Important questions to ask about green procurement for buildings

While figuring out ways to reduce their energy costs, companies can turn to green procurement for buildings. Through passing building certification programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), firms can rest assured that they are lowering their greenhouse gas emissions while conserving valuable natural resources. However, it may be difficult for companies to determine whether it is worth it to implement LEED procurement and energy efficiency initiatives.

To help guide companies through energy efficiency projects and green building certifications, firms can ask themselves important questions related to maximizing efficiency, according to Green Biz.

One question to ask is how much buildings are actually able to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said 40 percent of all energy in the U.S. is consumed by buildings. If energy efficiency improvements are performed in these structures, they have the potential to lower emissions by 220 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is significant considering buildings emit 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Factoring in energy savings

For companies that are profit-driven, another question to ask is the amount of savings and return on investment they are expected to generate through LEED-certification and other projects.

"The LEED provides building owners and operators the tools they need to immediately impact their building's performance and bottom line, while providing healthy indoor spaces for a building's occupants," the USGBC stated on its website.

The USGBC cites a report by the White House Office of Management and Budget that states energy efficiency investments that occurred in the past four years were projected to save up to $18 billion in energy costs over the lifetime of the projects.

As for ROI, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimates that the average ROI for energy efficiency projects would be over 20 percent.

With savings in mind, businesses must also plan out how to retrofit their buildings in order to achieve these energy savings. While companies can modify certain building parts - for example by replacing regular light bulbs with energy efficient ones - some firms may take on the bigger challenge of retrofits that involve a comprehensive overhaul.

These "deep" retrofits require that firms think about how the entire building interacts with every component, including weather and mechanical systems to optimize its energy use. If businesses do opt for a deep retrofit, the savings are larger than conventional retrofits, with the ability to reduce operating costs by as much as 75 percent compared to only 20 percent for conventional projects, according to Green Biz.

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