Where do you put your money in retrofits? - SmartBrief

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Where do you put your money in retrofits?

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SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Sustainability — tracks feedback from more than 17,000 CSR leaders. We run the poll question each Wednesday in our e-newsletter. This week’s analysis is provided by Don Carli, CEO of business-intelligence and marketing-research consultancy Nima Hunter.

Last week, we asked: There are many aspects of a commercial or industrial building that can affect its energy use, water use and overall sustainability performance. Which aspects of building performance does your company focus on when renovating or retrofitting buildings?

  • Building envelope, such as walls, roofs, floors, glazing and doors: 38.61%
  • Mechanical systems, such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning and water: 21.78%
  • Production equipment: 2.97%
  • Information technology and office equipment: 2.97%
  • Landscaping: 2.97%
  • Parking facilities: 0.99%
  • General lighting: 11.88%
  • Signage and emergency lighting: 1.98%
  • On-site power, such as solar, wind, co-generation, demand response and backup generators or batteries: 1.98%
  • Recycling and waste management: 9.9%
  • Building-information management systems, such as monitoring and managing energy use, water use and greenhouse-gas emissions: 3.96%

The results have me puzzled. I am surprised and encouraged that “building envelope” is the greatest area of focus. It is by no means the easiest aspect of a building to retrofit, but the building envelope certainly can have the greatest impact on a building’s overall performance as well as the configuration of other systems, such as lighting or mechanical. Addressing lighting or mechanical systems in combination with improvements in envelope performance can result in significantly improved project return on investment and overall building performance. The poll also indicates that many aspects of building performance that are relatively easy to upgrade independent of the building envelope, such as parking facilities, production equipment, IT and office equipment, and landscaping, are not getting as much attention as they deserve.