As the coronavirus pandemic caused work shutdowns across America, load reductions were seen across North American grids. More people working from home meant less energy consumed by buildings and facilities.
And while there are varying expert opinions about how long the economic impacts will last – some say as long as 18 months – there’s a strong argument that the implications for the energy-efficiency sector will be in fact be positive in the long-term, once work health and safety parameters are established.
The energy industry will be evaluating the impacts of Covid-19 for the foreseeable future – not simply for how it impacts solution adoption by the commercial and institutional sectors, but how the potential health and safety risks facing those sectors can be addressed in coordination with effective energy solution programs.
As businesses and facilities reopen, building and facility managers are faced with a significant challenge: How to provide the level of safety tenants and occupants need without blowing the lid off the energy budget.
And while strategies for addressing this widely vary, what is interesting is how so many building and facility owners/operators are overlooking a turnkey solution that has been sitting right under their nose: Energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency: Much More than Just Saving Money
When you think of “energy efficiency”, what typically first comes to mind are its well-known win-win benefits: It improves the economic competitiveness of businesses and organizations, makes energy more affordable for companies who desire to preserve more capital, and of course reduces carbon emissions.
But energy efficiency has also gone far beyond just addressing the financial savings aspects – many solutions also have the capability of addressing health and safety concerns already built-in.
For example, airborne infectious particles are typically easily distributed throughout a building or facility through ventilation systems. Just one person coughing and sneezing during a typical business day can result in virus nuclei spreading throughout an entire building.
Energy-efficient HVAC systems equipped with coil-sterilization can dramatically reduce the spread and virulence of microorganisms, providing significantly cleaner and ‘sterilized’ air.
Building management systems (BMS) can help regulate both ventilation and energy usage throughout a building or facility during business hours by disabling demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) and further open minimum outdoor dampers to reduce or eliminate air recirculation. Increasing outdoor air ventilation (with caution used for buildings in high-pollution markets) increases the effective dilution ventilation per building occupant.
Additionally, practical strategies for maintaining temperature, humidity and ventilation needs in places such as classrooms, data centers and hotels through sensor monitoring networks can help building and facility managers keep potential airborne pathogen spreads down to a minimum.
While the focus for businesses and institutions are rightly on the short-term impacts of Covid-19, well-designed energy efficiency programs will maximize their ability to not just preserve their capital to help weather the economic impacts but also raise efficiency standards that deliver a stronger, healthier internal environment for their tenants and occupants.
And that helps everyone weather the Covid-19 storm a lot faster.
If you want some actionable insight for how to tackle Covid-19 challenges for your building or facility through energy-saving solutions, talking with our expert team is a good place to start. 844.768.7227 or email@example.com.
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