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CES Blog

New Construction vs. Retrofit: What You Need to Know

  • September 18, 2019
  • Written By: Brooke Williams
  • No Comments

Retrofitting an old building can be an extensive project. You may run into issues that will require workarounds, such as removing load-bearing walls, rewiring electrical systems, reworking the plumbing, and more. However, retrofitting is greener than building new, but it may not be the less expensive alternative in every case. New construction can be more cost-effective in some scenarios, especially if a retrofitting project is going to cover several different types of utilities, such as completely upgrading a building’s lighting design, HVAC, or plumbing. In this blog, we’ll show the differences between new construction projects and retrofitting, and how CES can make a difference regardless of your project.

Spend Now, Save Later

Retrofitting is almost universally the less expensive option, but that’s not always the case. If a building is too old or outdated, it may require a lot of expensive upgrades, repairs, and updates to bring it back up to code while also maximizing its energy efficiency. Additionally, you may need to factor in generally higher maintenance costs for areas that may not have been upgraded.

Studies have also shown that environmentally certified buildings can increase productivity, with more than 50% of those surveyed noticing improvements across the board. Improved natural light, better ventilation, and better temperature control were some metrics used to identify employee satisfaction, and all of these can be solved by a few retrofitting projects.

When it comes to new construction, you can build everything right the first time and install the newest, most energy-efficient technology, equipment, and systems from the beginning. Although it may cost more upfront, it can help you save money in the long run by having lower maintenance costs and increased energy savings.

But the savings don’t stop there. Plenty of energy companies offer rebates for going green or updating electrical systems. And if that isn’t an incentive enough, there are federal and statewide rebates available for many different upgrades.

If you have an extensive retrofitting project ahead of you, contact our CES Projects department. They can help connect customers with energy companies offering rebates in their area for upgrading to a greener, more energy-efficient building design.

Limited Space vs. Unlimited Options

When retrofitting an existing building, you are limited by the space you’re renovating. This may make it tricky to upgrade all of the systems in place, especially if the structure is old or wasn’t built completely up to code to begin with. For instance, upgrading the HVAC could interfere with other electrical systems in the building, or installing new energy-saving devices may require a completely overhauled wiring system to take advantage of the new energy efficiency.

With new construction, you can build knowing how you’re going to run the wiring, install different systems, and more. You can see everything laid out in front of you and adapt more easily to roadblocks that may otherwise halt a retrofitting project completely.

Quick Retrofit Tips

Instead of investing a lot of money straight away for a smarter building, take it one project at a time. Even though retrofitting usually has a strong investment return, it may take years for the investment to pay itself off. In this case, start with upgrading your LED lighting, which has the fastest ROI, and move on from there. We carry product lines from hundreds of lighting vendors, including Fusion and Tamlite, and they offer plenty of lighting solutions regardless of your needs.

Another great way to save money is to make sure that your existing appliances aren’t drawing power while not in use, which is commonly known as phantom power. Installing smart plug control loads can help you monitor how much energy your appliances draw. After a baseline period of about seven days, program the plug control loads and watch your energy consumption drop. Depending on how many appliances you have, you could save hundreds in the first year alone.

New Building Tips

Building new is now a more realistic option than ever with smart technology making its way into the construction space, reducing the overall time and costs of building new. Construction and operation are now better linked when constructing a smarter building, eliminating inefficiencies that may not show up until your business moves in and begins production in the new space.

From MCG custom panel solutions that can link your operations together to Siemens smart controllers, there are more ways than ever to ensure your entire operation is compatible and working together seamlessly. If you foresee your business making the most of the new building’s innovative, energy-efficient design, then it may be the best solution to push your business to the next level.

Whether you’re planning on constructing a smart building from scratch, or just looking to maximize your investment in your current space, City Electric Supply carries vendors that can help you reach your goal of a more connected space with better energy efficiency.


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