Jumpstart your energy management program

We have all been tasked with the effort to efficiently manage our facilities including the use and costs of utilities while effectively providing for the needs of our facilities. The term "facilities management" has been around for some time, but the meaning has dramatically changed over the years. In the past, for some people facilities management only related to the physical maintenance and o...


We have all been tasked with the effort to efficiently manage our facilities including the use and costs of utilities while effectively providing for the needs of our facilities. The term "facilities management" has been around for some time, but the meaning has dramatically changed over the years. In the past, for some people facilities management only related to the physical maintenance and operation of buildings. As the time passed, the building environment became a complex asset too valuable to ignore or neglect.

Facilities managers adopted skills from several other traditional fields, such as risk management, architecture, engineering, construction, planning, and energy management.

Facility management is defined by International Facility Management Association (IFMA) as "The practice of coordinating the physical workplace with the people and the work of the organization; facilities management integrates the principles of business administration, architecture and the behavioral and engineering sciences." Facilities management plans, designs, constructs, equips, maintains and operates buildings, infrastructure and grounds, and provides related services ensuring a safe place to support the mission of the facility.

With such important responsibilities, how many of us have all the money we need to do our jobs? Facing growing needs, aging facilities, and shrinking budgets, you can use energy management as a tool to free up funds for the basic necessities to support the mission of your facilities. There are some practical steps you can take to jumpstart your energy management program and maximize your energy management efforts.

Energy management can be defined as the effort to efficiently manage the use and costs of utilities while effectively providing for the needs of your facilities. Energy management by many other names encompasses energy conservation, energy efficiency, economic stewardship, environmental stewardship, and sustainable design. Whatever the name, the first question to ask is, what are your energy management motives? Are you driven by environmental concerns or regulations? What about financial needs and opportunities, capacity limits of utility infrastructure systems, maintenance and operations needs, or technological demonstration opportunities? It is possible to have needs and desires in each of the motivational areas.

Typically your facilities will have greater needs in certain areas and lesser in others. For example, older facilities often struggle with deferred maintenance brought on and compounded by lack of adequate. These issues are drivers for the energy management program even though environmental issues may be important as well.

The key is quantifying these motives, as they will establish the expectations of performance for energy management projects. This will allow these projects to be ranked in the project priority list against other projects. Identifying and ranking your expectations will foster the development of projects with benefits that address both administration objectives and fit with the objectives of the energy management program. You should also evaluate projects in conjunction with any continuous quality improvement programs that you have in place.

Next, evaluate your in-house capabilities and expertise versus the need for outside expertise/support and where that expertise will come from. After you have identified your expectations and motive(s), what can you do? Some possible project opportunities include:

  • Energy efficient retrofit projects (central plant, lighting, HVAC, energy management/control systems, etc.)

  • Demand-side management projects

  • Energy savings performance contracting/utility contracts

  • Commissioning and/or retro-commissioning

  • Modified operations and maintenance practices

  • Energy-efficient design in new construction

  • Distributed generation, peak shaving, and utility rate negotiations

  • Recycling

  • Metering or sub-metering

  • Technology demonstration projects

    • No matter the project selected, a successful project must contain the same basic components. Your existing facilities' condition assessment must be up-to-date to develop a benchmark in order to gauge the scopes, budgets, and expected savings for funding requests. The key to this component is to document, document, document. Having a centralized database transfers the mental database of your experienced staff onto paper, allowing you to rank critical repairs looking at the repair versus importance of structure versus importance of occupant or process. This documentation can be accomplished through a combination of condition assessments, energy surveys, and energy audits.

      Once the projects are identified, create an action plan and complete the financial justifications to sell the boss. Creativity is important at this stage to compare both comprehensive and non-comprehensive projects. Improvements to existing plant systems outside of the basic energy project can be an added bonus if you can still meet the payback limit threshold with a comprehensive project.

      All that is left after selling the boss is to implement the selected projects and collect data to evaluate and ensure that the project met its goals. If it did, be sure to advertise your success to the world. This will make getting future projects that much easier.

      The final piece in the puzzle is probably the most important. Where's the beef? Financing can come from both internal and external sources. Internal financing options include operational and capital funds or from internal revolving funds where savings from the projects are reinvested to fund additional projects. External financing options include federal and state funding, debt financing, or third party financing. Federal and state funding can be acquired through the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Management Program, or other state level sources. Debt financing includes bonds and low interest rate loans. Finally, third party financing is open to lease or lease-purchase agreements including operating, capital, guaranteed savings, tax-exempt leases, lease-purchase agreements, or performance contracts.

      In summary, the following are the keys to a successful energy management program.

      • Understand campus energy management motives

      • Document knowledge of your facility

      • Pick off low hanging fruit then get creative selecting projects

      • Follow key steps to a successful project

      • Money savings

        • Poor energy management practices hinder the accomplishment of the core mission of your facilities by absorbing already scarce resources. A well-designed and implemented energy management program contributes to the core mission of the facility as well as to the employee attitudes and overall financial health of your organization.

          More Info:

          David Goetz is manager of the Higher Education, Healthcare, and Industrial unit in Stanley Consultants' Chicago office. Stanley Consultants provides engineering, environmental and construction services worldwide. His professional experience encompasses planning, design, and implementation of energy and infrastructure generation and distribution including system control for higher education, healthcare, industrial, utility, and governmental clients. He can be reached at 773-444-5970 or goetzdave@stanleygroup.com .

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