Tenant Improvements and Build-Outs
A tenant improvement (TI) or build-out of new office space is an excellent opportunity to enhance energy performance by ensuring that the space layout and equipment specifications are designed with energy efficiency in mind. Talk to your landlord about energy considerations for your future space. Consider negotiating financial incentives for increased levels of energy efficiency, tying specific efficiency requirements to tenant improvement allowances.
Select a design firm with experience in energy-efficient design and construction. ENERGY STAR’s New Building Design program offers information for architects and building design professionals. You can also use the directory of architecture & engineering firms currently creating designs that meet EPA performance criteria to earn the ENERGY STAR.
Review the operational and technical steps for increasing the energy efficiency of existing office space – guidance and suggested standards for some of the office equipment, appliances, lighting, and HVAC equipment that may be installed during a TI. Above and beyond these steps, also consider the following technical and design recommendations for your improvement or build-out:
- Ensure that TIs take the best possible advantage of existing daylight, for example by creating open office areas around the perimeter of the space. Furniture and partitions can also be arranged to allow maximum daylight into the interior.
- Be aware of how employees’ comfort may be affected by radiant temperature near windows, installing shades and blinds wherever applicable.
- Install ENERGY STAR qualified light fixtures and lamps wherever possible. Use high-efficiency T8 or T5 fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and LED lamps. Light-colored, reflective surfaces can be utilized to enhance lighting effectiveness and further reduce the amount of electric light required.
- If the project involves electrical re-wiring, incorporate new or additional lighting controls such as dimmers, occupancy sensors, and photosensors.
- Give employees added control over lighting levels with task lighting, blinds, shading devices, and dimmers.
- If new or supplemental HVAC units are installed, establish minimum energy efficiency standards, and consider ENERGY STAR qualified equipment. Take a staged approach, reducing loads from lighting and office equipment before selecting HVAC equipment. You may be able to reduce the size (and cost) of the HVAC equipment in this way.
- Furniture, partitions, and other space arrangements can impact airflow. Ensure that nothing is placed in the way of vents or air returns.
- Be sure that the energy-efficient design strategies and specifications are included in construction documents.
- Keep an eye on construction progress by performing periodic site visits. Verify that contractors are turning off lights and temporary HVAC equipment and closing windows when they leave.
- After the project is complete, perform a walk-through to check that systems are operating properly. Depending on the scope and size of the project, a qualified contractor may need to test and balance the air distribution system and/or commission the new space.