Energy auditing

Walk-through (or) preliminary audit

The preliminary audit (alternatively called a simple audit, screening audit or walk-through audit) is the simplest and quickest type of audit. It involves minimal interviews with site-operating personnel, a brief review of facility utility bills and other operating data, and a walk-through of the facility to become familiar with the building operation and to identify any glaring areas of energy waste or inefficiency.

Typically, only major problem areas will be covered during this type of audit. Corrective measures are briefly described, and quick estimates of implementation cost, potential operating cost savings, and simple payback periods are provided. A list of energy conservation measures (ECMs, or energy conservation opportunities, ECOs) requiring further consideration is also provided. This level of detail, while not sufficient for reaching a final decision on implementing proposed measure, is adequate to prioritize energy-efficiency projects and to determine the need for a more detailed audit.


General audit

The general audit (alternatively called a mini-audit, site energy audit or detailed energy audit or complete site energy audit) expands on the preliminary audit described above by collecting more detailed information about facility operation and by performing a more detailed evaluation of energy conservation measures. Utility bills are collected for a 12- to 36-month period to allow the auditor to evaluate the facility’s energy demand rate structures and energy usage profiles. If interval meter data is available, the detailed energy profiles that such data makes possible will typically be analyzed for signs of energy waste. Additional metering of specific energy-consuming systems is often performed to supplement utility data. In-depth interviews with facility operating personnel are conducted to provide a better understanding of major energy consuming systems and to gain insight into short- and longer-term energy consumption patterns. This type of audit will be able to identify all energy-conservation measures appropriate for the facility, given its operating parameters. A detailed financial analysis is performed for each measure based on detailed implementation cost estimates, site-specific operating cost savings, and the customer’s investment criteria. Sufficient detail is provided to justify project implementation. The evolution of cloud-based energy auditing software platforms is enabling the managers of commercial buildings to collaborate with general and specialty trades contractors in performing general and energy system-specific audits. The benefit of software-enabled collaboration is the ability to identify the full range of energy efficiency options that may be applicable to the specific building under study with “live time” cost and benefit estimates supplied by local contractors.


Investment-grade audit

In most corporate settings, upgrades to a facility’s energy infrastructure must compete for capital funding with non-energy-related investments. Both energy and non-energy investments are rated on a single set of financial criteria that generally stress the expected return on investment (ROI). The projected operating savings from the implementation of energy projects must be developed such that they provide a high level of confidence. In fact, investors often demand guaranteed savings. The investment-grade audit expands on the detailed audit described above and relies on a complete engineering study in order to detail technical and economical issues necessary to justify the investment related to the transformations.

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