the natural light, and adding specialized window films that optimize the distribution of light throughout a space.
  1. ENERGY STAR® Certified Appliances and Office Equipment: These ultra-efficient appliances consume 10-40% less energy than traditional models, and are often manufactured with high-quality parts that can result in a longer lifespan marked by fewer breakdowns and repairs. Tenants can incorporate ENERGY STAR® certified appliances for bigger ticket items like dishwashers and refrigerators, all the way down to smaller items like coffee
  1. High Efficiency HVAC units: ENERGY STAR® Certification can also extend to HVAC units, where efficiency can be increased by incorporating variable speed pumps, fans, and compressors that are accurately scaled to the space’s heating and cooling needs, and using water-cooled (vs. air-cooled) equipment.

Knowing how to best incorporate energy efficiency into your fit-out to maximize your long-term profit while maintaining your current budget means working with professionals who can help you get value out of every step of the process. Contact A.F. Alber today with your fit-out questions and needs!