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Building Maintenance: Get Energy Smart

Key Points
  • Lighting and HVAC systems account for 70% of energy use in commercial buildings.
  • Preventive maintenance can save energy and increase equipment life and reliability.
  • Successful preventive maintenance programs require leadership, training and documentation.

Lighting and HVAC systems account for more than 70% of energy use in commercial buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Preventive maintenance will not only improve the energy efficiency of these systems, it'll also increase equipment service life and reliability, which can significantly reduce your operating costs.


RelampingEffective lighting maintenance can reduce your energy costs, improve productivity and enhance visibility. Best practices include:

  • Clean the dust off fixtures, lamps and lenses every 6 to 12 months. Fixtures can lose up to 20% of light output from this dust.
  • Clean or repaint small rooms every year, and larger rooms every two to three years. Dirt collects on surfaces, which reduces the amount of light they reflect.
  • Replace lights in groups. Lamps can lose up to 30% of light output over their service life. Group replacement saves labor and helps keep illumination levels high.
  • Make sure lamps and fixtures are compatible. Installing new fixtures with new lamps increases energy efficiency and service life.
  • Periodically test light levels to ensure they match the space and tasks being performed. The Illuminating Engineering Society provides light level recommendations.

HVAC systems

MaintenanceA preventive maintenance program can save on energy costs and keep building occupants comfortable — and productive — all year long. Key elements include:

  • Hire a qualified professional to clean and inspect your HVAC system equipment at least once a year.
  • Inspect seals, valves, pipe joints and instrumentation for leaks and make repairs when needed.
  • Check gauges and other instrumentation to ensure that they're in line with building maintenance policies or manufacturers' recommendations.
  • Be sure all dampers and linkages are connected and opening and closing as intended.
  • Clean heat transfer coils and replace filters as needed.
  • Inspect motors and check belts regularly for tightness.
  • Make sure the cooling system is charged with the right type and amount of refrigerant; too much or too little can increase operating costs.
  • Clean and recalibrate mixed-air and supply-air sensors regularly to ensure they match occupancy schedules and building conditions.

Continuous improvement

A preventive maintenance program that optimizes energy savings is more than just a checklist of items. Leadership, training and documentation are necessary to tie everything together and ensure continuous improvement.

Leadership. Appoint a staff member to provide guidance in energy-efficient maintenance practices and how they fit into the overall energy management program. Clearly define the job function and establish the proper authority and reporting guidelines.

Training. Keep maintenance staff up-to-date on energy-efficient maintenance practices and policies. Educate the entire staff on ways to conserve energy throughout the facility.

Documentation. Maintain updated information about equipment inspections and repairs. Measure and record energy use for specific equipment. Tracking energy use over time can help you spot and address inefficiencies.

Coordinate your preventive maintenance program with your overall energy management plan. Review maintenance policies when considering equipment upgrades or a building redesign.

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