Archive for the ‘Energy savings’ Category

Energy Efficient Buildings: We Don’t Have to Wait

December 8th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Big savings. REALLY big.

$4 billion investment = $40 billion savings is estimated from the Better Buildings Challenge. That isn’t just savings, it’s Sumo sized savings resulting from a nationwide 20% cut to energy usage in existing buildings.

Through a public-private partnership, President Obama and former President Bill Clinton last Friday announced a $4 billion commitment to increasing energy efficiency in the nation’s government and commercial buildings. Despite the US Department of Energy’s share being roughly half, there will be no upfront cost to taxpayers.

With deadlocked Supercommittee-itis cramping the Obama administration’s style, at least we can hold hands over one thing: saving money on inefficient buildings’ energy use. Or as Huffington Post commenter and USGBC Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi put it: “for one moment we found something we can all agree on.”

Barack Obama, Bill Clinton

President Barack Obama (R), and former President Bill Clinton (L)

“If there’s one item on the energy agenda that’s managed to remain free of controversy, it’s energy efficiency,” proclaimed SmartPower owner Brian Keane in the Huffington Post this week. The investment is part of President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” measures, or initiatives aimed at spurring the economy that don’t require Congress’ stamp of approval.

We can’t wait, indeed, for energy savings – nor do we have to.

As part of the program, 60 CEOs, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders have committed to invest nearly $2 billion of private capital into energy efficiency projects. The $40 billion in savings is the projected result of upgrading energy performance nationwide – 1.6 billion square feet of office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college and school buildings for those of you keeping track at home – by a minimum of 20% by 2020.

Big-time San Francisco firms such as Ygrene Energy Fund and Metrus Energy backed the announcement, showing their support as the kind of companies willing to step up and foot the bill on the other $2 billion. Of course, they will then reap some serious savings…

The Obama Administration is clear on how its not using taxpayer dollars for the initial investment, reported the Washington Post:

“The way it works is that the private firm [doing the renovations] takes the risk here,” Jeffrey Zients, the government’s chief performance officer, said. “They make the investment. They are paid through energy savings. Once they are paid back, the [federal government] enjoys the savings going forward.”

The Better Buildings Challenge is estimated to add approximately 50,000 jobs.

The announcement expands on an existing Clinton Global Initiative energy efficiency investment program announced last summer, that has already committed $500 million in private sector funding for energy upgrades.

Kinda trippy how Pike Research just issued that report last week predicting that HVAC systems will double to become a $6.4 billion business by 2017.

Image courtesy newsone.

Social Energy

November 17th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

They said it couldn’t be done. But ConduitNW, an online watering hole for energy efficiency professionals, has nearly 1,000 members since launching in May of this year. As Sustainable Business Oregon reported last week:

Led by [Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance] NEEA in partnership with the Bonneville Power Administration, Conduit was built and will operate through 2014 on a $1.25 million budget, about $400,000 of that dedicated to development costs.

The BPA contributed a separate grant, in addition to the startup website’s group of utility funders, to get ConduitNW up and running. The two agencies have been working for the last two years on the project.

The new social media site – which is a mix of LinkedIn, Facebook Groups (from way back when?) and Google Docs – gained some social media cred recently when it stole what would have been serious Twitter thunder from this year’s Efficiency Connections Northwest 2011 held in Tacoma, WA.

This is what a futurist looks like.

[BTW: the conference featured David Zach (who’s job title is “Futurist.” WTF, what a great title. Apparently there are only a few on the planet). The other Keynote Speaker was L. Hunter Lovins, Author of Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change.]

Though ConduitNW’s main target for the site is the 150 nationwide utilities working toward energy efficiency, it also attacts a number of contractors and “impementers,” according to NEEA’s online community manager, Ben Fowler. The site came out of a call for collaboration by utility execs to state govenors in 2008, according to a BPA public utilities specialist in energy efficiency.

At ConduitNW, you can catch up on industry news as well as upcoming energy-related and NEEA events. Browse by sector, function, topic or group, receive email notifications and share information with colleagues through document sharing.

And of course, upload a great profile pic.

Sidenote: Have you checked out “A Profitable and Resource-Efficient Future,” the new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) yet? The ever-vigilant EarthTechling picked it up and spit it back out to us this week:

According to to the report, commercial buildings are responsible for about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and, in some countries, 70 percent of electrical consumption. Nearly one-half of all energy consumed by buildings could be avoided with new energy-efficient systems and equipment, and the energy savings would exceed the cost of upgrades, generally within five years or less, the report said.

MSCA Musings: Following Up After the Conference

October 27th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Guest post by Jim Crowder, AirAdvice CEO, as excerpted from last week’s Building Monitor e-newsletter. If you would like to receive the Building Monitor in the future, you can sign up here.

We just returned from the Annual MSCA Educational Conference in beautiful Colorado Springs. It was a well organized event chock full of useful sessions that will help members improve their performance.

It also marked the passing of the Association leadership torch from Thom Brazel, Hill York, to Woody Woodall, W.L. Gary Company.

Thom helped drive association awareness of the opportunity energy services provides the HVAC industry. Under his leadership, and with the support of Barb Dolim’s MSCA staff, Thom helped create a new vision for the MSCA GreenSTAR program that will help members incorporate energy solutions into their core service offerings. Not only is the association planning to provide tools, but they are developing an impressive training program to educate members.

We at AirAdvice applaud Thom and the rest of the association for providing the leadership the industry needs to make commercial building owners and operators aware of how valuable HVACs can be in helping to eliminate energy waste in commercial buildings.

No industry is better positioned to provide these types of services to commercial buildings. Energy expenses represent 30% of the controllable operating cost of a building. HVAC and lighting combined typically constitute about 75% of the total energy spend.

AirAdvice CEO Jim Crowder

So, who can deliver real, measurable value to building owners? It’s not the janitors or the elevator guys! We look forward to working with Woody, Barb and the rest of the MSCA team as they move into this lucrative field.

Building Advisor’s Note: Have you seen the MSCA’s new YouTube channel? Check out their first video below.

Urban Cowboys, Going Deeper with EEI

September 22nd, 2011 by Jim Crowder

UrbanLand Magazine recently turned out a thoughtful analysis, Energy Efficiency Markets Evolve Globally, of The 2011 Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) , the fifth time a global survey of real estate decision makers has been conducted by Johnson Controls. For the first time, ULI got into the research fracas with Johnson Controls, to analyze and release the results. The Building Advisor touched on the EEI a couple weeks back in Summer HVAC Wrap + BetterBricks Video, but nobody does serious data like ULI.

If you’re not familiar, the EEI is the last word, the “state of the union,” if you will, gauging the hearts and minds of of global executives and building owners responsible for energy management and investment decisions in commercial and public sector buildings. This year, the EEI surveyed 4,000 respondents in 13 countries on six continents and was conducted in eight languages. That’s a lot of bubbles to fill in completely with a #2 pencil!

‘Extremely’ or ‘Very’: Energy Efficiency Makes the Big Time

What you probably already know: as many as seven in ten executives globally say energy management is extremely important or very important to their organizations. Execs have pursued an average of nine different energy efficiency measures in the past year.

And what’s motivating them? Simply put, the rising cost of energy. We all know energy costs will keep on rising. It’s sort of like gravity – you can pretty much count on it. Up significantly in importance from 2010, however, is government incentives. With over half the states offering some kind of financial incentive for efficiency measures, execs are now listening. It’s sort of like getting cash back at the grocery store on a big ticket item: why not? Third biggest motivator was to enhance the branding of a building.

In fact, interest in certified green buildings doubled from 2010 and for the first time, certification efforts are more prevalent for existing buildings than new ones. Lower on the motivational list: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, domestic energy security, and other government policies.

Now, the challenges: while the graphic to the left shows that 67% of executives surveyed report that they have allocated capital from their operating budget to energy efficiency in the last year, (yay!) significant market barriers to pursuing further investment (boo).

These barriers come in all colors and flavors, depending on market sector. From the report:

The five key barriers to energy efficiency investments reported in the survey are:

  • lack of awareness of opportunities for energy savings;
  • lack of technical expertise to design and complete projects;
  • lack of certainty that promised savings will be achieved;
  • inability of projects to meet the organization’s financial payback criteria; and
  • lack of available capital for investment in projects.

For the contractor serving small to midsize buildings, it is interesting to note that respondents with control over more square footage in larger facilities report having implemented more energy projects than those with smaller facilities. But trickledown is sure to follow.

Four is the Magic Number 

According to the EEI Survey, real estate organizations sharing the following four key strategic practices are most likely to get on the energy efficiency bandwagon, and implemented four times as many energy efficiency improvement measures as those that did not:

  • goals established for reduced energy use or carbon emissions;
  • energy use data measured and analyzed at least monthly;
  • added resources dedicated to improving energy efficiency through the hiring or retraining of staff, or the hiring of external service providers; and
  • external financing sources used for projects.

The Building Advisor can’t help making a couple of points here. For energy use data measured and analyzed at lease monthly, our Verify product for ongoing, continuous monitoring is the solutions. I mean, have you read what it did for J.E. Shekell in Smart Solutions (J.E. Shekell Uses Building Advice to Slash Energy Bills in Half ) or the NEWS (Facility Energy Audit Leads to Huge Savings)?

And in the second place, BuildingAdvice is like adding a team of expert management, sales, and engineering personnel acting as an extension of an HVAC Contractor’s current team to drive the development and ongoing execution of an energy services business. ‘Nuff said.

And Speaking of Incentives Changing the World

Sacramento development image by Michael Nagle/Bloomberg News

The Gray Lady’s Energy & Environment section reported  on a $650 million private sector investment in energy efficiency for existing buildings in this week’s article, Tax Plan to Turn Old Buildings ‘Green’ Finds Favor.

It’s getting around that a retrofit can typically cut a building’s energy use so much that the project pays for itself in as little as five years. A new tax arrangement in Miami and Sacramento allows property owners to upgrade their buildings at no upfront cost, typically cutting their energy use and their utility bills by a third.

Lockheed Martin, Barclays Bank and some other big boys, headed up by Ygrene Energy Fund of Santa Rosa, Calif., have formed a consortium that will invest $650 million in such upgrades over the next few years.

The article called waste in older buildings “one of the nation’s biggest energy problems” and cited energy as a sector that could eventually be worth billions.

The meat of the plan is pretty genius: the constortium is kind of like a strip mall serving all of your energy efficiency needs in one stop. Ygrene and its partners gain exclusive rights for five years to offer this type of energy upgrade to businesses in a particular community. Lockheed Martin does the engineering work. Short-term loans come from Barclays Capital to pay for the upgrades. Then, “Contractors will offer a warranty that the utility savings they have promised will actually materialize,” the article states. Insurance underwriter, Energi, of Peabody, Mass., backs up that warranty. It goes on from there.

Best of all, owners pay no upfront cost for energy efficient upgrades. Instead, a surcharge is attached to subsequent property tax bills for five to 20 years. However, as the surcharges are less than the savings, the upgrades pay for themselves. Really. The new approach could garner substantial private capital for many midsize and smaller businesses to get on the energy efficiency bus.

In the past three years, half the states have passed legislation permitting energy retrofits financed by property-tax surcharges, and hundreds of cities and counties are considering such programs. The new financing approach is called Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE financing. PACE saw some serious backlash last year when an arm of the federal government that oversees the mortgage market took a hostile stance toward such projects on residential property, on the grounds that they add risk to mortgages. But, the article notes, “So far, it appears that PACE programs for commercial properties pose fewer legal complications.”

Richard Branson by Michael Nagle/Bloomberg News

The consortium was put together by the Carbon War Room, a nonprofit environmental group based in Washington set up by Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur and billionaire, to tackle the world’s climate and energy problems in cost-saving ways.

Git Along, Little Doggie

“Perhaps the most serious risk,” the article notes, “is that fly-by-night contractors will be drawn to the new pot of money, pushing energy retrofits that are too costly or work poorly.

‘Contractors are cowboys,’ said Dennis Hunter, chairman of Ygrene. He promised close scrutiny of the ones selected for the Miami and Sacramento programs.”

What say ye to that, boys?

Ride ‘em, cowboy!

Cowboy image courtesy themurkyfringe.com.

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.



Energy Efficiency News Roundup – Who Says September Means an HVAC Slowdown?

September 14th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

From Energy Efficiency News‘Green’ Empire State Building strikes gold. New York City’s iconic Empire State Building has gone from ENERGY STAR Certification over the last two years to LEED Gold certification. Its $550 million investment in green refurbishment will be paid back through energy savings alone in around three years.

The retrofit of the building by Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle promises to reduce its energy consumption by more than 38% and save $4.4 million in energy costs a year. The 2.85 million square foot building is one of very few ‘national historic landmarks’ to earn the certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC). The 80-year old building is not as old as the Jackson County Courthouse, which earned its ENERGY STAR Certification with the services of McElroy’s, Inc. in Northeastern Kansas. Look for another historical building case study from McElroy’s, another BuildingAdvice partner, coming soon.

Great news! Energy Star now available for new multifamily high-rise buildings, according to Contractor Magazine. Do you know your building types? Multifamily is actually a commercial building type, even though its use is residential.

“Expanding the Energy Star eligibility to such properties will not only help EPA strengthen energy-efficiency initiatives across the nation, which save money and help protect the environment, but also provide property owners the opportunity to increase the asset value and offer tenants comfortable homes,” the article states.

Are you an HVAC who’s glued to your smartphone? From Maple Grove, MN, comes a free app for iPhone, iPad and and Windows-based smartphones. Singh360, a full service facility management consulting firm focused on energy solutions, recently released the app for refrigeration and HVAC engineers. These applications calculate “Pressure-Temperature” for various refrigerants (such as R404A, R22, Propane, Ammonia, Carbon-di-oxide etc.) typically used in commercial and supermarket facilities.

The app is available through the iTunes store and on the company’s website at http://singh360.com/products/mobile-app/.

Images courtesy paulbarsch.wordpress.comnorthamericatravel.wordpress.com.

Near and Far, Awareness of Energy Efficiency Grows

August 25th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Mass Energy LabFirst, the good news. In Massachusetts yesterday, a Cambridge-based commercial and industrial energy solutions firm, Mass Energy Lab, announced a contest inciting undergraduate and graduate level students to identify, research and present evidence on a promising new-to-market energy efficiency product. Entrants will present evidence on the product’s ability to impact energy waste reduction and its marketability, and are eligible to win $3,000 as the top prize.

Anybody want to research BuildingAdvice? We make a great science project.

According to a press release, the contest is “intended to encourage students to research and identify cutting-edge, new to market energy efficiency solutions and to think deeply about how the technology can be applied to facilitate the reduction of energy waste in commercial and industrial buildings. “

Check out Mass Energy Lab’s foxy R&D section debuting any day now, featuring whitepapers, casestudies, product reviews, industry experts and test results.

Now, the not-so-great news.

li keqiang david cameron

Li Keqiang and David Cameron make a deal.

China’s buildings need to go ‘green’ – before it’s too late”:

“In the next 20 years, China plans to urbanise as many as 300m of its rural people, driving an insatiable demand for energy and materials as almost the equivalent of America’s population fires up their new fridges and air-conditioners.”

DOOD!

Chinese Vice Premiere Li Keqiang’s visit to England’s Building Research Establishment (BRE) – a group of architects, engineers and scientists at the cutting edge of new building techniques – last winter made Britain’s Telegraph UK this week with the announcement that the BRE was signed up by the Chinese to create a £100m, 4.8m sq ft innovation park in Beijing, together with Vanke, China’s largest property developer.

Apparently, China’s “green building” industry could eventually be worth £144bn per the vice minister of the Housing and Urban-Rural Development ministry. Now that’s actually pretty good news.

On the other hand, Chinese government is “painfully aware” that a quarter of China’s energy use is currently eaten up by buildings. In turn, they are pressuring developers to spend time thinking about water, energy and carbon savings, but many who design real estate in China think sustainable construction means simply tacking on green components with add-on costs. As writer Eric Fish puts it,

“When integrated intelligently from the start, utilities savings quickly cancel out the extra costs. Total upfront costs sometimes even dip below the price of traditional buildings.”

The Times of India reported that The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bureau for Energy Efficiency (BEE) for the creation of energy efficient technologies (‘We need to adopt energy efficient technologies’).The MoU also outlines the creation of awareness and capacity building of local Business Development Services (BDS) providers for implementing energy efficient technologies. The clusters will be scaled to meet the needs of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) clusters.

Lastly, right here at home in Oregon our Department of Consumer and Business Services Building Codes Division received a national award for its work in energy efficiency.

Jeff Johnson was an advocate of Building Energy Codes

Jeff Johnson was an advocate of Building Energy Codes

The sixth annual Jeffrey A. Johnson Award for “Excellence in the Advancement of Building Energy Codes and Performance,” an award designed to recognize the pursuit of energy efficiency, according to Sustainable Business Oregon.

Greener, Greater Buildings Are Here.

August 17th, 2011 by Jim Crowder
IBM's Jane Snowdon

IBM's Jane Snowdon

IBM Senior Manager Jane Snowdon guest blogged for CNBC this week, taking the opportunity to mull on New York City’s “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan.” Of course The Building Advisor called out the importance of this little alliterative city initiative back in April of 2010 (Greener, Greater, a Long Way Away?), but who’s counting?

Yep, it’s that old mandatory benchmarking and public disclosure idea again, but this time, it’s a lot closer to reality. It’s happening, people! August 1st deadline!

Not only does the DOE’s Energy Star program dictate the most readily-usable set of standards for evaluating a building’s energy usage, it makes buildings profitable, too. Snowdon shares:

A 2009 study by the University of San Diego found that Energy Star buildings — which rank among the most efficient in a pool of similar buildings — attracted 13 percent higher rental rates than the market average, with vacancy rates running about 3.5 percent lower.” – Jane Snowdon, CNBC

[More great research on how Energy Ratings Can Make Properties More Profitable.]

In states and cities where energy benchmark scores are required, they will be available on sites like BuildingRating.org (which also has a handy matrix of energy efficiency incentive programs nationwide. Bet there’s one in your city).

BuildingRating.org breaks down efficiency incentives state by state

BuildingRating.org breaks down efficiency incentives state by state

In a New York minute, 16,000 buildings are slated to begin collecting performance data. What’s more, The Greener Greater Buildings Plan has the potential to reduce citywide energy costs by $700 million annually by 2030 and help to create roughly 17,800 construction-related jobs over ten years.

Pointing out the falling cost of the kind of monitor-based, networked technology banks and airlines began employing a decade ago, Snowdon says it’s a great time for commercial real estate to embrace tech for energy savings. I mean, today its benchmarking and disclosure, tomorrow, automated analysis of efficiency investment potentials.

Oh wait. You can do that with BuildingAdvice right now. Right.

Oregon Facilities from Jengo Media

Oregon Facilities from Jengo Media

Say, have you seen the handsome set of facilities-minded, yet glossy and pretty print mags from Jengo Media? We’ve got our own Oregon Facilities here in the Northwest, but they have cognates for Arizona and Utah too. Western facilities managers have all the luck!

Interestingly, energy efficiency isn’t going over as big as some folks had hoped this week:

The Seattle Post Intelligencer reported Seattle green jobs program falls short of goals. It seems the program funds low-interest loans and incentives for buildings to do energy-efficient upgrades just doesn’t have enough takers.

Similarly, a small business loan program implemented in Arlington Heights, Ill. earlier this year could expire if interest doesn’t pick up, the Journal Online reported in Energy Program May Burn Out.

The moral of this story? Money from the government for energy efficient upgrades is sitting on the table, unused.

Lastly, Forbes reported Cisco Exits Energy-Management Software Market. What? Their energy-management products were designed to leverage Cisco’s prowess in the “dark arts of networking” for better controlling HVAC systems. But now they don’t wanna.

Are you missing summer camp? Revisit the magic of BOMA 2011 here:

That should cure it.

Energy Savings Grabs Attention

June 30th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

evansville courier press logoFile under “bursting with pride”: last weekend’s Sunday edition of the Evansville Courier Press featured our latest BuildingAdvice poster boy/channel partner Aaron Derr of J.E. Shekell in a story by Carol Wersich, Evansville ARC finds energy savings with state grant. We were particularly pleased to see local coverage on this terrific energy savings win for a nonprofit serving adults and children with disabilities in Evansville, Indiana.

The Building Advisor was also excited to see that same channel partner featured in Contracting Business’ June print issue under Editor’s Notebook: Business Bits. If someone has stolen your copy again, you can see the online article here: BuildingAdvice™ Energy ServicesProgram Leads to 50% Savings.

But enough about us…ok, that line never gets old. Sorry.

new construction contraction

May's ABI score was 47.2, a slight decrease from a reading of 47.6 the previous month.

Last week, Heidi Schwartz of Today’s Facility Manager reported on the Architecture Billings Index (ABI), a leading economic indicator of construction activity. The number has contracted rather sharply for two months in a row, reflecting the decrease in spending for new construction.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. was quoted as saying:

…there is no denying that the prolonged credit freeze from lenders for financing commercial projects is the number one challenge to a recovery for the design and construction industry.

What does that mean for HVACs? With no early indicators of growth in new construction, it means the focus is on keeping existing buildings running and functioning smoothly – maybe even more efficiently than their owner/managers had considered before. As with many aspects of our lives, the recession is forcing everybody to extract the most value from the assets they already possess.

dog at work

Apparently prolonged exposure to computer screens can indeed cause eye strain.

(On a lighter note, did you know TFM has a Friday Funny category on their blog? Last week’s was on Take Your Dog To Work Day, or TYDTWD for those official memos. Couldn’t resist stealing this pic).

An AirAdvice favorite, BEPinfo – that’s Building Energy Performance Assessment News, if you’ve been installing too many AC units of late – included the great news this week: Hartz Mountain Industries Receives Two Awards For Energy Efficiency Practices.

BOMA New Jersey recognized Hartz Mountain, one of the biggest privately held real estate owners/developers in the U.S., with two awards for its energy efficiency practices as part of the chapter’s First Annual Building Energy Reduction Awards program. One of the awards was for energy reduction achievements at five commercial buildings which resulted in an annual savings of $262,243 and an overall consumption reduction of 13% or 1.9 million kWh saved. With industry leaders like Hartz and CB Richard Ellis stepping up all over the place, it’s only a matter of time until energy reduction strategy is standard practice.

Images courtesy Evansville Courier Press, Take Your Dog to Work Day, webpagefx.

The Benefits of Bold (State Level) Energy Efficiency Policy

June 23rd, 2011 by Jim Crowder
States with EERS

States with EERS Activity: Blue states have adopted EERS standards; the others have pending, voluntary, or EERS/renewable combined goals

States, like sisters, are doing it for themselves. I mean we really should say thank you, stalled Congress, for spurring energy efficient action at the local level: USA Today reported this week on how Energy Efficient Resource Standards (EERS) have taken hold nationally, if not from above, then on a grassroots level: States’ efforts lead the way on energy efficiency (also on EnergyCentral).

I mean, did you think you’d see the day? In the last decade, not only have over half of the states set rules mandating policy for reduced energy consumption, but the impact is showing:

 

“… the results are lower bills for consumers and a reduced need to build power plants.”

Nevermind the cost savings for a second – we’ll get back to that – just look at the mass action needed to halt growth. Mass action NOT incited by our main governing body, (though you could make a case for the American Reinvestment Act being the real catalyst). Action that, through reduction, makes the idea of building another power plant unnecessary.

State EERS Targets vs Achieved

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And the cost savings is real: For example, in 2009 and 2010, Ohio utility customers saved $56 million in energy costs over and above the costs to deliver energy efficient programs.

The above stat comes from a hot-off-the-presses report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy titled Energy Efficiency Resource Standards: A Progress Report on State Experience. It states:

“over half the states now embrace specific energy efficiency savings goals, known as…EERS. An EERS requires utilities…to save a certain amount of energy each year, typically expressed as a percentage of annual retail energy sales or as specific energy savings amounts set over a long-term period.”

EERS Policy Approaches by State

Policy approaches by state: blue states have EERS, green states have targeted utility goals

Thirteen out of twenty states with EERS policies in place for over two years are achieving 100% or more of their goals. BOO-YAH.

“These states are demonstrating that energy efficiency programs deliver real savings for utilities and ratepayers, and it is more affordable than any supply-side energy source,” said report author Michael Sciortino of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a Washington-based research group.

Fun facts? The most successful energy efficiency programs are found in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Vermont. You can read about how they work their magic here.

Lastly, don’t miss the June article in facilitiesnet.com, the online publication of Building Operating Management (follow BOM on Twitter), Understanding What An Energy Model Can And Can’t Do Is Critical To Its Success. It’s part of a series, Biggest Bang for Your Efficiency Buck. Part 2, Realistic Expectations Needed To Get Most Out Of Energy Modeling, is here.

Images from ACEEE reports, Energy Efficiency Resource Standards: A Progress Report on State Experience and State Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) Activity.