Air passes through the doors, windows, walls, foundation, roof and floor of the facility your business occupies.
A certain amount of air movement is necessary for health purposes, but in many buildings excess ventilation accounts for a large percentage of total energy losses.
Which Way Does The Wind Blow?
Energy losses are more likely to occur on the windward or "weather" side of your building. (In the mid-Atlantic states, this is usually the west or northwest.) When making structural improvements, be sure to pay attention to the specific wind patterns around your facility.
Cracks are a particular problem in older buildings. Even if they've been sealed, you should check to make sure the caulking has not shrunk or pulled away from the surfaces around it. To find cracks, look for light shining through, or feel for drafts of incoming air.
Cracks are most likely to occur:
You should caulk wherever necessary, and replace worn caulk, always following label directions. Large cracks may require a filler-like fiberglass insulation before caulk is applied. Cracks in brick or masonry may demand cement work.
Replace Broken Glass
Doors and windows with broken, cracked or missing glass should be repaired immediately. If you can’t get to the job right away, seal the opening with heavy-duty transparent tape.
Adjust Automatic Door Closers
If your outside doors have closers, check to see if they close the doors as quickly as possible. Install new closers where necessary, especially if the door is on the windward side of the building or is used frequently.
Cover Window Air Conditioners
Use heavy gauge plastic and duct tape to seal out air during the cold weather months. Check to see that the space around the unit is well caulked.
Tighten Window and Door Frames; Check Weatherstripping
Frames that have pulled apart and show gaps can usually be tightened with nails or screws.
If you have double-hung windows - the type that open from both the top and bottom - make sure there’s weatherstripping between the upper and lower sashes. Refasten loose weatherstripping with nails, screws, staples or glue.
Consult a hardware store or building supply dealer if you need to install new weatherstripping. Certain applications, such as double-hung doors, require special products. Be sure to adjust or install doorsweeps at the bottoms of exterior doors where necessary.
For windows that aren’t designed to open, you may find it more economical to seal with caulk. (Always be sure to drill “weep holes” into the bottom of storm windows to allow condensed water to drain out.)
Fix Broken Doors and Windows
You should inspect all exterior windows and doors to make sure they fit tightly and close completely.
Interior doors that separate areas with different temperatures (where an office connects with unheated storage space, for example) should also be checked and repaired.
For many doors, planing or adjusting the striker plate will be sufficient. Major problems may call for having the door refitted and rehung.
Single pane glass is a very poor insulator, with an R value of only 0.9. To improve the energy efficiency of your windows:
Add Building Insulation
Insulating materials have the greatest effect on your heating and cooling costs when you install them in locations with large surface areas. The current recommendations for minimum R values are 30 for roofs and 16 for walls.
Remember that vapor diffusion retarders and adequate ventilation are vital to prevent mildew or rot. And you should never add a new vapor diffusion retarder to an existing one, which can create a buildup of moisture in the insulation or the building structure itself.
A common method for controlling vapor diffusion is to use a combination of interior vapor diffusion retarders and exterior sheathings. This can be accomplished with either permeable or impermeable sheathings of either an insulating or non-insulating variety. (Exemplary Home, Builder’s Field Guide, North Carolina Alternative Energy Corporation, 1994.)
Windows and Doors
Generally, opaque sections of the building envelope provide better thermal performance than windows and doors. Careful consideration needs to be given to placement, orientation and quantity of windows, a relationship known as the window-wall-ratio (WWR).
High-Velocity Air Doors
Overhead air doors are designed for comfort and convenience. From an energy standpoint, they are extremely inefficient, and should usually be replaced with conventional overhead doors or dock seals.
Loading and Service Doors
Because of their size, loading and service doors can be some of the worst offenders in driving up energy costs. Consider taking the following steps.
For loading doors:
For auto service entrances:
New Construction and Additions
Many changes that are too expensive for an existing building should be considered if you’re starting from scratch or adding on. In general, you'll want to carefully review the construction specifications, design, site orientation, layout, lighting and equipment of any new construction. The extra time you spend in the planning stages could cut your future energy bills by as much as 30 to 50 percent. [Reference CABO Model Energy Code -- (MEC) & ASHRAE 90.1.]
Also, be aware that many local building codes require certain energy saving techniques and equipment. You should:
Adhere to the Energy Policy Act enacted into law on October 24, 1992, that recognizes ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-1989 -- Energy Efficiency Design of New Buildings as the national standard for energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The Standard contains requirements for building envelope (walls, windows and roofs), HVAC equipment and distribution systems, lighting, motors and drives, and service water heating. Alternative methods to demonstrate compliance must be as stringent as the Standard. One such path is a new section incorporated into the MEC.
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