An energy audit is the evaluation of a building’s energy consumption by professional engineers to uncover operational and equipment improvements that will save energy, reduce energy costs, and lead to higher performance. In many areas, this is mandated by local law and depending on the locale, there may be incentives to alleviate the cost of the audit. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) set forth standards and three types of audits to have performed – each building on the previous one.
ASHRAE Level 1
The ASHRAE Level 1 audit is the basic starting point of a buildings’ energy optimization. It consists of a brief interview of utility bills and operating data, interviews with site operating personnel, and a walk-through of the building. Its’ purpose is to understand the building configuration, nature of energy systems and report on recognizable efficiency opportunities. This audit helps establish a baseline in measuring improvements and whether further evaluation is needed. This audit will also outline the range of potential financial incentives available from Federal, State, Local, and Utility sources.
ASHRAE Level 2
The ASHRAE Level 2 audit starts with the findings of the Level 1 audit and dives deeper into the buildings’ energy systems for improvements. The audit starts with a detailed analysis of energy consumption and conditions that affect energy performance such as lighting, air quality, and ventilation to name a few. The results of an ASHRAE Level 2 audit should be a clear report and outline of Energy Efficiency Measures (EEMs) including the general costs for changes and upgrades. Some EEMs can be implemented immediately while other complex matters may require more detailed analysis of the building operations and influencing performance factors.
ASHRAE Level 3
If there are more in-depth issues that need further analysis after an ASHRAE Level 2 audit – the next step would be an ASHRAE Level 3 audit. Reasons for this would be that system upgrades or retrofits discovered may require significant investments to implement. The ASHRAE Level 3 audit is a way for the building Owner to have a clear and detailed understanding of the costs and performance expectations. This complex audit entails detailed data collection over weeks or months which is used to calibrate a computer model of the building that responds to changes the same way the facility would be expected to respond.
Your energy auditor will work closely with the building owners, staff, and other key participants throughout the process to ensure accuracy of data collection and appropriateness of energy efficiency recommendations. It is important to secure the right partner who understands your projects goals, available budget, and who will help determine the right level audit for your buildings’ needs.