Unlocking Efficiency: The Benefits Of A Commercial Building Energy Audit

A commercial building energy audit is a detailed inspection and analysis of a building’s energy use and efficiency. An energy audit can unlock substantial savings opportunities for business owners and managers looking to reduce overhead costs and maximise profits. Read on to learn more about how a commercial energy audit works and how your company can benefit from one.

What is a Commercial Building Energy Audit?

An energy audit examines a commercial facility’s energy consumption to identify ways to improve efficiency. Auditors take a whole-building approach, reviewing all systems and equipment that impact energy use, including:


Lighting accounts for 20-50% of electricity use in commercial buildings. An assessment will determine if lighting levels are higher than needed, if inefficient lighting needs upgrading, and if intelligent lighting controls and natural daylighting can be implemented.


Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) typically represent around 40% of a commercial building’s energy use. An evaluation will test system performance and identify maintenance issues and upgrades to improve efficiency.

Building Envelope

The building envelope – windows, doors, walls, roof and insulation – is crucial in energy consumption. An inspection can detect air leaks and opportunities for insulation and weatherisation improvements.

Water Heating

With water heating responsible for up to 17% of energy use in commercial buildings, an audit will assess the efficiency of current systems and water usage practices.

Appliances & Plug Loads

An assessment will review the efficiency ratings for appliances, office equipment, electronics and other plug loads. Upgrade recommendations can lead to significant savings.

The Benefits of a Commercial Building Energy Audit

Completing a comprehensive energy audit provides facility managers with an energy use report detailing efficiency upgrades that can reduce utility bills and operating costs. Additional benefits include:

Cost Savings

By identifying problems and opportunities for efficiency improvements, businesses can substantially reduce their energy consumption and costs. Natural Resources Canada estimates a detailed audit can lead to 10-30% energy savings.

Increased Comfort

Many efficiency upgrades also enhance occupant comfort through optimised lighting, temperature control and air quality. This leads to improved productivity and satisfaction.

Reduced Maintenance

An audit can detect issues with HVAC, lighting and other systems before they fail. Preventative maintenance saves repair costs down the road.

Extended Equipment Life

Proper maintenance and strategic upgrades let equipment like HVAC systems operate more efficiently, extending their usable life.

Improved Air Quality

Optimising ventilation systems and upgrading air filters improves indoor air quality, resulting in fewer illnesses for staff.

Enhanced Sustainability

Efficiency improvements reduce a facility’s carbon footprint and environmental impact. This supports corporate sustainability goals.

Utility Incentives

Many utility companies offer rebates and incentives to offset the costs of implementing audit recommendations.

Maximise the Value of Your Commercial Building Energy Audit

Follow these tips to ensure your investment in an audit provides maximum return:

  • Work with qualified auditors experienced in commercial buildings
  • Inform staff about the audit process to facilitate access and data collection
  • Provide at least 12 months of utility bills and data about major equipment
  • Review audit results and prioritise no-cost and low-cost energy conservation measures
  • Develop a plan for budgeting and financing capital improvements
  • Verify mprovements through ongoing energy monitoring and benchmarking

A commercial building energy audit is the first step to unlocking a more efficient, comfortable, cost-effective facility. The detailed insights it provides into your building’s performance make executing an audit an intelligent investment that can yield substantial long-term savings and benefits for your bottom line.

Choosing the Right Audit Firm

Selecting a reputable energy auditing firm is critical to receiving an accurate and actionable assessment. Look for a provider that:

  • Employs certified energy auditors and engineers
  • Has extensive experience auditing commercial buildings similar to yours
  • Uses advanced energy modelling software to analyse savings opportunities
  • Provides detailed reports with photographs and diagrams
  • Assists with utility rebate applications and financing options
  • Offers long-term support for implementing recommendations

Questions to Ask Prospective Firms

When interviewing auditing firms, come prepared with questions such as:

  • How long have you been performing commercial energy audits?
  • What is your auditors’ training and certification?
  • What is your experience with buildings like mine?
  • What technology and software do you use?
  • What does your audit process entail?
  • How long will the on-site assessment take?
  • When will I receive the audit report?
  • Do you identify utility incentives and financing options?
  • What support do you provide for implementing recommendations?

Selecting the right provider ensures you receive an accurate, actionable audit that uncovers the best opportunities for improving your building’s performance.

Energy Audit Costs and Financing

While an energy audit requires an upfront investment, the expense typically pays for itself several times over through utility bill savings. Here are tips for budgeting for an audit:

  • Expect to pay $0.08-$0.16 per square foot for a standard audit.
  • More complex audits for extensive facilities cost $0.16-$0.24 per square foot.
  • Ask your utility company about rebates to offset audit costs.
  • Financing may be available through utility loan programs.
  • The audit expense can be rolled into energy efficiency project financing.
  • Consider using an energy services company (ESCO) to fund the audit under a performance contract.

The audit provides a roadmap to energy savings that can cover your initial investment many times over. Viewing the audit expense as a necessary first step in efficiency improvements makes the cost easier to justify.

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