The commercial building sector accounted for about 18 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2021. HVAC (35 percent) and major appliances (18 percent) such as water heating, refrigerators and freezers, and dryers are the two largest users of energy in commercial buildings. For engineers, energy services contractors, building owners, and facility managers, it’s clear that boosting efficiency of the building sector’s heating and water heating can have a major impact on energy spending and carbon emissions.

In some cases, conservation measures can help. For example, Energy Star’s energy-saving measures checklist recommends conducting a nighttime audit to find out what’s on after hours that shouldn’t be and regularly checking and maintaining equipment to ensure that it’s functioning efficiently.

Once buildings have captured the low-hanging fruit of efficiency measures, upgrading inefficient heating and water-heating equipment or retrofitting existing systems to improve operation are logical next steps.

With many buildings and organizations measuring their ESG (environmental, social, and governance) progress, reducing the carbon footprint of commercial buildings can make a quick, large climate impact. Although electrification has become a common refrain for organizations pursuing zero net energy goals, the results of electrification often depend on the availability of feasible energy options. If grid electricity is the product of burning high-carbon primary fuels such as coal or biomass, then shifting a building’s energy needs toward electricity does not yield a low-carbon outcome.

Propane systems, on the other hand, can produce lower emissions than those run on electricity or heating oil in some scenarios. Propane can also supplement renewable energy systems due to its low greenhouse gas emissions and ease of on-site storage.

Download our latest guide to explore upgrade and retrofit opportunities that can enhance a building’s efficiency and carbon footprint, no matter where the building is located. Let’s put your next project on the path to zero net energy.

Download the Ultimate Guide to Commercial Heating and Water-Heating Retrofits