Energy efficiency: improve your bottom line
There’s no escaping issues related to energy efficiency: global warming, carbon footprints, consumption. The buzzwords abound. A less frequently publicized, but certainly no less important issue connected to energy efficiency is your company’s bottom line. In short, energy efficiency saves you money; the bigger your facility, the more you can save.
In March 2008, Johnson Controls released its second annual Energy Efficiency Indicator Survey . As in 2007, the study focused on corporate energy managers at more than 1,100 North American companies, including facility managers, CEOs, vice presidents and directors of facilities or general managers.
Overall, the study indicated that corporate energy managers are more aware of the benefits of energy efficiency improvements than they were a year ago. Approximately 60% of those interviewed expect to make energy efficiency improvements funded by capital expenditures over the next year and a similar number planned to do so using operating budgets. Over the past year, more than 40% replaced inefficient equipment before the end of its useful life, and more than 70% have invested in educating staff and other facility users as a way to increase support for increasing internal energy efficiency.
While it’s great to know what some of your peers are doing, how can you get the ball rolling at your facility? The answer is easier (and less expensive) than you think: Contact your local utility for more information on the efficiency programs they offer.
Utilities, states and other public entities throughout the United States and Canada offer efficiency programs to support corporate energy management goals %%MDASSML%% particularly at the plant level. These efficiency programs often have a mandate to deliver energy savings in their service territories, and therefore have a strong interest in helping you improve your energy efficiency. These programs can help you identify energy saving opportunities and defray the up-front cost of the efficiency improvements identified in the Johnson Controls survey, including equipment replacement and staff training.
Typically, efficiency programs support a variety of measures that can be implemented in the average plant, such as the purchase of NEMA Premium motors , variable speed drives, compact fluorescent lighting, fixtures and high-efficiency HVAC equipment. Through prescriptive programs, efficiency programs provide financial incentives in the form of rebates for the purchase of equipment that meet defined efficiency standards. Custom efficiency programs support plant assessments, feasibility studies and design assistance for new construction and renovation or expansion projects. Efficiency program staff often works with your company to perform an energy audit and establish a customized baseline of your facility’s energy use. Financial incentives for more efficient equipment or process improvements are then based on projected energy savings as compared to the baseline.
Educational programs target a range of audiences from plant managers to corporate executives. For plant managers, efficiency programs offer information and training about available products such as premium efficiency motors and energy-efficient lighting options, on-site technical assessments to identify energy savings at your plant or facility and workshops to help you connect with the vendors and installers of high-efficiency products. For corporate executives, efficiency programs provide information and resources about energy management and how it can improve the company’s bottom line. Additional opportunities are available when local utility programs team up with the U.S. Department of Energy (Industrial Technologies Program) or Environmental Protection Agency (Energy Star) on technical workshops or management seminars.
Where to look?
The Consortium for Energy Efficiency is a nonprofit organization that develops energy efficiency initiatives with its member utilities. CEE members include utilities, statewide and regional market transformation administrators, environmental groups, research organizations and state energy offices in the United States and Canada. CEE has prepared summaries of efficiency programs by sector. These summaries are easy to use, can be searched by region or utility name and are available at the CEE Website.
Whether you are looking for more information to start identifying energy efficiency opportunities at your facility, or are well on your way toward implementing improvements, check out the resources available on the CEE Website or contact your local utility. A few minutes of research can lead to huge savings for your bottom line, your carbon footprint and a host of other sustainability issues.
|Marc Hoffman is executive director of the Boston-based Consortium for Energy Efficiency. More information can be found at its Website,|