Zero Energy Upgrades: What’s in it for me?

If you’re a contractor, in real estate, or make your living in HVAC, you likely recognize the value of building or retrofitting with emissions-lowering, ‘Zero Energy’ goals in mind. The benefits–not the least of which is doing your part as a global citizen–might seem obvious. For some owners of residential or commercial properties, however, the knee-jerk reaction to suggested energy-efficient upgrades might result in a request for the bare minimum in construction or retrofitting options. A ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality might be the reason behind such decisions. After all, conventional repairs and replacements to aging construction and appliances can run cheaper than so-called ‘green solutions’.

When dealing with clientele who have not digested the idea of optimal sustainable energy practices, it’s important to understand that, to them, the urgency of climate change may feel abstract—a lifetime away. How can you convince someone that the benefits of energy-efficient choices exist in the here and now as do repercussions of ignoring our planet’s precarious situation? How do you get them to commission a LEED or ENERGY STAR®-sanctioned building or home, retrofit their HVAC with a superior ventilation system, or merely upgrade to energy-efficient windows? You center the conversation on their bottom line and their comfort via the following talking points:

Going green is not as costly as you might think.

Yes, building or retrofitting a commercial building or home as Zero Energy or just becoming more energy efficient can command a higher price tag. That upcharge doesn’t have to hurt, though. Investigate the following avenues to curtail or even avoid upfront costs:

Your energy bill will go down.

The more energy efficient your home or building, the more money you will save on energy bills. estimates the average ENERGY STAR®-rated home can save 30%. And commercial buildings? The department has this to say: “The average commercial building wastes 30 percent of the energy it consumes. American businesses spent approximately $350 billion on energy costs in 2016 at commercial and industrial facilities. These businesses would save approximately $35 billion with just a 10% improvement in energy efficiency.”

It’s not necessary to retrofit everything at once.

Sure, attaining Zero Energy status via retrofits can come across as a huge, expensive endeavor, but like any other large project, it’s best to break it into chunks. Rocky Mountain Institute suggests a “Zero Over Time” (ZOT) approach. Based on the idea that if you plan deep energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy storage projects according to building life-cycle triggers, your investments will go further.

Emissions have already started to affect your life.

It is important to stress that the ‘green-house effect’ damages to our planet we were warned about decades ago have already come to pass. These days, the goal is damage control, not prevention. From sea to shining sea, no matter where a person lives, the effects are there. Coastal flooding has already increased and may soon affect military bases. Droughts have worsened in Western states. Wildfire seasons are longer. Hurricanes are more damaging. Unless giant steps are taken in the building sector, catastrophic weather conditions will worsen. The number of days of walking around in 100-degree-plus heat may double or worse in many parts of the country, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Their interactive tool provides an idea of how many your county may face per year. The goal in mentioning such effects is not to incur fear, but to open people’s eyes to the fact that climate change could affect their lives through inconvenience, discomfort, or loss of personal property as soon as tomorrow.

You will see the money you invest in Zero Energy projects again.

Naturally, the cost of implementing energy-efficient systems and products will vary with the size of a home or building and its specific needs. What you want to know is the Return On Investment (ROI) for the money shelled out. Energy-efficient solutions will repay the capital investment over time via lower energy bills, fewer maintenance costs, and higher employee productivity. A variety of factors will determine how long it will take, but as an example, clients of Haglid EngineeringTM typically see an ROI over the course of 6 months to 2.5 years on superior, energy-efficient HVAC systems. Because you’ll want to know the details on that ROI before committing to the work, they show you the numbers via their patented BPE Payback Analysis® system.

You can boost real estate worth.

Since green buildings and homes are more comfortable, healthier, and are becoming the ‘in’ thing, buyers and tenants are willing to pay more. According to Forbes, “Real estate owners are finding energy efficiency isn’t just good business from a cost-reduction standpoint. It is sound fiscal policy from the perspective of tenant attraction.” (Steele, J. (2019, March 11). Energy-Efficient Investments Boosting Real Estate Portfolio Valuations. Retrieved from In short, real estate is moving in a direction where owning the source of a large carbon footprint is rather unfashionable and could be less profitable. In other words, not cool.

Still need a little help convincing a client that energy-efficient solutions are worth their time and money? Have them chat with Haglid Engineering about custom solutions for their project. If we retrofitted 656,000 square feet of office, warehouse, and refrigeration space on a gas guzzler of an industrial complex turning it into a Net Zero facility, imagine what we could do for a typical commercial or residential property!