Optimization of energy conservation measures to improve efficiency in commercial buildings.
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In addition to international energy concerns, South Africa is facing its own electricity generation challenges. Periodic load shedding leads to a decrease in national revenue as the production of goods and services comes to a halt and investor confidence in the country declines. This particularly affects small businesses and contributes to unemployment. Many South African government buildings are old with poor energy management practices. These buildings tend to consume more energy than necessary, making the buildings highly energy intensive, thus compounding the energy demand on the grid. The country’s energy challenge and the lack of energy efficiency in commercial buildings adds to excessive and wasteful consumption of energy, which negatively impacts the environment and the already hurt economy. The aim of this research was to evaluate energy efficiency in a public commercial building and identify the drivers and barriers to energy efficiency to improve energy management practices and ensure electrical and mechanical systems are energy efficient. The outcome from this research indicates that energy consumption can be improved and reduced by using energy efficient technology, implementing energy efficient design techniques for systems design, and incorporating energy conservation measures where possible. Effective energy management of a commercial building involves operation and maintenance of electro-mechanical equipment and continuously improving energy consumption by monitoring the buildings energy use. Another important outcome from this research is that government regulations, building policies and other regulatory documents play an important role in encouraging the implementation of energy efficiency as well as monitoring and improving energy usage. A review of energy efficiency in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems indicated that energy efficiency can be implemented from the design stage, where the designer selects energy efficient technology so that energy efficiency of the system is optimised. A review of various articles concluded that energy efficiency of lighting systems and miscellaneous electrical loads (MELs) can be improved by the use of energy efficient light bulbs, occupancy sensors, day/night switches and other novel energy efficient technologies. The review on drivers and barriers to energy efficiency showed that drivers and barriers to energy efficiency can be found in various stages of a building’s life cycle, and in some cases decisions made at the inception stages affect the energy consumption during the operation of the facility. The experimental results showed that the energy conservation measures implemented in the buildings in this study were relatively cost effective and produced a significant improvement in the consumption of electrical energy.