Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality

The COVID Impact on Carbon Emissions

Historically, office locations and commercial buildings had witnessed occupancy rates to the tune of ~94%. In April 2020, COVID’s impact dropped average occupancy to a mere ~15%. During this time, energy usage for commercial landlords had plummeted.

As occupancy slowly started to return, commercial landlords began increasing ventilation levels required to meet COVID standards – leading to significant energy expenditures when compared to pre-COVID levels, despite lower occupancy rates. According to a new report from Hatch Data, commercial landlords were producing tens of millions of metric tons in additional carbon emissions to ventilate office buildings.

As office building occupancy levels begin to return to pre-COVID occupancy levels, a shift that is already beginning to unfold, commercial buildings will use 44 billion kilowatt hours of additional energy – equivalent to nearly 31 million more metric tons of carbon.

Why This Matters?

The impact of increased energy usage significantly affects a building’s operating expense. While increased energy usage can usually be justified with rising occupancy rates, this is a different case today. Instead, energy usage is on track to surpass pre-Covid levels at much lower occupancy rates.

The Solution

Satisfying post-pandemic standards and requirements to properly ventilate indoor environments while also keeping a handle on energy usage can become burdensome without the correct system in place. Implementation of an intelligent platform that automatically modulates outside air dampers in response to changes in contaminant concentrations (CO2, CO, PM2.5, PM10, TVOCs, O3) can prove to be a dependable solution. This granular level of data will intelligently facilitate a balance between indoor environmental quality and energy efficiency in real time.

Given that both occupant and building-related pollutants are being monitored, all outside air dampers can maintain a position relative to what is happening in real time within the indoor environment. By utilizing this approach, the system now begins to analyze, react, and learn automatically to the changing conditions – providing significant advantages when compared to prescriptive calculations based solely on design. This allows for substantial improvements in energy efficiency without sacrificing the indoor environmental quality of the building.

Possessing the ability to intelligently control systems with outside air optimization by analyzing the quality of the indoor environment in real time will be considered a necessary feature as we adapt to the new requirements of a post-pandemic world.

If you are interested in learning more about TBL’s solution, or real-time monitoring and control in general, TBL is here to help.

Contact us today for more information.