Making our buildings more efficient, and sustainably using energy is a growing priority for our profession.

And, while many of us think of propane gas ideal primarily for our backyard grills and recreational vehicles, the Propane Education & Research Council is urging consideration of propane as a source of energy for several functions that will allow the building to use energy in ways that are cleaner and more efficient.

“Several major energy systems throughout a facility can be powered by propane, an energy efficient solution that maximizes a facility’s effectiveness and controls operating costs,” according to the Council, including:

  • Generators

Commercial propane generators provide supplemental power for a building’s electrical loads when the electric grid is interrupted. They are typically installed as fully automated systems that ramp up quickly for almost immediate power and hands-off operation and have capacities ranging from 5 to 400 kW.

  • Furnaces

Propane furnaces offer flexibility in both the type and capacity of the equipment, making them a good fit for many different commercial buildings. With capacity from 44,000 Btu/h up to more than 1 million Btu/h and efficiency levels of 80 to 98.5 percent, these furnaces can meet commercial demands.

  • Boilers

Propane boilers that are Energy Star qualified and have AFUE ratings of 90% or higher, are at least 11% more efficient than minimum efficiency models. Further, propane boilers qualifying for Energy Star’s Most Efficient label — an AFUE rating of 95 or greater — can save over 15% on energy costs over a minimum efficiency boiler.

  • Water heaters

High efficiency propane water heaters — storage tank and tankless models — are used in many commercial settings.

  • Vehicles

Propane autogas burns cleaner than gasoline and diesel, resulting in reduced maintenance costs and a longer engine life.