Does your business have a comprehensive energy plan? Now is the right time as New York City introduced laws requiring building owners to do a number of things in regards to energy efficiency – benchmarking, performing energy audits, retro-commissioning and a host of other initiatives.
Implementing an efficiency program can save a company millions of dollars in energy usage and drastically reduce emissions as well as create a corporate culture that fosters continuous improvement in the areas of sustainability and building performance. High performance buildings operate efficiently and cost-effectively.
Energy costs and usage can be reduced without your company sacrificing comfort or a great deal of financial resources. Let’s face it, we all need to do more with less. It’s certainly a different environment than it was almost 35 years ago when Jimmy Carter came on TV during the oil crisis with his sweater and said, “You know, we all need to sacrifice.” The truth is, today, with the technology that we have, people don’t need to sacrifice. Proven technology exists that can provide great working and living conditions, the right temperature and humidity, the right level of lighting and we can do it in a very efficient way. So, people don’t have to sacrifice. They can work under the right conditions but spend less money creating those conditions.
Concurrently, capital is loosening up so businesses have access to resources, to make investments in major energy efficiency projects including lighting and lighting controls, HVAC, furnaces, boilers, motors, variable frequency drives and energy efficiency studies. Between the federal and state level, city and utility level, there are substantial incentives available to help businesses make smart investments in energy efficiency.
If the task of implementing an energy plan seems overwhelming, the following steps can help propel you in the right direction:
Make it a Commitment
Realize that energy efficiency is everyone’s responsibility. Make it a company-wide mandate and get everyone involved. Outline important benefits and steps.
Perform an Energy Audit
An energy audit is key in knowing precisely how much energy your company is currently using and exactly where improvements need to be made. It can highlight the weaknesses in current energy consumption and provide recommendations for energy efficiency and savings while increasing your building’s performance. To ensure accurate usage information, measurement of each energy source – e.g. gas, electricity, oil, and renewable – is needed. Use all the information you gather to produce an energy policy and identify long, medium and short-term energy-saving targets.
When implementing an energy policy, you must first decide on specific actions to take to save energy and put those actions in order of priority. It’s very important to set realistic and attainable goals. For example, if your business commits to a percentage reduction in carbon emissions, make sure that this is attainable. It’s a slow and steady ride but if priorities are outlined effectively, you can be certain to reach your goals.
Determine Roles & Resources
Having an experienced energy management team or manager can keep everyone on track by reiterating and highlighting the benefits of the corporate energy policy and leading the team toward their energy saving goals.
Get the Word Out – Raise Awareness
It is very important to get everyone involved from key decision makers, to senior management, to staff at all levels of the business. Choosing to provide energy efficiency training and energy efficiency education programs can help employees understand the importance of the energy efficiency policy, boost participation and motivate employees.
Research Energy Efficiency Finance Options
Many organizations see low funds as a major obstacle to energy efficiency projects but in many cases, funding can be structured so that the projects can be repaid from energy savings, negating the need for upfront capital. A good energy service company can guide you in the right direction offering special financing while the government provides tax credit and low-interest loans for energy projects.
Implement Energy Efficiency Processes and Equipment
Energy efficiency projects can be outlined in short, medium and long-term as well as low-cost and projects needing capital investment. Starting with the short term and low-cost measures can have an immediate impact and get everyone on board at the starting gate.
Measure, Monitor and Report
Measuring and monitoring progress regularly will increase active participation and make sure your company is on target to reaching its energy saving goals. Alert the staff to the progress, this will certainly keep them motivated.
Get Certified – Register for Third-Party Verification
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an internationally recognized green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC). It provides building managers with the groundwork of constructing, operating and maintaining green building design solutions. Visit http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CategoryID=19 for more information on LEED certification guidelines and processes.
The ENERGY STAR® is a recognizable symbol of energy efficiency. The EPA awards the ENERGY STAR to organizations achieving a high level of energy performance within their industry. There are special criteria for receiving an ENERGY STAR rating. Visit http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=industry.bus_industry_plants for more details.
Achieve, Recognize, Reward!
Recognizing and rewarding those employees who have taken great initiative for implementing the energy policy and reducing energy consumption will foster an environment of sustainability and possibly increase participation.
Written by David Pospisil. Pospisil is Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, New York, N.Y. Con Edison’s Green Team offers incentives to offset the costs of those major energy efficiency projects. The Con Edison Green Team is eager to help you create a high performance building. Join the discussion on LinkedIn at the Con Edison Commercial & Industrial (C&I) Energy Efficiency group. For information about Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, visit conEd.com/energysavings or call 1-877-797-6347.