With reduced consumer spending, retailers and restaurants are feeling the pinch of the tight economic situation and need to find ways to cut costs without cutting quality. Cutting energy costs can be difficult, but it’s the most effective way for retailers and restaurants to reduce costs without reducing services.
D. Scott Beaver, director of marketing at Prenova, an Atlanta-based energy services firm, explains the benefits of using an energy services firm to reduce costs in your retail or restaurant facility.
Buildings: What are energy services providers?
Beaver: Energy services providers help customers control energy costs and consumption by addressing issues related to energy supply or by focusing on issues related to energy demand. On the supply side, this can include helping customers secure better rates in deregulated energy markets or identifying the optimal rate in regulated markets.
Other supply-oriented services include preparing energy budgets and auditing utility bills for accuracy. Energy-demand solutions include EMS and metering technology, as well as service to monitor the performance of these systems. Demand response also falls into this category.
Buildings: How can energy services firms help facilities professionals cut energy costs?
Beaver: Depending on how they address opportunities related to energy supply and energy demand, retailers and restaurants can reduce energy expenses by as much as 15 to 20 percent. By securing the best possible rates and auditing utility bills for accuracy, companies will typically save between 5 and 10 percent. It depends on how large their portfolio is, in which markets they operate, and whether they’re paying standard utility rates or have competitive contracts.
Buildings: What are the benefits of using an energy services firm vs. trying to reduce energy costs internally or independently?
Beaver: Energy management can be resource intensive in terms of people and technology. As organizations trim costs, they often reduce headcount. Retailers and restaurants are already lean, so this makes it difficult to do things like review every utility invoice or perform remote monitoring internally. There are also a limited number of people with energy-procurement experience or with the technical know-how to diagnose and correct problems with energy-intensive equipment (HVAC, lighting, refrigeration, etc.).
Finally, energy services firms have developed proprietary technologies to reduce costs and consumption. A retailer or restaurant would have to develop these tools to achieve the same results they get from partnering with an energy expert.
Buildings: What are some methods or techniques that retailers and restaurants can use to cut energy costs?
Beaver: They should begin by analyzing historical energy consumption at each site, which means reviewing at least 12 months’ worth of utility bills. This analysis will help the company identify sites with above-average energy consumption. Once you know which sites are using the most energy, focus energy-efficiency projects on those locations. Start by figuring out why they’re using more energy.
If there’s no logical reason why these sites should consume more energy, then what’s the cause? This is when it makes sense to do an energy audit. Someone goes on-site to see what’s happening in the store, what’s happening with HVAC equipment, lighting, etc. Once you know what’s causing the problem, you can take steps to correct it.
NAIOP Study Shows that Saving Energy Takes Know-How
Much debate is centered around a recently released study by the Herndon, VA-based Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP) on the cost effectiveness of green building. The study was authored by Canonsburg, PA-based CONSOL and models the performance of hypothetical 4-story, 95,000-square-foot buildings in Baltimore, Chicago, and Newport Beach, CA.
Modeling the baseline building to meet the requirements of ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2004, the study tried to reach 30- to 50-percent energy savings with paybacks of fewer than 10 years. Despite the fact that more than 40 versions of 13 features were tested, only eight were mentioned in the final report, including reduced lighting loads, air sealing, high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment, increased insulation, and decreased glazing ratios.
The study found that the maximum energy savings possible in the payback period was 23 percent in Chicago, 21.5 percent in Baltimore, and 15.8 percent in Newport Beach, CA; however, several low-cost, no-cost, and cost-saving options to reduce energy consumption were omitted from the study, including changing the geometry of the building, adjusting glazing for building orientation, installing operable windows, shading with trees, and altering the building to meet microclimates.
Greening the White House … Again
President Barack Obama isn’t the first president who aims to make the White House more environmentally friendly.
Former President Bill Clinton saved $1.4 million in the first 6 years of his “greening the White House” project, which launched on Earth Day 1993. The project made improvements to the White House’s lighting, heating, air-conditioning, insulation, and water sprinklers, among other things. President George W. Bush’s administration installed three solar systems and made a large push to recycle paper.
Right now, the Obama administration isn’t ready to give details for the White House’s larger go-green plan, but the president and First Lady Michelle Obama are already making smaller efforts on the White House grounds. The swing set on the grounds is environmentally friendly, with cushioning made from recycled rubber tires; groundskeepers are using greener products whenever possible.
Green Office Building Tops Out Above New York City’s High Line
The High Line Building in New York City’s Meatpacking District, featuring 100,000 square feet of office space on 11 floors and high-profile retail space at the base of the park’s main entrance, is scheduled to open in Fall 2009. The building will be one of the only buildings to offer office or retail tenants direct frontage and access to the High Line (the former elevated train track being redeveloped as an urban park).
The High Line will run 103 feet through the building, which features a dramatic steel-framed glass tower atop an existing 5-story Art Deco masonry building. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a panoramic view of the Hudson River and the Meatpacking District.
Designed by Morris Adjmi Architects, the project is seeking LEED-CS Gold certification and includes world-class amenities and state-of-the-art technology, security, and cooling systems.
IFMA Releases White Paper to Assist with Facility Planning
The Houston-based Intl. Facility Management Association released Strategic Facility Planning: A White Paper to give facility managers the basic tools to launch and complete a strategic facility plan. The report outlines the key principles of strategic facility planning and details the stages of the process, including understanding, analyzing, planning, and acting.
Although many facility managers understand the importance of linking facility management to overall strategy, they often have difficulty finding the time or resources to devote to developing a strategic facility plan. This white paper defines strategic facility planning by using accepted business-planning methodology and applying it to facility capital planning. It uses a clear, concise, repeatable, four-step facility planning process, and recommends tools that can assist in each step.