The path to net-zero

In the face of the climate crisis, taking into consideration rising energy costs, many organizations are committing to lowering or eliminating their carbon emissions. 

The urgency of this is clear, and it is essential that these pledges amount to more than just words. Once decarbonization targets are set, and companies have arranged an accurate method of recording their greenhouse gas (GHG) data, they must take strategic action to transition to net zero.  

With 28% of all global carbon emissions coming from buildings in operation, the first step in many corporations’ path to net-zero is often to reduce the emissions generated by their commercial buildings.  

By using building optimization technology, organizations can facilitate a radical reduction in their direct, or Scope 1 and 2, emissions – as well as a significant financial saving. In order to successfully reduce the emissions of buildings which they own or operate, companies may undertake the following actions: 

Leverage meter-level data

Many corporations make the mistake of recoding emissions data too infrequently, or at a too general level. By examining the GHG data for a building at a meter or submeter level, companies can build an accurate picture of energy usage at different times of day, and occupancy levels. This can help them to strategize, and determine where savings can be made. 

Compare buildings 

When aiming to reduce the emissions of a building, it can also be helpful to compare the data with that of a similar building or portfolio. Studying this meaningful performance data will give an idea of the benchmark for buildings of a similar size and cohort, and assist in identifying key areas for improvement. 

Improve operational efficiency 

Building optimization software can be used to monitor whether the building’s systems are using energy efficiently – for example, when it comes to their electricity or water consumption, or their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. 

Identifying faults swiftly, and optimizing operational practices, can account for significant energy saving. Strategic facility management is also essential, as even with the best infrastructure in place, incorrect manual settings can still cause buildings to waste energy in alarming quantities. 

transition to net zero

Upgrade equipment 

Once an organization has made all the energy savings they can with their current set-up, they may move on to upgrading their assets and equipment to more energy-efficient options. One example of this which can offer a significant energy saving opportunity is the installation of LED lighting systems. 

When considering equipment upgrades, the company will need to take into account the age of the current equipment, as well as the age of the building and how long they intend to own it, to determine the likely ROI. Sustainability reporting software, such as Envizi, can help with making these informed decisions. 

Switch to renewable energy 

The next step in decarbonizing a building is usually to switch its power supply to renewable energy. This may come from on-site, for example by adding solar panels to the roof of the building, or off-site, from an energy supplier. Envizi can assist with the monitoring of on-site solar energy, to see if it is living up to its promised performance, as well as recording renewable energy certification for auditing purposes. 

Work as a team 

For a company to successfully reduce its carbon emissions to net-zero across its buildings and assets, it is essential for the whole team to be on board, from stakeholders to employees and occupants. This can be achieved by empowering team members with allocated roles and offering incentives for meeting targets. As always, data should be recorded in a clear and standardized manner, to make it easy to monitor and reward results. 

Challenges 

Obstacles organizations may have faced in the past when scaling decarbonization programs include fractured ownership of energy management among stakeholders, lack of collaboration between tenants and landlords, and difficulties in consolidating data across their portfolio. Many of these problems can be significantly reduced by using building optimization technology, using a dedicated sustainability data and reporting platform. 

Ultimately, working together and making use of accurate data to reduce their building emissions is vitally important for organizations around the world, on the path to net-zero. 

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