In recent years, green retrofitting has become an increasingly popular practice among businesses that are looking for ways to boost their sustainability and make their operations and their premises more environmentally friendly. If your business is looking to “go green,” read on for a helpful overview of green retrofitting, its benefits and challenges, and how to get started.
What is green retrofitting?
Broadly speaking, green retrofitting is the practice of upgrading buildings with equipment and systems that are more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. In new construction today, more and more buildings are being constructed to a much higher standard when it comes to things like energy efficiency and resource consumption.
However, many other buildings were built decades ago and so do not conform to our modern understanding of what makes a building environmentally friendly. Green retrofitting is all about helping legacy buildings meet today’s standards while at the same time preserving (rather than wasting) all their elements that are still perfectly functional and useable.
What are some examples of green retrofitting?
A great many building renovations and improvements fall under the umbrella of green retrofitting. These can either be undertaken one at a time, or as part of a more comprehensive, full-scale building overhaul. Some examples of green retrofitting include:
Heating and ventilation upgrades —Heating and cooling systems in older buildings can be extremely inefficient and a major drain on energy and resources. Upgrading these systems, especially to take advantage of things like natural ventilation and fresh air intake where possible, is an effective retrofitting move.
Plumbing improvements —Fixing leaky pipes and switching equipment like faucets and toilets to low-flow versions can significantly reduce a building’s water consumption.
Replacing appliances —Plenty of modern domestic appliances, such as refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers, are rated for energy efficiency through various organizations. Upgrading appliances to models with better energy efficiency ratings can help reduce a building’s energy consumption.
Upgrading windows —Upgrading existing windows to high-performance versions that are appropriate for climate and exposure is one of the most effective and easiest steps to prevent energy loss and boost a building’s insulation.
Renewable energy systems —Depending on factors like the location and size of a building, it may be possible to incorporate renewable energy systems into the building’s infrastructure. For example, many buildings in a sunny climate could benefit from having solar panels on the roof: this would allow the building to generate some of its own clean energy, replacing some of the fossil fuels that might otherwise be used to power the building.
What are the benefits of green retrofitting?
The most important benefit of green retrofitting is that it can reduce the energy and water a building consumes, thereby contributing to a more sustainable world. However, many business owners find that green retrofitting offers other benefits and advantages that they perhaps did not expect before.
For example, green retrofitting can result in considerable cost savings for businesses because certain upgrades can reduce monthly energy bills. For instance, double-paned, well insulated windows keep cool air inside a building and reduce the need to run air conditioning systems. Other benefits of green retrofitting include greater employee productivity: a healthier, greener work environment can have a positive impact on employees’ health and well-being, which in turn leads to greater productivity and a stronger bottom line for the business. Businesses that undertake green retrofitting projects may also receive more public support and goodwill. Customers are more likely to support businesses that are committed to social responsibility, which includes care for the environment.
What are the challenges of green retrofitting?
The two biggest challenges associated with green retrofitting are cost and time. Depending on the scope and scale of proposed retrofits, the upfront capital expenditure may be significant, and while many projects pay for themselves over the long term by reducing energy bills and other costs, the time to “break even” on these investments may be too long for some businesses. As for the time factor, planning retrofits, securing the necessary permits, and completing construction can be a lengthy process that may interfere with a business’ normal operations.
What should I do if I want to retrofit my business?
If you have a business that’s housed in an office building, warehouse, or other commercial or industrial facility, and you are interested in green retrofits, there are two things you should do to get started.
Conduct an energy audit —Some businesses have the resources and the will to conduct a full-scale overhaul of their building. However, most businesses will likely start out by undertaking just a few strategic retrofit projects. In order to maximize the impact of your project, it’s important to conduct a full energy audit of your building. This will help you identify which areas or elements are the biggest drain on energy and resources. You can then be sure the retrofits you decide to implement will have the biggest impact possible.
Review your financing options —The good news about green retrofitting is that your business likely won’t have to shoulder all the cost on its own. Subsidies and tax incentives are available for retrofits. Similarly, some financial institutions offer very favorable financing options that can help make green retrofitting more financially feasible. For instance, the Green Loans program from GBTI provides financing for a variety of retrofits, such as solar energy products, energy-saving appliances, and air filters. These loans from GBTI have competitive interest rates, fast approvals, a 25% discount on lending services, and no late payment fees.