President’s Column: Building on the Benefits of Energy Efficiency

Today’s emphasis on energy management provides contractors with several opportunities to expand their businesses and help buildings become more energy efficient.

Nathan L. Dills

Sustainability has traditionally been pursued by developers through the deployment of new technologies aimed at reducing energy consumption. Today, both energy management and sustainability have been established as core strategies to increase the competitiveness of real estate portfolios whether they are multi-family, commercial or industrial. Investors and owners both realize that financial value increases the more you focus on energy savings and sustainability.

Building owners have realized they can charge higher rents and enjoy lower vacancies if their buildings are designated energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Currently in the market, LEED certified properties – silver, gold or platinum – are commanding up to 9 percent rental premiums over non-LEED certified buildings. The combination of premium pricing and more sophisticated building operating systems puts SMACNA contractors right in the sweet spot for continued work in the energy efficiency space.

In SMACNews this month you will see how energy efficiency is viewed more holistically as a broad-ranging, integrated effort to use all the systems of a building to minimize the impact of building operations on the environment. For instance, a feature on green roofs illustrate how they can reduce a roof’s temperature by 30 to 40 degrees, which in turn significantly reduces the building’s need for air conditioning in the summer. Another feature touches on a high efficiency HVAC system that relies on natural ventilation for half the year – with operable windows 33 stories up.

How do you measure whether energy improvements are optimized? One way is to have SMACNA testing, adjusting and balancing contractors provide consultations and test the performance of your building. Our TAB contractors report on their evolving role to help owners and general contractors get the most out their energy efficient systems.

The mindset of owners is changing. Many now view a building as one inter-connected system rather than disparate silos of heating/cooling, electricity and plumbing. Integrated building operations including the installation of green roofs, adding ventilation as a component of HVAC, reducing electrical demands, and controlling water usage – all make good business sense these days. They also provide SMACNA contractors with an unprecedented opportunity to not only be involved in more sophisticated HVAC systems, but to get involved in more aspects of running a building’s energy efficient operations.

The challenge for owners is to reduce the impact of a building on the environment while maintaining the comfort for occupants. I am certain the sophisticated systems needed to accomplish this are best provided by SMACNA contractors.


Nathan L. Dills
SMACNA President