The goal of an energy audit is to save money. It’s really as simple as that. Identify all the uses of energy and either reduce the consumption, or completely remove the machinery or process that is using the energy.
Large commercial buildings pose some specific challenges to determining energy savings opportunities due to the sheer size of the building, complexity of some of the installed systems, interdependency of these systems, and difficult negotiations between seasoned building owners and engineering companies.
Another aspect that can be confusing to clients is the level of detail necessary to get the job of identifying energy savings done.
Energy audits can come in many different sizes ranging from a simple “walk-through” audit where the result is a list of items that a building owner may consider when attempting to improve the efficiency of his building to a “investment grade” audit that would likely include in-depth baseline information, diagnostics, computer modelling, recommendations and engineering plans.
The American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers or ASHRAE does an excellent job at explaining the short comings of the walk-through audit and the merits of a more comprehensive approach. So while a walk-through audit might seem like a good place to start in an incremental approach, a building owner runs a significant risk of not finding significant or measurable energy savings. A comprehensive audit will cost a client more upfront but the cost is well justified by
the greater energy savings opportunities identified and by avoiding duplication of effort as many improvement descriptions, which guide implementation can be provided in the audit. A comprehensive approach using structured techniques can make the work easier and provide a framework for substantial and measurable energy savings.
The full article can be found at http://www.ashrae.org/members/doc/shapiro_8090903.pdf.