Let’s debunk four of the most common myths about energy-efficient buildings.

The energy efficiency of an existing building cannot be improved

The current unprecedented heating costs have led many people to look for ways to save on the upkeep costs of buildings. The best solution is to tackle the source of the issue – find ways to decrease consumption and increase the energy efficiency of buildings. That’s right! You read that correctly – the energy consumption of existing buildings can also be improved. Here, various audits and simulations can help you.

A comprehensive energy audit helps to identify whether the technical building systems and the external walls of a building, both of which are very important for energy efficiency, are at an optimal level or need repairs/replacement. For example, you can achieve remarkable savings on utility costs if the external walls and technical building systems function as required, meaning that there are no leaks, filters or dampers are not clogged, sensors work properly, and the wiring is in good condition. Energy simulations with a narrow focus help to model the impact of the required individual changes and assess how well these would reduce the annual energy consumption of a building.

Such tests help an owner of a building to determine how long it takes for the alterations to pay off financially and decide whether they should start with smaller repairs and replacements or plan a full-scale renovation to ensure that the building would be more energy-efficient.

Eco-friendly buildings are the future and we do not have to think about them now

In 2024, large companies must publish a sustainability report as part of the management report of their annual report, explaining how business management and commercial activities affect potential social and environmental challenges. Among all else, it must include an analysis of the footprint of greenhouse gas emissions of the company and compare it to the reference year; evaluate whether impact on combating climate change is taken into account when making business decisions (including investment decisions); and assess the proportion of the turnover, investments, and expenses of the company that comply with the EU sustainable financing taxonomy (in other words, are eco-friendly).

This means that reviewing all future investments in production, transportation, and real estate from the aspect of sustainability is now particularly important. For example, if a company wants to find a new office or new production premises in the next few years, then it should take the necessary steps now to make sure that this investment qualifies as a ‘green investment’ and reduces the footprint of the company.

The construction of a new energy-efficient building or the renovation of an existing one is expensive and will not pay off

Investment in greener real estate helps to save on energy and exploitation costs in the long run. Studies have indicated that energy-efficient green buildings that comply with the requirements of a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certificate, use 25% less energy and 11% less water compared to regular buildings. These kinds of savings could become an important competitive edge for a company.

In addition, an energy-efficient project also offers better financing conditions for investments in the construction or renovation of real estate. According to Urmas Tsahkna, Head of Corporate Banking of LHV, a LEED certificate is a sign of quality when financing real estate projects, assuring a bank about the viability of a project. ‘The indoor climate of a building, its energy efficiency, transportation links, and a responsible approach to the use of resources increase the attractiveness of a building among tenants. This is the foundation for a stable and long-term rental cash flow, which, in turn, is one of the most important aspects in evaluating the borrowing capacity of a company,’ said Tsahkna. Although LHV does not currently offer a cheaper loan product for buildings with a LEED certificate, it takes LEED and BREEAM certificates into consideration when it comes to the projects and business plans of customers and considers them among other aspects in the internal assessment of the projects. Therefore, the transition to energy-efficient technology might initially seem a considerable investment, but it will pay off in the long run.

While applying for a LEED certificate or adopting a greener source of energy may initially seem like too large of an investment, there are easier and cheaper ways for reducing energy consumption. For example, you can review the exploitation schedules of technical building systems to make sure that systems such as lighting would only work when people are present on the premises or a work process requires it. This type of smart automation along with technical building systems achieves most of the energy savings independently.

An environmentally friendly and energy-efficient building does not have a direct impact on the health and productivity of employees

According to a study conducted by Harvard University in 2015, people who work in sustainable, eco-friendly, and well-ventilated offices demonstrated a 101% improvement in brain operations and cognitive functions. Another study conducted in 2011 showed that a high-quality indoor climate increases the work performance of staff by 8%. When converting it into working hours, we learn that in work premises with a great indoor climate, an employee would have more than 3 extra hours every week for additional tasks, self-improvement, or other important responsibilities. Sustainable energy efficiency technologies help to make the indoor climate and environment of a building comfortable for its users and promote their well-being.

When taking into account both the improvement in productivity and the potential savings from the upkeep of an efficient ventilation system, it is possible to state with absolute certainty that investing in a good indoor climate leads to significant financial savings for employers.

By implementing energy efficiency principles, a company can reduce its energy consumption and environmental footprint as well as administrative costs while improving the productivity of its staff. As this field has many different requirements and rules, Forus helps everyone interested by providing energy efficiency consultations, based on which technical terms of reference are prepared for a contractor, taking into account all aspects related to the needs of the company. The skilled specialists of Forus are prepared to advise companies on the best solutions during any stage of construction and renovation. 

Forus offers various services related to energy efficiency and sustainability. Click here to learn about our services.

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