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What you need to know before you begin

State Standards or "Title 24"
As you are probably already aware, the California Energy Commission (CEC) administers energy efficiency standards for both residential and non-residential buildings. Commonly referred to as "Title 24" after the Government Code section where they are listed, these standards mandate certain requirements for the building envelope, lighting systems, mechanical (or "heating, ventilating and air conditioning" [HVAC]) systems, and water heating systems. Any construction project that requires a building permit must comply with Title 24 requirements. However, Title 24 is considered a minimum. Most commercial facilities can achieve energy savings of 20 to 40 percent greater than Title 24. For more information on Title 24 call the Energy hotline (800) 772-3300 or visit http://www.energy.ca.gov.

What are Your Energy Costs?
Assemble your energy bills for the past several years. If these are not accessible, contact your utilities and request summaries. Also, assemble bills for the operation and maintenance for lighting, HVAC and other energy related costs. Use this information as a baseline for tracking energy savings as you implement your energy conservation plan. The more you know about the costs of energy for your business, the easier it will be to determine which energy efficiency measures are a good investment.

How Do You Use Energy?
The way you use energy is referred to as your "energy profile." Each building and business type has a different energy consumption profile. There are a number of reasons for this: Hours of operation, occupancy patterns, distinctive energy uses (retail display lighting, refrigeration, office equipment, etc.), equipment efficiency and building characteristics can all significantly impact energy costs. You should identify the categories of greatest energy usage in order to determine where energy consumption can be reduced.

In addition to pure consumption, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), there is a cost for the maximum amount of energy used at any one time. This maximum amount is referred to on the utility bill as "peak demand." For instance, peak demand charges are usually highest in the summer when air conditioning systems put an enormous strain on the electric utilities' distribution systems. Peak demand charges can be as much as 40 percent of the summer electrical bills. For this reason, electric demand limiting strategies, such as shifting some uses to off hours can reduce energy costs as much as measures that reduce overall energy consumption.

Developing a List of Best Options
Before you begin spending money on your building to improve its energy efficiency, you should know which types of energy efficiency projects are feasible for your facility and how much energy savings you can expect. Establish an energy savings target. A 20-30 percent reduction in energy usage over traditional systems is often within reach.

Building in Energy Efficiency
For either new construction or a major retrofit/remodel, select a design and construction team with solid experience in energy efficiency. Pay attention to energy savings opportunities early in the process, especially during the conceptual phase of design and equipment specifications stages. The Southern California Gas Company offers a program that summarizes 57 energy efficiency measures in the areas of energy management, architecture, lighting and HVAC.

Implementing Your Energy Plan
Identify the energy efficiency opportunities with the greatest return on investment as evaluated either with the simple payback method or lifecycle cost. Most of the recommendations found here have simple paybacks ranging from a few months to about five years.

Tracking Your Savings
Track energy savings as you implement your plan. This will serve as a valuable planning and motivational tool, and will provide tangible evidence of savings to your business' bottom line!

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