With the United States eying a net zero economy by the year 2050, many commercial buildings are getting a head start on reducing their carbon footprints. While many building owners are looking at ways to utilize innovative PV technology, it is also important to remember that curbing consumption is just as important as creating renewable energy. And when it comes to curbing consumption, there is no better place to start than with the HVAC system.
Statistics suggest that HVAC accounts for a whopping 40% of a commercial building’s total energy consumption. With this in mind, keep reading for 5 innovative ways to reduce the HVAC costs of a commercial space.
Choose the Best Exterior Wall Insulation
Elite exterior wall insulation is critical for keeping HVAC costs under control. In addition to providing an air and moisture barrier that will prevent thermal bridging and protect the structural integrity of the framing, continuous insulation in exterior walls will also:
- Increase the R-value of the building
- Improve the fire resistance of the structure
- Allow for thinner wall profiles over buildings that use more cumbersome fiberglass batts
When choosing an exterior wall insulation product, many commercial buildings utilize polyiso board thanks to its rigid fabrication and potential for eliminating thermal bridges in all types of weather conditions.
Look for Ways to Promote Durability
Clearly, quality insulation is fundamental in reducing HVAC costs in a commercial space. However, it is also crucial to choose durable materials that will withstand the forces of nature, as the most insulative products are of little utility if they rapidly degrade in severe weather.
There are numerous materials that can improve the durability of a structure. Innovative ICF framing is commonly chosen over traditional wood panels thanks to its durable, monolithic design that resists fire, pest, and moisture damage. Shear walls are a great addition to commercial structures to help limit the impact from lateral forces, such as extremely high winds. Hurricane-grade storm windows are advisable thanks to their ability to withstand high-velocity projectile impact.
By choosing these types of durable materials, among others, commercial buildings can guarantee that their building envelope remains uncompromised during all types of weather events.
Guarantee Adequate Roof Insulation
The roofs of commercial buildings will be under significantly more stress than those of residential structures. Whether they play host to a rooftop deck or simply get a high amount of traffic from service professionals accessing the building, commercial roofs will see more wear and tear than just weather and the forces of nature. Therefore, it is critical to install the proper cover board and roof insulation to keep the roof airtight and insulative.
The problem, however, is that many types of roof substrates are unable to support the additional weight contributed by these types of materials. To help alleviate these concerns, it is worthwhile to install metal b decking to the roof. This can help support the dead and live loads to which the roof is subjected, guaranteeing that the building can add the necessary roof insulation to keep HVAC costs under control.
Install Large Windows
Many types of commercial buildings are installing oversized windows to increase natural light transmission. While this does wonders for reducing reliance on electric light, it can also help limit HVAC consumption. Large windows, especially placed on the south-facing side of the building, can allow the building to leverage the sun’s thermal properties. By strategically designing the building’s interior, this can help keep key areas of the facility warm during the winter. If too much sun radiation becomes problematic during the summer, there are a couple of options.
The most straightforward idea would be to install some portable awnings and customizable screen panels to absorb some of the heat while still transmitting light. In addition, innovative smart glass can actually block and transmit specific rays, letting heat rays through when needed in the winter but preventing their transmission when cooler temperatures are desired in the summer.
Consider Radiant Floor Heating
It is estimated that up to 20% of a building’s heat is lost through the floor. This is exacerbated in commercial buildings that feature multiple stories, as heat can readily transfer without the appropriate subfloor insulation. To take subfloor insulation to the next level, it is worthwhile to consider the benefits of a radiant floor heating system. Using a series of insulative electric subfloor mats controlled by a radiant heating thermostat, the system radiates heat up through the floor in a stovelike manner. This is typically a much more efficient process than forced-air HVAC systems, which need to heat air to as high as 145 degrees to realize even a small increase in room temperature.
Radiant floor heating systems typically result in much more direct, consistent heating, greatly reducing the reliance on HVAC and cutting utility costs in the building.
Go the Extra Mile to Reduce HVAC Costs In a Commercial Space
Reducing HVAC usage is one of the best means of curtailing utility costs and consumption in a commercial building. To help keep HVAC costs under control, exterior wall insulation, high-durability materials, roof insulation, large windows, and radiant floor heating are 5 great ideas to get started on the right path today!
Sam Willis is a freelance writer that loves sharing his knowledge and expertise on commercial real estate. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia where he enjoys spending time with his wife and researching real estate trends in his free time. Sam’s work as a freelance writer can be found on Building Product Advisor, a new construction industry resource.