How Retrofitting Old Buildings Can Make Them More Energy-Efficient

How Retrofitting Old Buildings Can Make Them More Energy-Efficient

With buildings contributing to almost 40% of the United State’s energy consumption, you would agree that it takes a large part of the world’s energy demand. And contrary to popular beliefs, old buildings actually consume more energy than modern or recent buildings. With the continuous increase in energy demand, and this being evident by the 35% of the world’s energy consumed by only two countries (US and China). It is only normal that we seek any means possible to counter this energy demand. One of the ways to do so is the title of this article, i.e., retrofitting.

Retrofitting, or renovating buildings to make them energy efficient is an effective way of mitigating the rise in energy demand. Hence, it improves the health of the environment.

Generally, retrofitting an existing building involves all the necessary processes or modifications made to the building to serve a specific purpose, in this case, increasing the building’s energy efficiency. Improving a building’s energy efficiency comes with a lot of benefits, such as:

  • Lower operational cost
  • Higher failure redundancy
  • Increasing the market value of a building.

Statistically, there are more old buildings than modern buildings in the world at large. Hence, more buildings with poor energy efficiency. And as such, there is the need to retrofit old buildings to meet the current energy demands.

The question now is what are the best and cost-effective ways to retrofit every building and especially older buildings. In retrofitting an existing building, taking some points into consideration is imperative. These points include:

  • Whether the building conforms to the current building codes
  • Seismic upgrades
  • Presence of hazardous materials, and if retrofitting is the right way to around the hazardous materials

Retrofitting an existing building depends on answering these questions.

Basic Steps That Can Be Adopted To Carry Out Retrofit Jobs On Old Buildings:

Below is a list of the ways to retrofit a building, with the cost of each step considered:

1). Energy Audits

Starting with an energy audit is a simple but effective way to begin any retrofitting project. This way, you can determine what aspect of the building consumes the most energy. An energy audit should cover every aspect possible, from appliance consumption to wiring, insulation, leaks, or faulty sensors.

2). Upgrade Appliances

With the determinations or results from the energy audit, you need to make sure everything is fixed. Upgrading faulty or inefficient appliances to efficient appliances is a good route to follow.

3). Evaluate Occupancy Patterns

Evaluating the patterns of the building occupants is important. This way, you can use appliances efficiently. Hence, focusing on the use of any particular appliance, as opposed to randomly running everything at once by default. Improving the carbon imprint of the building and the building’s energy efficiency are advantages of this step. Not to mention the increase in the lifespan of appliances.

retrofitting building

4). Install Renewable Energy Generation Sources

The installation of renewable energy generation is important in improving a building’s energy efficiency. With the initial energy audit, homeowners can install energy sources like;

  • Solar panels
  • Solar water heaters
  • Microgrid wind power stations

5). Install Smart Utility Meters

Buildings with smart utility meters have the luxury of evaluating, assessing, and metering how house utilities perform. In addition to knowing and understanding the building’s energy consumption, these meters can help in predicting and planning for future energy use.

6). Install and maintain a Cool Roof

There is an increasing number of homes with cool roofs (Green Roof) of late. This is because of its efficiency, not to mention its aesthetic benefits. A cool roof will help in maintaining a steady indoor temperature. Hence improving inhouse comfort and as such energy efficiency.

7). Install Energy Efficient Lighting

LED lighting is a good replacement for legacy lighting when it comes to energy efficiency. For example, LED bulbs use about 10% of the amount of energy consumed by incandescent light bulbs. Not to mention the lifespan of LED bulbs is about 15 to 20 times longer than that of an incandescent bulb.

8). Continuous Insulation & Window Glazing

Continuous insulation of a building improves inhouse comfort as well as energy efficiency. Therefore, with proper insulation, you can enjoy consistent inhouse temperature in whatever weather. Also, window glazing prevents the sun’s heat from disturbing the indoor temperature, by inhibiting infrared and UV rays’ penetration.

Costs Attributed to Retrofitting Measures

Retrofit costs can depend on a host of factors, ranging from location to materials, and cost of services. The following cost listing is based on the state of California, USA.

Energy Audits

This usually depends on the size of the property. However, it usually costs about $100 to $200. For Example,  houses of 1,200 square foot, incur an additional $100, and an additional $200 for a 2,500 square foot and above.

Installation of Renewable Energy Generation sources

The cost of this installation also depends on the size of the building and KW requirements of the building. In order to give you an estimation, it usually ranges from $8,000 to $48,000.

Installation of Smart Meters

The installation of smart meters is easy and usually not expensive. Current policies mean that smart meters installation is for free, even though there are smart meters available in the market. This policy ensures that the cost for the smart meter and its installation is gotten from savings on utilities. Sounds confusing right, get more information about this from Galvin Power.

Installation of a Cool Roof

The cost of installing a cool roof depends on the location and type of roof. For the single-ply roof membrane, the cost ranges from $1.50 to $3.00 while for regular cool roof coating, you’ll need between $1.50 to $3.00.

Insulating Your Home And Glazing Your Windows

The average cost for insulating a 500 square foot home can range between $150 to $300.

Install Energy Efficient Lighting

The cost of LED light bulbs, depends on the watt and brand. It ranges from $1.5 to $4.