Building Optimisation for Enhanced Performance and Sustainability in Commercial Property

Building Optimisation For Enhanced Performance And Sustainability In Commercial Property

Building Optimisation for Enhanced Performance and Sustainability in Commercial Property

In today’s world, the optimisation of commercial real estate buildings has transformed from being a matter of choice into an absolute necessity. Motivated by the expectations of stakeholders, including tenants, investors, and regulators, the focus on building optimisation has become paramount. It’s not just about improving performance; it’s also about ensuring environmental responsibility.

Understanding Building Optimisation

Building optimisation is a systematic process aimed at enhancing a building’s operational efficiency. Its primary objective is to reduce energy consumption, improve comfort levels, and minimise the environmental impact. In the commercial real estate (CRE) sector, optimising building efficiency has become indispensable to meet global sustainability requirements.

The Benefits of Optimisation

Energy optimisation in commercial properties offers numerous advantages, including:

  • Cost Savings: 

By reducing energy usage, you can directly lower utility bills. For example, efficient HVAC systems can cut energy consumption by up to 50%, resulting in substantial savings over time. The almost one and a half million small business premises in the UK account for 50% of commercial energy use, yet there is potential to reduce energy consumption by up to 40% – which would be a huge contribution to the UK’s Net Zero goals.

  • Environmental Impact: 

Buildings account for a significant share of global CO2 emissions (around 40%, according to the United Nations Environment Programme). Optimising energy use can contribute to reducing these emissions and support the fight against climate change.

  • Risk Mitigation: 

Energy optimisation helps mitigate risks associated with energy price fluctuations and supply disruptions. It reduces a building’s dependence on the grid and facilitates more efficient use of renewable energy sources.

  • Higher Property Value: 

Enhancements in energy performance can increase a building’s value by 8.5% to 26%, according to studies by the International Energy Agency. Rent payments can also rise between 2.7% and 9% after energy efficiency improvements.

Approaches for Achieving Energy Efficiency in Commercial Properties

Achieving energy efficiency in commercial buildings requires a combination of strategies, including:

  • Energy-Efficient Design: 

Incorporating energy efficiency into the building’s design is crucial. Factors such as maximising natural light and ventilation, and using materials with high thermal mass to regulate indoor temperatures can have a significant impact.

  • High-Efficiency Systems and Appliances: 

Replacing older HVAC systems, lighting fixtures, and devices with energy-efficient models can significantly reduce energy consumption. For example, high-efficiency LED lights use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and have a much longer lifespan.

  • Smart Building Technologies: 

Utilising smart thermostats, sensors, and building management systems can automate and optimise building operations. For instance, occupancy sensors can deactivate lights and adjust HVAC settings in unoccupied rooms, reducing energy waste, plus remote dashboards can allow facilities managers, to operate all of these systems remotely, allowing for streamlines operations across a full building portfolio.

  • Regular Maintenance and Audits: 

Regular maintenance ensures that building systems operate at peak efficiency. Energy audits can identify areas of energy waste and opportunities for improvements. Partnering with a PropTech company, allows all of this to be managed by a single point of contact.

One of the primary objectives of building optimisation is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work towards the UKs goal of Net Zero. This involves not only harnessing renewable energy resources like solar and wind power and adopting green building materials with a lower embodied carbon – plus adopting technologies to conform to ESG reporting standards.

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), initiated by the European Union, is raising the bar for sustainability reporting standards among companies. While this directive may present challenges in data gathering and reporting, it also enhances the value of building optimisation by providing a straightforward method to communicate your optimisation efforts.

Diverse Approaches to Building Optimisation

Optimising a commercial building necessitates a comprehensive approach, considering the building’s design, systems, operations, and occupants. Several standard optimisation methods include:

  • Energy Management Systems (EMS): 

These sophisticated systems monitor, control, and optimise a building’s energy use, reducing energy waste by automating operations based on occupancy or schedules. Implementing energy monitoring and submetering, combined with automated billing, can not only streamline operations but also identify tenants with high energy usage to implement fair use policies. Remote dashboards allow you to switch off heating and lighting remotely to save energy.

  • Commissioning and Retro-Commissioning: 

These processes verify and adjust systems to ensure they operate as intended. Retro-commissioning, applied to existing systems, can result in energy savings of 15%, with a significant return on investment.

  • Green Building Certifications: 

Pursuing certifications like LEED or BREEAM can guide optimisation efforts, providing a methodology to improve energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and more. These certifications also align with the governance and environmental aspects of ESG, demonstrating a commitment to responsible building practices.

In conclusion, building optimisation is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity for commercial real estate in today’s sustainability-conscious world. By embracing real-time energy monitoring, ESG data capture and integration, and energy efficiency, you not only reduce costs and risks but also enhance the value of your properties while contributing to a greener and more sustainable future.

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