Reducing the Cost of Ownership by Paying Less for Utilities

Utilities are generally an organization’s second biggest expense behind payroll—anywhere from 19 percent to a third of total operating costs. But facility executives can considerably reduce the costs of building ownership by focusing on energy and water-use efficiency. Such measures will not only add to the bottom line but contribute to environmental sustainability in a world in which carbon emissions reduction is becoming more and more urgent. Studies show that as much as 30% of a building’s energy consumption can be eliminated with technology that audits and manages energy and water consumption more effectively.

Upgrading Lighting

An easy way to garner savings is to install more efficient lighting, particularly LED (light-emitting diode) technology. You may re-lamp or de-lamp. The latter refers to the removal of unnecessary lighting or fixtures in areas where there is more illumination than is necessary. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) provides a handy and comprehensive lighting upgrade checklist for commercial and industrial buildings. For example, NEMA recommends replacing T12 fluorescent fixtures with T8 and T5 lamps with electronic ballasts or LEDs and using energy-saving control options. This includes setting light levels according to each space that needs to be illumined, harvesting daylight, using occupancy sensors, and reducing light load during times of peak electricity pricing. To download the entire PDF, go to

Re-tuning Buildings with Energy Modeling Software

Large commercial buildings often use building automation systems (BASs) to manage equipment for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, but BASs also can monitor electrical systems, such as power meters and lighting, as well as water usage. However, if a BAS is not properly commissioned, operated, and maintained, it can lead to increased rather than decreased energy use and shorten the life of equipment. Periodic “re-tuning” of building controls addresses this problem. Re-turning is a systematic and partially automated process for detecting and correcting operational problems that lead to energy waste. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has recently developed and successfully tested a re-tuning approach that works for both large and small buildings. PNNL provides classroom training and resource material. See

Performing Maintenance

The BAS provides information on the runtime and condition of HVAC components, which can then be used to schedule maintenance, rather than adhere to schedules drawn up ahead of time. Preventive maintenance ranges from simple lubrication of equipment to completely taking apart and rebuilding components.

Infrared thermography is used as part of a predictive maintenance program, in which technicians can measure and compare heat signatures for different pieces of equipment without having to halt operations. All maintenance technologies should be part of the same computer system, so information about equipment and their histories can be shared.

Deploying DC Power in the Data Center

Currently most data centers change AC (alternating current) to DC (direct current) at the server and waste energy. This process requires multiple conversions of electrical current, which produces heat that must then be cooled with air conditioning. The 380V DC system, however, uses a single conversion from a 480 volts of AC to 380 volts of DC, which is already in the server. That high voltage of DC is then converted into a usable 12 volts of the same current. This technology is more efficient and cost effective than traditional AC power supply solutions. EMerge Alliance, an open industry association and advocate of DC power in commercial buildings, provides information and technical resources for developing 380V DC solutions. See To see how SAMS can optimize your facilities and save you money by strategically reducing your utilities bill, contact us today.