Energy Retrofits: Upgrade Existing Buildings to Compete with New Construction

Image 1- Humber West Facade.pngWith increasingly stringent codes and standards, new construction projects are progressively becoming more energy efficient. In order to remain competitive with new facilities, existing buildings are faced with the challenge of balancing retrofit design goals, energy savings and capital investment. Renovating an existing structure can often be a more cost-effective and sustainable option - but how is this determined?

First consideration for energy-efficient retrofits is frequently given to HVAC (mechanical) systems, but a more holistic approach can prove to be more beneficial. Evaluating remaining service life of existing systems, component durability, energy goals and financial constraints provides the detailed information necessary to guide decision-making at an early stage.

Modeling the numerous options for mechanical systems, roofing, wall insulation, glazing and lighting options can help determine which combinations of these will achieve the owner’s energy-use reduction goals. The results will depend on a number of additional factors including plug loads, climate zone and utility rates.

As the building envelope has a significant effect on the efficiency of the HVAC system, it merits detailed consideration. Benefits of building envelope renewal during a retrofit include:

  • Improved thermal performance and air system control.
  • Less reliance on interior heating and cooling systems.
  • Operating energy cost savings.
  • Increased durability and service life of the building.
  • Improved exterior performance.
  • Opportunity to modernize exterior aesthetics and increase asset value.

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Want to know what the holistic energy retrofit approach looks like in practice?

Check out our article in SAB Magazine, highlighting the process and benefits of the Energy Retrofit of Building N at Humber College. Once complete, the retrofit is expected to save approximately 29% of annual energy use.

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Morrison Hershfield is a market leading, employee-owned professional engineering and management firm that has been making a difference since 1946. We deliver technically sophisticated, cost effective and sustainable infrastructure solutions across the globe.

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