A critical first step in understanding your facility’s energy and water efficiency is an energy audit. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers® (ASHRAE®) developed industry standard procedures for conducting comprehensive commercial building audits.  In these procedures, ASHRAE defines three levels of audits, each progressively more detailed in the depth and breadth of their analysis and energy efficiency recommendations.
A Preliminary Energy-Use Analysis precedes a Level 1-3 audit and involves determining the building’s past energy consumption (kBtu/ft2) and comparing it to similar buildings. Often, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is used in performing this initial analysis.
Level 1: Walk-Through Survey
The first audit level is perfect for smaller facilities looking for basic information on potential energy efficiency improvements. It identifies no- and low-cost energy efficiency measures, as well as general capital upgrades. However, auditors only perform a rough calculation of costs and savings for the measures identified.
Level 2: Energy Survey and Analysis
Building upon Level I components, Level 2 audits include a more detailed exploration of energy consumption, including an analysis of peak demand and a breakdown of energy consumption by end use. In addition to identifying and analyzing the cost savings of energy efficiency measures, it also includes a more in-depth analysis of the costs and benefits of capital measures. Unlike Level 1, Level 2 audits analyze mechanical and electrical design and condition, as well as operations and maintenance practices. This level typically is adequate for most buildings and energy efficiency measures.
Level 3: Detailed Analysis of Capital-Intensive Modifications
Level 3 audits include all aspects of Levels 1 and 2 and add an in-depth analysis of potential capital improvement projects previously identified. This entails more detailed measurements and analysis, including modeling of annual energy performance. The economic analysis performed in a Level 3 audit is more rigorous and includes a comprehensive life-cycle cost analysis of measures in order to inform building owners in deciding what improvements to pursue.
Many local jurisdictions offer both indoor and outdoor commercial and multifamily residential water audits. For example, the city of San Diego offers water survey programs for single-family and multitenant residential and commercial businesses. Outside of the city, the San Diego County Water Authority offers water audits through their WaterSmart Checkup program for commercial, industrial and residential (single-family and multifamily) properties.
 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE). (2004). Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits. 2nd Edition. Atlanta, GA: ASHRAE.
CSE has an established track record of delivering a wide range of innovative energy engineering solutions incorporating energy efficiency, renewable technologies and technical advising that balance economic, environmental and customer needs. Through our Energy Advisory Services (EAS), we help clients understand clean energy options and how to reduce operating expenses, mitigate environmental risk, meet regulatory compliance issues and enjoy competitive advantages.
Working as an extension of your staff, the EAS team can help with discrete phases of a project or work throughout the project life cycle. In addition, EAS can assist public partners on specific policies, projects, technology roadmaps or the design and implementation of clean energy programs.
Unsure about how advanced energy technologies, such as solar, combined heat and power and energy storage, can reduce your facility’s energy and water costs and consumption? The Center for Sustainable Energy® (CSE) provides resources to help you learn more.
An easy way to get started is to take CSE’s Clean Energy Assessment. Simply provide your contact information when submitting the assessment and an energy engineer will contact you to discuss your unique facility needs. There is no cost or obligation for this initial screening.
Incentives are available for businesses that reduce on-site electrical demand and greenhouse gas emissions by installing clean and energy-efficient distributed generation and storage technologies through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). CSE manages SGIP rebates in the San Diego Gas & Electric® territory and provides technical assistance to those interested in learning about energy storage, fuel cells, wind energy, waste energy recovery, pressure reduction turbines and combined heat and power (CHP) technologies. See the next section for more information on CHP technologies.
SGIP is a ratepayer-funded rebate program overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission and available to retail electric and gas customers of the major California investor-owned utilities.
One underutilized energy approach is combined heat and power (CHP), a process by which the heat produced by on-site electrical generation is used for heating or cooling building spaces or in industrial processes. CSE is leading an effort for the Department of Energy to accelerate wider development of CHP energy technologies in California, Nevada and Hawaii as part of a national goal to add 40 gigawatts of CHP capacity by 2020.
CSE provides education, outreach and technical assistance to commercial and industrial businesses, including evaluating the economics, reliability and environmental benefits of proposed CHP systems.
Solar is a great way to save on utility bills. While California no longer offers rebates for commercial solar installations, system costs are much lower today and many options exist for purchasing, leasing and financing. The 30 percent federal investment tax credit is still available through 2019. Keep in mind that you will want to pursue energy efficiency measures before installing solar to reduce your electric demand, and potentially, the size of the system you will need.
Interested in learning more about solar? CSE is the third-party administrator of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) in SDG&E territory and provides information to businesses looking to learn more.
This is a project of the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, which is partially funded by California utility customers and administered by San Diego Gas & Electric® (SDG&E) under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. The Center for Sustainable Energy® is a member of the collaborative. Trademarks are property of their respective owners.