The 3 R’s of energy waste: Reduce, Recycle, Report

Waste is a pressing issue in various aspects of our lives, and energy waste is no exception. In commercial real estate, where energy consumption is high, addressing energy waste becomes crucial for sustainability. Just as we are familiar with the 3 R’s of waste management—Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse—it is important to apply these principles to energy and carbon waste in our buildings.

Reduce: minimising energy consumption

The first step towards managing energy waste is to focus on reducing the energy needed in a building. Surprisingly, even well-designed and efficiently managed buildings can still waste a significant amount of energy. To tackle this issue, we need trustworthy data and efficient processes.

A standard like ISO 52120 provides guidelines for building control and system efficiency assessment, typically leading to savings more than 20%. And the best is yet to come: most of these improvements are low-cost solutions that simply correct operational errors.

Reducing energy consumption not only helps minimise carbon emissions but also reduces the need for alternative technologies such as renewable energy generation or heat pumps. This leads to a lower embodied carbon load for the building: a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Recycle: reclaiming waste energy

In the same way we recycle plastic waste in our homes, we can recycle and reclaim some of the energy wasted in our buildings. Once we have the information needed to get insights into how and when energy is being used, we are given an opportunity to explore ways to recycle this wasted energy within our building’s operations. 

Let’s use air quality as an example. The modern systems are fully driven by fresh air: 100% fresh intake. As CO2 in the building increases, more fresh intake is required and, therefore, allowed into circulation. The more fresh air is provided, the more ‘used’ air needs to be discarded. However, recycling the heat from the ‘used’ air with the help of a solution as simple as a heat exchanger allows the fresh intake to be warmed up or cooled down by using resources that are already in the building. By doing so, we don’t just discard the air in the building but recycle it for a new purpose.

Report: knowledge is power

Effective energy and carbon reduction requires reporting. Just as financial information helps manage various aspects of a business, accurate and regular reporting on energy usage and operational performance is essential for driving a sustainability program. 

While many CEOs believe they have adequate reporting in place, the reality often requires quite some improvement. We must make energy waste more visible and prioritise its management

Collecting the right data, contextualising it to enhance understanding, and sharing it with relevant stakeholders are crucial steps towards reducing energy and driving sustainability initiatives in buildings..

The game-changing potential of the 3 R’s

Embracing the 3 R’s of Energy Waste—Reduce, Recycle, Report— we have an incredible opportunity to create a sustainable future. With the help of reliable data allows us to take small yet incredible steps toward reaching our net-zero targets, save valuable resources and create new opportunities for our buildings.