Archive for the ‘Energy services’ Category

Integrating HVAC and Energy Services with Energy Service Agreements

September 16th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Advice to HVAC Contractors on Making the ESA Sale, Avoiding Anklebiters, and Long Term Relationships

Thom Brazel, our hero

Thom Brazel, our hero

by Thom Brazel, Chairman of the Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) Board of Managers and General Manager of West Coast Operations for Hill York, a leading provider of commercial air-conditioning and energy solutions. This 75 year old company is a leading provider of commercial air-conditioning and energy solutions with six locations across Florida. With nearly twenty years experience in the HVAC industry, Brazel is a LEED AP, and was part of the Task Force that created the MSCA LEGS (Labor Estimating Guide for Service) as well as the MSCA Green Star certification and MSCA Green PM.

Note: This article appeared in HVAC Business on June 28, 2011. The Building Advisor wanted to get it over to the blog for archival purposes. 

When I look back at the HVAC industry over the last few years, I’m amazed that in 2007, nobody in our industry was talking about LEED or green. At that time, honestly, finding enough retrofit and service techs was an HVAC company’s biggest problem.

Now it’s absolutely different. I’m hearing anecdotally that a 60% decrease in HVAC contractor business is common. We’ve had people flat out tell us they don’t know what to do. Contractors who used to be in residential and light commercial are competing with bigger companies, because the smaller projects have dried up.

I call them the “ankle biters,” because they’re underbidding; they want to get the job now, get the money and move out. It’s creating significant price competition. However, many of the small guys are going under, and the larger companies that aren’t adapting to change are going away as a result of competing a losing battle on price.

Anklebiters Vs. Value

We are now seeing a culture shift between contractors competing merely on price, and those companies really executing on more of a value-add. And I see an ever widening rift between these two types of companies. We can fight over the scraps for awhile, but the smaller contractors who are in it for the short term will eventually run out of cash, fall away, or get gobbled up by a bigger company.

Many contractors seem to be dealing with difficult times by grieving over it, rather than reinventing themselves. They go from denying there’s a problem, to being angry, to bargaining and making deals, until they’re depressed and finally move into acceptance of the marketplace for what it is right now.  Unfortunately for many companies, it is now too late.

A lot of businesses think if they stick with it, things will go back to the way they were.

Everything Existing Is New Again

At Hill York, our focus for decades has been predominately on new construction, and we’ve had to adapt beyond an additional focus on service, maintenance and retrofits all the way to creating safer, healthier buildings that are serviced from a holistic viewpoint.

We have restructured the company in response to current economic times, and made multiple changes to provide solutions. The biggest change is our attention to existing buildings, and energy driven retrofits. We like to say, ‘It’s only a new building once, but it’s an existing building forever.’ That is where the majority of our focus now lies.

Two years ago, our hyGreen division [Hill York’s team dedicated to providing strategic, energy-saving solutions to new and existing buildings] was a department made up of seven or eight people. Today, it is becoming a company-wide culture. Almost every retrofit project we do has an energy component. We now don’t simply take it past the hyGreen team – we ask ourselves going in, “what is the hyGreen component of everything we touch?”

We’ve sold approximately 35 Energy Solutions Agreements (ESAs), and we use a building performance diagnostic program, BuildingAdvice, in conjunction with many of them. BuildingAdvice uses data collection and analysis to generate comprehensive reports such as energy benchmarks, assessments and audits with escalating levels of detail on improving energy usage in the building. There are other tools available, but BuildingAdvice is our preferred tool because it’s automated and applicable to the widest number of building types.

At Hill York, we have it structured where the customer pays for the initial energy reports only if they don’t elect to complete a project we recommend as a result, assuming that project meets their buying criteria. By and large, we know there’s the potential for energy savings in pretty much any facility we survey, so we have little risk of not finding a viable project.

Looking Forward 

If you’re the driver, you’re never going to get driven around. My advice to HVAC contractors working with an ESA model is that right now, it’s a financially-based sale,  but it’s a relationship-based sale as well.

You have to show the hard numbers on ROI or it’s not going to happen. Tools like BuildingAdvice reports help to quantify statements. [Hill York’s hyGreen also partners with other companies, including utiliVisor, OptiNet, Energy Expert, and SmartCool, to sustain and measure energy performance for commercial and industrial businesses.] For example, in Florida, HVAC is typically 60% of a building’s overall utility cost. We can anticipate overventilation, but measuring carbon dioxide levels with BuildingAdvice helps us put a dollar figure to it, rather than simply being speculative. The findings have to be real, and tangible. But that’s only half the battle. You need a customer who knows and trusts you. A customer who sees you as a partner.

Learning from Mistakes

Here’s a little example of where Hill York blew it with a potential customer. We were recently going after a maintenance agreement with a customer who has been using another vendor for years. From a pricing standpoint, our proposal on the 200,000 square foot commercial office building was in the same ballpark as the other vendors. Our program was clearly a value-add to the potential customer, as it included a simple energy benchmark, determined the building performance relative to other buildings and identified a handful of opportunities, all of which yielded significant energy savings opportunities. Here’s how the conversation went after they’d received that info:

Potential Customer: “Thanks for the info. Good stuff! However, we are happy with the folks we’ve been working with. We know them and they know us.”

Hill York: “If your current vendor is truly looking out for your best interests, why have they never mentioned any of these cost-saving opportunities to you before?”

Potential Customer: “Good point, however, now we are aware of the opportunities for savings, and we really appreciate the information!”

Long story short, we didn’t get the maintenance agreement, and the other company did the energy projects we recommended.

Where did we fail? We used the finest technologies available to gather data, did the analysis and proved to the customer we were smarter than the other guys, but we didn’t bother to develop a level of trust and rapport first. Did we differentiate ourselves?  Absolutely. But we missed the most important piece – the relationship.

Relationships Still Key

During challenging economic times, the companies who survive will do so due to strong relationships. Work within your company’s relationships, and strengthen them with the credibility that comes from harnessing the information that can be obtained from the technologies that are readily available. Continuously look for ways to make every one of your customers operate their facilities better, and they will remain your customer.



Summer HVAC Wrap + BetterBricks Video

September 1st, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Before the summer winds to a close, The Building Advisor feels it deserves a look back. In addition to soaring heat waves, the summer’s energy efficiency news was telling.

First, go to our latest webinar on Getting to the Decision Makers – a summer triumph from AirAdvice in providing HVACs with the tools they need to educate building owners and managers on energy efficiency cost savings.

Best video series ever! Building Night Walks from NEEA’s BetterBricks’ YouTube Channel. Sorta like “The X Files” meets your life.

Here is one:

Johnson Controls (JCI) issued its annual Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) survey last June, [greenbiz.com's article here] asking executives responsible for energy use and real estate decisions how they feel about energy and how it’s affecting their business decisions. The top line bullet from over of over 4,000 property managers surveyed?

“Energy cost savings, government incentives and enhanced public image [are] the biggest motivators for energy-efficiency investments.”

Read the executive summary here, direct from the horse’s mouth.

CNBC (finally!) evaluated the report’s findings with a good, long look in this week’s article “Energy Price Volatility Now A Major Factor In Corporate Efficiency Drive.” As Trevor Curwin pointed out,

“‘Bottom-line energy costs savings’ is the biggest single reason for property managers to consider spending on energy efficiency projects, but ‘energy security’ jumped into the top-five list of concerns from out of nowhere.”

JCI’s research shows the average payback time for an energy efficiency project is 3.1 years. While “government and utility incentives” are huge drivers for the energy efficiency marketplace, the “Achilles heel” of most efficiency improvement projects is still financing.

Tom Konrad

Tom Konrad

Forbes blogger Tom Konrad did a great series on energy services stocks in June. His post The Sector Information Technology Forgot looks at how demand response – programs that offer incentives for business owners who curtail their facility’s energy use during times of peak demand - plays into energy efficiency programs, particularly EnerNOC’s.

Along that line, EnerNOC went public in June, and shortly thereafter the company announced Memphis City Schools Selects EnerNOC’s EfficiencySMART(TM) Insight to Improve System-Wide Energy Use.

Summer daze got you bored of reading? The recent proliferation of HVAC multimedia from your favorite trades should be enough to keep you entertained during lunches as the weather cools. Check out Contracting Business’ video portal, or the NEWS’ new podcast directory.

 Images courtesy Forbesarchiehopeful.wordpress.com.

HVAC Technology and the Online Water Cooler

June 16th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Our friends at Software Advice have a great post up, Cut Apartment Energy Costs with Energy Monitoring Systems, which takes a look at how energy monitoring scales to the multifamily (apartment) building type. multifamily building

Though it smells like residential, multifamily is, of course, actually a commercial property type. When a multifamily owner wants to look at energy monitoring products, would s/he go for a whole building assessment through BuildingAdvice, or look into residential monitoring products like Google’s Powermeter or free Microsoft web application Hohm for each user? You tell us; that’s what blogs are for.

While Contracting Business columnist Vicki LaPlant touts the importance of social media, and commercial contractors are taking their rooftop service unit and replacement businesses to Facebook, The Building Advisor asks you to remember one thing: in the beginning, there were online bulletin boards.

hvac talk HVAC-TALK.com, a forum for online discussion hosted by Contracting Business that is by its own account, “a vibrant, active online community that connects HVAC professionals with a focus on the contracting marketplace.” If you, like me, dear reader, have your doubts about how many HVAC service contractors engage with social media and blogs, look no further. The new member introduction page has over 3,000 posts, the “Job Discussion” page is hopping of course, and just about all of the discussion pages have been commented on TODAY. Is this where all of our potential blog commenters are? Are online forums more suitable to the type of communication HVAC contractors are looking for? And why?

And while we’re on the topic of technology in the HVAC industry, you’ll notice the web video revolution sweeping our favorite publications. HPAC Engineering has a series on it’s front page, including this segment on Electro Static Technology on Shaft VFDs. Enjoy.

Images courtesy designhomesllc.com, HVAC-TalkHPAC Engineering.

Webinar on Demand, New York’s Energy Movement

June 9th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

First off, some eye candy! Did you know you can access Part 3 of AirAdvice’s How-To Webinar Series – Sales and Marketing Best Practices – at the Energy Services Resource Library?

coned energy efficiency summit new yorkThe New York Times (via Greenwire) reported on a sea change for existing NYC buildings in this week’s story, Skyscraper Owners Learn ABCs of LEDs in Push to Save Energy. Sparked by the Con Edison Energy Efficiency Summit, the event is indicative of what Greenwire called “an energy-efficiency movement that is transforming the city’s real estate market.” Quote:

The City Council is still considering a slew of recommendations offered last year by the Green Codes Task Force, a temporary alliance of building professionals charged by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) to find ways to use building codes to force reductions in electricity use. But experts say the “green retrofitting” industry here is taking on a life of its own, independent of the expectations of the Bloomberg administration. – The New York Times via Greenwire

Additional factors cited for added emphasis on energy efficiency in the Big Apple:

  • Falling commercial rents in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis forced building owners to scramble for ways to reduce costs, and cutting energy use was at the top of many to-do lists.
  • The city’s buildings and their equipment are aging and due for refurbishment or replacement.
  • Commercial real estate transactions are down, so property companies are holding their buildings longer than at other times, encouraging them to make them more efficient.

Moreover, real estate professionals are discovering that energy efficient buildings command demand and better rents. And you don’t have to be LEED anymore to garner attention; insiders say the most influential projects do not carry the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) seal.

Perhaps the article’s nitty gritty was spoken by Michael Waite, a senior staffer at the engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. who emphasized the need to spell out the cost-benefit equation to building owners.

“To make an investment, an owner wants proven technologies and some idea of the return on investment,” Waite said. “The lack of confidence in some measures is understandable — there is an investment required, the energy performance prediction tools are imperfect and every building responds differently.”

Another reason to get behind the scientific data collection, analyzation and reporting provided by BuildingAdvice. This “movement” – however exciting – is really a sign of the times resulting from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)’s energy efficiency incentive program enacted last year, as well as new statewide energy efficiency standards. The article has more on New York’s energy rebates, as well.

davinci middle school first LEED classroom

A skylight in the Evans – Harvard High Performance Classroom at the da Vinici Arts Middle School in Portland, Ore. was recently awarded LEED platinum certification – the first K-12 public school building to achieve this level of certification.

Right here in AirAdvice’s back yard, Ameresco announced multiple energy efficiency contracts with regional school districts including Portland Public Schools. The energy efficiency and renewable energy company announced it would conduct Investment Grade Audits under a new phase of a budget-neutral Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) with the district.

Nonsequitur: did you know the NEWS has its own LinkedIn Group? Your fave NEWSer editors Mike Murphy (get to know him better at his video blog Murphy’s Travels), Barb Checket-Hanks, and others are there.

If you don’t already know, Facilities.net has a handy Tip of the Day in text and audio format which is quick and informative. You might want to sign up for the RSS to get these tips delivered straight into your email. “Energy Model Can Improve HVAC System Energy Efficiency” caught our ear/eye recently. facilities.net's tip of the day

Non-non-sequitur (is that a sequitur?) if you listen to the soundbite at the above link: submetering: what do you think? Does it affect your business? How are you using it? If you could submeter your chiller plant, would you? Did anyone notice The Building Advisor put Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. and Prince into the same post? That’s how we roll.

Images courtesy Rethink Energy and Design, a blog from Better Bricks, Ameresco, Facilities.net.

Energy Papers for HVAC Contractors Cover Rebates, Myths

June 3rd, 2011 by Jim Crowder

exploiting rebates quarterly whitepaperThis week we posted some fresh, informative papers to the AirAdvice website. Both papers represent the first installments of a couple of series of papers covering topics we find HVAC contractors want the most information about.

The first series is Exploiting Rebates Quarterly, which explains how utility rebate programs work, what rebates are available in various states, and how to use energy service platforms to take advantage of them. The first paper, “Rebate Basics,” discusses leveraging rebates for a shorter payback with a competitive edge.

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, Hosts of The Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters." Ok, we kind of want to be like them.

Another series of papers takes on common misconceptions about energy services. We’re calling it – with all due respect to our peeps at the Discovery Channel – our Mythbuster Bulletin Series, starting with Myth #1: “Energy Costs Can’t Be Controlled.” In it, we break down why costs can be controlled and discuss the most common causes of energy waste within a building.

It’s a prevalent belief that utilities represent either fixed or insignificant costs in building operation budgets, but that doesn’t make it true. In fact, energy costs can be controlled by optimizing building operations and controls. While there are opportunities to improve performance through retrofit projects, in the majority of buildings, the way that building equipment is being operated or programmed is often what wastes the greatest amount of money. The key to dispelling the myth is providing owners with measurement and hard data to quantify the waste and, ultimately, the savings that can be generated.

- Mythbuster Bulletin Series, “Energy Costs Can’t Be Controlled”

At our downloads page you’ll also find recaps of our latest, highly popular webinar series for your viewing (or re-viewing) pleasure: Part 1, Building A Winning Energy Services Team and Part 2, Targeting Your Existing Customer Base. Part 3 was webcast earlier this week and will be posted to the website soon.

dexter horton building in Seattle, mandatory benchmarking

The Dexter Horton Building, Seattle, Wash.

In other news this week, greentech enterprise ran a great article on mandatory energy benchmarking legislation, touched off by Seattle’s Dexter Horton building and the citywide enforcement of mandatory energy benchmarking and reporting for all commercial buildings over 10,000 square feet.

The article also links to a great energy efficiency information resource, BuildingRating.org, which hosts an online library of resources such as a document library with U.S. and global policy summaries, impact analyses, and rating systems and tools. As well as a neat blog.

And speaking of great energy-focused blogs like ourselves, be sure to check out the panoply of blog offerings through Energy Central. Did you know that you can even customize the Energy Central Professional Daily newsletter you get from Energy Central by logging on to the “personalization” tab at http://Pro.EnergyCentral.com? Just check and uncheck preferences to customize your newsletter to get the information most pertinent to you.

Images courtesy dazzlingplaces.com and channelnomics.com.

In Energy Efficient HVAC News This Week… BuildingAdvice!

May 25th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Did you catch the article on energy measurement and verification by Janelle Penny in Buildings Magazine’s May issue, The Best Tool in an FM’s Arsenal?

We’re also in this month’s issue of Sustainable Facility (have you seen their fancy website redesign?) under New & Notable, highlighting our last BuildingAdvice upgrade allowing bidirectional, database sync allowing cross-platform communication between Portfolio Manager and BuildingAdvice program. Meaning, you get BuildingAdvice’s user-friendly interface while maintaining your contractor building credentials through Portfolio Manager. Pretty sweet.

But enough about us. (For now.)

Downtown Louisville, Kentucky

In Kentucky, over 300 manufacturing and industry professionals gathered in Louisville in late April to discuss the shifting energy industry, and steps they can take to control rising energy costs, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. (BEPinfo, one of The BuildingAdvisor’s favorite enewsletters, also covered it here.)

Hitherto, Kentucky has enjoyed electricity prices among the lowest in the nation. The Herald-Leger’s Danny Taylor noted:

As a result, Kentucky’s energy use per industrial customer is the third-highest in the nation, 427 percent above the national average, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.”

However, industrial electricity rates in Kentucky are predicted to double over the next decade, having already risen 43 percent over the past five years.

What does the handy, energy efficiency checklist in the Herald-Leader’s article outline?

  1. Get an energy audit. More info on BuildingAdvice, our industry proven energy services delivery platform and providing Energy Audit Reports.
  2. Engage top leadership. Get BuildingAdvice management, sales, and engineering personnel acting as an extension of your current team to drive the development and ongoing execution of your energy services business.
  3. Install highly visible measurement systems. BuildingAdvice’s Energy Expert technology tops off our web-based software and portable diagnostic equipment which provides energy waste analysis, monitoring, and reporting with the oh-so-talked-about measurement & verification services mentioned above.

Followup to the 5/17 post, CBECS Data On Hold for Funding; EnergyStar Suffers:

ASHRAE commends Senators Shaheen (D-NH) and Portman (R-Ohio)

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air -Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) applauded Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for introducing the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011, a bill that would help pave the way to make buildings more energy efficient by reducing barriers in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors to make use of new technologies.

We are particularly pleased that the legislation would encourage the U.S. Department of Energy to work with code and standard development organizations to develop definitions of energy use intensity (EUI) for use in model codes or in evaluating the efficiency impacts of the codes,” Lynn G. Bellenger, ASHRAE’s 2010-2011 president, said in a press release.

ASHRAE worked with Senators Shaheen and Portman to develop this legislation, and will continue to be an active partner in developing this, and similar legislation.

Images courtesy Buildings Magazinelouisville.edu, and ASHRAE.

Race To The Facilities: Who Will Be the Software Solutions Provider of Choice?

April 13th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

It’s a little bit out of The Building Advisor’s ken, but Property Management Software Guide has a blog that recently caught our eye thanks to the nice guys at Software Advice.

IBM Acquires Tririga; Facilities Management Enters the Limelight ran on on Property Management Software Blog last week and as author Houston Neal points out, the move could be a telling one by Big Blue to acquire not only facility and real estate management software provider Tririga (full press release here), but how their allowance of $20 billion to spend in acquisitions of software companies under IBM’s Smarter Buildings initiatives will play out.

Smarter Buildings, launched in February 2010, is a portfolio of applications that help property owners and managers track operations, maintenance, and energy expenses.

The Triringa acquisition helps round out IBM’s current offerings with new real estate portfolio management, capital project management, and energy management capabilities. Triringa, a Vegas-based outfit, has won accolades from Gartner Inc, worked with the Department of Homeland Security, and runs an annual user conference.

IBM predicts their Smarter Planets projects will generate $10 billion in revenue by 2015. This is consistent with the predicted trend toward increased awareness (and spending) on the massive potential to reduce energy waste in buildings. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, energy efficiency upgrades could represent a $250 billion market over the next 10 years.

The larger question, of course, being who will be THE provider for property management, real estate and facilities software? Do all of those user groups want to be lumped into one category? Does a holistic approach mean one software channel into which all data flows through?

As Neal writes:

“All these ‘illions are grabbing the attention of major IT players and bringing facilities management vendors into the limelight. Microsoft, HP, Cisco, and many others are making strategic moves to fill their rosters and fortify their offerings. Who will get there first?”

Thanks to Tim Kensok for helping out with this post!

Images courtesy caston_corporateCrimCollective.

What will change in 2011?

January 11th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

We at AirAdvice are all about not accepting the status quo and not standing still while the market around us changes. So, we can’t let a New Year pass by without at least one post posing the question, “What are you going to differently this year?”

Why do we need to do anything different at all? Maybe you don’t. If you’re a contractor, maybe business was great in ’09 and ’10, you have a backlog of projects, customers are coming to you and asking for your help. If this describes you, then you’re in the minority. You should be shoring up, learning what it is that you’re doing right and doing more of it. (And sharing with us via comment below what it is you’re doing!)

Most of the contractors we talk with have been experiencing the opposite of each of these. Business was down or flat the last couple years, backlogs have all but disappeared, new construction is nowhere near ready to return to glory, and customers are not coming to you asking for help. What can you do in 2011 to change this?

One of the biggest changes you can make is to adopt a new mindset – one that is focused on helping your customers to solve their most important problems. Most businesses like to think they do this, but few are truly focused on it. What I mean by that is that few companies begin a customer discussion with the words, “How can I help you?” Usually instead we ask questions that are meant to uncover interest in whatever products or services we sell. The “How can I help you?” question leads to uncovering their problems. One of the biggest problems being experienced right now in the commercial buildings market is decreased income due to a shrinking top line. High occupancy and downward rent pressure will do that. But costs are the other part of the equation, and that’s where you come in. Once your customer answers the “How can I help you” question with an indication of needing to cut costs, that’s your opportunity to tell them what you can do.

Of course, you need a way to cut their costs. The big, controllable cost happens to be right in your wheelhouse, and that is energy. Most buildings waste a lot of energy, and this is a cost just waiting to be cut. Look at the latest article about one of our contractors here in Portland finding at least $19,000 in annual savings potential through energy: http://bit.ly/foPahK

There may be other big ways you can help your customers with problems they say they’re having, but we haven’t heard about too much other than cutting costs. So, as you think about 2011, think help. Think reducing costs. Think energy. And think about how your customers will view you once you’re a cost-reducing partner to them.

Cascadia’s Green Building Group Gets Real on MoU with GE

December 9th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Last Wednesday, Cascadia GBC’s Green Building Interest Group (GBIG) focused its monthly panel discussion on the Memo of Understanding (MoU) signed between the City of Portland and GE last summer (The Building Advisor blogged on it here). The announcement, while cool, was a bit cloak and dagger, flying under the radar of most media outlets possibly due to its vagarity: the public/private partnership and use of the phrase “sustainable economy efforts” were dead giveaways.

So John Lerch, Government Relations with GE, Clean Energy Works Oregon’s Director of Marketing Will Villota, and John Tydlaska from the Portland Development Commission tried to help the wily brokers, builders, and other green nerds maneuver what was behind last June’s “big formal handshake,” as one panelist put it.

GE and Portland Partner for Sustainable Growth from Mayor Sam Adams on Vimeo.

Turns out, nobody’s all that sure what’s going to happen, but whatever it is, the Oregon Sustainability Center (OSC) is going to be a part of it. Clean Energy Works Oregon needs to be a part of it, due to their status as a nonprofit organization in a pilot program stage that needs to expand.

For another thing, Portland still wants to be best in class on sustainability. Sure, the projects aimed at falling under the header of the MoU will be 1) close to fruition and 2) demonstrative of exportable skills. But its clear we want to use the net zero buildings and university system/City partnerships that come out of the MoU as proof of Portland’s brand as the nation’s hotbed of sustainable innovation.

The City of Vancouver's Olympic Village Project

One hope is that in the delivery of ecodistricts – neighborhoods that are self-contained organisms, both creating and consuming the resources they need – around Portland with the help of GE, we’ll be “retrofitting communities.” This is a deep thought, one to which whole initiatives have been devoted to here at the local level.

Even deeper? Enlisting the public utilities to help us. When you’re starting with a self contained community, like a military base, all the way up to a fast growing, diverse neighborhood like Lents Commons, creating ecodistricts out of existing communities will be a trick. Looking at this “retrofitting communities” idea, we’d have to disassemble a neighborhood that is, according to older models, working just fine.

It’s kind of like increasing the energy efficiency of existing building stock. Its a whole lot easier to build something energy efficient from the ground up (just ask Will about his solar envy). When forced to make something that already exists better, we tend to face a roadblock where many people give up.

It’s a mammoth dream, this ecodistricts stuff, and the GBIG folks on both sides of the table know it. As far as how we get there, Villota alluded to companies like Opower (in the residential space) and Bundle (a financial software dashboard), which show users how their resource usage – be it energy or money – measures up to other Americans. The overall goal being to make energy efficient upgrades a more emotional decision than it ever has been before, even a social imperative.

What do you think? Are competitive dashboards the way to incite motivation for achieving energy savings in the commercial sector? Tell us what you think below.

Images courtesy Portland Online and Sightline Daily

Have You Seen Our Cool New Web Site?

December 3rd, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Ok, so, its not new anymore. We launched in November to quiet applause from the interwebs. But if you haven’t been to airadvice.com recently, there are some great new features we’d like to point out.

For one thing, our sleek new design, courtesy Synotac. Less text, more space…ahhh…efficiency visualized.

We’re also better organized at moving you through our web site in the most – er – efficient way possible. Are you a commercial building owner or manager? Commercial contractor? Or are you on the residential side as a contractor or homeowner? You’ll find yourself ushered in the right direction with only the sound of crepe soles on plush carpet swooshing you through to your intended destination.

And if you are used to our old website, you know that the products and services we’ve been rolling out in 2010 have mushroomed. At the new airadvice.com, you’ll find a concise menu of our major offerings.

From there, we break it down further: what KIND of BuildingAdvice fits your needs?

And if you, like so many people, are thinking about ongoing energy management (check out Tim Kensok, AirAdvice Vice President of Market Development, speaking on it in his October, 2010 article for automatedbuildings.com, “Energy Information Management: Beyond Savings Projections to Proof”), look no further:

I mean, how sleek can you get?

Even better, there are free resources available right on the web site, from our download library to a signup for our Building Monitor newsletters and hey, even a link to this blog.

We’ve got a special tab to watch for upcoming tradeshows and webinars, so you can keep up as we dish it out. For example, you can check out yesterday’s webinar, “How to Sell the VALUE of Energy Services” here.

What do you think?