An Energy-Efficiency Guide for Commercial Buildings

upward view of power lines

How can you make an energy-efficient building?

When you own or manage a commercial structure, an energy-efficient building is important. The bigger the structure and the older the structure, the more important it becomes. Energy efficiency in commercial buildings isn’t as easy as it is in our homes, but it is possible.

It is easier to build a new commercial structure into an energy-efficient building than it is to make an existing structure energy-efficient. In fact, it seems like a monumental feat right now, but with the following tips, you’ll find out it isn’t as daunting of a task as you’ve imagined right now to make existing structures energy-efficient buildings: 

  • Replacing The HVAC System: If you haven’t replaced the HVAC system in the last 10 years or more, then you need to do that first for a more energy-efficient building. Cooling and heating large commercial structures can get expensive. Check to make sure the infrastructure doesn’t need repairs first, and then get quotes on the new HVAC system, one that is more energy efficient. 
  • Replace the Roofing System: When you aren’t sure how to make a commercial building more energy efficient, look to the roof! You may be surprised how much of your cooling and heating is going right through the roof, with your utility bills! Get a few quotes on having an energy-efficient roof installed that will reflect the sun in the summer and keep the heat inside during the winter. 
  • Update the Windows: What cooling and heating aren’t going through the roof is going through the windows! Windows have a huge impact on energy efficiency. If installing new windows isn’t feasible, consider window glazing to help manage the solar heat gain and loss. 
  • Upgrade the Water Heaters: Most people don’t realize that commercial structures will have multiple water heaters, and each one can be a huge drain on the utilities. A large portion of your energy costs are fact is going to heat the water in your building. Upgrade each unit to a high-efficiency model, taking a look at the tank-less version, and you’ll be surprised how much that will help your utility bills each month, including the water! 
  • Energy Efficiency Appliances and Electronics: From the computers and other office equipment like copiers, fax machines, and more, replace them with new updated equipment that is energy efficient. Replaced the breakrooms with energy-efficient dishwashers, microwaves, refrigerators, and stoves. Go with items that are marked as ENERGY STAR® and when things aren’t in use, unplug them! 

When it comes to updating your commercial structure to a more energy-efficient building, there are a lot of things you can do. The marketplace is full of energy-efficient products for commercial buildings that can help and all without making your customers or staff inconvenienced or uncomfortable. 

What is the most energy-efficient building material?

Okay, so you have some ideas about what to do with your current commercial structure. What about new construction though? What are some things you can do to make your new-build structure a more energy-efficient building? 

Every commercial building owner is looking for ways to reduce their overall costs and starting with the energy costs will give you more ROI than laying off staff. Here, offer a few innovative materials that are being used in the commercial construction industry today: 

  • Solar Shingles: If solar panels aren’t possible for your new construction, consider solar shingles for the roofing. They will harness the sun’s power to generate electricity for your building, which will allow you to cut back your electricity expenses going forward – a great ROI to be enjoyed for years. 
  • Cool Roofs: This new technology is what will keep the temperature lower so that there is less strain on the HVAC system. A cool roof reflects the sun’s heat, not absorb it, which in turn will reduce your energy costs. As a bonus, this is a green alternative that will not only give you an energy-efficient building but could earn you some tax credit too. 
  • PEX Piping: You may be surprised to find out that much of the heat in your structure is coming from the water pipes. With more hot water passing through traditional piping, the more your air conditioning has to run and that increases the utility bills. Have your new construction pipe with PEX piping and keep that hot water in the pipes. 
  • Polyiso Insulation: For any building to be energy-efficient, insulation is critical. With the many different insulation types available for commercial structures, a foam board insulation, Polyiso, has an R-value higher per inch compared to all the other options. This is a cost-effective and durable insulation ideal for commercial structures, and it is environmentally friendly, which could earn you some tax credits. 
  • Modular Partitions: Another way to have an energy-efficient building is to control the airflow inside your structure. Modular glass walls have proven to be one of the best ways to do that. Glass allows the natural light to flow through and as a mobile wall unit, you can change the layout to be more effective and energy-efficient. 

What are some energy-efficient construction techniques? 

For new commercial building construction, there are multiple things that can be done that will minimize energy consumption, like these five ways that have become common and have proven to be effective: 

The HVAC Systems

If the HVAC system isn’t appropriately regulated, it can be the biggest pull of energy. Having an energy-efficient HVAC system installed will adjust the air intake through an adjustable exhaust hood setting and other means. The timer system will help minimize the operation during empty or low capacity times of the building. 

Solar Power

Solar panels or solar shingles are effective renewable energy that will cut down the building’s electricity usage. The panels need to be positioned where they will get the most sun exposure and where there is plenty of space for the number of panels needed.


An energy-efficient building should be able to cool and heat itself independently, and ample insulation can make that happen. It aids in regulating the temperature and reduces the air that can escape from the building. 

The Building Design 

The orientation of your commercial building can significantly affect the energy efficiency, this includes the placement of other elements related to the building. Your builders should target temperature regulation as much as possible as a way to minimize the cooling and heating having excessive use. 

LED Lighting and Daylighting

Today LED lighting is more commonly used over halogen or incandescent lighting. Your building design should include LED lighting as an energy saver while still getting the same lighting the old energy-consuming lighting used. A priority focus on glass elements and windows through the building will give you more natural light, thus needing less electricity. 

Roof with solar panels

In Closing 

It is important for commercial building owners to realize how energy-efficient windows for commercial buildings will help their budget with energy-efficient commercial building tax deductions. While they’re saving money, they’re also helping the environment. To learn more or get help with windows or cool roofing in Pittsburgh, PA, reach out to our team at 412-256-8050.